From Horrible Histories to Famous Faces Discover Brighton Dome’s Fascinating Heritage Facts

1 Sep 2019

This Autumn, Brighton Dome is celebrating its 216-year long history at open days, in talks, tours and other heritage events. Learn more about the venue through ten fascinating facts below before coming along to events this season to hear the full stories.

  • When it was first built in 1806, the Brighton Dome roof was constructed of thousands of panes of glass. At the time it was the second largest dome shaped building in the country, after St Paul’s Cathedral.

  • The 174-metre-long Corn Exchange has arched beams that are so big that building had to be temporarily postponed due to difficulties finding trees large enough! Want to find out more about the interior design of the Royal Pavilion Estate? On Fri 4 Oct, join Dr Alexandra Loske, Curator of the Royal Pavilion in a lunchtime talk, Moving Interiors: The Royal Pavilion Through the Ages.
  • There is a hidden underground tunnel that runs beneath the Royal Pavilion. Built in 1821, it’s thought that Kind George IV used the secret tunnel to reach the stables (now Brighton Dome) out of sight from the public. Catch a rare glimpse of the tunnel and find out what else it was used for in one of our monthly Backstage Tours from 28 Sep


  • On 19 June 1850, the Royal Pavilion became the property of the people of Brighton thanks to a small group of locals. Queen Victoria was paid £53,000 for the former palace, after negotiations lead by Lewis Slight, using a loan from the Bank of England. Local historian and writer Philip Morgan will share the story of the survival of the estate as part of our free Heritage Open Day event on Sat 14 Sep.
  • During the First World War the Concert Hall and Corn Exchange were used as a hospital. Over 4000 wounded Indian soldiers were nursed back to health in the decorative surroundings. On Sun 3 Nov, join us for a free day of activities, tours and talks remembering stories from World War I and World War II. 

Credit: The Royal Pavilion and Musems, Brighton & Hove

  • Brighton Dome was an important centre of activity for Brighton members of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) in the early twentieth century. In January 1910 police extricated two women, Brighton-local Eva Bourne and high-profile activist Mary Leigh, from inside the organ at Brighton Dome, after they drew attention to their hiding place with a sneeze. They had planned to leap from the organ during a talk that evening by anti-suffrage Prime Minister Herbert Asquith.

  • In 1935 Brighton Dome was renovated with a new interior designed by Robert Atkinson and the famous Dome organ was first installed. Hear the original organ being played by Michael Woolridge, one of the UK’s most highly acclaimed theatre organists, as part of Heritage Open Day event on Sat 14 Sep.

Douglas Reeve at the Organ

  • In 1972, Pink Floyd made music history by premiering their eighth studio album The Dark Side of The Moon at Brighton Dome. According to a review in New Musical Express, the band were still working on the album and arranging songs on their way to Brighton and it wasn’t even recorded until later that same year.

  • On 6 April 1974, ABBA launched their career after winning the 19th Eurovision Song Contest for Sweden at Brighton Dome. Find out more about the famous performers who have graced the stage and peek behind the scenes in our Backstage Tours. 

ABBA Eurovision at Brighton Dome

Click here to see all of our upcoming heritage events and book tickets online now. Want to hear more about what’s coming up? Sign up to our mailing list, or follow us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter for all the latest show news and new on sale info.