Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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The Sussex Ironmasters.                    71
waiting at the door to carry the happy pair away to Tunbridge Wells or the Isle of Wight; the bride and bridegroom returned quietly to her father's house, where they remained a week, and a fortnight after that her mother accompanied her to her new home at Boston House."
Leonard Gale died in 1750, and was buried in Worth Church. He left estates of the value of about £1,110 a-year, which were divided among his three daughters. One of the latest entries of his journal indicates the character of the man: " I am now in the 58th year of my age, and my memory is sensibly growing worse, for I have made some mistakes in my accounts within the last three years of above £i>,°> which I cannot possibly find out after my utmost endeavours."
The Gales must have witnessed the decline of those iron works to which they owed their fortune. The growing scarcity of wood, and the opening of coal mines in Wales and other parts of the kingdom, where iron ore was in close proximity to them, were fatal to the Sussex works, which gradually grew fewer and fewer, until the last of them, at Ashburnham, was closed in 1809, the immediate cause of it being the failure of the foundry-men, through intoxication, to mix chalk with the ore, by reason of which it ceased to flow, and the blasting was stopped, and it was never renewed again. So ended, ignominiously, the Sussex iron works. Their very sites are now for the most part only a matter of tradition: the streams which turned the wheels by which the furnaces were "blown" are only visited by the angler; the pits from which the ore was dug are bosky dells, dear to the naturalist; the furnaces are cold—the forges silent. The Sussex iron works are, like the Gales, who assisted to work them, extinct. Whether they will ever be revived depends on the problem now in course of being solved: is there coal in Sussex?* If there be, perhaps some new ironmaster will write a journal for future ages like the Gales!
* Since the above was written it has been solved—fortunately for the lovers of the picturesque—in the negative: the attempt to rind coal by boring at Netherrield, in East Sussex, leading to no result.
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