The History Of The Chapel Royal
The Foundation Stone of the Chapel Royal was laid by the Prince Regent in 1793 and the building was opened for worship in 1795, during August. It was intended as a Chapel of Ease to St Nicholas, the old Parish Church, which could not accommodate Brighton’s enlarged summer population – a consequence of the Prince Regent’s patronage of the town.
For this reason the Chapel Royal was only open from June to September in its early years, but following an Act of Parliament legalising it as a Chapel of Ease, the building was consecrated on August 16th 1803. Although frequented by Regency Society, the Prince himself stopped attending, following (it is said) his displeasure with a sermon on immorality in the nation.
In later years he caused a Royal Chapel to be opened in a converted ballroom in Castle Square. (This building has since been moved to Montpelier Place.)
The Early Victorian Period
As the Regency period came to an end and royalty ceased to visit the town, the centre became increasingly inhabited by poor people and the ministry of the Chapel Royal became more concerned with the problems of poverty and deprivation. Much of this occurred during the long ministry of the Rev’d Thomas Trocke (1834-75), who also had the big central lantern installed.
The Later Nineteenth Century
By 1876 the Chapel Royal was in a bad state of repair and when North Street was widened by the demolition of the shops on the south side of the building, urgent work was necessary. The Rev’d Seymour Penzer attacked the problems with vigour and he employed the noted Victorian architect, Arthur Blomfield, to supervise repairs and improvements. Blomfield had one interior gallery removed and new brick facades erected on the South and East sides. It was at this time that the clock tower was added. In 1897 the Chapel Royal was designated a parish church and a small area around the pavilion was designated the Chapel Royal Parish.
The young Winston Churchill was a member of the congregation from 1883 to 1885.