AN INVITATION TO THE ROYAL PAVILION

The Royal Pavilion, Brighton

One of the most iconic buildings in England, Brighton’s Royal Pavilion has come to symbolize the decadence of the Regency Period. Built as George IV’s pleasure palace by the sea, the Pavilion continues to astonish visitors, just as it did in the 19th century. Even the typically unflappable Duke of Wellington was taken aback by the Pavilion’s excesses and the Prince’s flamboyant style of interior decor. 

Princess Lieven recorded the Duke’s reaction upon first seeing the Pavilion in a letter to her husband written from Brighton on January 26, 1822:

I wish you were here to laugh. You cannot imagine how astonished the Duke of Wellington is. He had not been here before, and I thoroughly enjoy noting the kind of remark and the kind of surprise that the whole household evokes in a new-comer. I do not believe that, since the days of Heliogabalus, there have been such magnificence and such luxury. There is something effeminate in it which is disgusting. One spends the evening half-lying on cushions; the lights are dazzling; there are perfumes, music, liquers – “Devil take me, I think I must have got into bad company.” You can guess who said that, and the tone in which it was said. . . . ” 

After the death of the Prince Regent, his brother, King William IV, and later Queen Victoria, both visited the Pavilion. However, by Queen Victoria’s time, the town of Brighton had become much more developed and the population increased accordingly. Queen Victoria felt that the property could no longer afford herself and her family the seclusion they required and she sold the building to the Corporation of Brighton in 1850.

George IV
Queen Victoria

Today, the Royal Pavilion has been restored to it’s former Regency glory and is still astonishing the many visitors who arrive daily to experience the grandeur first-hand. Number One London Tours invites you to join us for a tour of the Royal Pavilion as part of the itinerary for our 2019 Queen Victoria Tour or our 2020 Regency Tour.

The video below offers the most comprehensive tour of the Pavilion’s interiors I’ve seen and it also includes a good overview of it’s history, so I’ve chosen to include it despite the interpreter’s very animated delivery. Final bit of trivia – Ironically, all of the kitchen copper-ware you’ll see in the video was once the property of the first Duke of Wellington and bears his ducal crest. It was transferred to the Pavilion in the 1950s, when Apsley House was placed under the control of English Heritage. 

 

 

WATERLOO TEETH

Perhaps the most famous set of false teeth are the ivory set once worn by George Washington, pictured at left. Ivory dentures were popular into the 18th century, and were made from natural materials including walrus, elephant or hippopotamus ivory. These ill fitting and uncomfortable ivory dentures were replaced by porcelain dentures, introduced in the 1790’s, which weren’t much more successful due to their brightness and tendency to crack. In fact, the most favored material for false teeth was . . . . real teeth.

Presiding at the annual meeting of the British Dental Association held in Dublin in 1888, Mr. Daniel Corbett, Dental Surgeon, stated : “Six weeks was the usual time spent in the manufacture of a complete denture when working bone and natural teeth. When human teeth were in fashion, our supply was usually had from the graveyard, and I recollect what attention was paid to the gravedigger at his periodical visits to my father’s residence with his gleanings from the coffins he chanced to expose in the discharge of his avocation. His visits were generally at night, and no hospitable duty in which my father might chance to be engaged was permitted to interfere with the reception of this ever welcome visitor into the sanctum sanctorum of the house.The gravediggers every Monday morning made their way to the dental depots, each with his sack on his back containing the ghastly burdens collected during the previous week . . . we can scarcely realize the horror of the scene of these men bringing the jaws which they had turned up in “God’s acre” in their daily avocation; but mankind required teeth, and to meet the need most of those put in the mouth came from the jaws of the dead.”

While graveyards were a profitable source for cadever teeth, the quantity of teeth typically on hand was limited. Enter the Peninsular Wars and the Battle of Waterloo. Of the 50,000 men who fell at the Battle of Waterloo, most were young and healthy and their teeth were of a generally good standard, much better than the teeth employed in the majority of dentures. Having been plundered from the battlefield, most of these teeth made their way back to Britain, the country best placed to afford the new top-quality dentures which would incorporate them. These then became known as ‘Waterloo Teeth,’ a set of which are pictured at right. The name quickly established itself as applying to any set of dentures made from young and healthy teeth taken from a Napoleonic battlefield and continued as a term on into the 19th Century.

The Quarterly Review 1842 refers to a portion of Bransby Cooper’s biography of his uncle, surgeon Sir Astley Cooper, and runs – “Tooth hunters followed the armies, moving in as soon as the living had left the field. `Only let there be a battle and there will be no want of teeth; I’ll draw them as fast as the men are knocked down,’ says one such hunter in The Life of Astley Cooper. There were so many spare teeth that they were shipped abroad by the barrel. In 1819, American dentist Levi Spear Parmly, the inventor of floss, wrote that he had `in his possession thousands of teeth extracted from bodies of all ages that have fallen in battle.’

“This seems always to have been a regular though subordinate pursuit with them even at home. One of our author’s acquaintances, Mr. Murphy, robbed the vault under a London meeting-house, in one night, of teeth which he sold for 60 pounds. No wonder, then, if We find in a subsequent page that one of these fellows returned from Waterloo with a box of teeth and jaw-bones valued at 100 pounds. Did the autumnal beauties of 1816 suspect this? But the most precious harvest of all was, we are told, that of 1813. ‘ The German universities,’ says a French dentist, ‘turned out many youths in their very bloom; and our conscripts were so young that few of their teeth had been injured by the stain of tobacco.’ The Polish Jews were very active at this work during Napoleon’s later campaigns; and we remember a British dentist who was nicknamed Dr. Pulltuski from the notoriety of his dealings with them.”

On a more humorous note, it’s interesting that at least two books, Modern England 1820-1885 By Oscar Browning and Sir Spencer Walpole’s History of England both refer to George IV’s false teeth. It seems that the King was set to deliver a speech to Parliament in February of 1825, but had lost his false teeth and so it was delivered, instead, by Lord Eldon.

Separate mineral teeth, designed to be mounted on gold or other plates, which finally gave the death blow to the use of the gleanings of the graveyard, were the invention of a M. Audibran, of Paris, and were introduced into England by Mr. Corbett and their manufacture was taken up by Mr. Claudius Ash, of London, in 1837, who rapidly wrought a marvellous improvement in their strength and beauty, and severed once and for all the gravediggers’ connection with the dental surgery. In America, the Civil War continued to provide a source for human teeth.

The following ad appeared in The Solicitor’s Journal and Reporter of June 4 1859

TEETH
 
NO. 9, LOWER GROSVENOR-STREET, GROSVENOR-SQUARE,
(Removed from 61). By Her Majesty’s Royal Letters Patent.
NEWLY-INVENTED APPLICATION of CHEMICALLY PREPARED INDIA-RUBBER in the construction of Artificial Teeth, Gums, and Palates.
 
 
MR. EPHRAIM
MOSELY, SURGEON-DENTIST, Sole Inventor And Patentee.
 

A new, original, and invaluable invention, consisting in the adaptation, with the most absolute perfection and success, of CHEMICALLY-PREPARED WHITE and GUM-COLOURED INDIA-RUBBER, as a lining to the gold or bone frame. The extraordinary results of this application may be briefly noted in a few of their most prominent features:—All sharp edges are avoided; no spring wires or fastenings are required; a greatly increased freedom ot snction is supplied ; a natural elasticity, hitherto wholly unattainable, and a fit,perfected with the must unerring accuracy, arc secured; while from the softness and flexibility of the agent employed, the greatest support is given to the adjoining teeth when loose or rendered tender by the absorption of the gums. The acids of the mouth exert no agency on the chemically-prepared India-rubber, and, as it is a non-conductor, fluids of any temperature may be retained in the mouth, all unpleasantness of smell and taste being it the same time wholly provided against by the peculiar nature of its preparation.

The introduction of anaesthesia had a dramatic effect on dentistry. Along with ether and chloroform, nitrous oxide became the most preferred option and most surgeries were equipped with general anaesthetic equipment by the end of the 19th century. Many people were now prepared to have their rotting teeth extracted, which led to an enormous demand for cheap and efficient dentures. The introduction of vulcanite in the mid 19th century meant that dentures could be mass-produced and became affordable, replacing the expensive ivory versions. However, old false teeth apparently still had some value as we read in Methods and Machinery of Practical Banking by Claudius Buchanan Patten (1908) – It is asserted that in these days of poor teeth the average adult has at least a dollar’s worth of gold in his mouth, and that, consequently, every generation buries in the cemeteries of the United States 950,000,000 in gold. It may be that in England more economy is shown than here in the disposition of dental deposits, for I have seen in London stores any quantity of old false teeth on sale for the gold that was fixed in them. In the London `Times’ it is very common to see a long list of advertisements of second-hand clothing and secondhand false teeth for sale.

The 20th century saw an explosion of new materials, techniques and technology in dentistry. Novocaine was introduced early in the 1900’s as a local anaesthetic by a German chemist, Alfred Einhorn. The use of local anaesthetics during dental procedures did much to change the public’s attitude towards dentistry. By 1907 the British School Dental Service opened the first UK children’s clinic. Toothbrush clubs operated in London schools, and toothbrushes were issued to all serving men during World War I, which extended their use into working class families for the first time.

Originally published June 2010

Thos. Creevey and Life at the Royal Pavilion – Part Three

 

Mrs. Fitzherbert
A Letter from Mrs. Creevey to Mr. Creevey in London.
“. . . Oh, this wicked Pavillion! we were there till past one this morng., and it has kept me in bed with the headache till 12 to-day. . . . The invitation did not come to us till 9 o’clock: we went in Lord Thurloe’s carriage but the Prince did not come out of the dining-room till 11. Till then our only companions were Lady Downshire and Mr. and Miss Johnstone—the former very goodnatured and amiable. . . . When the Prince appeared, I instantly saw he had got more wine than usual, and it was still more evident that the German Baron was extremely drunk. The Prince came up and were in fear of being too late; sat by me—introduced McMahon to me, and talked a great deal about Mrs. Fitzherbert—said she had been ‘delighted’ with my note, and wished much to see me. He asked her ‘When?’—and he said her answer was —’ Not till you are gone, and I can see her comfortably.’ I suppose this might be correct, for Mac told me he had been ‘worrying her to death’ all the morning.

 

“It appears to me I have found a true friend in Mac* He is even more foolish than I expected; but I shall be disappointed if, even to you, he does not profess himself my devoted admirer.
“Afterwards the Prince led all the party to the table where the maps lie, to see him shoot with an air-gun at a target placed at the end of the room. He did it very skilfully, and wanted all the ladies to attempt it. The girls and I excused ourselves on account of our short sight; but Lady Downshire hit a fiddler in the dining-room, Miss Johnstone a door and Bloomfield the ceiling. … I soon had enough of this, and retired to the fire with Mac … At last a waltz was played by the band, and the Prince offered to waltz with Miss Johnstone, but very quietly, and once round the table made him giddy, so of course it was proper for his partner to be giddy too; but he cruelly only thought of supporting himself, so she reclined on the Baron.”

Sunday, Nov. 3, 1805. “And so I amuse you by my histories. Well! I am glad of it, and it encourages me to go on; and yet I can tell you I could tire of such horrors as I have had the last 3 evenings. I nevertheless estimate them as you do, and am quite disposed to persevere. The second evening was the worst. We were in the diningroom (a comfortless place except for eating and drinking in), and sat in a circle round the fire, which (to indulge you with ‘detail’) was thus arranged. Mrs. F(itzherbert] in the chimney corner (but not knitting), next to her Lady Downshire—then Mrs. Creevey— then Geoff—then Dr. [erased]—then Savory—then Warner—then Day, vis-a-vis his mistress, and most of the time snoring like a pig and waking for nothing better than a glass of water, which he call’d for, hoping, I think, to be offered something better. . .
Last night was better; it was the same party only instead of Savory, a Col. or Major Watley [?] of the Gloster Militia, and the addition of Mrs. Morant, an old card-playing woman. . . . Mrs. Fitz shone last night very much in a sketch she gave me of the history of a very rich Russian woman of quality who is coming to Lord Berkeley’s house. She has been long in England, and is I suppose generally known in London, though new to me. She was a married woman with children, and of great consequence at the court of Petersburgh when Lord Whitworth was there some years ago. He was poor and handsome—she rich and in love with him, and tired of a very magnificent husband to whom she had been married at 14 years old. In short, she kept my Lord, and spent immense sums in doing so and gratifying his great extravagance. In the midst of all this he return’d to England, but they corresponded, and she left her husband and her country to come to him, expecting to marry him—got as far as Berlin, and there heard he was married to the Duchess of Dorset.
“She was raving mad for some time, and Mrs. F. describes her as being often nearly so now, but at other times most interesting, and most miserable. Her husband and children come to England to visit her, and Mrs. F. says she is an eternal subject of remorse to Lord Whitworth, whom she [Mrs. F] spoke of in warm terms as ‘a monster,’ and said she could tell me far more to make me think so. The story sometimes hit upon points that made her blush and check herself, which was to me not the least interesting part of it. . . . She laughed more last night than ever at the Johnstones—said he was a most vulgar man, but seem’d to give him credit for his good nature to his sister and his generosity. The Baron is preparing a phantasmagoria at the Pavillion, and she [Mrs. F] laughs at what he may do with Miss Johnstone in a dark room.”
* The Right Hon. John Macmahon, Private Secretary and Keeper of the Privy Purse to the Prince of Wales. Died in 1817.

Number One London’s 2019 Queen Victoria Tour will be visiting the Brighton Pavilion – find details here.

THOMAS CREEVEY AND LIFE AT THE ROYAL PAVILION – Part Two

Originally published April 2011

“I suppose the Courts or houses of Princes are all alike in one thing, viz., that in attending them you lose your liberty. After one month was gone by, you fell naturally and of course into the ranks, and had to reserve your observations till you were asked for them. These royal invitations are by no means calculated to reconcile one to a Court. To be sent for half an hour before dinner, or perhaps in the middle of one’s own, was a little too humiliating to be very agreeable.

“. . . Lord Hutchinson* was a great feature at the Pavilion. He lived in the house, or rather the one adjoining it, and within the grounds. … As a military man he was a great resource at that time, as we were in the midst of expectations about the Austrians and Buonaparte, and the battle which we all knew would so soon take place between them. It was a funny thing to hear the Prince, when the battle had taken place, express the same opinion as was given in the London Government newspapers, that it was all over with the French—that they were all sent to the devil, and the Lord knows what. Maps were got out to satisfy everybody as to the precise ground where the battle had been fought and the route by which the French had retreated. While these operations were going on in one window of the Pavilion, Lord Hutchinson took me privately to another, when he put into my hand his own private dispatch from Gordon, then Secretary to the Commander-in-Chief, giving him the true account of the battle of Austerlitz, with the complete victory of the French. This news, unaccountable as it may appear, was repeated day after day at the Pavilion for nearly a week; and when the truth began at last to make its appearance in the newspapers, the Prince puts them all in his pockets, so that no paper was forthcoming at the Pavilion, instead of half-a-dozen, the usual number. . . . We used to dine pretty punctually at six, the average number being about sixteen. . . . Mrs. Fitzherbert always dined there, and mostly one other lady—Lady Downshire very often, sometimes Lady Clare or Lady Berkeley or Mrs. Creevey. Mrs. Fitzherbert was a great card-player, and played every night. The Prince never touched a card, but was occupied in talking to his guests, and very much in listening to and giving directions to the band. At 12 o’clock punctually the band stopped, and sandwiches and wine and water handed about, and shortly after the Prince made a bow and we all dispersed.

“I had heard a great deal of the Prince’s drinking, but, during the time that I speak of, I never saw him the least drunk but once, and I was myself pretty much the occasion of it. We were dining at the Pavilion, and poor Fonblanque, a dolorous fop of a lawyer, and a member of Parliament too, was one of the guests. After drinking some wine, I could not resist having some jokes at Fonblanque’s expense, which the Prince encouraged greatly. I went on and invented stories about speeches Fonblanque had made in Parliament, which were so pathetic as to have affected his audience to tears, all of which inventions of mine Fonblanque denied to be true with such overpowering gravity that the Prince said he should die of it if I did not stop. … In the evening, at about ten or eleven o’clock, he said he would go to the ball at the Castle, and said I should go with him. So I went in his coach, and he entered the room with his arm through mine, everybody standing and getting upon benches to see him. He was certainly tipsey, and so, of course, was I, but not much, for I well remember his taking me up to Mrs. Creevey and her daughters, and telling them he had never spent a pleasanter day in his life, and that ‘ Creevey had been very great.’ He used to drink a great quantity of wine at dinner, and was very fond of making any newcomer drunk by drinking wine with him very frequently, always recommending his strongest wines, and at last some remarkably strong old brandy which he called Diabolino.
The 11th Duke of Norfolk

 

“It used to be the Duke of Norfolk’s custom to come over every year from Arundel to pay his respects to the Prince and to stay two days at Brighton, both of which he always dined at the Pavilion. In the year 1804, upon this annual visit, the Prince had drunk so much as to be made very seriously ill by it, so that in 1805 (the year that I was there) when the Duke came, Mrs. Fitzherbert, who was always the Prince’s best friend, was very much afraid of his being again made ill, and she persuaded the Prince to adopt different stratagems to avoid drinking with the Duke. I dined there on both days, and letters were brought in each day after dinner to the Prince, which he affected to consider of great importance, and so went out to answer them, while the Duke of Clarence went on drinking with the Duke of Norfolk. But on the second day this joke was carried too far, and in the evening the Duke of Norfolk showed he was affronted. The Prince took me aside and said—’ Stay after everyone is gone tonight. The Jockey’s got sulky, and I must give him a broiled bone to get him in good humour again.’ So of course I stayed, and about one o’clock the Prince of Wales and Duke of Clarence, the Duke of Norfolk sat down a dinner of broiled bones.

* Brother of the 1st Earl of Donoughmore; a general officer, succeeded Sir Ralph Abercromby in command of the army in Egypt, and was raised to the peerage in 1801, with a pension of £2000. Died in 1832.

Part Three Coming Soon!

Number One London’s 2019 Queen Victoria Tour will be visiting the Brighton Pavilion – find details here.

THOMAS CREEVEY AND LIFE AT THE ROYAL PAVILION – Part One

Originally published April 2011

Thomas Creevey

 

“It was in 1804 when I first began to take a part in the House of Commons, at which time the Prince of Wales was a most warm and active partizan of Mr. Fox and the Opposition. It was then that the Prince began first to notice me, and to stop his horse and talk with me when he met me in the streets; but I recollect only one occasion, in that or the succeeding year, that I dined at Carlton House, and that was with a party of the Opposition, to whom he gave various dinners during that spring. On that occasion Lord Dundas and Calcraft sat at the top and bottom of the table, the Prince in the middle at one side, with the Duke of Clarence next to him; Fox, Sheridan and about 30 opposition members of both Houses making the whole party. We walked about the garden before dinner without our hats.

“The only thing that made an impression upon me in favour of the Prince that day (always excepting his excellent manners and appearance of good humour) was his receiving a note during dinner which he flung across the table to Fox and asked if he must not answer it, which Fox assented to; and then, without the slightest fuss, the Prince left his place, went into another room and wrote an answer, which he brought to Fox for his approval, and when the latter said it was quite right, tne Prince seemed delighted, which I thought very pretty in him, and a striking proof of Fox’s influence over him.

George IV as Prince of Wales by Reynolds

“During dinner he was very gracious, funny and agreeable, but after dinner he took to making speeches, and was very prosy as well as highly injudicious. He made a long harangue in favour of the Catholics and took occasion to tell us that his brother William and himself were the only two of his family who were not Germans—this too in a company which was, most of them, barely known to him. Likewise I remember his halloaing to Sir Charles Bamfyld at the other end of the table, and asking him if he had seen Mother Windsor lately. I brought Lord Howick  and George Walpole home at night in my coach, and so ended that day.

The Royal Pavilion, Brighton
“At the beginning of September,1805, Mrs. Creevey and myself with her daughters went to Brighton to spend the autumn there, the Prince then living at the Pavilion. I think it was the first, or at furthest the second, day after our arrival, when my two eldest daughters and myself were walking on the Steyne, and the Prince, who was sitting talking to old Lady Clermont, having perceived me, left her and came up to speak to me, when I presented my daughters to him. He was very gracious to us all and hoped he should see me shortly at dinner. In two or three days from this time I received an invitation to dine at the Pavilion. . . . Mrs. Fitzherbert, whom I had never been in a room with before, sat on one side of the Prince, and the Duke of Clarence on the other. … In the course of the evening the Prince took me up to the card table where Mrs. Fitzherbert was playing, and said—’ Mrs. Fitzherbert, I wish you would call upon Mrs. Creevey, and say from me I shall be happy to see her here.’ Mrs. Fitzherbert did call accordingly, and altho’ she and Mrs. Creevey had never seen each other before, an acquaintance began that soon grew into a very sincere and agreeable friendship, which lasted the remainder of Mrs. Creevey’s life. . . .
Mrs. Fitzherbert by Cosway

“. . . Immediately after this first visit from Mrs. Fitzherbert, Mrs. Creevey and her daughters became invited with myself to the Prince’s parties at the Pavilion, and till the first week in January—a space of about four months—except a few days when the Prince went to see the King at Weymouth, and a short time that I was in London in November, there was not a day we were not at the Pavilion, I dining there always once or twice a week, Mrs. Creevey frequently dining with me likewise, but in the evening we were always there.

“During these four months the Prince behaved with the greatest good humour as well as kindness to us all. He was always merry and full of his jokes, and any one would have said he was really a very happy man. Indeed I have heard him say repeatedly during that time that he never should be so happy, when King, as he was then.

Part Two Coming Soon!

Number One London’s 2019 Queen Victoria Tour will be visiting the Brighton Pavilion – find details here.