This hand-coloured aquatint from John Nash’s The Royal Pavilion at Brighton shows the vast central rotunda of William Porden’s stable block. This rotunda is part of what is now Brighton Dome.
The Royal Pavilion Estate contained one of the largest stable complexes in Europe. It contained 44 stalls with more spaces in the open rectangular courtyard to the north.
In 1806 a local newspaper recorded 61 stalls: 38 for hunters and other saddle horses and 23 for coach horses.
The arches on either side opened to staircases leading to the first floor gallery with up to 20 bedrooms under the dome. This was used by grooms, stable boys and other staff.
Sunlight streams in through the 16 glazed panels of the dome (now covered with lead), and racehorses can be seen wearing blinkers and blankets.
The use of yellow brick and Bath stone dressings gave further lightness to the space. It was one of the most ambitious domed structures in the country when first built, combining classical elegance with oriental romantic features and superb engineering.
The rotunda spans 25.9 metres, around 10 metres less than the Pantheon in Rome, and rises to a height of nearly 20 metres. The only larger domed structure in England at the time was St Paul’s Cathedral in London.
Author: Beverley Green