Highways and Byways in Sussex - online book

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

Home | Order | Support | About | Contact | Search

Share page  

Previous Contents Next

xv                                 STEYNING AND HISTORY                              137
The present church, which stands on the site of St. Cuth-man's, is only a reminder of what it must have been in its best days. When one faces the curiously chequered square tower, an impression of quiet dignity is imparted; but a broadside view is disappointing by reason of the high deforming roof, giving an impression as of a hunched back. (One sees the same effect at Udimore, in the east of Sussex.) Within are two rows of superb circular arches, with zigzag mouldings, on massive columns.
Steyning has an importance in English history that is not generally credited to it. Edward the Confessor gave a great part of the land to the Abbey at Fecamp, whose church is, or was, the counterpart of Steyning's. These possessions Harold took away, an act that, among others, decided William, Duke of Normandy, upon his assailing, and conquering, course. Steyning should be proud. To have brought the Conqueror over is at least as worthy as to have come over with him, and far more uncommon.
In Church Street stands Brotherhood Hall, a very charming ancient building, long used as a Grammar School, flanked by overhanging houses, which, though less imposing, are often more quaint and ingratiating. Most of Steyning, indeed, is of the past, and the spirit of antiquity is visibly present in its streets.
The late Louis Jennings, in his Rambles among the Hills, was fascinated by the placid air of this unambitious town—as an American might be expected to be in the uncongenial atmo­sphere of age and serenity. "One almost expects," he wrote, " to see a fine green moss all over an inhabitant of Steyning. One day as I passed through the town I saw a man painting a new sign over a shop, a proceeding that so aroused my curiosity that I stood for a minute or two to look on. The painter filled in one letter, gave a huge yawn, looked up and down two or three times as if he had lost something, and finally descended from his perch and disappeared. Five weeks later I passed that way again, and it is a fact that the same man was at work
Previous Contents Next