History in Structure

Museum Art Gallery and Public Library and Attached Railings

A Grade II* Listed Building in Brighton and Hove, The City of Brighton and Hove

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Latitude: 50.8237 / 50°49'25"N

Longitude: -0.138 / 0°8'16"W

OS Eastings: 531243

OS Northings: 104336

OS Grid: TQ312043

Mapcode National: GBR JP4.7XZ

Mapcode Global: FRA B6LX.J1Y

Plus Code: 9C2XRVF6+FQ

Entry Name: Museum Art Gallery and Public Library and Attached Railings

Listing Date: 11 March 1987

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1380395

English Heritage Legacy ID: 480508

Also known as: Museum and Art Gallery, Brighton
Brighton and Hove Museums and Art Galleries
Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove
Brighton Museum and Art Gallery
Brighton & Hove Museums

ID on this website: 101380395

Location: Brighton, Brighton and Hove, West Sussex, BN1

County: The City of Brighton and Hove

Electoral Ward/Division: St. Peter's and North Laine

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Brighton and Hove

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex

Church of England Parish: Brighton The Chapel

Church of England Diocese: Chichester

Tagged with: Art museum Library building Local museum Natural history museum History museum Museum building Local authority museum

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577-1/40/150 (South side)
11/03/87 Museum, Art Gallery and Public
Library and attached railings


Formerly stables, now museum, art gallery and public library.
1804, extended 1831, 1873, 1894 and 1901-02. The range
occupies part of the north facade of the Royal Pavilion
Stables, designed by William Porden for the Prince of Wales;
Porden's work, which dates to 1804, amounted to a screen wall,
the elevation of which matched that of the Riding House to the
west, now the Corn Exchange (qv); this screen wall enclosed
tennis courts.
In 1831 Joseph Good for the Office of Works built stables on
this site for William IV and Queen Adelaide; the east return,
which reproduces Porden's original elevations, may date from
this time.
In 1873, the Borough Surveyor, Philip Lockwood, adapted the
complex to its current use retaining Porden's and Good's
exteriors with only minor alterations.
The exhibition galleries were enlarged in 1894 and again in
1901-02, when the Borough Surveyor and Engineer, Francis JC
May, heightened the eastern range and constructed the library
range, called the Victoria Public Library.
MATERIALS: brick in Flemish bond with stone and stucco-cement
dressings and details; hipped roofs of slate, onion domes of
copper. 2 to 3 storeys, over basement.
EXTERIOR: the Museum/ Art Gallery takes up 7 bays of the left,
or east side of the complex, returning to the north up to, but
not including the entrance porch to the Dome Theatre (for the
latter see the Dome Theatre and Corn Exchange, Church Street
(qv); each bay in this section is defined by a full-height,
octagonal pilaster which terminates above the parapet either
in an acanthus urn or an octagonal cap; the corner and return
pilasters are of similar design although on a much larger
The circulating and reference libraries, which take up the
rest of the Church Street elevation, have a 7-window range
between them.
Good, Lockwood and May all worked in styles which complemented
rather than contrasted with Porden's version of Islamic
architectural forms. The north elevation to the Porden's
stables was originally a 3-part composition, each part of 5
bays, (only the elevation of the Corn Exchange, Church Street
preserves this design, although in facsimile which dates to
1868 or to 1934). Bays 1 through 3 of the Museum/Art Gallery
are similar to the subsidiary bays of Porden's original
elevation and were built in 1901 by May; bay 7, which now
contains the joint entrance to the Library and Museum/Art
Gallery, dates from 1901, as do the lotus-leaf parapet
continuous across the elevation as well as the urn finials.
Bays 4 through 6 date either to Porden's or Good's time, and
were originally flanked by a pair of narrow, windowless bays;
the pointed-arch entrance in bay 5, however, dates to 1873.
The latter is supported by coupled columns with cushion
capitals carved in Islamic patterns, and bearing an
inscription in metal letters, "Museum and Art Gallery"; now
blocked, it once led directly into a long gallery (see
description of interior below); the 2-storey, pointed-arch,
scalloped aedicule in which this entrance sits, however, is of
an early C19 design.
The entrance in bay 7 through a horseshoe arch, its intrados
scalloped, the whole supported by fluted, leaf columns and set
into a 2-storey aedicule; this entrance dates to 1901 and is
identical to the Church Street Entrance of the Dome Theatre
(qv). Flat-arched windows to other bays are set in
pointed-arch and scalloped aedicules; the windows are filled
with mullioned and transomed tracery which probably dates to
1873. In 1901, the parapet of the Museum/Art Gallery complex
was heightened to allow for increased ceiling heights in the
first-floor galleries.
The elevation of May's Library of 1901-02 is divided into 3
bays of 2-3-2 design, the centre section being lower than the
ends; an octagonal buttress of 3 stages terminating in a
minaret defines each bay; flat-arched windows, those on the
ground floor set in round-arched recesses with grooved
architraves; each first-floor window is set in an aedicule
consisting of stylised Islamic colonnettes. The end bays are
capped by bulbous onion domes with urn finials.
INTERIORS: the foyer off the entrance in bay 7 is sheathed in
glazed terracotta tiles arranged in Islamic-inspired patterns;
these tiles are found throughout the complex and date to 1901.
At the rear of the entrance hall is a stair to the first
floor. Corridor of 3 bays runs east providing access to all
the ground-floor galleries; each bay of the corridor marked by
horseshoe diaphragm arch on pilasters; 3 rooms to the north of
the corridor, each entered through a flat-arched door set in a
wood aedicule with trilobed tympanum, a feature which dates to
1901 and can be found throughout the complex.
Retained in the 1901 remodelling is a 2-storey, 5 bay hall on
axis with Lockwood's 1873 entrance in bay 5; cast-iron
galleries along short elevations at north and south; the
section of the hall roof approximates a trilobed arch, the
lower areas consisting of groin vaults supported by corbel
shafts; centre of roof consists of a glazed and pointed barrel
vault raised on a narrow grille band of cast-iron.
The circulating library is entered through a rectangular lobby
of single-storey height, there follows an aisle formed by a
5-bay colonnade, which, in turn, opens into the 2-storey hall
of the circulating library, which is rectangular in plan;
gallery along the south elevation and book shelves;
rectangular recess to southwest corner; roof of 8 bays, each
defined by a truss inspired by a queen post, the medieval
forms translated into classical ones; glazed light register
The reference library is entered on the first floor, and
occupies the space immediately above the lobby of the
circulating library; nearly 2 storeys in height, rectangular
in plan with bookcases and library desks of original design;
the walls have a coved cornice with a frieze of scrolled
cartouches and volute brackets supporting a Jacobean-style
panelled ceiling which is interrupted by 3 domical skylights
that once contained chandeliers.
HISTORICAL NOTE: the municipal art collection was started with
funds realised from exhibitions held in the Pavilion during
the 1850s. The art collections were first opened to public
view on the first floor of the Pavilion in the 1860s; a
natural history collection and library were added in 1869,
thus necessitating larger quarters. The new complex, which
opened on 20 January, 1873, was not quite large enough to
house all the collections, however, and some of the collection
had to remain in the Pavilion. All collections were removed
from the Pavilion in 1901 and 1902, when the gallery was
expanded and the Victoria Public Library was opened on 5
November, 1902; at this point, some municipal offices, which
had been housed in the complex, were removed to the newly
expanded Town Hall in Bartholomews (qv). In the centre of the
Library range is a stone plaque which bears the following
inscription: "County Borough of Brighton Library, Museum and
Fine Art Gallery/ This stone was laid by His Worship, the
Mayor of Brighton, John Edward Stafford, Esquire, J.P., on the
13th day of April, 1901/ Councillor Francis W. Carter,
Chairman of the Library and Fine Arts Commission/ Architect
Francis J. May, M.Inst., C.E., F.S.I., Borough Engineer and
Surveyor. Francis J. Tillstone, Town Clerk".
The Museum, Art gallery and Library form a most important
group with the Dome Theatre and Corn Exchange, Church Street
(qv), and with the Pavilion (qv) and its associated buildings.
(Carder T: The Encyclopaedia of Brighton: Lewes: 1990-: 106;
Anonymous: Photographs: 1890-1902).

Listing NGR: TQ3124304336

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