History of Compton Parish Church

compton-old-church-interior

All Saints (formerly All Hallowes) Church, Compton.

Part 1  Beginnings. 600-1400

This “beginning” shows when Christianity first came to the area, with the Saxon church probably being built around the time of King Alfred. The stone church was built around 1160. Compton was a farming hamlet with the old Roman road (The King’s Highway) running by it. The fields were in the valleys, with common land at Church Fields, Mead Furlong & Hurdle Way, The “Closes” were rented out by the Prior(Cathedral) but much of the Downland was still covered in forests, with some emerging clearings. Generally, Compton was fairly well insulated from national events, but was occasionally affected by marauding gangs, crop failures, famine and by plague. Church services would have been in Latin, and very few people would have been literate and would not have travelled far from home.

Part 2  Tudors – the Reformation

This period of the Tudors and the Reformation was a turbulent time nationally, but in many ways,  the Compton community was able to stay relatively stable, despite the shifts between Catholicism and Protestantism, and the dissolution of monasteries. However, one significant event was the martyrdom of Revd  John Philpott from Compton Place.( see article in PM, August 2015) Locally, the community had problems with the “Kings Highway” between Compton and Otterbourne which was often impassable and villagers were often being forced to make repairs. Also, the Parish Priest was often absent resulting in the church being run by curates.

Part 3 Civil War and the Restoration. 1603 to 1714

The 17th C can be described as “stirring times” with much political agitation. The parish was affected by clashes between the opposing forces of the King and Parliament and the penal measures directed spasmodically against a Roman Catholic minority. These were often referred to as “recusants” and were fined for not attending church. Priest Thomas Hackett appears to have steered a “steady ship” during this period with Priest John Webb steadying it until the next period of change.

Part 4. Georgian expansion, Victorian Empire, agricultural & industrial revolutions

The 18/19th Centuries presented times of significant change, in the role of monarchy, parliament, an expanding world and European rivalry, improving communication with roads, carriages, post, canals and eventually railways, matching the march of agricultural and industrial revolution. Compton and Shawford was not immune from these changes.

Part 5. Edward VII to Elizabeth II

The 20th century and into the 21st century has been a time of significantly accelerating change and a fair degree of turmoil, with two World Wars, industrial expansion, space exploration and rampant communication in an ever shrinking world. Times of significant challenges, socially, politically and spiritually.