Brighton's Royal Pavilion wins award for restoration project

The restored saloon in the Royal Pavilion, in Brighton. Photograph: Jim Holden
The restored saloon in the Royal Pavilion, in Brighton. Photograph: Jim Holden

The Royal Pavilion and Museums in Brighton has won an award for its restoration of the saloon in the Royal Pavilion.

The room, which was reopened to the public in September last year after more than three years of work, topped the restoration Georgian interior category in the Georgian Group's 2019 Architectural Awards.

The saloon at the Royal Pavilion, in Brighton, during restoration. Photograph: Jim Holden

The saloon at the Royal Pavilion, in Brighton, during restoration. Photograph: Jim Holden

Work to the restore the room to its original 1823 design cost £390,000, funded through private charitable trusts, patrons and members of the Royal Pavilion and Museums, the Royal Pavilion and Museums Foundation and the public, and involved recreating the original wall decoration, installing silk panels, restoring original cabinets, conserving and restoring the gilded frames and surfaces, and fitting a reproduction of the original carpet.

The project was the culmination of ongoing conservation work that started in 2004 and which included structural work to the dome of the saloon and stabilising and cleaning the ceiling.

Keeper of the Royal Pavilion David Beevers led the project with advice from textile historian Annabel Westman and a team of specialist craftsmen and manufacturers.

He said: “I am thrilled to have received this award as a recognition of all the hard work it took to restore the saloon.

“I’m particularly pleased that the judges recognised the work done by our textile historian Annabel Westman who researched the design and colours of the silks so thoroughly – we are confident they are as close to the design chosen by George IV as it’s possible to be.

“They also thanked our conservation team – particularly Anne Sowden and Norman Stevens, who have both retired now, who spent hours individually applying 12,000 platinum leaf on to the walls – a back-breaking task which took them two years to complete. Anne also designed the stunning carpet which was a huge task.

He added: “This was a huge team effort by the staff of the Royal Pavilion taking 14 years to plan and deliver and we’re so glad the work has been recognised by this award.”

The Georgian Group Architectural Awards started in 2003 to recognise exemplary conservation and restoration projects in the UK and to reward vision and commitment to restore Georgian buildings and landscapes.

The winners of the eight categories received their awards from chair of the judges Dr John Goodhall at the Royal Institute of British Architects on October 1.

Chair of tourism, equalities, communities and culture for Brighton and Hove City Council Alan Robins added: “The restored saloon is truly spectacular and an asset to the city’s heritage portfolio.

"It’s wonderful to have it recognised with this prestigious award and credit must go to the dedicated and talented staff who have overseen the transformation.”

The saloon was built in 1797 as part of the first stage of building works to the Royal Pavilion; George IV commissioned Robert Jones to decorate the room in 1823.