As you can imagine, the idea that the real Royal Pavilion (not the one we have recreated as an escape room) is filled with secret passageways, hidden doors and mysterious tunnels is right up our street. Who wouldn’t love the idea that the notoriously decadent and badly behaved Prince Regent who became King George IV had filled his seaside pleasure palace with all kinds of nooks that allowed him to get up to all sorts unseen? Luckily for us, it turns out there are plenty of hidden places in the Pavilion but, sadly, their purpose and usage was actually far less scandalous than we’d like to believe.
Why all the Rumours?
George IV was a man with a reputation. That’s putting it mildly. He was legendary for spending money, drinking booze and chasing women. One of his most infamous outrages was his illegal marriage to Maria Fitzherbert whom he had pursued madly before finally persuading her to marry him. This marriage was illegal not just because he did not get his father’s permission to marry her but also because she was a Catholic. All this was scandalous at the time and lead to him being forced to marry his cousin Princess Caroline of Brunswick to appease the public and persuade parliament to pay off his already rather large debts. He hated her. His drinking and spending became legendary and his building of our beloved Royal Pavilion was seen as an outrageous extravagance to rival even his lavish wardrobe. It is easy, therefore, to imagine this man building a tunnel to allow him to visit his mistress in secret and filling his Pavilion with secret ways to go creeping from bedroom to bedroom.
The Reality of ‘That’ Tunnel
We have all heard the stories about a ‘network of tunnels’ beneath Brighton that allowed George to visit all kinds of places of ill repute including the house of his previous love Maria Fitzherbert. Sadly, this is pure fiction. There’s one tunnel. It doesn’t go very far. While being an expense that Parliament no doubt resented, the tunnel George had built leading from the Royal Pavilion only actually went as far as the stables (now the Brighton Dome and Brighton Museum and Gallery). Its purpose was simply to keep a very unpopular (and very overweight) king from the public eye. The tunnel allowed him to get to his beloved horses and ride out without needing to openly cross the Pavilion Gardens where he could easily be seen by passers-by. No doubt, it kept him safe as well as sparing him embarrassment. The rooms at the start of the tunnel beneath the Pavilion were also used as an air raid shelter during WWII.
The Unseen Pavilion
Hearing that the Royal Pavilion had hidden doors and secret passageways conjured up images of The Red Keep in Game of Thrones with all sorts of skulduggery and nefarious purposes going on but, alas, these wonderfully mysterious features served the primary function of keeping the servants going about their work hidden from sight. Because no respectable Prince wants his guests looking at working people working, right? Sad though this seems, what actually remains is a fascinating network of narrow passages, striking spiral staircases and forgotten rooms all over the palace. One particularly fascinating room is located at the top of the foremost minaret (who knew there were rooms up there?) which is now a storage room and may have been a servant’s room back in the day. What’s so cool about it now though isn’t just that it was filled up with all sorts of strange shaped cupboards and nooks to try to regulate it’s strange round shape, it also has a wall which has been graffitied by everyone from servants at the time to, apparently, Lord Byron and the Duke of Wellington! It is called the bottle room but is sadly not part of any regular tour of the Pavilion.
We don’t really mind that George’s secret tunnel and the hidden doors in the Pavilion weren’t for any sneaky, dirty or treacherous purposes. In fact, we’d say the best reason to have such things built into your residence is because they’re awesome! Yes, of course we’d say that as we have filled our very own Pavilion room with all kinds of secrets, puzzles and intrigues. We’d love to tell you all about them but think you’d be much better off booking a game of Pavilion Perplex and discovering them for yourself. For more information or to book your game, call 01273 220388 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.