A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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Contone (xi cent.).
Compton parish, 2 miles north-west of Godalming, 4 miles west by south of Guildford, is about 2½ miles from north to south, 1½ miles from east to west, and contains 1,995 acres. The northern part of the parish extends over the narrow chalk ridge of the Hog's Back, the main part is in the Green Sand, with a considerable outcrop of the Atherfield Clay in the eastern part. On the west the land rises towards the high ground about Puttenham Heath. Compton Common lies east of the village. Northeast of the village, south of the Hog's Back, are two eminences in the sand, one Budburrow Hill, now crowned by the mortuary chapel, the other Rowbury Hill, near the house of the late Mr. G. F. Watts, R.A., called Limnerslease. These are apparently referred to by Aubrey (1673) and Coxe (circa 1726) as Robin Hood's Butts, and connected with an apocryphal story of a French invasion, and defeat of the invaders. The time indicated is that of the invasion of Louis of France in 1216, but there was no battle at Compton, and the hills are natural. It is said that skeletons were found here, but if so they were only interments of probably Anglo-Saxon date. Neolithic flint implements and flakes are not uncommon on the north side of the parish.
In the wood to the north-west of the village, at the foot of the Hog's Back, are very extensive caves, excavated in the Green Sand. Within the memory of the last generation sand was brought from them for sale to builders in Guildford, and they were probably excavated for the sand; but local tradition also connects them with the smuggling trade, and calls them Smugglers' Store-houses. It is not impossible that they were used for such a purpose, as the extensive cellars under several old farm-houses and cottages below the chalk ridge in Surrey pretty certainly were used.
The parish is wholly agricultural, except for one recently introduced industry. The late Mr. G. F. Watts, R.A., who resided at Limnerslease, to the north of the parish church, and Mrs. Watts started a pottery and terracotta-making school, which continues. The pupils trained at it were employed in the decoration of the mortuary chapel in the cemetery, which Mr. Watts built. This is in brick and terracotta, from his own designs, on the side of the hill, about half a mile from the church. The style is a sort of neo-Byzantine.
There are one or two ancient timber houses of some interest in the village, which chiefly consists of a winding street straggling away to the south of the church. One of these, formerly the inn, a good deal 'restored,' stands on a raised bank, so high above the road that a basement story of stone is entered by a door on the street, the ground floor being approached by another door on the bank above. The first floor and attic stories have a considerable projection, and the whole of the three upper stories are of timber framing, the corbelled corner-posts being cut out of solid butts. The doors have flat arched heads; and the date of the whole house appears to be about the second quarter of the 16th century. Several of the other cottages in the village are highly picturesque, and many date back at least to the 16th century. They are of timber construction, with tile-hanging over the upper stories, and high pitched tiled roofs, those of a farm-house at Compton being hipped over the wings of the front in a somewhat unusual manner. Some good chimneys occur. The coffee tavern is ancient and picturesque. Not far from it the manor pound still survives. There is a nursery garden in connexion with the Guildford Hardy Plant Nursery.
Polsted Manor is a modern house, but behind it stands the old manor-house, a small 16th-century timber-framed building.
Eastbury Manor, Monk's Hatch, Brook House, Sunny Down, now occupied as a school, and Prior's Wood Lodge are modern houses.
The original manor of COMPTON, which afterwards divided to form Compton Westbury and Eastbury, was held by Brixi in the time of Edward the Confessor. (fn. 1) At the time of the Domesday Survey it was held of the king by Walter son of Other, founder of the De Windsor family, of whose manor of Stanwell it continued to be held (fn. 2) until 1541, when Lord Windsor exchanged the overlordship with the king for other lands in Surrey and Sussex. (fn. 3) The tenants of Compton held it by knight's service, which was rendered after the division by the lord of Eastbury only. (fn. 4)
No record of the under-tenants can be found until 1201 when Cecily of Compton was holding a knight's fee and a half in Surrey, which evidently included the manor of Compton. (fn. 5) John de Gatesden held half a knight's fee of William de Windsor in Compton, circa 1212. (fn. 6) He or another John granted a lifeinterest in Compton Manor to Nicholas Malemeins for a yearly rent of 10s. in 1249. (fn. 7) In 1260 a settlement (fn. 8) of Compton was made on John de Gatesden and his wife Hawise de Nevill, daughter of Robert de Courtenay, and widow of John de Nevill. (fn. 9) Hawise survived her husband, who died shortly before 1262, (fn. 10) leaving a young daughter, probably Margaret, the wife first of Sir John de Camoys, whom she deserted for Sir William Paynele or Pagenal, whom she ultimately married. (fn. 11) Margaret owed money to the Crown in 1291, (fn. 12) whence perhaps a part of Compton, since known as COMPTON WESTBURY, was granted to Henry of Guildford for life only with reversion to the grantors and to the heirs of Margaret. He was a tenant among several in 1291. (fn. 13)
In 1303 Henry of Guildford received a grant of free warren in his demesne lands of Compton, (fn. 14) and in 1308 obtained a release of land in Compton from Sir William Paynel and Margaret daughter of John de Gatesden. (fn. 15) Henry of Guildford was the chief benefactor of Dureford Abbey in Sussex, to which he bequeathed a large sum of money for the maintenance of two chaplains. (fn. 16) After his death his heir, John the Marshal of Guildford, held Westbury, (fn. 17) and received from the Abbot of Dureford a corrody of bread and ale, a yearly pension, and a messuage within the abbey, and four 'Paris candles whereof sixteen make the pound' nightly. (fn. 18) The abbey bought many lands for the support of Henry of Guildford's chaplains, and amongst them in 1330 the manor of Westbury, then in the possession of John of Brideford. (fn. 19) The abbot retained the court and customary dues of Westbury, but leased the land to a tenant, who undertook to supply the abbot's officers with 'horsemeate and manesmeate' when they held their yearly court at Compton. (fn. 20) In 1532 one William Wynter obtained such a lease of the land for fifty-six years, but at the time of the Dissolution it was taken into the king's hands, together with the abbey's other possessions. (fn. 21) In October 1537 the king granted all the possessions of Dureford Abbey in Compton to Sir William Fitz William, K.G., whom he created Earl of Southampton in that same year. (fn. 22) He held his first court 8 June 1541. He died in 1542 without heirs male, (fn. 23) so that as Westbury had been granted to him in tail male, it then reverted to the king, by whom it was sold in 1545 to Sir Christopher More, (fn. 24) who in January 1535 had a lease of it in perpetuity from the abbot. (fn. 25) After this grant the history of the manor was coincident with that of the Mores' manor of Loseley (q.v.).
Mr. James More-Molyneux of Loseley sold a small part, including the manor-house, to Mr. George Best, owner of Eastbury, shortly before 1842. The manorhouse is now the cottage of the gardener of Eastbury Manor.
COMPTON EASTBURY, the eastern moiety of the original manor of Compton, was not included in the grant to Henry of Guildford, (fn. 26) but was held by Sir William Paynel in right of Margaret, daughter of John de Gatesden. (fn. 27) John Paynel, William's brother, succeeded to the manor, which he granted to John of Brideford, (fn. 28) who retained it when he sold Compton Westbury to Dureford. (fn. 29) John of Brideford obtained a release from Eva St. John, widow, formerly second wife of Sir William Paynel, (fn. 30) of her right to dower in East bury in 1321. (fn. 31) He was assessed in Compton for a subsidy in 1332, but died very shortly after. Eastbury passed to William Cook of Brideford and William Wreyford. In 1333 William Cook granted a lease for eight years of a moiety of a third part of the (original undivided ?) manor of Compton to Richard de Windsor the overlord; (fn. 32) and in the same year William Wreyford conveyed a moiety of Eastbury, together with the reversion of the dower of Rose widow of John of Brideford, and a messuage and rent which the Abbot of Dureford held during the life of Joan wife of Robert Gerneys, to Richard atte Welle. (fn. 33) In 1343, the lease being just expired, Richard de Windsor brought a suit (fn. 34) against Richard atte Welle and William Cook of Brideford concerning onethird of the manor, Richard atte Welle appearing as William's bailiff. The action was probably collusive to settle the title. The result is not on record, but Windsor apparently lost; for William Cook of Brideford in 1343 granted by deed to Richard atte Welle and Sybil his wife all his rights in Eastbury. (fn. 35) Further, in 1349 Richard atte Welle, by deed dated at Compton, enfeoffed John de Shackleford, John de Walton, and Richard Pruwet, of his manor in the parish of Compton and in Tunshamstede or Unstead in Shalford, with certain reservations, (fn. 36) in trust for his wife Sybil and his children and his brother, with reversion. Sybil afterwards married William Seward and had a daughter Maud, wife of Thomas Swanton.
In 1387 William Seward and his wife Sybil were holding the whole of Eastbury for the life of Sybil, (fn. 37) as the inquisition of Miles de Windsor says, but the trial referred to says that Richard atte Welle son of Sybil's former husband had granted it to William Seward for life with remainder to Richard's heirs. This Richard died without heirs.
In 1397 William Wallyng and his wife Isabella claimed the manor from William Seward after Sybil's death. Isabella was daughter of Christina, sister of Richard atte Welle the elder. They were successful; but meanwhile, William Seward had probably conveyed to John Guvynes, who is said to be have held the manor in 1398. (fn. 38) In 1398 William and Isabella Wallyng acknowledged the right of one Elias Beare to the manor, but the proceedings did not terminate till 1410. (fn. 39) Clemence Wallyng daughter of Isabella married a Thomas Beare.
The Seward family afterwards claimed again, and in 1422 the manor was restored to Maud, widow of Thomas Swanton and daughter of the above Sybil, wife of Richard atte Welle and afterwards of William Seward. (fn. 40)
In 1428 Maud Brocas was charged for a quarter part of a knight's fee in Compton which Richard atte Welle formerly held of Richard Windsor. She was possibly Maud Swanton remarried to a Brocas, whence the manor came into this family. (fn. 41) Thomas Brocas, who represented Guildford in Parliament, had been a tenant in Compton in 1398.
Arnold Brocas, who was knight of the shire for Surrey in 1441–2, was in possession of Eastbury in 1451 (fn. 42) and was succeeded by Benedict Brocas, who was holding it in 1485, (fn. 43) and is said to have died in 1488. His son and heir Richard was holding Eastbury in 1504, (fn. 44) when he was at law with William Lussher, lessee of Westbury. In 1515 he made a grant to Gilbert Stoughton. (fn. 45) The grant did not alienate Compton from the Brocas family. One consideration had been a perpetual payment to the Black Friars of Guildford for masses for Richard, and perhaps this was not paid. At any rate the next holder to be found is Lawrence Rasterne who married Anne daughter of Thomas Purvoch and Joan Brocas. (fn. 46) Their son was William Rasterne, (fn. 47) who died 1562. His only surviving child Martha married John Lussher. She was involved in an action in the Court of Requests 1574–5 with her mother's second husband William Grey. (fn. 48) John Lussher died before October 1603, when Martha his widow held a court. (fn. 49) Her son John Lussher mortgaged the manor to Richard Carrill 10 November 1630, (fn. 50) and in December 1631 Lussher and Carrill conveyed the manor to trustees for John Kempsall of St. Clement Danes. (fn. 51) John Kempsall had a son Edward, married again and had a son John, and died 1659. (fn. 52) Edward the elder son had only an annuity out of the manor, which had been leased to a Dr. Tichborne and settled on the elder John's second wife and her children. (fn. 53) John the younger sold to Dr. Edward Fulham in 1662, who in 1667 further secured himself against the claim of John's mother and her second husband Thomas Weston. (fn. 54)
The estate remained in the Fulham family, for the Rev. Edward Fulham held it at his death in 1832. (fn. 55) It was purchased by Charles Devon, (fn. 56) who sold the manor and manor-house to George Best, who resided there c. 1848. Mr. Best died 1870. His widow died 1873, when the manor was sold to Colonel McC. Hagart, C.B. His sister, Mrs. Ellice, is now owner.
DOWN PLACE, the manor which includes the northern part of Compton parish, was a part of the main manor of Compton at the time of the Domesday Survey. Gregory de la Dune held half a knight's fee there of William de Windsor c. 1212. (fn. 57) It was held with Compton of the manor of Stanwell until the sale of the overlordship by Lord Windsor to Henry VIII. (fn. 58)
In 1386 Elizabeth Stonhurst was holding the manor of Miles Windsor, (fn. 59) and a few years later she paid poll tax for herself and four servants in Compton in 1381. (fn. 60) She is probably identical with Elizabeth de Doune who appears in the Godalming Hundred Court Rolls, the Artington and the Catteshull courts, 1382–5, as holding land in Compton, Artington, and Cherfold in Chiddingfold; perhaps Downland in Chiddingfold was so named from her holding it. Down was subsequently in the hands of Robert Hull. (fn. 61) In 1427 Margery Knollis was in possession, (fn. 62) but by 1451 it had again changed hands and was held by George Daniell. (fn. 63) William Brocas in 1452 held 'le Doune' in Artington. (fn. 64) That this was part of Down in Compton appears likely from his son holding the manor of Down in 1485. If so, it had been confiscated before by Edward IV and given to his brother-in-law Sir Thomas St. Leger, who held it towards the end of the 15th century. He was the chief instigator of the rising in Surrey in 1483. (fn. 65) After his attainder and execution Down Place was forfeit to the king, who granted it to his servant William Mistelbroke in tail male, (fn. 66) but William Brocas was holding Down soon afterwards, see above. (fn. 67) The attainder of Sir Thomas St. Leger having been reversed at the accession of Henry VII, (fn. 68) his heiress Anne, wife of George Lord Roos, entered upon the manor, (fn. 69) but seems to have alienated it, for under Henry VIII William FitzWilliam, Earl of Southampton, was in possession, and settled it on his wife, Mabel, and his heirs by her. He died in 1542 without issue, and the manor descended, in accordance with the terms of the settlement, to his half-brother Sir Anthony Browne, kt., father to the first Lord Montague. (fn. 70)
Down Place under Guildown was among lands granted in 1592 to William Tipper, a fishing grantee. (fn. 71) However, the rightful owners succeeded in recovering their lands, for in 1610 Anthony Viscount Montague, a descendant of Sir Anthony Browne, sold the manor to Richard Coldham. (fn. 72) From him it descended to his son Richard. (fn. 73) In 1668 Richard Coldham and George Coldham the younger were dealing with it. (fn. 74) Richard Coldham conveyed it in 1688 to the trustees of the estates of Gerard Gore, deceased, (fn. 75) whose daughter Sarah married Sir Edward Turnor, Speaker of the House of Commons in 1661. (fn. 76) Arthur Turnor succeeded, and, dying in or before 1724, left his son Edward heir. Edward by his will (proved 1 July 1736) left his estates to his cousin Sarah, daughter of his father's elder brother Sir Edward, (fn. 77) and wife of Francis Gee, whose daughter, also named Sarah, married Joseph Garth. Their son Edward, first Earl Winterton, (fn. 78) thus inherited Down, and his son, Edward, second Earl Winterton, was in possession in 1808. (fn. 79) Between 1831 and 1838 the third earl sold it to Mr. James Mangles, M.P. for Guildford in 1831, 1832, and 1835. (fn. 80) Mr. Mangles died in 1838. The property was settled for life on Mrs. Mangles. Mr. Frederick Mangles his son lived there. About 1859 it was sold to Mr. Faviell, who rebuilt the house. Mr. Bett bought it in 1890, and Mrs. Bett now lives there.
FIELD PLACE was parcel of the possessions of Henry of Guildford, (fn. 81) who held a part of it of Walter of Wintershull in 1312. It was occupied by a Matilda atte Felde apparently in 1343; (fn. 82) and by Bernard Brocas in 1349. (fn. 83) He was rector of St. Nicholas Guildford.
Later it is named amongst the lands forfeited by Sir Thomas St. Leger, (fn. 84) after which it was, like Down, granted to William Mistelbroke, (fn. 85) but afterwards reverted to St. Leger's daughter Anne wife of George Manners, Lord Roos. (fn. 86) His sons, Thomas, Earl of Rutland, and Sir Richard Manners, kt., sold Field Place to Thomas Hall and his wife Joan in 1542. (fn. 87) After her husband's death Joan married James Rokley, who held the manor in her right. (fn. 88) It descended to her son, George Hall. (fn. 89) His widow Juliana married a Thomas Washington about 1569–72, and George's only child Elizabeth Hall married Robert Quenell before 1580. (fn. 90) The Washingtons and Quenells of Chiddingfold were jointly interested in the manor in 1585. (fn. 91)
Robert and Elizabeth Quenell had a son Peter who resided at Lythe Hill, Haslemere. (fn. 92) Robert died in 1612. Peter Quenell the son, who held his first court in 1615, had a son Peter born in 1603, (fn. 93) who married in 1628 Elizabeth Grey, and resided at Field Place, holding a court in 1635, though his father the older Peter did not die till 1650. (fn. 94) Peter the younger was already owner. (fn. 95) He died in 1666 and was buried at Compton. His will was proved by his widow Elizabeth, (fn. 96) who was assessed for hearth tax at Compton circa 1675. (fn. 97) His son Peter died in 1684, (fn. 98) leaving two daughters, minors: Elizabeth subsequently wife of Robert Beare and Joan subsequently wife of John Waight, to whom Field Place descended in moieties. (fn. 99)
In 1709 John and Joan Waight, Nathan and Elizabeth Hickman, and sundry mortgagees joined in a conveyance of the whole manor to Samuel Manship. (fn. 100) His widow Anne held a court in 1726. Their son John Manship held a court in 1738 and died in 1751. His son John did not come into possession till his mother's death in 1788, and was holding still in 1808. (fn. 101) Soon after this the manor was purchased by George Smallpeice, (fn. 102) who died in 1853. After his widow's death in 1869 it passed to his nephew Job Smallpeice. He sold it to Mr. John King before 21 May 1875. Mr. John King died 15 May 1893. Mrs. King his widow died 16 August 1902, after which date the estate was sold to Colonel Annand.
POLSTED, the most easterly part of the parish, was distinguished from the main manor of Compton (fn. 103) early in the reign of Richard I, for in 1196 Walter de Windsor warranted it to Hugh of Polsted and his wife Cecily to hold by knight's service, (fn. 104) while in 1199 mention is made of a house which had belonged to Gerard of Polsted and to the land of Richard the Reeve (prepositus) of Polsted. (fn. 105) At the time of the confirmation to Hugh of Polsted William de Astinges was laying claim to the service from the manor, but apparently failed to prove his right to it, for in 1219 Michael of Polsted, probably a son of Hugh, obtained confirmation of his land in Polsted from William de Windsor. (fn. 106) In 1261 a second Hugh of Polsted conveyed the manor to Simon Passelew and his heirs. (fn. 107) About ten years later John de Middleton conveyed the manor to William of Wintershull, (fn. 108) on whose younger son Walter it was settled, together with Bramley (q.v.). (fn. 109) In 1308–9 John de Polsted granted land to Thomas his son; Richard de Polsted was a witness. (fn. 110) They were perhaps then tenants of the Wintershulls. In 1424 Joan then wife of William Catton and Agnes Basset, sisters and co-heirs of Thomas Wintershull, to whom Walter Wintershull's estates had descended, sued John Loxley for the manor, (fn. 111) and again in 1441 Agnes Bassett and John Weston son of Joan Catton disputed it against John Jenyn. The latter claimed to be enfeoffed of it, jointly with Bernard Jenyn of Brabœuf, who is said to have married Elizabeth daughter of John Loxley, son of Robert Loxley, half-brother of Thomas Wintershull. (fn. 112) The Jenyns seem to have made good their claim to the manors, for Thomas Jenyn, son of Bernard, held it at his death in March 1508–9. (fn. 113) He left an infant son John, afterwards knighted, who died in 1545. (fn. 114) His widow married Stephen Adams, who was holding the manor in her right a few years after Sir John's death. (fn. 115) It was ultimately inherited by Agnes, or Anne, niece of Sir John and wife of John Wight (or Weight), (fn. 116) who sold it to Sir William More of Loseley in 1558, (fn. 117) from which time its history has been coincident with that of Loseley.
Court baron was attached to Westbury, Eastbury, Field Place, and Polsted, (fn. 118) but there seems to be no record of courts held for Down, which was not called a manor till 1386. (fn. 119) The court of Polsted was held during the 17th century in a meadow under a walnut tree. (fn. 120) In 1249 the tenant of Compton had estovers in the wood of Compton towards the repair of the 'house of the court of Compton.' (fn. 121)
In the Godalming Hundred Rolls, (fn. 122) it appears that in the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries the tithing-man and tithings of Compton attended at the hundred courts at Godalming. But a view of frankpledge was held regularly at Compton on the Thursday after St. Matthew's Day, when the tithings of Eastbury, Westbury, and Polsted and of part of Hurtmore in Compton were represented. On 22 September 1453, no one attended from Polsted 'eo quod nullus est residens neque inhabitans super eandem decanam,' and the same is recorded of Hurtmore in Godalming the same year. But on 18 September 1483 the tenant of Polsted paid 8d. at the Godalming court, pro sua secta relaxanda, and the tithing of Hurtmore appears later, but no tithing-man for Polsted. The inhabitants of the manors, which were also tithings in Compton, owed suit to the court at Godalming (q.v.), when the Bishop of Salisbury, lord of the manor as well as of the hundred, held courts which from an early period combined the functions of a court baron and a hundred court.
In 1547 it was stated that the lords of Down had failed to pay suit to Godalming for many years. (fn. 123)
The church of ST. NICHOLAS is built on a spur of sand hill rising out of the valley in which the village stands. The east end of the building is approached from the road by the steep path overshadowed with cypresses and other trees, and the churchyard, which is very picturesque and well-wooded, shares in the undulating nature of the site. Behind the church to the west are some fine cedars and other trees. The church, which is one of the most interesting in the county, is built of Bargate stone, flints, and chalk, with Bath stone used in the modern work. A good deal of the exterior is covered with a brownish plaster; the roofs are tiled and the spire of the western tower is shingled. Nearly all the internal dressings are in clunch or hard chalk.
The church was restored in 1843, under Mr. H. Woodyer, and further works were carried out in 1869 and 1906. It consists of a western tower about 10 ft. square internally; nave 47 ft. 6 in. long by 18 ft. at its western end and 16 ft. 6 in. at the eastern; north and south aisles, of the same length, 7 ft. 3 in. wide, south porch, and chancel 27 ft. (originally 28 ft.), by 13 ft. at its western end. The eastern part of the chancel is vaulted and separated from the western by a low arch. It is of two stories, the upper forming a chapel over the sanctuary, a very rare feature in this country. On the north is a modern vestry and on the south a small projecting building, originally of two stories, which may have served for an anchorite's cell or for viewing relics. There is a modern coal shed on the north of the tower.
The tower has no buttresses, and is of very rude construction, built entirely of rag rubble, without any ashlar dressings to quoins and windows, the latter being narrow round-headed slits in the rubblework; a modern window of very incongruous design has been pierced in the west. It has no staircase, and its whole appearance suggests a date prior to the Norman Conquest. The rag-work quoins of the early nave are still visible and of the same character. The timber spire, which is fairly lofty, is probably of 14th-century date. The tower arch, plain pointed, on square piers, dates from about 1160 and replaces an earlier and smaller opening. A peculiarity of the plan is that the nave contracts in width towards the east, being 18 in. narrower at its eastern end than at the west. Its floor is said to have been higher than that of the chancel previous to the restoration of 1843, a fact borne out by the stilted bases of the arcade-piers. These arcades, which with the aisles and the chancel arch date from about 1160, are of three arches on each side, and with their columns are entirely worked in hard chalk. The arches are very slightly pointed, square-edged and of one order, with a flat moulded label, a rare and noteworthy feature being the coeval treatment of the thin coat of plaster on their soffits, which is cut into patterns (scallop, zigzag, and nebule) at the edges, as at Godalming and the crypt of St. James's Clerkenwell. The capitals have square abaci and are carved with varieties of the scallop, volute, and different types of foliage, those on the south being peculiarly rich. The columns and responds are circular, with round bases on square plinths. The north and south doors, which have circular heads, are both of this period, the former having a plain roll-moulding and the latter an outer order of zigzag, with a hood. In the centre of the nave at its western end is the large font of late 12th-century date. The design is peculiar, and looks like a rude imitation of a Venetian well-head, the bowl being shaped as a capital, square at the top with the angles canted off to a circular necking. This rests upon a short circular stem and base, and the whole upon a square table and chamfered plinth. The north aisle retains its low pitch and one of its original windows, but the walls of the south aisle were raised about 3 ft. in the 15th century; one of its original windows remains in the south wall, but blocked on the inside, and another in the west wall; the remainder are of 14th and 15th-century dates. In the north aisle are two shallow tomb-recesses, with depressed cusped arches, of 14th-century date. A blocked rood-loft door appears at the back of the eastern respond in this aisle. The chancel arch is of two orders, the outer circular in form, the inner obtusely pointed. These are nook-shafted with volute capitals to the outer order.
The shell of the chancel walls is perhaps of late 11th-century date, though heightened and otherwise altered in subsequent periods; three of its windows can be traced, one in each wall. The bowl of a pillar-piscina of this period has lately been found plastered up in the wall of the upper chapel, to which it had evidently been removed when that chapel was formed. The basin has two drain-holes—an earlier and a later—a circular-headed niche being made to fit the older drain. Clear proof was found during the underpinning of the chancel in 1906 that when the two-storied sanctuary was formed in its eastern half, in about 1180, the older walls were merely thickened by the addition of an independent 'skin,' about 1 ft. thick, on the inside, to serve as an extra abutment for the vault. The original plastering still remains on the older face, now hidden. This vault is of very low pitch, with segmental ribs, clumsily constructed, springing from a string-course, with corbels in the eastern angles. It is inclosed by a low and wide segmental arch, beautifully moulded, with nook-shafts having foliate capitals and chamfered imposts, all in chalk. The arch has a hood-moulding enriched with the dog-tooth ornament, and two orders, both moulded, the outer having a cusped or horse-shoe border in relief over a deep hollow, which gives a very rich effect. In the south wall are a piscina and aumbry of the same period, and in the western part of the chancel proper are windows, one in either wall, of like date, within plainly splayed pointed heads. That on the south has, however, been altered externally in the 13th century, so that it is now a low side window of two lights. Hard by a very carefully finished squint (c. 1160) pierces the chancel arch pier. Its other end is blocked by the pulpit. In either wall to the east is a small doorway with a pointed head. The western jamb of the south door stands on an early base. That on the north now gives access to the modern vestry, but no doubt originally opened to a stair which led to the upper chapel, a purpose at present served by a modern staircase placed within the small building on the opposite side, which is entered by the other door. A wide lancet, of date about 1250, is found on either side of the chancel, westward of these doors, and a two-light window of about the same date remains in the south wall of the lower sanctuary.
The anchorite's cell, or watching-place, whichever it be, on the south side of the chancel has several interesting features: a tiny round-headed window apparently of 12th-century date; a door opening outwards suggesting that there was a porch or out-building of timber attached to the southern side; and a squint with a peculiar cross-shaped opening to the chancel. This squint, which would command a view of the altar, is high enough for a person to kneel within it on the cell side, and the oak board on its sill shows a depression worn by constant use. The squint also looks towards a nameless tomb, quatrefoil panelled, of 15th-century date, beneath a window of the same period in the north wall of the sanctuary, which probably served as an Easter Sepulchre. In the recent underpinning of the chancel walls several male skeletons (one having abundant bright red hair on the skull), buried one above another, were found beneath this tomb, and it has been suggested that these were successive occupants of the anchorite's cell.
The present east window of the upper chapel is modern, and replaces one of three lights with fourcentred or elliptical heads, probably of late 16th-century date. Standing upon a beam above the low arch which forms the entrance to the lower sanctuary is the unique piece of early wooden screen-work or balustrading, placed here when the vaulting was constructed, about 1180. (fn. 124) It consists of nine semicircular arches, cut out of a single plank, resting upon octagonal shafts, having foliate capitals and moulded bases. A modern deal capping now crowns the top. The chancel roof is covered with modern boarding on the inside. In the nave and north aisle the roof timbers are ancient, perhaps of the 12th century: the south aisle roof has been largely renewed. Few churches possess such interesting early 17th-century fittings as the communion-table, rail and gates, with pierced scrollcarving, newels and balusters, the pulpit and soundingboard, also elaborately carved, and the chancel screen, now placed at the west end, and also enriched with pierced scroll-work and circular arches on baluster shafts. The seats in the chancel and body of the church are all modern.
In the southern window of the sanctuary is a beautiful fragment of early 13th-century glass representing the Blessed Virgin and Child. Other ancient fragments of grisaille or pattern-work have disappeared within living memory. The glass now in the west window of the south aisle, but originally made for the east window of the sanctuary, appears to be of 17th or 18th-century date, and its subject is the Baptism of our Lord.
The chancel walls have been re-plastered, but there may be ancient paintings under the whitewash in the nave.
Resting within the blocked north doorway, outside, is part of a late 12th-century coffin lid, bearing a floriated cross.
In the centre passage of the nave is a slab bearing the brasses of a civilian and his wife, dated 1508. The man wears a long fur-lined coat, with a girdle, from which hangs a gypciére. His hair is long and he has square-toed shoes. The lady is attired in a pedimental head dress and a tight-fitting gown with fur cuffs of a somewhat unusual shape, her waist being confined by a long ornamented girdle reaching to the feet. Beneath the husband are the figures of two sons, and one of a daughter, as appears by the indent, was originally below the wife's effigy. The inscription reads:—
'Pray for the sowllis of Thomas Gen[n]yn and Margaret hys wyfe, the whych decesyd the yere of our Lord MCCCCC and VIII, on whos sowllis Ihu have marcy. Amen.'
Above the figures was a shield, now gone, but which, according to Manning, bore—Argent on a fesse gules three bezants, for Jennings, quartering Gules a bull's head cabossed argent armed or.
From Manning we learn that a marble stone bore the following inscription, lost at the time when he wrote:—
'Hic jacet Robertus Soule et Margareta uxor ejus, quorum animabus propicietur Deus. Amen.'
Besides these, there are several slabs and monuments of the 17th and 18th centuries, including a stone at the east end of the nave inscribed to 'Elizabeth wife of Peter Quynell, Esq., daughter and sole heiress to Edmund Grey, Rector of Woolbeding, 1684.'
Her husband, according to an entry in the register, was buried at Compton on 7 May 1666.
On a tablet in the south aisle are inscriptions to members of the Fulham family, 17th and 18th centuries. In the churchyard is the fragment of a coped coffin-slab bearing a cross, of 12th or 13th-century date.
On a jamb-stone of the small blocked window in the south aisle is an incised sundial.
A rare detail is some ancient ridge- or crest-tiles on the nave roof. The registers date from 1639. The churchwardens' accounts begin 1570, and the book is bound up with part of an old processional belonging originally to the Abbey of Hyde, near Winchester.
The plate includes a fine communion cup and cover or paten, of 1569, with a somewhat unusual form of ornament on the paten; another paten and a flagon of 1683 and 1687, given to the church by Dr. Edward Fulham, Canon of Windsor, who died 1694, aged 90, and was buried at Compton.
Of the bells, the treble is by Brian Eldridge, 1634, and the second by the same founder, 1660. The tenor is by Mears, 1845.
The church was mentioned in the Domesday Survey of Compton. (fn. 125) The advowson seems to have been in dispute early in the 14th century between the lords of Polsted and Compton Westbury, for, though Hugh of Polsted granted the advowson with Polsted to Simon Passelew, (fn. 126) Henry of Guildford, lord of Westbury, died seised of it; his successor, John the Marshal, disputed the presentation, and finally John of Brideford presented a rector. (fn. 127) Thenceforward the history of the advowson was coincident with that of Compton Westbury, saving that during the 17th and 18th centuries the Mores and their descendants sold the right of presentation for several turns to members of the Fulham family. (fn. 128) It is now in the hands of the owner of Loseley and Westbury.
The charities are Smith's Charity, on the usual terms for the relief of deserving poor, charged on the Warbleton estate, Sussex; a bequest by Richard Wyatt, in his will, 20 March 1618, for the maintenance of one poor man, with 1s. 9d. a week and clothes once a year, in the almshouses at Godalming—trustees, the Carpenters' Company; 50s., charged on land in Compton, in bread and money to the poor and clothes to two aged persons, by John Thompsall, first distributed in 1674, in the hands of the churchwardens and overseers; a gown yearly to one poor woman, and the overplus bread, by Mrs. Jane Aburne, by will 19 May 1708.
A convalescent home for four inmates was founded in 1884 by Miss Hagart, and is supported by Mrs. Ellice of Eastbury.