The founder of Timothy Whites (Chemists), Sir Woolmer White, left the land on which the Centre is built to St. Faith’s Church in 1913 for the purpose of building a church. It was many years before the parish had the finances to do this and then because of a stroke of good fortune. Canon Derek Brown had a vision of taking the Gospel to Denvilles by fulfilling Sir Woolmer’s wish for a church to be built, but there was the question of finance.
As so often in life, the unexpected occurred – or, as many of us think, an act of God occurred. St. Faith’s had an old disused “tin” hall in Brockhampton, which in 1974, became the subject of a Council Compulsory Purchase Order. Canon Brown used the money received from the Council, together with some money left to St. Faith’s by Sir Woolmer, to build Christ Church Centre in 1976. All the signs were very promising. The parish had a Rector and two Assistant Priests, the estate was developing and much visiting to the local community had been undertaken prior to the opening of the Centre.
In 1979, one of the Assistant Priests houses in Havant (5 Grove Road) was sold and the money used to build a bungalow at the centre for an Assistant Priest. From this point onwards, problems for the Centre started to mount. The Rector lost his two assistants and single-handed was required to conduct services at St Faith’s, St Nicholas Chapel and the Centre, as well as being Chaplain to the Havant Memorial Hospital plus civic duties as the Mayor’s chaplain. He was given a retired priest to live in the bungalow and help out in the parish. Unfortunately, he was a very sick man, who, in fact, added to the Rector’s workload, because, when he was not in Haslar Hospital, he was receiving home communion at the bungalow! After a few years of struggle, help came with the arrival of Father Keith Uphill, who came to live in the bungalow and to assist the Rector until he got his own parish. He eventually did in 1984 when he moved to Morden, but not before he had made an outstanding contribution to the parish. Eventually, after the Rector struggled on against all the odds, the PCC decided to close Christ Church Centre. With the arrival from St Helena of Father John Ryder, the Centre re-opened, and all was well for a few years until he left to be Vicar of Godshill, Isle of Wight. With the help of visiting clergy, notably Father Dudley Vargas from Emsworth, Canon Derek Brown struggled on to keep the Centre open but eventually, declining numbers and mounting costs led the PCC to close the Centre in 1996.
The following year, Christ Church Centre was leased to the Bosmere Practice for 15 years and the Bungalow, after a period when it was leased to Southlands Housing Association, became the home of our retired Rector, Canon Derek Brown, in November 2000. The Bosmere Practice moved out to new premises on 9 June 2007 having taken up the break point of the lease. Canon Brown moved out of the bungalow at end-2008 and the bungalow was rented out until June 2011 when tenancy was taken by the Curate, the Reverend Pat Mann. Christ Church Centre was leased for a nursery on 20 May 2009 and opened by the Mayor of Havant, Cllr Jackie Branson, on 29 August 2009 under the name “Bright Beginnings Nursery”. Further details from : http://www.brightbeginningsnurseryltd.com/
Researched by Roger Bryant
Bungalow: 39 Snowberry Crescent, Havant PO9 2FE
Centre (“Bright Beginnings Nursery”): 41 Snowberry Crescent, Havant PO9 2FE
(contact Tracey on 023 9245 0758)