WEST GRINSTEAD, COWFOLD AND HENFIELD
"The Rape of the Lock"—Knepp castle—The Cowfold brass—Carthusians in Sussex—The Oakendene cricketers—Fourteen Golden Orioles on Henfield common—A Henfield botanist—Dr. Thomas Stapleton's merits—A good epitaph—Sussex humour.
West Grinstead is perhaps the most remarkable of the villages on the line from Horsham to Steyning, by reason of its association with literature, The Rape of the Lock having been to a large extent composed beneath a tree in the park. Yet as one walks through this broad expanse of brake-fern, among which the deer are grazing, with the line of the Downs, culminating in Chanctonbury Ring, in view, it requires a severe effort to bring the mind to the consideration of Belinda's loss and all the surrounding drama of the toilet and the card table. If there is one thing that would not come naturally to the memory in West Grinstead park, it is the poetry of Pope.
The present house, the seat of the Burrells, was built in 1806. It was in the preceding mansion that John Caryll, Pope's friend, made his home, moving hither from West Harting, as we have seen. Caryll suggested to Pope the subject of The Rape of the Lock, the hero of which was his cousin, Lord Petre. The line :—
This verse to Caryll, Muse, is due,
is the poet's testimony and thanks. John Gay, who found life a jest, has also walked amid the West Grinstead bracken.