Franconi's Circus, Pavilion Riding School

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Venue Type & Location

Sporting Ground/Facility

Site Name: Franconi's Circus, Pavilion Riding School
Location: Brighton
County: Sussex
Location Type: Town - in town at determined location


  • Address: Church Street and New Road. For a current map, Click Here.

  • Performance Space Description: A circus/arena erected inside a pre-existing building (the Pavilion Riding School/Brighton Pavilion). Further Information about this venue has not yet been compiled; however, some sense of the performance space may be gleaned by following the links at right. In particular:

  • See the 'Bibliographic Sources' link for a provisional list of venue-relevant resources (both primary and secondary). Wherever possible (i.e. when the pertinent text is relatively short and/or easily condensed) this material has been transcribed, and appears beneath the appropriate bibliographic citation.

  • See the 'Events at venue' link for a listing of blackface/minstrelsy-related events that took place in this performance space (with attached bibliographic references).

    Beth Marquis

  • Troupes at Franconi's Circus, Pavilion Riding School

    Troupe Troupe Type # of events
    Allen, S (Bosjesmen Lecturer) Lecture 1
    Bosjesmans Exhibition 1

    Events at Franconi's Circus, Pavilion Riding School

    Event Date Venue Location Troupe
    Exhibition 13 November 1851 - 13 November 1851 Brighton, Sussex Bosjesmans, Allen, S (Bosjesmen Lecturer)

    Bibliographic Sources

    • University of Bristol, Kathleen Barker Collection. KB/5.
    • Theatres Trust Website. 03/06/2008 (

      Under 'Dome Concert Hall & Pavilion Theatre': "The complex surrounding the Dome conveys the impression of being the product of a sustained building campaign in consistent style, but it is actually the work of a number of different hands and periods. The Dome itself (not so called until the mid-1850s) was a rotunda stable, designed by William Porden in 1804 in the ‘Hindoo’ manner, and built to serve the Prince Regent's Brighton residence, the Pavilion. It was this stable building which set the Islamic style, later to be adopted in spectacular fashion for the remodelling of the Royal Pavilion itself. Alongside was a Riding School, now the Corn Exchange. The Museum and Library which make up the remainder of the complex, were added by Philip Lockwood in the 1860s & 70s, and modified and extended by Francis May in 1901-2. The stables were converted into a concert hall with a magnificent polychrome Saracenic interior by Lockwood in 1867, but the whole of his work was lost or obscured when Robert Atkinson removed an inner ring of columns and constructed a new interior in cine-modern style in 1934-5. Atkinson also built a new Church Street entrance for the Corn Exchange (by this time used for a multiplicity of purposes) and a supper room doubling as a concert room (now the Pavilion Theatre) on the south west, New Road, corner of the site. As seen now, the complex contains three performance spaces: the Dome Concert Hall, the Corn Exchange and the Pavilion Theatre. The least altered is the Corn Exchange, still a flat-floored multi-purpose room, recognisably Porden’s Riding School, a fine space with an elliptical roof in one span without tie beams. A gallery entrance to the Pavilion Theatre was added near the south end by Atkinson. The Dome Concert Hall is much as Atkinson left it, a circular domed interior, interesting of its date but now inadequate in both its stage dimensions and its acoustic performance. May's magnificent tiled entrance remains in altered condition. Atkinson’s Pavilion Theatre presents a simply massed façe to New Road, with minimal ornament faintly echoing the Islamic style of its neighbours. It is disappointing in having no public entrance from the street, where it could have intensified evening activity in the vicinity of the nearly opposite Theatre Royal. The auditorium is a flat-floored multi-purpose room, decent enough, but not Atkinson at his best. The 1999-2000 works to the complex included radical improvements to the Dome and Pavilion Theatre."