Bilsham Chapel

Bilsham Chapel was built in the 14th century to serve the people living in the south of Yapton parish. Originally it consisted of a single room built of flint with sandstone dressings. In 1551 the Ecclesiastical Valuation recorded the lands and tithes as belonging to Tortington Priory with an annual valuation being assessed as £5.6s.8d (£5.33). By this time the chapel had fallen out of use with no Curate or service being carried out there.

The 1839 Tithe Map gives the owner as Anne Countess of Newburgh as part of Bilsham Farm which was farmed by William Laker. It was described as consisting of ‘two tenements and gardens’ covering an area of 18 perches (approx. ½ acre). This is confirmed by the 1841 census which recorded that William Napper, agricultural labourer, his wife Barbara and three children, lived at Chapel House, next door to John Eade, agricultural labourer, his wife Francis and their baby son, George. By this time the front wall had been completely rebuilt in brick.

As part of general repairs to Bilsham Farm, C. Hadfield Esq. F.R.I.B.A. undertook to renovate the chapel, which had fallen into a state of disrepair, in 1878. A new tie beam roof was erected and covered in 'old' tiles as nothing could be found of the existing roof. The original medieval windows were retained in the north and east walls and the north door which had been bricked up, was completely restored including its ancient oak beam. The south door was rebuilt in brick and the 'modern' windows replaced.

As much of the original plaster work was retained as possible especially the area at the west end of the north wall where there were signs of early decorations in the form of a series of crosses in 8” (200mm) diameter circles.

In November 1908, Bilsham Farm along with the chapel, was sold to Mr Walter Loveys, the tenant farmer. The chapel was itemised as 'old chapel used as store house' and was used as such. The farm and chapel stayed in the hands of the Loveys until the death of Colin Loveys in 1972 at which time the chapel was sold and converted into a private residence.

A.K.Misselbrook 2015


Bilsham Chapel dates from c.1340 [VCH 1907; Vol II; p376]

Bilsham Chapel in the 1980s

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