Situated in the heart of Brighton’s Cultural Quarter, it comes as no surprise that Brighton Dome is considered the cultural hub of this vibrant City. Brighton Dome has seen more events than your average arts venue, in fact there is nothing average about this place. It is steeped in history and it has had its fair share of Royal Connections.
Written by Lily Johnston
It was built in the early 1800’s as a very grand stable block for the then Prince Regent. It was later inherited by Queen Victoria but she didn’t have the same flamboyant nature as the Prince Regent, so, she sold the Pavilion to the City of Brighton in 1850, however, not before she removed all of its furnishings and used them to decorate Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace.
Since then, it has seen some pretty important parts of history and played a pivotal role in them. From transforming into a skating rink for the Victorian Gentry to being a makeshift hospital during World War I and nursing over 4000 soldiers back to health, to lifting the momentum of soldiers in World War II by hosting weekly dances with locals, it has certainly been versatile.
What a lot of us don’t know is that the Brighton Dome played a big part in the Suffragette Movement. Emmeline Pankhurst, the leader of The Suffragettes, who is widely regarded as one of the most important figures in British history, even came to speak at the Dome. The Suffragettes interrupted a large number of meetings held by politicians at the Dome and were even violently removed from the building in 1907. Still, this didn’t deter them, in 1910 two Suffragettes hid in the Dome overnight with the intention of interrupting the Prime Minister who was due to speak the next day. Despite them being discovered, another of the suffragettes managed to attend this meeting disguised in her husband’s clothes.
It’s not just the events that the Brighton Dome has encompassed within its walls which make it such a rich part of history, everything about this place from the tiles to the chandeliers have a story to tell. In fact, it is one of the few buildings to have both a listed interior and a listed exterior. The mosaic floors and tiles were architect designed back in 1906 by one of the most prominent architects of that time, G Harold Elphick.
Nowadays, we know the Brighton Dome as a performing arts venue. Since it was converted to an arts venue in 1867 it’s been graced with performances from a huge array of some of the most famous performers world wide, from Stevie Wonder to Ella Fitzgerald, but, what a lot of people aren’t aware of is the significance it has had in launching some of the careers of the world’s most legendary musicians.
ABBA won the Eurovision Song Contest with ‘Waterloo,’ in 1974 and this was held at the Brighton Dome! The significance of the Dome in ABBA’s career was recognised in 2017 by the BBC on their BBC Music Day when they installed a Blue Plaque to commemorate ABBA’s winning performance which catapulted them into fame. This Blue Plaque was one of just 47 which were unveiled that year. Not only this but one of the greatest selling albums in the world, Pink Floyd’s ‘The Dark Side of the Moon,’ was debuted here.
Keen to keep its history alive, Brighton Dome regularly run History and Heritage events. Brighton Dome is also determined to continue to be a part of modern music history and to make the arts accessible for everybody, regardless of their background through their Brighton & Hove Music & Arts Programme.
Featured image: © Philip Halling