A LIVING CHURCH

On this page and subsequent pages, you will find a brief account of the Parish Church of St. Faith, to which for almost a thousand years men and women of Havant have come to worship God; to give thanks to Him for all His blessings; to seek strength and inspiration to do His will.

While we are proud of our ancient tradition, we are conscious that church history is still in the making. Day by day the worship of God continues in this church building. The Church of God, His family in this place, must go out to do His will. So we ask your prayers that God may also guide us, that we may worthily maintain the faith of our forefathers, worship Him in sincerity and truth, and show in our community the Christian love and service of which the building is an abiding symbol.  

 

Havant Church is dedicated to St. Faith, the girl martyr of Aquitaine. This dedication has existed since the eleventh century, and there has been a church of St. Faith at Havant on this spot for about nine centuries. Of the original Saxon, or Norman, church nothing definitely remains, although it is probable that some of the stonework is older material re-used. There is let into the wall of the west end, near to the font, a peculiarly carved stone. This was found in the rubble filling the tower when it was rebuilt in the 19th century. The carving has been called part of a Saxon font but it was very likely executed much later. Even so, it is probably the earliest stone fragment in the church. There is a possibility that some of the brick in the wall is Roman.

When the church was being repaired in 1832 it was found to be standing on part of a Roman foundation. The Saxon church was replaced in the 12th century, when the arches of the crossing were set up, and a nave of three bays was continued towards the west. The original height of this nave was the same as that of the present chancel.

The chancel, the oldest undisturbed part of the building, was constructed in the early 13th century. It was originally lit by the lancet windows in the north and south walls of each bay, of which that on the north-east survives. The original east window also probably consisted of three of these lancets. North and south transepts in similar style completed the building.

In the 14th century an extra storey was apparently added to the tower; the lancets in the chancel were replaced, with one exception, by the present windows. A vestry was built on the north-east bay of the chancel, and the lancet window was buried in the new wall to be preserved for posterity.

Later too, the triple lancet at the east end was replaced by a perpendicular window, and the north transept aisle was added, probably in the late 15th century, to be the chantry and tomb of Sir Richard Dalyngridge, Lord of the Manor of Wade. The chantry lapsed before 1547.

This completed the church as it was to remain until the 19th century. In 1832 the nave was found to be very unsafe. It was taken down and a new one built, also of three bays, but higher than before, and without aisles. The resulting structure was adequate but not very handsome. Then, in about 1870, it was discovered that the removal of the nave and its rebuilding had seriously affected the strength of the tower. This was on the point of collapse, and in fact was only saved by the brick supports inserted in 1832. From then until 1875 the whole of the western end of the church was remodelled.

The tower was taken down to the level of the crossing arches, which were strengthened and repaired, and was then rebuilt to the old plan with the original materials. The nave was rebuilt, this time with aisles, and was extended one bay to the west. The north porch was added, and the south transept aisle built on the pattern of that on the north.

This resulted in the building which you see today. There are two blocked doorways near the chancel arch; the lower one originally gave access to the staircase in the tower from the church; the upper led from this to the rood loft? The two bosses in the chancel vault are thought to show French influence. Situated in one of the blocked doorways is a statue depicting our patron St. Faith, installed in memory of Doris Norkett, who gave many years of devoted service to the church.

Researched by Mr. AJC Reger