Royal Pavilion Estate awarded £1 million Lottery funding towards Corn Exchange renovation


The National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) has awarded the city’s Royal Pavilion Estate regeneration an additional £1 million from its Heritage Capital Kickstart Fund. The funding is part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s Culture Recovery Fund package. 

It will be added to the £4.823 million grant allocated by the NLHF for the project in 2016. In December the Royal Pavilion Estate was also awarded £458,920 from Arts Council England’s (ACE) Cultural Capital Kickstart Fund.  

The financial support will be used to continue  Phase One of the project to refurbish Brighton Dome’s Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre. The project is a long-term collaboration between Brighton & Hove City Council, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival and the Royal Pavilion & Museums Trust. 

Council leader Phélim Mac Cafferty said: 

“This is a symbol of hope for Brighton & Hove’s cultural recovery after an especially difficult year for the arts. We look forward to when the city’s venues can welcome back artists and audiences safely, with improved access for everyone to enjoy cultural experiences. We are extremely grateful to the NLHF for their continued support for the Royal Pavilion Estate. Covid-19 has increased the financial pressures on the work programme as well as across council services and the cultural sector. The funding recognises the importance of the project to the cultural and economic life of the city and will set us on the right track to complete the work.”

Major restoration of the Grade I listed Brighton Dome Corn Exchange and Grade II listed Studio Theatre is the first phase of a wider project to reaffirm Brighton’s Royal Pavilion Estate as a key cultural destination. It includes the Royal Pavilion, Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, Brighton Dome Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre and the Regency garden.

 The Grade I listed Corn Exchange was built in the early 19th century for the Prince Regent as his riding house and supper room with unique architectural features, including the widest span timber frame in the country. The Grade II Studio Theatre was later added in the 1930s.

The refurbishment will improve public and artist facilities including accessible toilets, hearing assistance systems, wheelchair access and a new creative space for community groups and emerging artists to develop their work. 

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival added: 

“Brighton Dome has been part of the city’s history for over 200 years and we want to protect its legacy for future generations to enjoy and for artists to continue to perform here. The refurbishment of these heritage buildings has been incredibly complex and this welcome support from the NLHF has come at a crucial point, as we begin 2021 with a renewed determination to bring the arts to our audiences and communities.”  

Over the last year, contractors have been able to progress with major architectural restoration work including essential repairs to the Corn Exchange roof. Over 16,000 slate tiles, weighing 55 tonnes, have been replaced to protect the building from weather damage. Many of the original interior heritage features have been restored using specialist carpentry skills. 6,500 linear meters of oak cladding installed along the length of the Corn Exchange walls and roof arches and 34 oak pilaster columns have been recreated from archive drawings to match how the building would have looked over 200 years ago. Further internal improvements that will benefit visitors and audiences attending events include the installation of new lifts and a dry air cooling system for maintaining temperature control in the venue.

The longer-term vision aims to reunite the historic Royal Pavilion Estate to create a centre for heritage, culture and the performing arts which reflects the unique spirit of Brighton & Hove. It is anticipated that the revitalised Royal Pavilion Estate will support 1,241 FTE jobs and have an economic impact of £68m.