Church of England Diocese of Salisbury Gillingham

The history of this chapel

The history of St. George's Chapel

Origin

St George's, Langham is on the fringe of Gillingham in Langham Lane. It was built in 1921 by the Manger family, partly as a war memorial but it had been planned pre-war. When Alfred Manger "retired" (being aged 40!) to Stock Hill House (near the Chapel - now a hotel) in 1890 he intended to build a church on his land for Langham and his estate employees. In the war he lost his youngest son, Lieutenant John Kenneth Manger, his nephew George Bredin Kitson, a Private, although his father had been a Lieutenant in the Royal Marine Artillery (and his grandfather an army Chaplain) and his son-in-law Second Lieutenant Robert Lancaster, youngest son of Sir William Lancaster, a great benefactor, to the church, in giving land for a hospital in Putney but particulary to education (for which he was knighted by Edward VII). In 1901 Robert was a printer's apprentice. Clare Bracebridge Manger, who he married in 1907, was Alfred's daughter by his first wife Martha Heatley Gibson; Martha died in 1883 and in 1884 Alfred remarried to Elizabeth Ann Keevil.

However, Alfred Manger died himself in 1917 before he could his plan of building a church into action and his second wife Elizabeth followed him to the grave in 1919.

And so it was their eldest son, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Harwood Manger, who took on the task, building the chapel over his parents grave, but naming it after St. George, patron saint of soldiers, in memory of his brother, cousin and brother-in-law.

Care of the chapel

Charles Harwood Manger died in 1929 and his son, Lieutenant Colonel William Bourne Manger, last of the name, died in 1954. Since then St. George's Chapel, Langham has been maintained by the Manger family trust, with some local fund-raising (the thatch has recently been replaced at considerable cost).

Alfred Manger's family

Alfred came from an interesting family. An ancestor of his was the 18th century German pastor, Dr Johan Jakob Plitt, who preached a sermon on the eve of the battle of Lutzen in Germany in 1759. Dr Plitt’s sermon printed in 1759 in original German with English translation is in the Gillingham museum. Alfred's grandfather, Jacob Manger, who was born in France was probably named after Dr Plitt. Jacob was a "cheesemonger" while in 1841 Alfred's father, William was a clerk. But possibly due to taking over the business after Jacob's death (in 1849) William was described as a "butterman" in the 1861 census. By 1871, however, he was a "lamp manufacturer" and in 1881 an "oil merchant". Alfred seems to have followed his father as a businessman - the above mentioned daughter Clare was born in Hong Kong.

Alfred's second wife, Elizabeth, was a farmer's daughter - born in Wimborne Minster, Dorset, where her father farmed the 230 acre Barnsley Farm, the family subsequently moved to the larger (1312 acre) Compton Farm in Compton Chamberlayne, Wiltshire where 30 workers were employed.

Perhaps it was experiencing the country life of his wife's family that led London born business man Alfred to retire early to the country.

Design

St. George's Church, Langham was one of few built so soon after the Great War and probably the only thatched one of that era. The architect of St. George's, Mr C E Ponting of Marlborough, active in the West Country and steeped in the values of the Arts and Crafts movement, had it thatched after one on the Isle of Wight.

The architect

Charles Edwin Ponting FSA, the Architect who drew the plans and designs of the intended new Church was born in Collingbourne Ducis, Wiltshire in 1849. He was the son of Henry, a forrester and then land agent, and Ann and was one of a large family (he had at least 10 siblings). Between 1866 and 1871 the family moved to Burbage (also in Wiltshire).

Charles began his in 1864 in the office of Samuel Overton, Burbage based Architect and Surveyor, becoming the Agent and Architect of the Meux Estates, West Overton, Wiltshire in 1870 and he lived in the house next to the Estates yard. In 1872 he married Martha Margaretta Overton, daughter of Samuel Overton. Tragically, Charles' young wife died just a year later, aged 20, after giving birth to twin daughters. First one of his sisters and then a sister-in-law Lydia lived with him and doubtless helped look after his young family.

He remained in Lockeridge Cottage for over 20 years till in 1895 he moved to Marlborough to live in Wye House at the foot of Barn Street where in 1901 he was living with his daughters, his late wife's sister and 3 servants.

Use

Each year this tiny place of worship regularly hosts at least two services: Eucharists at Christmas and Easter.

Details can be confirmed on the services and events page.

The chapel trustees in the chapel history state that it was one man’s concept borne out by his family “to give strength and courage in adversity and thanksgiving for the days of peace. May St George’s church live on as a symbol of Christian faith which can look beyond the horrors of war.”