Highways and Byways in Sussex - online book

An illustrated appreciation, of the most interesting districts in Sussex.

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and bade the sheep, in the name of the Lord, not to stray beyond it. The sheep obeyed, and thenceforward on repeat­ing the same manoeuvre he left them with an easy mind. In course of time his father died, and Cuthman determined to travel; intense filial piety determined him to take his aged mother with him. In order to do this he constructed a wheel­barrow couch, which he partly supported by a cord over his shoulders. Thus united, mother and son fared forth into the cold world; which was, however, warmed for them by the watchful interest taken in Cuthman by a vigilant Providence. One day, for example, the cord of the barrow broke in a hay-field, where Cuthman, who supplied its place by elder twigs, was the subject of much ridicule among the haymakers. Immediately a heavy storm broke over the field, destroying the crop; and not only then, but ever afterwards in the same field —possibly to this day—has haymaking been imperilled by a similar storm. So runs the legend.
The second occasion on which the cord broke and let down Cuthman's mother was at Steyning. Cuthman took the incident as a divine intimation that the time had come to settle, and he thereupon first built for his mother and himself a hut and afterwards a church. The present church stands on its site. Cuthman was buried there. So, also, was Ethelwulf, father of Alfred the Great, whose body afterwards was moved to Winchester. Alfred the Great had estates at Steyning, as elsewhere in Sussex.
While Cuthman was building his church a beam shifted, making a vast amount of new labour necessary. But as the Saint sorrowfully was preparing to begin again, a stranger appeared, who pointed out how the mischief could be repaired in a more speedy manner and with less toil. Cuthman and his men followed his instructions, and all was quickly well again. Cuthman thereupon fell on his knees and asked the stranger who he was. " I am He in whose name thou buildest this temple," he replied, and vanished.
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