(Click photos to enlarge).
According to a sign posted on the notice board beneath the lych gate:
"The parish lych gate dates from about 1600, when it was the end of a row of cottages. Most of these were demolished in the 1920s. The lych gate became first a cobblers and later an antiques shop in the middle of the last century.
It was re-roofed and restored by a past resident, Mr George Latham, and given to the Church as a memorial to him by his wife, Marion, on 12th November 1964. The room above the gate is loaned to the Compton District History Society."
In the porch to church itself we find this stone figure (pictured below) of a rather peculiar-looking woman. Her almost featureless face with its wide apart blank eyes puts me in mind of the modern-day popular image of an alien "grey".
Another posting on a notice board tells us:
"Beside the door into the Church there is a stone effigy of a woman. It dates from the 15th century. She is wearing an ornate headdress and you can just make out a small dog resting at her feet. The effigy was probably the cover of a tomb, and originally located in the north aisle."
Another theory that the church avoids mentioning is that the figure is that of a witch. It has been suggested that the animal at the figure's feet may be the witch's familiar: a cat or a fox.
Interestingly, Long Compton seems to have a history of witchcraft as a quick Google search will show. For example, local legend tells that the Rollright Stones are the remains of a King and his army who set out to conquer England but the King was hailed by a witch who told him to take seven strides and then:
If Long Compton thou canst seeThe King took seven strides but instead of seeing Long Compton he saw a spur of land obstructing the view. The witch said:
King of England thou shalt be
As Long Compton thou canst not seeDate visted: 17 January 2009
King of England thou shalt not be.
Rise up stick, and stand still, stone
For King of England thou shalt be none.
Thou and they men hoar stones shalt be,
And I myself an eldern tree