If you have ever been to Brighton, chances are you’ve visited the fabulous Royal Pavilion, the eye-catchingly exotic former holiday home of the Prince Regent, who later became George IV.
Built in stages between 1787 and 1823, the extravagant pleasure house has been many things in its lifetime: Palace, Museum and even a war-time hospital. You can find out more about the Pavilion’s history over here.
The story of the Pavilion is fascinating in its own right, but I want to tell you about one thing in particular. You probably know I’ve developed a bit of a thing for the secret bits in museums, like the secret doorway in the British Museum or this not-so-hidden door in the Royal Observatory.
The Pavilion, too, has a secret – some hidden tunnels that run under the Gardens. According to an anonymous source, the tunnels can be accessed not just from the basement in the Pavilion but from the Museum and Art Gallery‘s basement too.
Last year, they had to do some work on them and for the first time in a long time, the tunnels saw the light of day.
Well, the tops of them did anyway. Rumour has it that the tunnels were constructed so that George VI could visit his mistress, Maria Fitzherbert, who lived conveniently close by and is now commemorated with a pub bearing her name not too far from the Pavilion… but is this true?
The team at the Pavilion have produced this short film exploring the history of the tunnels and they mention Mrs Fitzherbert’s relationship with the King.
Alas, the tunnels are closed to the public, but if I ever get a chance to explore them, you can be sure I’m going to tell you all about it.