A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 4, the Rape of Chichester. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1953.
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Compton is a small parish of 1,863 acres on the southern slopes of the Downs. It is of irregular shape, about 1½ miles from north to south, about 2 miles from east to west at the north, 1½ miles at the south, and under 1 mile at the middle. Its western boundary is formed by the Hampshire county boundary. The village itself is situated in the narrow middle part. This is a long village of mostly small houses which were practically all renovated in the 19th century. They are mainly built of flint and brick, a few are wholly brick and one or two have false timber-framing. Several bear dates from 1869 to 1879 with the initials G. P. H. (G. Phipps Hornby). The only house showing signs of age is the Manor House, an L-shaped house near the south end; it is of flint and brick and has been largely restored. The parish church stands east of the village. About 1½ miles north of the village is Little Green Farm. In the extreme south-west of the parish is South Holt Farm. No part of the parish is below 200 ft. and, on either side of the village, Compton Down (to west) and Telegraph Hill (to east) rise above 500 ft. North of Compton and surrounding Little Green is Compton Park, a small part of Up Park in Harting parish. A road winds over the Downs from South Harting and crosses Compton parish from north to south, towards West Marden, Walderton, and Westbourne. Under the Divided Parishes Act of 1876, detached parts of East Marden and Stoughton were added to Compton in 1880. In 1933 the parish of Up Marden was added to Compton by the West Sussex Review Order. (fn. 1)
Little Green, north-west of the village, is first recorded under that name in 1695. (fn. 2) It became the seat of the manor (fn. 3) under the Peckhams and their successors until it was sold in about 1910 by Capt. Geoffrey Phipps Hornby to Harold James Reckitt, on whose death in 1930 it passed to his brother Sir Philip Bealby Reckitt, 3rd baronet, who died in 1944. It is now a school.
It is probable that this Compton is the vill of that name which was bequeathed by King Alfred to his nephew Æthelm. (fn. 4) 'Cumtun' was given by Æthelstan Ætheling to Godwin son of Wulfnoth in 1015, (fn. 5) and in the time of Edward the Confessor the manor of COMPTON was held of Earl Godwin (son of Wulfnoth) (fn. 6) by Sbern (? Osbern). In 1086 it formed part of the holding of Earl Roger and was held of him by Geoffrey and assessed at 10 hides. (fn. 7) Attached to the manor was 1 hide in Surrey entered under Wotton Hundred. (fn. 8) The overlordship continued to pass with the Honor of Arundel.
By the beginning of the 12th century a mesne lordship had been established in the St. John family as part of their lordship of Halnaker, (fn. 9) the grant of Compton church to Lewes Priory by Roger St. John being confirmed in Archbishop Ralph's charter of 1121, (fn. 10) and later by Roger's son William (1171–83). (fn. 11) On the death of Edmund, the last St. John, in 1347 his estates were divided between his sisters Margaret, wife of John de St. Philibert, and Isabel, then wife of Henry de Burghersh and subsequently wife of Michael de Poynings. The ½ fee in Compton was assigned in dower to Edmund's widow Elizabeth and its reversion to Margaret and her husband, (fn. 12) but it eventually came with Halnaker (q.v.) to the Poynings family and was held of Luke de Poynings in 1369. (fn. 13)
The ½ fee was held in the 14th century in two moieties, one being in the hands of the Lyons family. They first occur in connexion with Compton in 1279, when Henry de Lyons obtained from Geoffrey de Lisle and his wife Isoult a strip of land there 10ft. long by 6 ft. wide. (fn. 14) Henry was the largest contributor in this vill to the subsidy of 1296. (fn. 15) In 1316 Compton was held by Richard de Lyons and Peter de Worldham, (fn. 16) and in 1329 the heirs of Richard de Lyons held ¼ fee here. (fn. 17) This ¼ fee was held in 1336, (fn. 18) 1347, (fn. 19) and 1349 (fn. 20) by John de Lyons; but the name does not occur after 1349 and it is possible that the family was wiped out by the Black Death and that the holding reverted to the overlord.
The other ¼ fee in Compton, held by Peter de Worldham in 1316, seems to have been in the hands of his widow Isabel (fn. 21) in 1327, (fn. 22) but in 1329, 'the heirs of John de Moun' held ¼ and 1/8 fee here, (fn. 23) and this, as 'the tenements of Henry de Mohun', was in the hands of John de Lyons with his own ¼ fee in 1336. (fn. 24) It seems likely that the Worldham and Mohun tenures may have been under grants for a term or during minorities and that the actual tenants were the family of Lisle. (fn. 25) In 1279 Maud Estur and Baldwin de Lisle (her husband) bought from Geoffrey de Lisle and Isoult his wife a messuage and a carucate of land in Compton, evidently the inheritance of Isoult. (fn. 26) Their son Baldwin was dead by 1307, when his widow Joan claimed one-third of the manor in dower against Peter de Worldham and Isabel his wife, who called to warrant Baldwin's son John, then under age. (fn. 27) John de Lisle left a widow Joan, and she married Henry Romeyn who was joint tenant of the ½ fee with John de Lyons in 1347. (fn. 28) Joan herself died in 1349, seised of a life interest in the ¼ fee, which then passed to her grandson John de Lisle, aged 6. (fn. 29) This John, still a minor, in 1360 was granted by the king the sum of 40s. yearly which his mother Joan was paying for leave to hold the manor of Compton during his nonage. (fn. 30) He died in 1370, holding the manor of Sir Luke de Poynings as 1/5 fee; (fn. 31) his heir was his sister Elizabeth, married to John de Bramshott, and Compton descended with Lordington in Racton (q.v.) to their grandson John, who died in 1479, leaving two daughters, Elizabeth, wife of Sir John Dudley, and Margaret, wife of Sir John Pakenham, (fn. 32) who shared the manor.
Edmund Dudley, son of Sir John, was attainted in 1510, when he was seised of a moiety of the manor, which he had leased to John Ernley. (fn. 33) The latter's son William Ernley in 1531 acquired from Sir John, son of Edmund Dudley, what is described as ⅓ of the manor, (fn. 34) but his eldest son Francis, who died a minor in ward to the king in 1547, held in Compton messuages and lands worth £6 13s. 6d. held of Sir Matthew Browne as of his manor of Compton. (fn. 35) These lands may have come to Joan Everard (d. 1550) (fn. 36) and her grandson Edward Bannister, who died in 1606 holding 200 acres in Compton of the manor of Halnaker. (fn. 37)
Sir John and Margaret Pakenham had a son Edward who left two daughters, Elizabeth wife of Sir Edmund Mervyn and Constance wife of Sir Geoffrey Pole. (fn. 38) When they divided the estate in 1529 (fn. 39) the moiety of Compton passed to Elizabeth and Sir Edmund Mervyn, who in 1550 settled 'the manor' on their son Henry on his marriage with Edith Wyndesor. (fn. 40)
The manorial descent now becomes obscure and is complicated by the existence of another manor of Compton. This was granted in 1461 by the king to Thomas Vaughan, King's squire, and Eleanor his wife formerly wife of Sir Thomas Browne, attainted. (fn. 41) Eleanor's son Sir George Browne held it when he was himself attainted in 1485, (fn. 42) and his wife Elizabeth died seised of it in 1489. (fn. 43) Sir Matthew Browne, son of Sir George, was, as already stated, holding the manor in 1545. (fn. 44) It may have been this manor of Compton that was apparently mortgaged in 1602 by Thomas Browne, gent. to secure an annuity of £3 10s. to Mary wife of William Radclyffe of Barking, Surrey. (fn. 45)
By some means the manor came to Thomas Pay, from whom Robert Peckham acquired it in 1653. (fn. 46) Dallaway says that in 1699 Robert, son of Robert Peckham, bought from Sir William Morley that part of Compton which belonged to Halnaker. (fn. 47) In 1734 Richard Peckham died a minor and the manor passed to his sister Sarah, who in 1742 was married to Thomas Phipps. She survived him, dying in 1793, when their eldest son, Thomas Phipps succeeded and assumed the name of Peckham Phipps. (fn. 48) He bequeathed the manor to his godson Admiral Sir Phipps Hornby, whose eldest son, Rear-Admiral Geoffrey T. Phipps Hornby held it in 1879. (fn. 49) His son Capt. Geoffrey Stanley Phipps Hornby parted with the Little Green estate.
In 1922 and 1938 Mrs. Pollock was 'lady of the reputed manor' and chief landowner. (fn. 50)
The church of ST. MARY (fn. 51) stands on rising ground east of the village; it consists of chancel with north vestry, nave with bell-cote and north porch, and south aisle; it is built of flint rubble with ashlar dressings, and is roofed with tile; the sides of the bell-cote are boarded and the spire shingled.
A church here is mentioned in Domesday Book, (fn. 52) but the earliest work now traceable is that of the arcade which formerly opened into the north aisle; this, with the chancel arch, is of the late 12th century; in the 13th century a south aisle was added. At a date unknown the north aisle was demolished; and in the 19th century the chancel was rebuilt, a few old stones being re-used, the vestry and porch were added, and the nave and aisle were both lengthened westwards and the aisle probably widened. (fn. 53)
The chancel (modern) has an east window of three lights with net tracery two windows in the south wall and one in the north are each of a single light with ogee trefoiled head. In the north wall is a rectangular locker, in the south a trefoil-headed piscina, both ancient work refixed. A plain doorway with pointed head leads to the vestry (modern) the single window of which, of one light with pointed trefoil head, is ancient work re-used, perhaps the window shown, where the vestry door now is, in Grimm's drawing of 1791. (fn. 54)
The chancel arch is pointed, of one order, resting on square jambs with molded imposts, probably late-12th-century. Remains of two semicircular arches of about the same date are visible in the north wall of the nave; the west respond is also visible, and is semicircular on plan, with moulded base and square capital with foliage; there seems to have been no abacus. (fn. 55) In the blocked eastern arch is a window of two trefoil-headed lights, this seems a modern reproduction of the window shown in Grimm's drawing; the interior jambs and segmental rear-arch are ancient. There is a similar window, entirely modern, west of the respond. The north door, in the blocked second arch, has a plain pointed head and segmental rear-arch: it is in part ancient, but much restored. On the south side is an arcade of four bays; the arches are pointed, of two chamfered orders, the piers have molded capitals and bases. This, when built in the 13th century, was of three bays, the responds and piers being alternately octagonal and round on plan; the symmetry was disturbed in the 19th century, when a fourth bay was added with a new round pier, the old respond being rebuilt a bay farther west. The nave west window (modern) has three lights with Geometrical tracery. The roof and bell-cote are entirely modern.
The south aisle (modern) has east and west windows each of two lights with Decorated tracery: in the south wall are four one-light windows with ogee trefoiled heads; there is a plain pointed doorway in the middle of the wall. The span roof is modern.
There are two bells, one by Joseph Carter, 1588, and the other by Thomas Wakefield, 1617. (fn. 56)
The communion plate consists of a silver cup (probably 1720), given by Anne Peckham, with the arms of that family; two silver patens, of 1716 and 1768; and a flagon, 1720, with large cup-shaped bowl and hinged lid, also given by Anne Peckham. (fn. 57)
There was a church at Compton in 1086. (fn. 58) Before the middle of the 12th century it was given to Lewes Priory by Roger de St. John, (fn. 59) whose son William in about 1175 confirmed the gift, stipulating that in future it should not be bestowed on any clerk who would not serve it in his own person. (fn. 60) The stipulation was no doubt necessary because it was comparatively well endowed, being valued at £10 in 1291 (fn. 61) and having 32 acres of arable glebe. (fn. 62) The priory did not appropriate the rectory but received a yearly pension of 15s. from it. (fn. 63) In 1411 Lewes Priory, with the consent of their patron the Earl of Arundel, transferred their churches of Compton and Up Marden to the nuns of Easebourne Priory. (fn. 64) No mention of any payment is recorded, but in 1535 the nuns paid a yearly pension of £4 to the monks for the church of Compton. (fn. 65) The nuns at once appropriated the rectory, and a vicarage was ordained in 1414. (fn. 66) By this the vicar was to have the rectorial manse, consisting of hall, chambers, and kitchen, with its garden, and certain specified tithes. In May 1439 the livings of Compton and Up Marden were united. (fn. 67) In 1535 the rectory of Compton was being farmed for £10, (fn. 68) and the joint vicarage was valued at £11 0s. 2d. (fn. 69) A presentation to the living was made in this year by Arthur Plantagenet, Viscount Lisle, by grant of the Priory and Convent of Easebourne. (fn. 70) After the dissolution of Easebourne Priory the rectory and advowson of Compton were granted in 1536 to Sir William FitzWilliam, (fn. 71) from whom they passed to his half-brother Sir Anthony Browne. By his grandson Viscount Mountagu they were sold in 1588 to William Coldham, (fn. 72) and in 1601 William Coldham and Alice his wife conveyed them to John Barwick. (fn. 73) He died in 1610 and was succeeded by his brother Curtis Barwick, (fn. 74) but he had apparently parted with the advowson to Thomas Gray of Woolbeding, who presented in 1619, as did Anthony Grey in 1655. (fn. 75) The next presentation was made in 1686 by John Madgewick of Lyminster. (fn. 76) By 1713 the advowson had come to Richard Lumley, Earl of Scarborough, from whom it passed to his younger son the Hon. James Lumley; (fn. 77) he left it in 1766 to his nephew the Earl of Halifax, whose trustees presented in 1771. (fn. 78) The descent of the advowson is then obscure, but in 1854 Marmaduke Robert Langdale presented George Augustus Langdale, (fn. 79) who was vicar and patron until 1897, when the Rev. Horace Marmaduke Langdale succeeded him as vicar and, on his death in 1902, as patron. (fn. 80) The living is now in the gift of Mrs. H. M. Langdale.
John Barwick died in 1610 seised of the rectory of Compton, held of the king by knight service, and it passed to his brother Curtis. (fn. 81) They were sons of Richard Barwick, who was vicar of Compton from 1575 to 1619 (fn. 82) and died in 1623, when he mentions in his will his sons Roger and Curtis. (fn. 83) They were dealing with the rectory in 1627, (fn. 84) and Richard Barwick, son of Roger, (fn. 85) was impropriator in 1641. (fn. 86) Roger, eldest son of Roger Barwick, left a daughter and heir Amy, who married John Gratwick of Arundel, and their daughter and heir Mary Gratwick in 1750 sold the rectory to the Rev. Henry Fuller of North Stoneham (Hants). (fn. 87) By 1848 the rectory had come into the hands of Sir Phipps Hornby (fn. 88) and it has since descended with the manor.
Mary Cornell by her will in 1734 bequeathed £100 to be by the minister, churchwardens, and other parishioners of Compton laid out for the support of widows of the Church of England and not receiving alms from the parish. The annual income amounts to £14 3s. 0d.
Sarah Phipps by her will dated October 1792 bequeathed £100, the interest to be annually distributed in November in some sort of garment to any widows of any age or any single woman after the age of 60 belonging to and residing in this parish. The annual income amounts to £3 6s. 8d.
Thomas Peckham Phipps by his will dated 15 September 1819 bequeathed such a sum as would annually produce 2 guineas, one guinea to be paid to the minister of North Marden and the other guinea to be paid to the minister of Compton-cum-Up Marden on condition of their doing duty and preaching a sermon at their respective churches on Good Friday.
A cottage known as Ivy Cottage with the stable and appurtenances at West Marden upon trust to be occupied rent free by the stipendiary curate of the joint parishes of Compton and Up Marden, with a proviso that if not so occupied the premises might be let and the income paid to the incumbent of the said parishes for his own use.
The Mission Room at West Marden upon trust for use without payment by the said incumbent for any ecclesiastical purpose in connexion with the Church of England and, subject thereto, with power for the Charity Trustees to permit the Room to be used for lectures, concerts, and other purposes.
A cottage known as the Bungalow at Compton upon trust for occupation by a needy or infirm inhabitant of Compton-cum-Up Marden being a member of the Church of England and of the age of 60 years or upwards of either sex.
£800, the income to be applied in the first place to keep the above-mentioned almshouse insured against fire and in good repair and pay the rates and taxes in respect of the same, and in the next place to pay the weekly sum of 6s. to the holder of the cottage.