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©  Robert E Priest LRPS

IoE Number: 480948
Location: THE CHAPEL ROYAL, NORTH STREET (north side)
Photographer: Robert E Priest LRPS
Date Photographed: 15 January 2001
Date listed: 30 July 1992
Date of last amendment: 30 July 1992
Grade II*

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BRIGHTON TQ3104SW NORTH STREET 577-1/40/608 (North side) 30/07/92 The Chapel Royal II* Proprietary chapel, now Anglican church. Built 1793-95 for the Rev. Thomas Hudson, Vicar of Brighton, by the architect, Thomas Saunders. Extensive rebuilding between 1876 and 1896 to the designs of Arthur Blomfield for, successively, the Revs. CS Childer, D Harrison, WS Andrews and S Panzer; the builder, George Lynn and Sons of Brighton. Brick in Flemish bond with dressings in rubbed brick, terracotta and split flint; flint insets to upper sections of tower. Hipped roof of slate. The church's orientation is inverted, the ritual east end located at the cardinal west end of the nave. In the following description all directions refer to ritual orientations. PLAN: nave square in plan, with galleried aisles on 3 sides; shallow chancel of one bay is as broad as the nave; organ chamber in north-east corner, vestry to south-west; long entrance porch at west end with 2 entrances; tower of 2 stages with high, hipped roof at the northwest corner; elevation to North Street has a 4-window range, and the return a 5-window range. The style is Eclectic, being a free combination of Italian Renaissance, Italian Romanesque and northern Gothic forms. EXTERIOR: at the extreme ends of the return or west elevation can be found one round-arched and subordered entrance, each set within a steeply pitched Gothic gable. The 3 windows between, which survive from the original chapel, are round arched like all ground-floor openings, and linked by a springing band; below the centre a segmental-arched basement door with one segmental-arched basement window to either side. All first-floor windows on both elevations are flat arched, with continuous sill bands, and set within shallow recesses topped by a brick dentil cornice. The centre 3 ranges of the west elevation project by one brick's thickness, and are topped by a high pediment, which feature Blomfield meant as a reference to the original elevation; the tympanum of this pediment has blind arcading; the first-floor windows in this section are separated from each other by a narrow, round-arched recess. In the tympanum of the west pediment are the Royal Arms, carved in stone, a survival of the original, on which is inscribed the date on which the Prince of Wales laid the foundation stone: MDCCXCIII (1793). From either side of the pediment runs an arcaded balustrade which appears again on the North Street elevation. The bay elevation found in the centre section of the west elevation repeated on the North Street elevation, which has no pediment; the balustrade is interrupted by 4 Gothic socles, each topped by a floriate cross. The North Street elevation is not parallel to the street but angles in from the party wall to provide space for the tower. A stair porch with lean-to roof to the east face of the tower. In the north face of the tower is an entrance similar on the west face. Above, the centre section of each tower face sets back creating corner buttresses; in the west face of the tower 3 round-arched lights with 2 roundels above, all gathered together under a round relieving arch; at the top of each recess an arcaded corbel table, in turn topped by a band of blind arcading with terracotta cornice. Projecting from each corner of this cornice is a gargoyle. In each face of the top stage of the tower is a clock face set in a terracotta surround; cornice to roof, which has one narrow, hipped gable to each face; metal pinnacle and cross to peak. INTERIOR: the plan of the interior is most unusual: 12 octagonal, double-height columns in wood define a square nave, each elevation of which articulated as a 3-bay arcade, supporting an entablature with an inscription; the centre bay of each arcade is wider than those flanking, forming a tripartite screen. Blomfield may possibly have meant this arrangement as a reference to the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. On the east this screen opens into a shallow chancel, raised above the floor of the nave: features include a pulpit to the north and an altar rail, both are made from wood with metal railings; the altarpiece was completed in October of 1926 and was executed by local artist, Harry Mileham. Of special note are the wall paintings in the chancel; these once covered most of the interior and traces of the original scheme can still be seen on the ceiling which follows the line of the roof; evangelists symbols to each facet of the pyramidal ceiling; the original scheme dates probably to the early 1880s; by 1912 it had so faded that repainting was necessary. The ceiling over the nave terminates in a square light register with coloured glass. On the remaining 3 sides of the nave, the arcades support galleries. The windows are in many places filled with coloured glass, and there is stained glass to the ground-floor windows in the north aisle, which area has been screened off for use as bookshop; these windows were originally located in the south aisle. At the time of writing, there are plans to rearrange the interior as a centralised church, converting the undergalleries into areas for kitchen and related facilities, and opening up an entrance on North Street by cutting down one of the north aisle windows. HISTORICAL NOTE: originally the Chapel Royal presented an elevation to Prince's Place only and was flanked by late C18 and early C19 buildings. The original elevation was 2 storeys, with a 5-window range, the wall and cornice stepping up to form a pediment over the 3 centre window ranges; by the mid C19 the peak of the pediment was cut back to form a shelf holding the Royal Arms which survive on this elevation today. All ground-floor windows and the centre window on the first floor were round arched; the rest were flat arched. In 1876 Blomfield, working for the Rev. Chilver, appointed perpetual curate in 1870, refurnished the interior and installed the 3-light wood mullioned windows which are still to be found on the return to Prince's Place. In 1879, after the Corporation pulled down a weatherboarded cottage on the corner for the widening of North Street, Blomfield was asked to provide plans for the west elevation and a new elevation to North Street; his first plan was rejected because of the tower. By 1881, however, local opinion changed, and it was thought that a tower would provide a much-needed "ornament to the town"; the Town Council gave the land for the tower and a local clock-maker provided the works for free. Blomfield's design was published in "The Builder" for 28 October, 1882. The tower and North Street elevation were completed first, by the end of 1883, for 1,200 pounds; the Prince's Place elevation was completed only in 1896. The delay in completion was caused by lack of funds, especially dire in this case as the only income after 1870 came from offertories, which were instituted in 1881, and pew rents, which were fast disappearing. A stipend and endowment were provided by the Ecclesiastical Commission when the chapel was constituted as a separate parish church in 1896. The Rev. Thomas Hudson had hoped that the chapel would attract the Prince of Wales and large congregations to the new chapel at the same time that it would relieve overcrowding in the parish Church of St Nicholas, Church Street (qv). Although the Prince and Princess of Wales did lay the corner stone on 25 November, 1793, and attend the opening service on 3 August, 1795, their attendance was irregular and finally ended after Hudson delivered a controversial sermon. In the 1803 the building became a Chapel of Ease. Gladstone went to services in the Chapel Royal on his numerous visits to Brighton. Between 1883 and 1885 the young Winston Churchill worshipped here along with the other children who attended the small school run by the Misses Thompson. (Carder T: The Encyclopaedia of Brighton: Lewes: 1990-: 112E; Webb MJ: The History of the Chapel Royal, Brighton, 1793-1943).

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