Western Pavilion

If you happen to glance past Loch Fyne (now Pintxo People) Restaurant on Western Road, you’ll spot a building that looks remarkably like Brighton’s most famous landmark. No, your eyes are not deceiving you. This is the Pavilion’s baby brother and was built in 1831, several years after its big brother was born.

As we all know (don’t we?!), the Royal Pavilion was completed in 1823 for King George IV (formerly Prince Regent) to the designs of John Nash, one of the country’s top architects. It was Nash who, in London, enlarged and renovated Buckingham Palace, laid out Regent’s Park and designed Marble Arch. However, it was eccentric local architect, Amon Henry Wilds, who built the smaller Pavilion, the Western Pavilion, for himself. Probably my favourite architect, Wilds was the man responsible for Montpelier, Hanover and Park Crescents. He often worked with his father, also called Amon, and Charles Augustin Busby, who were the team responsible for the magnificent Grade I Listed developments of Brunswick Square and Lewes Crescent.

The Grade II Listed Western Pavilion is situated on the east side of Western Terrace, a short cul-de-sac off the south side of Western Road, not far from Churchill Square. Amon Henry Wilds later moved around the corner to Gothic House (a future column topic), a Wilds/Busby building that later became Debenhams, and is now Blockbuster Video. Loch Fyne is also in Gothic House, but in the 1920s extension as opposed to the main building. Interestingly, at one point, the Western Pavilion became a storeroom for Debenhams! The unusual exterior, with beautiful stained glass windows, brings about some rather interesting interior room shapes. The house is currently being refurbished though prior to this, there was a bow-fronted kitchen, an oval bedroom and an igloo-shaped bathroom with a sunken bath. The bathroom is up in the onion dome and is reached via a narrow spiral staircase. Just like its big brother, this architectural fantasy boasts arched windows, ornate minarets and other Hindu details. Check out Wilds’ plaque on the wall if you are passing.

I originally wrote this column long before my first Hot Heritage was even printed but held off from submitting the piece as major works were in progress on the building. Unfortunately, the windows are still boarded up and the paint still flaking. The good news is that the owner is working hard to get the job done properly, albeit quite slowly.