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Hello, dear friends! I’m delighted that Maria Grace is back again today, this time to celebrate the seventh installment of the Jane Austen’s Dragons series, Dragons Beyond the Pale. Maria is here to share a little about her research into dragons in Jane Austen’s world. Please give her a warm welcome!


Hi Anna! I’m thrilled to join you today and share a little of the research that’s led me to the conclusion that Of Course There Were Dragons in Jane Austen’s World.

The Dragons of Brighton’s Royal Pavilion

Brighton’s iconic Royal Pavilion features unique, stunning architecture and décor, fit for a royal prince. But when one looks closely at the décor, a surprising feature jumps out—dragons!

History of Brighton Pavilion

After visiting Brighton in 1783 with his uncle, Prince Henry, Duke of Cumberland, The Prince of Wales (later George IV) found an escape from the constraints of court life with his father. He was advised that the seawater and fresh air would benefit his gout, but the more diverting attractions of Brighton, lively company in his uncle’s circle, gambling, horse racing, music, theater and dining—and of course women—were probably the Prince’s primary draws to create his escapist playground there.

In 1786, the Prince rented a farmhouse in Brighton. By 1787, he commissioned the designer of Carlton house, Henry Holland, to begin what would become the Marine Pavilion Later, the Prince purchased surrounding lands to build a riding school and stables in 1803-1808.

Josh Nash, architect

After the Prince’s transition from Prince of Wales to Prince Regent in 1811, the Pavilion and its ground began a transformation to reflect its owner’s change in status. Designer Josh Nash redesigned the Pavilion with an Indo-Islamic exterior unique in the region, in a project that would extend from 1815-1822. The interior design, primarily by Frederick Crace and Robert Jones, reflected both Chinese and Indian fashion, something of a revival of the chinoiserie style of the 1740’s. The decorative choices were an example of exoticism in sharp contrast to the more classic mainstream taste of the era.

The Dragons of Brighton Pavilion

The interiors of Brighton Pavilion were distinctive for many reasons, including architecture, technological advances, and design. I’d like to focus on just one of those aspects here, the dragons. Literally hundreds of dragons grace the walls, textiles and fixtures of Brighton Pavilion. Not exactly what one might expect from the Regency era which is generally associated with neo-classical design. But the fantasy-escape offered by the Pavilion took guest out of the mundane at the first steps within.

Entrance Hall

The entrance hall offered visitors immediate hints as to what might lay within. The walls bear relatively subtle images of dragons.

Long Gallery

The Long Gallery, sometimes also he Chinese Gallery, provided a place for guests to promenade and admire the décor. Carved and painted dragons can be seen in a close examination Nash’s illustration.

Banqueting Room

The lavish banqueting room offers equally lavish dragon decoration, perhaps most notable is the carved and silvered dragon from which the crystal chandelier is suspended. (Click this link to see a photograph of the actual silver dragon http://www.victoriana.com/Travel/images/royalpavilion-7.jpg) Six smaller dragons wind around the lotus shaped glass shades. More dragons decorate lamps, walls and furnishings.

Music Room

The substantial music room is perhaps the pinnacle of the Pavilion’s chinoiserie theme. Landscape murals feature gigantic serpents and winged dragons. Dragons and serpents support the curtains for the enormous windows and decorate the gasoliers. At least 180 dragon and serpent grace this chamber.

Dragon décor can be seen in other rooms throughout the pavilion.  

Don’t forget the Tunnels

One final dragon friendly feature of the Royal Pavilion were the secret corridors used by the servants, and the tunnel that ran from the north end of the Pavilion to the stables and riding house. The tunnel was lit by shafts in the tunnel’s roof that held sizeable glass lanterns tucked into the flowerbeds above the tunnel.

Of course there are rumor and myths of a more substantial network of tunnels, connecting a variety of locations to the Pavilion, but those appear to by the substance of myth. 

Or maybe not. If I’m right, and dragons did inhabit Jane Austen’s England, then perhaps, just perhaps the additional tunnels were not so mythical, and the carved and painted dragons are not the only one to inhabit the Royal Pavilion.

A virtual tour of the Royal Pavilion

You can see several of these rooms for yourself! A virtual tour of a number of the rooms mentioned here can be found at: https://brightonmuseums.org.uk/royalpavilion/visiting/virtual-tour/

References

Brighton Pavilion. Open Learn. September 8, 2012, https://www.open.edu/openlearn/history-the-arts/history-art/brighton-pavilion/content-section-0 accessed April 20, 2021

Discover the Royal Pavilion. Victoriana Magazine http://www.victoriana.com/Travel/royalpavilion.htm Accessed April 20, 2021

Moss , Richard. Forgotten Rooms And Underground Tunnels – Secrets Of Brighton Pavilion. May 24, 2004.  https://www.culture24.org.uk/history-and-heritage/royal-history/tra2200   Accessed April 20, 2021

John Nash’s Views of the Royal Pavilion (1826) (All images from this source)


About Dragons Beyond the Pale

Smugglers. A kidnapping. A fire-breathing fairy dragon? The Blue Order is falling apart at the seams. 

After months in Bath mentoring Dragon Keepers and Friends, Dragon Sage Elizabeth Darcy actually anticipates traveling to London for the Keeper’s Cotillion. Which says a great deal considering the she-dragons who make up the Cotillion board would very much like to show the Sage her proper place.

The she-dragons, though, are no match for what Sir Fitzwilliam Darcy finds waiting for him in London. Threats to the Order on every side, and Lord Matlock demands he keep them secret from Elizabeth. No one keeps secrets from Elizabeth.

In the meantime, Anne and Frederick Wentworth arrive in London with hopes of finally being accepted in good Blue Order society, unaware of the burgeoning maelstrom about to engulf them.

Darcy manages to keep matters under control until a fairy-dragon’s prank unleashes sinister forces who perpetrate an unthinkable crime that could spell the end of the Pendragon Accords and usher in a new age of dragon war.

Can Elizabeth and Darcy, with the Wentworths’ help, restore balance to the Blue Order before the dragons decide to take matters into their own talons and right the wrongs themselves?

Buy on Amazon


Check out the rest of the series on Amazon, and visit the Jane Austen Dragon’s series website!


About the Author

Six-time BRAG Medallion Honoree, Maria Grace has her PhD in Educational Psychology and is a 16-year veteran of the university classroom where she taught courses in human growth and development, learning, test development and counseling. None of which have anything to do with her undergraduate studies in economics/sociology/managerial studies/behavior sciences. She pretends to be a mild-mannered writer/cat-lady, but most of her vacations require helmets and waivers or historical costumes, usually not at the same time.

She writes gas lamp fantasy, historical romance and non-fiction to help justify her research addiction.

She can be contacted at: author.MariaGrace@gmail.com | Facebook | Twitter | Random Bits of Fascination |Pinterest


Giveaway

Maria is generously offering a winner’s choice ebook giveaway! One lucky winner can choose between the newest ebook in the series, Dragons Beyond the Pale, or if they haven’t yet started the series, the first ebook, Pemberley: Mr. Darcy’s Dragon. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will be open through Sunday, May 23, 2021. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

Thank you, Maria, for being my guest today, and congratulations on your new release!

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