Highways and Byways in Sussex - online book

An illustrated appreciation, of the most interesting districts in Sussex.

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162                              LE PRINCE S'AMUSE                           chap.
The Prince's second visit to Brighton was in July 1784. He then stayed at the house engaged for him by his cook, Louis Weltje, which, when he decided to build, became the nucleus of the Pavilion. The Prince at this time (he was now twenty-two) was full of spirit and enterprise, and in the company of Colonel Hanger, Sir John Lade of Etchingham, and other bloods, was ready for anything : even hard work, for in July 1784 he rode from Brighton to London and back again, on horse-back, in ten hours. One of his diversions in 1785 is thus described in the Press : " On Monday, June 27, His Royal Highness amused himself on the Steyne for some time in attempting to shoot doves with single balls; but with what result we have not heard, though the Prince is esteemed a most excellent shot, and seldom presents his piece without doing some execution. The Prince, in the course of his diversion, either by design or accident, lowered the tops of several of the chimneys of the Hon. Mr. Windham's house." The Prince seemed to live for the Steyne. When the first scheme of the Pavilion was completed, in 1787, his bedroom in it was so designed that he could recline at his ease and by means of mirrors watch everything that was happening on his favourite promenade.
The Prince was probably as bad as history states, but he had the quality of his defects, and Brighton was the livelier for the presence of his friends. Lyme Regis, Margate, Worthing, Lymington, Bognor—these had nothing to offer beyond the sea. Brighton could lay before her guests a thousand odd diversions, in addition to concerts, balls, masquerades, theatres, races. The Steyne, under the ingenious direction of Colonel Hanger, the Earl of Barrymore, and their associates, became an arena for curious contests. Officers and gentlemen, ridden by other officers and gentlemen, competed in races with octo­genarians. Strapping young women were induced to run against each other for a new smock or hat. Every kind of race was devised, even to walking backwards ; while a tame stag was occasionally liberated and hunted to refuge.
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