History of Bepton

In about 480AD a saxon called Babo came over the Downs, driving out the Celtic inhabitants and forming a settelement, which he called Babintone (the enclosure (tone) of Babo.

Bepton was still referred to as ‘Babintone’ in the Domesday Book of 1086, but over the years the spelling gradually changed to ‘Babinton’, ‘Bebbington’, ‘Bebiton’, ‘Beyton’, and, finally, in 1567, to Bepton.

In 1568 the Manor of Bepton was sold by Henry Joscelyn to Anthony Browne, Vicount Montague, thus making it part of the Cowdray Estate. In 1908, Sir Weetman Dickson Pearson purchased the Cowdray Estate. In 1910 he was created Baron Cowdray of Midhurst and, in 1917, he was elevated to Viscount Cowdray. Much of the village has remained in the ownership of the Cowdray Estate ever since and the tell-tale yellow paint of many of the doors and windows in Bepton shows how prevalent the Cowdray influence still is today here.

St Mary’s Church was built by the Normans between 1180 and 1185 on the site of a much older Saxon wooden church which was mentioned in Domesday Book – unfortunately no traces of the older church remain. The Church has two bells, one inscribed “Praise the Lord”, hung in 1589, the other inscribed “Gloria in Excelsis” and hung in 1636. St Mary’s Church is Grade I listed.

On 7 January 1882, an elementary school was opened and the first headmistress was Miss Rosa Standen. In the 1890s, the school educated around 50-60 pupils, or, as they were called in the 1891 census, scholars. The school closed in 1949. The school building is now a house, with the former headmistress’s house next door. The war memorial which stands in the churchyard originally stood in the school. It was removed in 1952.