Located on the Royal Pavilion property the Dome which served as a hospital ward for Indian soldiers during WWI and now serves as a concert hall was originally the royal stables. Horses were used to transport the Prince of Wales between London and Brighton as well as used for hunting, so a royal stable near the Princes Brighton residence was a necessity.
Shortly after the completion of the ‘Marine Pavilion’ in 1802, King George IV’s architect William Porden started work on the royal stables in 1803 and was completed by 1808. The buildings main feature was a huge segmented glass panel dome, at 80 feet in diameter and 65 feet high, it was considered an engineering feat of it’s day. Below the great dome was a large open space for horse riding with a water fountain in the center of the main hall. Along the perimeter of the great dome were stalls for 44 horses as well as a circular gallery with stable servant’s quarters. The west wing of the building housed a riding school which became the Corn Exchange. The design of the building is in the Indo-Saracenic style and Porden based his design on the Corn Market in Paris.
With such a grand building in the eastern style for his horses that dwarfed his Marine Pavilion it likely inspired the Prince to remodeling his Pavilion to match the grandeur of his new stables for a Prince required more lavish living quarters than his horses.
After the purchase of the Royal Pavilion estate by the town of Brighton in 1850, the stables and riding house were uses as cavalry barracks form 1856 to 1864. The decision was then made to turn the building into a more useful space for the town residences by turning it into a assembly and concert hall. The interior was completely reconstructed in a Indian style as a hall which could seat 2,500 people and featuring a magnificent gas powered chandelier 30 feet high and 16 feet in diameter hanging from the dome center. This construction was completed in June 1867. An entrance porch in the Pavilion grounds was added in 1901-2.
The Dome would continue to serve as a concert and assembly hall up to the war when it was converted into a hospital ward for the Indian soldiers. In 1934-1935 the Dome interior was again completely remodeled as a new 2,100 seat theater. The segmented glass roof now has a false ceiling with a semi-circular pattern and an electric organ and new balcony were also added.
The Dome Theatre has continued to serve as a conference, entertainment and concert hall to this day. Some of the most famous names in entertainment have performed there including Abba who won the Eurovision Song Contest there in 1974, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zepplin, The Smiths, BB King and Beyonce to name a few.
Clifford Musgrave, The Royal Pavilion (Royal Pavilion Committee, 1954)
Buildings with Royal Connections, My Brighton and Hove, www.mybrightonandhove.org.uk
The heritage of Brighton, tourism.brighton.co.uk/history/bodypage.asp?subheading=Heritage&url=History&mainheading=6www.brighton-hove-rpml.org.uk/RoyalPavilion/aboutthepalace/Pages/Architecture.aspx