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The chapel, which is situated in Langstone High Street, was built in about 1869 by Henry Williams Jeans and erected to the memory of Thomas Temple Silver, his wife’s second cousin. Henry was born in Portsmouth in 1804. He was briefly articled to a solicitor, but in 1824 was working in the dockyard where he was put in charge of the chronometers in the observatory. He then taught mathematics at the Royal Navy College in Portsmouth dockyard. After the RN College was closed temporarily in 1837 Henry spent three terms at St. John’s College, Cambridge, before returning to the newly reopened college where he was mathematical master from 1839 to 1866. In 1840 he became a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and in 1848 he published “Handbook for the Stars”. He was also the author of books on plane and spherical trigonometry, navigation, and nautical astronomy. According to Alumni Cantabriensis Henry taught “for some time” at the Royal Military Academy in Woolwich before he retired.
In 1866 Henry was elected churchwarden to Reverend Francis Seymour of St. Faith’s church, Havant. He and his wife, Susan were by now living in Langstone House, next door to Susan’s two remaining sisters, Jane and Catherine. Susan, who was born in Langstone in 1808, was the daughter of Thomas Bayly Silver, a trustee of Havant Independent Chapel. He died in 1819. Susan’s maternal grandfather, Richard Philpott, was a trustee of the Presbyterian Chapel in Chichester. However, in 1838 Susan, aged 31, and her sister Catherine, aged 34, were baptised as adults at St. Faith’s church and on 23rd June 1846, two years after her mother’s death, Susan married Henry Jeans there. They lived in Portsmouth until Henry retired.
In 1868 Susan and Henry were left £1,000 by Thomas Temple Silver the younger, an ironmonger and iron merchant of Woodbridge, Suffolk. Susan and Thomas were both great-grandchildren of Thomas Silver, cider merchant, who died in Havant in 1781. Soon after receiving this bequest, Henry and Susan who were both in their sixties and childless, embarked on building a large and distinctive extension to the property now known as Langstone Towers, together with an adjoining chapel. The attractive cupola on the house appears to have been modelled on the one at the RN College in Portsmouth. Part of the original house was pulled down in the 1960s to make way for two new houses.
When Henry died on 23rd March 1881, aged 76, his obituary in the Evening News stated that he was “highly respected in this district and spent a large sum of money in the erection of a small church where he himself held frequent religious services. He was assisted in this good work by the clergy of Havant. We understand that the services will not be interrupted as provision has been made by Mr Jeans for a sufficient endowment. Poverty was almost unknown in the village near his house and his demise will be bitterly regretted by all of his poorest neighbours.” Among the mourners at Henry’s funeral were representatives of the Portsmouth Beneficial Society, of which he had been an honorary member for nearly sixty years, together with twelve senior pupils of the Beneficial School, founded in 1784 to educate some of Portsmouth’s poorest children.
Susan Jeans died in April 1887, aged 79. Under the terms of Henry’s will all their real estate was auctioned, except for the chapel. The sale included several properties and forty-five acres of land, in Langstone, about half of which had been inherited by Susan when her mother died in 1844.
It was quite usual in those days for larger houses to have a private chapel, in which members of the family and servants would assemble for morning prayers, conducted by the head of the household. But there seems to have been more to Langstone chapel than that. A plaque on the wall states that “This building is set apart for religious teaching and erected to the revered memory of Thomas Temple Silver, of Woodbridge, Suffolk, who died May 6th 1868″. This form of words suggests that the chapel was intended to serve a missionary purpose. Other evidence pointing in the same direction is the reference in Kelly’s Directory of 1880 to “a chapel erected by H W Jeans Esq (Susan’s husband) to seat about 50 persons”. This sounds as though the chapel was used from the beginning for public worship.
The 1897 Havant Almanack shows that services at the Mission Chapel, Langstone, were being held on Fridays at 7.30 p.m. and Sundays in winter at 6.30 p.m. but the Rector’s Review of that year stated that the services were “not quite appreciated”. By 1901 the services were being well used and in the 1920s, the Rector started a Sunday school which was run by Miss Doris Norkett who was known as “Norkie”. She had about twenty pupils, mainly from the cottages in Langstone High Street. “Norkie” would arrive with her bicycle laden with materials and the children would spend the morning singing hymns, listening to Bible stories, drawing pictures and making models.
Although the chapel has never been consecrated, it was once the scene of a wedding, when, on 27th April 1926 Charles Longcroft, a well-known local solicitor, married Ethel Russell of Langstone House. Ethel’s father, Henry, was an oyster merchant and ran his business from the premises next door to Langstone House, now known as the Winkle Market.
Langstone Towers during the 1914-18 War was used as an auxiliary military hospital with up to 46 beds. 1,430 patients were treated and 125 operations performed. As late as 1932, the chapel building is described as a Mission Church in the Ordnance Survey map of that date. In the Second World War the Ministry of Aircraft Production took the house over and aeroplane parts were made in a factory in the large grounds and paddock, now occupied by Towers Garden and the Saltings.
Currently (2003), the house is divided into two self-contained flats and a Communion service is held in the chapel on the first Sunday of each month at 8.00am. The chapel, which seats about thirty-five people, is also used for occasional village coffee mornings and exhibitions. The dedication of the chapel to St. Nicholas, patron saint of sailors, is believed to be of comparatively recent date.
In the spring of 2002 the chapel roof tiles were re-laid, with the original wooden pegs being replaced by aluminium ones. In order to define its ownership, St. Faith’s simultaneously obtained formal title to the chapel from the Land Registry. Most Anglican churches or chapels have their altars at the east end of the building. The chapel at Langstone, like the United Reformed Church in Havant, has its altar at the west end. This may have been dictated by architectural considerations, or it may have been deliberate.
Researched by Ann Griffiths
“The Langstone Anchor”
The anchor mounted in the gravel garden of the Chapel was recovered from the “Langstone” wreck in the harbour close to the Old Mill by Mike Rogers and Chris Ellis in the summer of 2000. In its time, the “Langstone” had been a proud and hard working sailing barge built in 1900 by Apps shipyard, Emsworth for the gravel and ballast trade. In the latter years of her service she had a broken back and finally retired in 1940. In 1948, after an uneventful war, she made her last journey from Langstone Quay to her final resting place in front of the Old Mill where she was stripped of all her brass, copper and gunmetal by an unscrupulous character and the results of his handiwork now lie rotting in the mud. For a barge, that was such a “local character”, this was a sad end.
After much hard work, and following advice given by Margaret Rule (Director of Operations for the raising of the Mary Rose), the anchor was treated over a period of time to bring it to its present condition and to protect it from further corrosion.
Early in the spring of 2005 Mike Rogers built a concrete plinth and mounted the anchor on it together with a brass plaque. Our thanks to Mike for all his hard work and generosity of spirit in putting the anchor on display for everyone to see.
ST. NICHOLAS’ CHAPEL, LANGSTONE – LEAFLET
THE SILVER FAMILY
The chapel at Langstone, Havant, was built circa 1870 byHenry Williams Jeans FRAS, whose wife, Susan, was descended from the local, nonconformist Silver and Bayly families.
Susan’s father, Thomas Bayly Silver, was for many years a yeoman at Upper Clatford near Andover. Her mother, Sarah, was the daughter of Richard Philpott, a knacker and general dealer and a trustee of the Presbyterian chapel in Chichester. Thomas and Sarah had seven daughters; Susan, the youngest, was born 1807/8, shortly after her parents came to live in Langstone. Thomas Bayly Silver, who was a trustee of Havant Independent Chapel, died in 1819 when Susan was about twelve. In 1838, Susan Silver and her sister, Catherine, were baptised as adults at St. Faith’s church, Havant. On 23rd June 1846, two years after her mother’s death, Susan married Henry Jeans at St. Faith’s.
Thomas Temple Silver
The plaque at the west end of the chapel states, “This building set apart for religious teaching is erected to the revered memory of Thomas Temple Silver of Woodbridge, Suffolk, who died May 6th 1868“.