The Sompting Abbotts manor was owned in the middle ages by the Abbey of Fecamp in France (hence 'Sompting Abbotts Manor') , later by the Earl of Arundel, then by a succession of 'yeoman' families. It was bought, together with Lychpole Manor, by John Crofts, a solicitor, in the mid eighteenth century; his descendants later added to it the manor of Sompting Peverel and some land in Cokeham manor, completing the Sompting Estate. This painting shows John Crofts with his wife Anne Le Pla and some of their children. John was an ancestor of the present Estate family, the Tristrams.
The Crofts family coat of arms is seen in the portrait at top, and, right, as sketched by the Sussex historian Mark Antony Lower, in his manuscript notebook on Sompting Church. The crest is sometimes shown separately with the motto "con fido" - a nice pun! ... The coat of arms is the same as that of the Crofts family at Little Saxham and there are other apparent links going back to the time of the civil war, when many records were lost so that it is not clear exactly how the Sompting and Saxham families are related.
The Sompting Estate is a fascinating historic landscape. The Scheduled Ancient Monument area on Park Brow was the place where, in the 1920s, archaeologists first came to recognize how the now quiet landscape of the South Downs was densely populated and farmed in prehistoric down to Romano-British times. The land reveals evidence of medieval and post-medieval farming with equally fascinating changes through to modern times.
History of the Downs Barn
Sompting Estate sold the family's manor house to Sompting Abbotts School in 1976; the family's base on the Estate is now at the Downs Barn, which has a very different history and character from the old manor house. If you click on this link you can read about how the Sompting Downs Barn was used in the traditional farming of the surrounding fields, how it was converted and how it is used now.
Further information can be found on these links:
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