Sompting Paddocks & Livery
These are our fields seen from Dankton Lane soon after the 1987 hurricane, looking along the coffin path that leads to the church burial ground. Many of the trees that were still left after the loss of the great elms in the 1970s, were blown over and damaged in the storms of 1987 and 1991; others have since been replanted but the downs, Sompting Church and the manor house of Sompting Abbotts can still be seen from the Meadows.
The fields were grazed by Church Farm's cattle until the 1990s and by horses since then; but there is much more to their history than that - and much of it connected with the story of horses that must have grazed here over the centuries:
The church was built by Saxon christians in the late 10th century and its steeple is constructed of huge interlocking flints, with a rhenish helm shaped top which is rare here but often seen in the lands our Saxon ancestors came from. The main entrance door is of a height for the Templars to ride in on horseback; imagine knights preparing themselves here to embark on the crusades.
The present Sompting Abbotts manor house was rebuilt by the Crofts family in the mid 19th century. Up till 1800 when the Findon valley route was improved, the road past the Abbotts was the main Worthing to London coach route - a hard haul for the horses over the downs where they risked attacks by highwaymen too.
In our fields on this side of the flint wall enclosure on the left there used to be a large flint barn belonging to Yew Tree Farm, to which the horses would have drawn waggons of hay or sheaves at harvest time (in the picture is Bill Wadey).
On the west side of the flint wall enclosure, near where the main entrance to Croft Meadows is now, was a Malthouse of which a small bit of flint wall remains in the field.
An air raid shelter was built in the second world war in the corner nearest the Marquis of Granby, and later demolished; the gate in the flint wall leading to it can still be seen.
A major agricultural show was held in our fields in 1936 - the first that led to the South of England Show.
(with thanks to Mike Prince, the late great Bill Lindfield and others for images)
- CM Blog