Re-Creation of John Nash’s Regency Gardens at the Royal Pavilion, Brighton
In the early 1980s, when the idea was first aired of re-creating John Nash’s original landscape setting around the Royal Pavilion, Regency gardening as a style was still being actively explored.Its various origins, the Picturesque movement, the cult of all things oriental, the rediscovery of the role of flowers around the house and the vast influx of new species, were all familiar and well documented in literature, but nowhere had these strands been analysed and pulled together to illustrate a coherent, practical method of gardening which could assist in restoration.In retrospect it seems entirely appropriate that Mavis Batey should have had such a long-standing and indispensable role in the making of Brighton Pavilion’s gardens. Her enthusiasm, supported by Marion Waller (then deputy director), helped to persuade the Pavilion’s director that a re-created Regency landscape would be the ideal setting for the building, itself about to undergo the most intensive restoration of its life.Although at the outset there was no strong archival support for Nash’s layout having been carried out, and regrettably no archaeological investigations made, the inclusion of a comprehensive garden layout in Nash’s volume, “Views of the Royal Pavilion” (1826) indicated what he had in mind and hence the form of the garden’s re-creation.
Mavis and Marion together went on to produce the literary and horticultural quotations and descriptions, the prints and drawings of Regency gardens in England and abroad and the nursery lists and catalogues, all of which went to form the archival basis for the re-creation.
Mavis has since collated and made available her researches not only through the Society’s invaluable Regency Information File, but to a wider public in her splendid addition to the Shire series, “Regency Gardens.” So comprehensive yet eminently readable is this that it is adopted as prescribed reading for the following commentary on the more practical and particular aspects of the re-creation of the Pavilion’s gardens!