The chapel at Rowfant House is the only officially registered place of worship in the UK that is the property of a Latvian organization.
Latvian services have been held at Rowfant since 1953, when the London Latvian Lutheran Church first started to lease Rowfant House.
Later the church purchased Rowfant House from the Locker-Lampson family, and subsequently Rowfant House Ltd was set up as a registered charity to own and run Rowfant House on behalf of the Latvian Lutheran Church in Great Britain.
In addition to its regular monthly Latvian services, the chapel is sometimes used by other congregations for their services. It is also available for baptisms and Christian weddings and funerals, with facilities for receptions at Rowfant House.
To discuss using the Chapel for a wedding, baptism or funeral, please contact Pastor Eliza Zikmane, tel. 07986 439970 .
Jane Locker-Lampson, a particularly religious family member of an earlier generation, had converted one of the rooms of Rowfant House into a chapel, and the Latvians continued to use it as such.
Pastor Roberts Slokenbergs held the first Latvian service there on 29th November, 1953.
Since then, changes have been made to the chapel which have enhanced its Latvian identity.
The pulpit, the great wooden cross behind the altar, the font, and the chandeliers are the work of a Latvian sculptor, Zigfrids Sapiets. The stained glass windows, installed in 2003-4, are the work of Ilga Dripe. On one side are four windows that symbolize four seasons and festivals of the church year: Christmas, Easter, Whitsun and the Harvest Festival.
On the other side, above a cupboard that contains cremation caskets, are two windows with the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, alpha and omega. The accompanying texts are Latvian versions of “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies” (Jn 11:25) and “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” (Rev 22:13).
On the mantelpiece in the chapel there is a painting which is of considerable historical interest for the Latvian community at Rowfant.
When Latvians arrived in this country after the Second World War, most of them came as what were known as European Volunteer Workers, and for the first couple of years many of them lived in camps for agricultural workers.
One such camp was at Moonhill Place, near the village of Ansty in Sussex. In 1948 the Latvians converted one of the huts into a chapel, and one of them painted the picture of Christ carrying his cross to hang above the altar. Later, when the camp had closed down, the painting was brought to Rowfant. In 2006-07, the chapel ante-room was renovated. It now has a small vestry for the clergy, houses a library of mainly Latvian books, and is designed to be used also as a committee room.
The refurbishment of the roof of Rowfant House, including the chapel roof, was undertaken in 2007-8. The roof was refurbished using locally sourced Horsham Stone. This major project was made possible by grants from the Latvian Lutheran Church in Great Britain and the Latvian National Council in Great Britain. Our Lutheran church is a mainstream protestant church. We have good relations with other churches and welcome visitors of all denominations. For information about both regular chapel services at Rowfant House and the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church in Great Britain, please see the webpages at www.draudze.org.uk.