Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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64                 Glimpses of Our Ancestors.
they used so well against the floating castles of the Armada.* Sussex was then the Wales and the Warwickshire of England —the centre of the country's iron works. Foreign countries sought eagerly for its cannon—its culverines and falconets. Its richly-decorated fire-backs and fantastic andirons or " dogs," as they were called in common parlance, were the pride of lordly mansions. London had to send hither for the railings that went round its great Cathedral; and Sussex ploughshares and " spuds," and other agricultural implements and articles of hardware, were sent all over the Kingdom. Fancy the glare and noise and activity that must have gone on in and around these 42 forges and iron mills—the digging and carting of ore—the cutting down and dragging in of trees—the blowing of furnaces, the ding of hammers, the clatter of mill-wheels, turned by merry little streams; to say nothing of the building of workshops for the men, cottages for their families, and mansions for the masters.
Of all this busy and active scene, what remains to indicate to the passer-by that it once existed ? Here and there a name, like Cinder-hill, at Chailey, or Mill-place, at Eastgrinstead, to raise a faint suspicion of uses of which no sign or vestige now remains. Nature has resumed her original rights. Ceres has driven out Vulcan. The only forge is that of the village blacksmith; the stream turns the wheel of no iron mill—raises no hammer—works the bellows of no furnace— only harbours a few meditative trout, which are persecuted by a few deluded anglers; the ore lies undisturbed in the ferruginous soil, and the forest is once more safe from the
* In the Inventory taken of the goods of the Lord High Admiral Seymour, when he was impeached for high treason (temp.—Edward 6th), are included a number of furnaces and forges possessed by him in the forest of Worth, Sussex, with the number of men—" founders, ffylers, coleyers, miners, gon-founders," &c, who woTked them. One item will show the warlike nature of the manufacture :—" Ffyrste, a duble ffurnace to cast ordynaunce, shotte or rawe iron, wt all implements and necessaries appertenyng unto the same:—Item, there ys in sowes of rawe iron, cxij.; Ittn., certain pieces of ordynaunce, that is to say, culverens, xiv.; dim culverens, xv.; Itm., of shotte for the same, ft tonne, v. ct.; Itm., ordynaunce caryed from thens to Southwark and remanyeth ther as foleth: sakers, xv.; ffawkons, vj.; mynnyons, ij.; and dim. culverens, j.; Itm., in shotte for the same delyvered at the h. std., xiij. toune; Itm., in myne or ower at the furnace, redye receved, xyjc lode; Itm., in myne, drawen and caried, Mixx. lode j Itm., in whode, viijc. corde."
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