The Garden Guide

Book: Designs for the pavilion at Brighton, 1808
Chapter: Designs For The Pavilion At Brighton

Hindu architecture

Previous - Next

I shall now proceed to explain the reasons for recommending, in the present instance, a departure from the styles of architecture hitherto used in this country. It happened that, a little before my first visit to Brighton, I had been consulted by the proprietor of Sezincot, in Gloucestershire, where he wished to introduce the gardening and architecture which he had seen in India.* I confess the subject was then entirely new to me: but, from his long residence in the interior of that country, and from the good taste and accuracy with which he had observed and pointed out to me the various forms of ancient Hindu architecture, a new field opened itself; and, as I became more acquainted with them, through the accurate sketches and drawings made on the spot by my ingenious friend Mr. T. DANIELL, I was pleased at having discovered new sources of beauty and variety, which might gratify that thirst for novelty, so dangerous to good taste in any system long established; because it is much safer to depart entirely from any given style, than to admit changes and modifications in its proportions, that tend to destroy its character. Thus, when we are told that "a pediment is old fashioned, and a Doric column too thick and clumsy," the corruption of Grecian architecture may be anticipated. And since the rage for Gothic has lately prevailed, the sudden erection of spruce Gothic villas threatens to vitiate the pure style of those venerable remains of ancient English grandeur, which are more often badly imitated in new buildings, than preserved or restored in the old. It is not, therefore, with a view to supersede the known styles, that I am become an advocate for a new one, but to preserve their long-established proportions, pure and unmixed by fanciful innovations. *[Although I gave my opinion concerning the adoption of this new style, and even assisted in the selecting some of the forms from Mr. T. Daniell's collection, yet the architectural department at Sezincot, of course, devolved to the brother of the proprietor, who has displayed as much correctness as could be expected in a first attempt of a new style, of which he could have no knowledge but from drawings, hut who has sufficiently exemplified, in various parts of his building, that the detail of Hindu architecture is as beautiful in reality as it appears in the drawings, and does not shrink from a comparison with the pure Gothic in richness of effect.] [Knowledge of Indian architecture was not widely available in Repton's time but the style chosen for the Brighton Pavilion is in fact more Islamic than Hindu. TT]