A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 5, Kington Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1949.
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This parish was an isolated portion of the county of Gloucester until about 1845, when it was transferred (fn. 1) to Warwickshire, of which county it is the southernmost parish. It forms a long narrow strip from the Four Shire Stone on the road from Moreton-in-the-Marsh to Chipping Norton (part of the turnpike road from Worcester to London), which road runs for over 3 miles south-eastwards just within the parish boundary. It is hilly, varying between 400 ft. and over 600 ft., the higher land commanding fine views.
In 1779 Rudder writes: (fn. 2) 'A considerable part of the parish is uninclosed. There is a common about two miles in length, and in some places above half a mile broad, of very good land, and exceedingly improvable.' In 1795 the parish was inclosed, under an Act obtained in the previous year. (fn. 3)
A tribute to the amenities of the district may be seen in the fact that in 1535 the parish was called Compton 'in the flowers (in Floribus)'. (fn. 4)
The houses and cottages in the scattered village are mostly built of local ragstone and variously roofed with thatch, stone tiles, pantiles, and slates. Few are of any age and they have no architectural features except for two or three 17th-century mullioned windows.
The Manor House stands west of the church and faces south: it is of three stories and attics. The main plan is half-H shaped, the middle block which contains the hall, &c., being deeply recessed on the south front between the wings: this plan dates from 1620 in its form. Projecting northwards behind the east range is an earlier wing dating from the early 16th century, and north of the hall is a parallel wing containing the entrance hall and main staircase added in 1927 when the house was restored, apparently the south wall of the hall-block entirely rebuilt, and the interior rearranged. There are traces of older walling incorporated in the west side and north end of the west wing, perhaps even earlier than the north-east wing. Alterations were made to the house late in the 17th century. These are marked by several windows, some now blocked or again altered. One window of this period on the inside wall of the east wing, towards the south courtyard, was partly destroyed when the south wall of the middle hall-block was rebuilt, suggesting that this block was narrower than it is now. Another tall blocked window in the same wall, farther south, is now crossed by the present first floor, showing that there must then have been a difference in the floorlevels. The floor of the early-16th-century north-west wing is several steps down from the main floor level of the hall, &c., and this lower level may have been that of the east range before the modern restorations. The walls of the south gabled ends, the inner walls of the wings towards the courtyard and the east side of the east wing, are of coursed yellow Campden stone rubble with angle dressings, presumably of 1620, the date that is seen on several rain-water heads. The gable-heads are coped and have ball finials; the modern south wall of the middle block—of the same width as the wings—has a similar gable. The windows are of the normal mullioned type, mostly renovated. The middle south entrance has a moulded architrave and broken pediment with a cartouche of arms, presumably all modern, but it has an ancient oak door of nine panels and a carved semicircular top panel.
The west side of the west wing has earlier masonry. The lower story of the south half of this elevation is of rubble walling, including a buttress about midway in the side and the lower part of a projecting chimneystack, which has large dressings to its north angle only. At first-floor level of this stretch of wall is a moulded string-course which is cut short at the south-west angle and at the middle buttress. The upper part of the wall and the north half of the elevation is more like the 1620 masonry and has a flush gabled dormer and a rainwater head with that date. In the gabled north end of the wing the more ancient rubble is again seen, but the windows are mainly of the late 17th century. One at mezzanine height suggests that the staircase was formerly in this wing. There are also two cellar doorways with joggle-jointed lintels. The parallel entrance hall and stair hall of 1927 has two of the 1620 mullioned and labelled windows reset in its west wall, probably from the north wall of the hall. The north-east wing, of two stories, is of roughly coursed squared rubble but more evenly set than that of the main west wall. Its mullioned windows are restored and in its west wall is a doorway with an iron-sheeted door. The north end has a hipped roof and a 1620 rain-water head. There are modern additions with the offices, &c., to the east of this wing, but part of its east wall is exposed in the east elevation of the house overlooking the churchyard. Its masonry meets that of the 1620 south part of the side with a vertical straight joint and it has an old threelight window with a transom to the ground floor: the upper part has been repaired. The remainder of this elevation has windows of various periods: one groundfloor window of two lights has ancient moulded jambs and label, others are 18th-century windows with sash frames, and others modern. In the head are two flushgabled dormers with ball finials. There is also a 1620 rain-water head. The roofs are covered with stone tiles; the chimney-stacks have been rebuilt.
Internally the house has been much modernized, but the lower story of the north-east wing—the former kitchen, now the dining-room—retains its early-16thcentury ceiling with fine moulded beams and joists. The 'Juxon Room' above it is lined with late-16thcentury moulded and mitred panelling including the overmantel and it has some cocks' head hinges, some genuine and some copies. The middle hall has some early-17th-century panelling: its apparently 17thcentury chimney piece is modern. The room east of the hall, lighted by the two sash windows, is also lined with late-16th-century panelling with carved pilasters and friezes.
North-west of the house is a 17th-century square dovecote of coursed rubble stone, with a gable-head on each face and a central lantern, now cemented up. It retains a few of the nesting boxes of stone. In the upper part are mullioned windows, presumably later.
The manor and church of LITTLE COMPTON apparently formed part of the endowment of the Saxon Priory of Deerhurst; with it they were given by Edward the Confessor to the abbey of St. Denis of Paris. (fn. 5) William the Conqueror confirmed the gift, (fn. 6) and in 1086 the estates of St. Denis in Deerhurst Hundred included 12 hides in Compton. (fn. 7) An extent of the possessions of Deerhurst Priory made in the reign of Henry III shows that the monks had 2 carucates of land worth 20s., other land in villenage producing £4 10s., and rents, &c., worth 52s. (fn. 8) Deerhurst escaped confiscation when most of the alien houses were suppressed in 1415 and was made denizen in 1443, but was eventually, in 1467, bestowed on Tewkesbury Abbey, of which it remained a cell until the dissolution of the abbey. (fn. 9) In 1546 the manor was granted to Sir Thomas Pope, (fn. 10) subsequently founder of Trinity College, Oxford. He had married, as his second wife, Margaret widow of Sir Ralph Dodmer, Lord Mayor of London, (fn. 11) and on his death without issue in 1559 left the manor to (? his stepson) John Dodmer, who died seised thereof in 1571, leaving a daughter Elizabeth, then not quite 6 years old. (fn. 12) Elizabeth married Sir Robert Cotton of Landwade, Cambs., (fn. 13) and they and their son Sir Dodmer Cotton were dealing with the manor in 1627. (fn. 14) Apparently by 1636 the manor had come to four coheiresses, as in that year John Hartley and Elizabeth his wife conveyed ¼ of it to Charles Cock, (fn. 15) and Josiah Lamborne and Alice his wife conveyed another ¼ to John Doyley. (fn. 16) In 1641 Cock, Doyley, Lamborne and his wife, with Richard Pope and Lucy his wife and Susan Oldfield, widow, combined to convey the manor to Thomas Juxon. (fn. 17) Shortly after this it was in the hands of William Juxon, Bishop of London and afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury, who resided here during the Commonwealth period. (fn. 18) He left it to his nephew Sir William Juxon, on the death of whose son Sir William without issue it remained with his widow, Susanne daughter of John Marriott. She married Charles, Viscount Fane, and survived until 1792, (fn. 19) when the Juxon estates passed to Sir Robert Haskett as great-grandson of the first Sir William Juxon. (fn. 20) He sold the manor in 1793 to Michael Corgan, from whom it passed in 1815 to Sir John Shelley, who two years later sold to William Harbridge. His son James Harbridge married Clara daughter of Robert Yelf and died in 1899, leaving the property to Leonard Lane Yelf; (fn. 21) the manorial rights, however, were held in 1900 and 1936 by Mrs. Whitmore-Jones. (fn. 22)
The parish church of ST. DENIS consists of a chancel with a north vestry and organ-chamber, long and narrow nave, short south aisle of two bays, tower south of the middle of the nave and west of the aisle, and a south porch west of the tower, all of local Cotswold stone.
The tower dates from the 14th century. The remainder of the church was rebuilt in 1863–4, when it was lengthened 30 ft. to both east and west and widened a little to the north. The old nave showed traces of Norman work, with many later alterations; the chancel arch was 'of horse-shoe shape with Norman semi-columns of poor design'; the chancel was apparently of the 14th century. The windows on the south side were re-used at the rebuilding. (fn. 23)
The chancel (24½ ft. by 15½ ft.) has a modern east window of three lights and tracery with shafted splays of 13th-century type. The north wall has a modern archway to the organ-chamber. In the south wall are three windows with re-used material: the easternmost, a small trefoiled light, has a moulded 13th-century rear-arch. The second, a trefoiled light, has 13thcentury splays with a filleted and deeply undercut edge-roll which is continued in a trefoiled rear-arch, all of hard white stone: some of the outer masonry may also be old, retooled. The western window is a similar light of which the head is ancient, also the splays, that differ from the others in having attached shafts with moulded capitals but have a similar trefoiled rear-arch. The chancel arch is modern.
The nave (69½ ft. by 22 ft.) has a modern north wall with three windows of two lights and tracery, a westernmost of one light, and a doorway west of that. In the west wall are twin windows, each of two trefoiled lights and tracery, all under a main two-centred head in which is a small bullseye light.
In the east half of the south wall is a modern two-bay arcade to the aisle, which is lighted by an east and two south windows with tracery in four-centred heads. West of the arcade is a 14th-century archway to the tower with square responds having bevelled edges and a distorted pointed head of three chamfered orders: its west reveal is flush with the west tower-wall.
The 14th-century tower (about 10½ ft. square inside) is built of yellow rubble in small courses and is of three stages divided by splayed string-courses and having a chamfered plinth. At the south angles are later diagonal buttresses of a harder grey ashlar. The top of the tower is gabled on the north and south sides and has a plain coping.
The lowest stage originally served as a small chapel. In the east wall is a 7¼-ft. recess, for the former altar, with chamfered jambs and a two-centred head. Above it is a window of two plain square-headed lights (seen in the aisle), now boarded up, and with a segmentalpointed chamfered rear-arch. The window in the south wall is of two plain elliptical-headed lights set back outside in a segmental-pointed chamfered outer order. East of it inside is a tiny pointed piscina with remains of the basin. At the south end of the west wall is a modern doorway. On this wall, against the nave, is a bit of the sloping weather-course of the former nave-roof that extended about 2 ft. south of the present nave wall face and was lower than the existing eaves. The second stage, slightly diminished in width, and the top stage have plain rectangular narrow lights in all the outer walls. On the west face of the second stage is a shallow buttress or wide pilaster over the present nave wall: it stops at the top a yard short of the upper string-course. About a yard below the east and west eaves are the remains of another string-course to the north of the bell-chamber windows, for which the string-courses are cut short, so that presumably the windows are later than the original arrangement.
In the middle of the nave are some old grave-slabs: (1) to Thomas Juxon, 1643; (2) his daughter Elizabeth, wife of Robert Pory, 1652, aged 30; (3) Sir William Juxon, 3 February 1739(40), in his 79th year; (4) John Jones, 10 February 1755, aged 57.
In the south-east window of the chancel are reset some fragments of 16th- and 17th-century coloured glass brought from a church at Villers that was destroyed by the Germans in 1918. In the modern glass in the south aisle is represented the execution of King Charles I with Bishop Juxon attending him.
There are five bells by Rudhall, dated 1720 (one re-cast 1810). (fn. 24)
The advowson was given with the manor (see above) to Deerhurst Priory. After the dissolution of Tewkesbury Abbey it was retained by the Crown until 1546, when it was granted to Henry VIII's college of Christ Church, Oxford, (fn. 25) which still owns it. The church was valued at £7 13s. 4d. in 1291, (fn. 26) and in 1535 the rectory was farmed for £8; (fn. 27) there was no vicarage, the benefice being a perpetual curacy.