Brighton Pavilion’s crowned care for wounded soldiers

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Brighton Pavilion’s luscious and outwardly oriental design is often a big focus for tourists, it is Brighton’s biggest attraction, but the Pavilion’s time as a military hospital with a rich history steeped in the care for wounded Indian and British soldiers during WWI is less known.

02. indian soldier awarded a medal by king george V
King George V decorates Havildar Gagna Singh with the Indian Order of Merit, 21 August 1915.  Photo from here.

Over 6,000 amputee soldiers received treatment, rehabilitation and skills training from 1916 to 1920.

The insides of the big building were able to house many beds for soldiers wounded in unimaginably fierce battle.

Opening from today – 15th Marchto the 20th November 2016 – Brighton Museum will now host an exhibition that will throw light onto the photographs, poetry and objects of the period during the Pavilion Military Hospital’s desperate struggle to save the lives of wounded soldiers housed there, and the dreams the soldiers hung onto when they were rehabilitated.

For instance, the wounded soldiers during their time in the Pavilion hospital created their own publication called ‘The Pavilion Blues’ which was sold around Brighton and included humorous poetry that can now be viewed online:

The Pavilion Blues magazine. Photo from Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove.
The Pavilion Blues magazine in 1917. Photo from Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove.

The rehabilitation process for the amputees involved invaluable skills that prepared the wounded for a life outside the hospital, including engineering, grammar and cinematography.

The display is to be part of a broader programme at Royal Pavilion & Museums looking at disability history and experience, opening the space for dialogue and the exploration of contemporary issues.

The exhibition is free with the Brighton Museum admission, and it’s free if you’re a member or a resident, you can plan your visit here:!pavilion-blues-disability-and-identity

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