​​Famous people linked to Lancing and Sompting highlighted at Sompting Old

​​Famous people and ordinary folk linked to Lancing and Sompting have been highlighted at Sompting Old, as the long-established photographic exhibition returned for the first time in five years.

Author Anna Sewell lived for a time at Fircroft House in Lancing and it could be said that her time in the village helped inspire her book Black Beauty, written from the point of view of the horse to encourage people to treat the animals better.

Anna was born in Great Yarmouth in March 1820. Her parents, Isaac and Mary Sewell, were Quakers and money was scarce. The family moved several times, including to Brighton, where Isaac worked at the London and County Joint Stock Bank.

The family then moved to Lancing and rented Fircroft House from December 1845 to 1849.

Eileen Colwell, secretary at Lancing & Sompting Pastfinders, said: "It was Anna's duty to drive her father to the station in the pony and trap and she acquired considerable knowledge of horses and driving, through supervising the lad employed to care for the pony, even though by now she was a semi-invalid."

The family moved several times after leaving Lancing and by the 1870s, Anna's health had deteriorated to the point where she did not leave the house but the idea of Black Beauty had emerged and in 1877, Anna was offered £20 for the copyright, which she accepted.

Black Beauty was written in Norfolk and published in 1877 but Anna died only five months later.

Fircroft House had been let by the executors of Thomas Miller and the Rate Book shows the site was sold to Augustine Raymont during its occupation by the Sewell Family.

It was later owned by William McCarthy and run as a guest house. But by 1957, the land had been sold and the house was demolished. New bungalows, described as 'conveniently planned and well fitted', were built by Braybons Ltd of Brighton and sold via Fox & Sons.

Oscar Wilde's lover, the poet and journalist Lord Alfred Douglas, known as Bosie, was cared for at Monks Farmhouse in the year before his death.

Estate agent Edward Colman was buying land and building in Lancing and Worthing in the mid-1930s. He is registered as living at Monks Farmhouse in 1939 and married Sheila Sanderson Crouch in 1940.

The Colmans met Bosie at the end of 1944 and in the end took him into their home, where they cared for him until his death in 1945.

Edward developed an interest in farming and took over the Upton and Titch Hill farms in Sompting from Major Guy Tristram in September 1946.

Monks Farmhouse was sold to the Southwark Roman Catholic Diocese in 1951 and the Colmans moved to Titch Hill Farm. Edward died in 1988 and Sheila continued to breed prize-winning sheep until her death in 2001.

Thomas Henry King, a partner in the Trebor sweet company, lived in Sompting for 20 years. He was a wholesale grocer and travelling salesman before he was invited to join the confectioners in London.

He married Marion Jobling in 1925, following the death of his first wife, Clara, and lived in Cokeham Lane in a house he called Trebor.

Thomas was involved in the building of the Congregational Church in Cokeham Road, on the site of Manor Cottage. Prior to that, church services were held in an outbuilding at his home.

Thomas died in 1952 and Marion in 1960. The property was then sold and Graham Court was built in its place.

Lorne Cottage, in South Street, Lancing, was owned by Emily Walls and leased to William McCarthy for 11 years before she sold it to him in 1919.

His sons, Eric and Norman McCarthy, ran a successful photography business in South Street, Lancing, and are known for their extensive series of postcards of the area.

Other famous people associated with Lancing and Sompting include boxer Sir Henry Cooper and his identical twin George, who were evacuated from London to Lancing.

The Pastfinders' exhibition was held on Sunday, for one day only, at the Harriet Johnson Centre, Loose Lane, Sompting. This was previously the School House and School, built in 1872 on land given by the Crofts family in exchange for the land at the site of the old school.

Harriet Johnson came from London in 1897 and took the post of headteacher, while her older sister Emily taught the infants. They lived in the School House with their mother.

Harriet was an innovative teacher and inspired not only the children but involved the mothers in a small music group and in acting as well.

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