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Selected Brighton Magazine Article

Friday 06 August 2010

How Brighton’s Royal Pavilion Once Became An Indian Military Hospital

Visitors are flocking to a new exhibition at Brighton's historic Royal Pavilion. The exhibition charting the Royal Pavilion's remarkable role as an Indian Military Hospital during World War One opened earlier this year.
Brighton Royal Pavilion As An Indian Military Hospital –

The new permanent gallery highlights how more than 4,000 Indian soldiers, who were fighting under British command on the Western Front in France and Flanders, were treated at the Royal Pavilion between 1914 and 1916.

Opulent public rooms in the royal palace, such as the Banqueting Room and Music Room, were transformed into wards and the Great Kitchen was even used as an operating theatre.

The soldiers were amazed at being cared for in such grand surroundings. One wrote to a friend back in India: "Our hospital is in the place where the King used to have his throne. The men in the hospital are tended like flowers."

The Royal Pavilion is the former seaside residence of King George IV and owned and run by Brighton & Hove City Council.



Councillor David Smith, the council's Cabinet Member for Culture, Recreation and Tourism, said: "The exhibition provides an insight into this fascinating and - until now - often forgotten chapter from the pavilion's past and we are delighted it is attracting so many people.

"We have welcomed visitors from across this country and abroad, including relatives of some of the British orderlies and Indian Medical Service personnel who served in the Royal Pavilion when it was a military hospital."


Archive photographs, paintings, contemporary accounts and newsreel bring the story to life, along with exhibits such as a Gurkha knife, Lee Enfield rifle, transcripts of letters sent home by the soldiers, a ward menu discovered under the floorboards, and hookah pipe found discarded in the grounds.

Cllr Smith added: "With more people 'staycationing' in Britain, and a weak pound attracting more foreign visitors, we are expecting the increase in visitor numbers to continue during the summer."


The Royal Pavilion as a Military Hospital is a permanent exhibition, for more information visit www.brighton-hove-pavilion.org.uk or ring 03000 290902.

Brighton & Hove residents can enjoy half-price admission to the Pavilion with up to four accompanying children free (bring proof of residency, one item required per adult eg council tax or other utility bill.)


by: Mike Cobley




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