Burpham and Wepham

A South Downs Community

Writers, artists, criminals, and many more. 

Mervyn Peake

Mervyn Peake, novelist and illustrator, moved to Wepham in 1937 with his wife Maeve and young family.  His father was the doctor in the village, with a surgery in what is now Reed Thatch.   In 1940 Mervyn moved next door into a small thatched cottage (Number 94 Wepham) where he completed the first of his Ghormenghast trilogy, Titus Groan.   He based his ideas of the castle not on Arundel, but on the Imperial Palace and Forbidden City in Beijing, where his father had practised medicine.  His son, Sebastian Peake, said that they used to walk around Burpham thinking of names for the characters in Ghormenghast. 

John Cowper Powys

John Cowper Powys lived at Warre House from 1902 until the 1920s, and devoted a chapter of his autobiography to life in Burpham and pen portraits of a number of villagers including Tickner Edwardes.  You can find here some newspaper articles with recollections by Lily Brooks, mother of a Burpham resident. 

Tickner Edwardes


Turner was artist in residence at Petworth and visited the Arun Valley on a number of occasions. This view (c 1824) is a good example.  ​​

Edward Lear sketched a number of local scenes such as this one in 1834 at Peppering House, and this of the Church inscribed Peppering

George Petherbridge painted this lovely example of railway art. 

Ronald Dunlop painted this of the sheepwash at Burpham

Percy Robert Craft (1856-1934) a painter of the Newlyn school,  painted this view of Burpham


Most of Burpham and Wepham's tales can be found in books by local historian Chris Hare, and in the book 'Good Old Days, Bad Old Days: The Sussex of Lawrence Graburn. Graburn wrote under the name of Newall Duke in the West Sussex Gazette.   

You can find tales of Jack Upperton, who attempted to rob the mail in 1771 and murdered the postboy,  and was hung on a gibbet for his pains.