Dome Complex

Like a long-time Brighton resident visiting the Royal Pavilion for the first time, I arrived at the Dome’s stage door excited but also feeling guilty that I had not engaged before. It was to be my first piece on the Dome after all. Little did I know that I was about to be given the tour of all tours.

My visit began with an unexpected treat. Whilst awaiting Seth, the lighting and sound engineer who showed me around, I was sat down in the main auditorium as the sole member of the audience of a London Philharmonic rehearsal. Funnily enough, it was where I graduated. Although I cannot recall the order in which I saw everything (lifts, winding passageways, hidden staircases and tunnels saw to that nicely), from west to east, the complex includes: the Pavilion Theatre and a box office on New Road; the Corn Exchange; the Dome itself; and the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery. My tour, however, did not include the Museum & Art Gallery for reasons that I will go into shortly

The Dome began as stables for the Prince of Wales beside his Marine Pavilion before he became Prince Regent or, indeed, King George IV. Although it was intended for horses and the Prince was not even King, it was built to the highest possible specification. The next phase was the transformation of William Porden’s original buildings into a concert venue by Philip Lockwood soon after Queen Victoria broke the royal connection. A striking Art Deco interior was added by Robert Atkinson in the 1930s. A £22 million renovation was completed in 2002, making the complex a truly world-class venue – the fourth of the complex’s four phases of development.

Today, the Dome, Corn Exchange and Pavilion Theatre may be housed in the same set of buildings as the Museum & Art Gallery but they are run entirely separately. Brighton & Hove City Council is property owner but runs just the Museum & Art Gallery in-house. The rest is run by Brighton Dome & Festival Ltd.

I shall be writing three more pieces relating to my tour that will be appearing over the coming weeks including one on the Corn Exchange and Pavilion Theatre, and another on my usual favourite topic – the hidden areas. Next time though, I’ll be concentrating on one of the most stunning interior spaces in Brighton – the Dome’s 1930s Art Deco interior.