About the Building and First Base
Our building is currently used as a day centre for rough sleepers in Brighton and Hove. Built in 1766 as an assembly room to the fashionable Castle Inn, it has a rather grand and interesting past.
Now located on Montpelier Place in Brighton, the building’s original location was roughly where the Royal Bank of Scotland stands today on the Old Steine. It was attached to the Castle Inn, one of Brighton’s first and most fashionable venues which was in part responsible for putting Brighton on the map.
The assembly rooms were closed in 1814 and bought by King George IV to become the chapel to the Royal Pavilion in 1822.
In 1847, as part of a huge sell off of parts of the estate, the building was dismantled. Town Commissioners bought the building in 1850 for £53,000 to prevent its demolition which prompted the Bishop of Chichester, to claim that as the chapel had been consecrated it belonged to the church. This claim was accepted.
The vicar of Brighton’s sister, Mary Anne Wagner, offered the diocese part of a piece of land as a site for the re-erection of the Royal Chapel and a contribution towards the costs.
This generous offer was accepted and the building was re-erected brick by brick on Montpelier Place in 1851 and became St Stephen’s Church until 1939 when it closed due to a dwindling congregation.
In 1950 it opened as the Sussex Diocesan Association for the Deaf and Dumb, which later became Sussex Deaf Club.
In 1982 it again became empty and BHT took over the building. It became First Base Day Centre in 1984. In 2010 we received funding to renovate the building and restore its beautiful original features as well as create a functional, fit for purpose day centre for our homeless clients.