Historic Image: Ward
Saloon as Indian hospital ward, 1915.
This small, serene chamber lies at the very heart of the Pavilion. With its circular shape and domed ceiling, it almost feels like a chapel or temple. An important aspect of patient welfare was, of course, their religious and spiritual well-being, and the authorities took great care to accommodate a diverse range of beliefs. Kevin Bacon explains how:
‘To satisfy the religious requirements of the men in the Pavilion hospital, Sikhs were given a gurdwara, which is a structure used to take the Sikh holy book, so they were given a tented gurdwara in the grounds of the Royal Pavilion. In fact they had two, the first burnt down, but they were given another one. Muslims weren’t given any structure that they could use for worship because there was a belief that if any structure was built that area of ground would be considered forever sacred to Islam, but they were given space on the eastern lawns where they could pray towards Mecca. Another concern was local Christians trying to get access to the estate to actually convert these Indian men to Christianity. And this was something that absolutely terrified the British authorities, because the British Raj grew out of the ashes of the Indian rebellions in 1857 which were essentially a religious war inspired by a lack of British respect for Indian religions. And in fact the one thing Britain had learned was that to keep control of India it had to absolutely respect those indigenous religions.’
Historic Image: Gurdwara
Tented gurdwara in Royal Pavilion garden, 1915.