Compton Farm

 

In 1086 the manor of Compton, which Earl Tostig had held before the Conquest, belonged to the king, William I. The overlordship was granted to Richard de Redvers in 1100. From then on the farm’s ownership followed that of Carisbrooke Castle. The tenants were the Compton family and in the 13th century we see that Odo de Compton owned a knight's fee in Compton and Atherfield.

 

 

 

 

In about 1431 the tenants were the de Compton family. The farm was later passed to the Lisle family and many others. Throughout this time the abbotts of Quarr Abbey held land at Compton.

 

 

 

The Phillips family, who have farmed here for over 70 years, arrived in 1926. Jack Phillips, was living on the Yar at Wilmingham. He had bad lungs and was told he needed a drier environment. A land agent who recognised the popularity of country holidays between the wars, suggested Compton would be perfect, saying: For God’s sake, Jack, get some campers in for an income.

 

 The farm was owned by the Seely Estate until it was bought by the National Trust in 1957 with money bequeathed by Amy Salter in memory of her son Edmund who was killed in Italy during the Second Minnie Phillips (Cheek) brought up their nine children on the farm, Gwen, Ron, Doris, Bill, Isobel, Marjorie, Bernard, Min and the youngest, Den, who was born on the farm in 1928. From that day to this, the Phillips family have run Compton differently to many other farms, welcoming campers and encouraging them to help out and take an interest in farm life.

 

 

In the 1930s and 40s, Huntley and Palmer’s factory workers came to camp, as did the Elim Gospel Group and the Rev Daniels brought large groups of boys in relays from the East End of London throughout the summer months. Jane Phillips recounts how: They had a ton of coal delivered each fortnight for use in their cast iron range which cooked hundreds of meals (the range lived at Compton full time so it was ready for use every summer). Gallon loaves were delivered from Lithgows in Freshwater. They had their own cooking tents and latrines. The Rev Daniels stood no nonsense from the boys, they were very disciplined and had to march to the beach. Some of the boys still come back today as adults with their families.


Summers were summers in those days. The cows at Compton were Guernseys and they all had names, usually flower names, Primrose, Daisy, Bluebell and such like. One cow was called Twist, because she fell down the cliff and survived, from then on she would throw her leg sideways and waddle down the lane. You could put an arm around her neck, she was so friendly.



 

 

In the wartime pig-killing was illegal, but the Phillips’ were friendly with a sergeant at Yarmouth Police Station who would somehow tip them off when things were all clear. One day they were in the middle of a killing, when word of a police raid arrived. Everything was quickly packed away and cleaned up, but no one came, which was apparently just as well as a huge bucket of entrails had been forgotten and would have given the game away...

 

Another family story tells how, in the war Den’s mother heard a great crash and thought a bomb had dropped on Compton, but on going outside she saw that an outside wall of the farmhouse had suddenly collapsed.

Jane also remembers how: In winter when they were snowed in at Compton and the milk lorry didn’t come, they would need to use the milk and so set to work on making butter using scotch hands (butter pats) and making clotted cream.



 

 

Den and Jane Phillips kept up the traditions of welcoming people to Compton with their own daughters, Mary, Anna and Lucy. Since Den died in 2008, Jane and Anna now manage the farm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each Easter Monday, come rain or shine, the traditional ‘Steam Up’ takes place at Compton. Crowds gather in this idyllic spot and are transported back to the age of steam power and old country ways. From then on starts the busy time at Compton; as well as the usual farming jobs it is the beginning of the camping season. As in 1926, all are made very welcome, many returning year after year.