Estate acquired by the corporation in 1855
Please note that this text is an extract from a reference work written in 1990. As a result, some of the content may not reflect recent research, changes and events.
c) CLOSURE and PURCHASE: William’s successor in 1837, Queen Victoria, did not take to Brighton however, and made her last visit in 1845. With the Royal Pavilion now redundant as a royal palace, some of the furniture was removed to store the following year, and in 1847-8 143 van-loads of furniture were removed. The government then proposed the sale of the site to recoup money for extensions to Buckingham Palace, but the town commissioners suggested that the town might purchase the estate and a town meeting resolved unanimously to prevent demolition; 7,406 people then signed a petition against the government’s Bill.
The Bill was duly changed to allow for the sale of the estate to the town at £53,000, and the parish vestry appointed a committee of fourteen, including seven town commissioners, to effect the purchase; a contract was made out in these names. The town commissioners, however, maintained that they were the only body authorised to effect the purchase and their clerk, Lewis Slight, substituted his own name for the seven others on the contract, an action that led to great animosity in the vestry. To make matters worse, Slight announced to a vestry meeting on 20 December 1849 that he had already signed the contract the previous day, but instead of approving this contract the meeting defiantly passed an amendment rejecting purchase. A town poll was held on 21-22 December 1849 to settle the argument, and resulted in a vote for the purchase by 1,343 to 1,307, a majority of just 36 votes. The Bill was given royal assent in May 1850, and the nine-acre Royal Pavilion estate became the property of the town on 19 June 1850. It was transferred from the town commissioners to the corporation in 1855.
The remaining fittings were removed by H.M. Commissioner of Woods, Forests, Land Revenues, Works and Buildings, but £3,000 was allowed on the purchase price as the Church Commissioners claimed the former Royal Chapel and rebuilt it as St Stephen’s Church in Montpelier Place (see ” Clifton Hill (Montpelier Place)”).
Any numerical cross-references in the text above refer to resources in the Sources and Bibliography section of the Encyclopaedia of Brighton by Tim Carder.