Highways and Byways in Sussex - online book

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

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xix                               MR. SWINBURNE'S POEM                                187
hundred and fifty years earlier King John landed here with his army, when he came to succeed to the English throne. In the reign of Edward III. Shoreham supplied twenty-six ships to the Navy: but in the fifteenth century the sea began an encroachment on the bar which disclassed the harbour. It is now unimportant, most of the trade having passed to New-haven ; but in its days of prosperity great cargoes of corn and wine were landed here from the Continent.
When people now say Shoreham they mean New Shoreham, but Old Shoreham is the parent. Old Shoreham, however, declined to village state when the present harbour was made.
New Shoreham church, quite the noblest in the county, dates probably from about 1100. It was originally the property of the Abbey of Saumur, to whom it was presented, together with Old Shoreham church, by William de Braose, the lord of Bramber Castle. It is New Shoreham Church which Mr. Swinburne had ill mind (or so I imagine) in his noble poem " On the South Coast" :—
Strong as time, and as faith sublime,—clothed round with shadows of hopes
and fears, Nights and morrows, and joys and sorrows, alive with passion of prayers
and tears,— Stands the shrine that has seen decline eight hundred waxing and waning
Tower set square to the storms of air and change of season that glooms and
glows, Wall and roof of it tempest-proof, and equal ever to suns and snows, Bright with riches of radiant niches and pillars smooth as a straight stem
Stately stands it, the work of hands unknown of: statelier, afar and near, Rise around it the heights that bound our landward gaze from the seaboard
here ; Downs that swerve and aspire, in curve and change of heights that the
dawn holds dear.
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