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Tuesday 27 August 2013

A litter of cupolas - Brighton Pavilion in 1823

Today’s post is a first for Regency History. I have just made my very first YouTube video!

I recently gave a speech at my local Toastmasters’ group about one of my favourite Regency buildings – the Brighton Pavilion. I called it: “A litter of cupolas”.

The title comes from a quote by William Wilberforce about the Brighton Pavilion:
“It looks very much as if St Paul’s had come down to the sea and left behind a litter of cupolas!”
St. Paul's from D Hughson's London (1806) and Brighton Pavilion
St. Paul's from D Hughson's London (1806) and Brighton Pavilion
A cupola is a dome. As I am sure you know, a litter refers to the multiple offspring of an animal born at one time e.g. a litter of puppies. So a litter of cupolas is a number of little domes. A very witty description of Brighton Pavilion!

My speech transports the listener back in time to experience the Pavilion in its heyday. I recorded my speech and illustrated it with pictures in PowerPoint and then converted it into a YouTube video.

I hope you enjoy it. Please let me have your feedback. This is my first attempt and I am anxious to improve.

Read more about George IV and Brighton Pavilion.

Sources used include:
Feltham, John, A Guide to all the Watering and Sea-bathing Places (1815)
Hughson, David, London; being an accurate history and description of the British Metropolis and its neighbourhood Volume IV (1806, London)
Moule, Thomas, Great Britain Illustrated, a series of original views (1830)
Nash, John, Views of the Royal Pavilion with commentary by Gervase Jackson-Stops (1991)
Wilberforce, Robert, Isaac and Samuel, The Life of William Wilberforce (John Murray, 1839)

British Museum website
Photographs by Andrew Knowles -


  1. On the whole a very well scripted and presented talk, the nervousness dissipated pretty quickly. Watch your adjectives in the next one you give, 3 or 4 uses of the word 'huge' as an emphasis of the hugeness would have been sufficient, there were one or two too many regarding the dragon chandelier, and another one crept in for the concert room... [something we are ALL guilty of, is becoming too attached to a particular word...]

    I have to say when I first saw the pavilion, I was amazed at how small it looked from the street. However, the mod cons of hot and cold running water would have sold it to me at the time...

    May you do many more presentations!

    1. Thanks very much for taking the trouble to give me some feedback. I originally gave this talk in a Toastmasters' meeting. I found it interesting how much more conscious I was of every word I spoke when I was recording it!

      I was experimenting with word repetition for emphasis - your feedback is really helpful - thanks.