Highways and Byways in Sussex - online book

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

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If you are for the Weald it is by this bostel that you should descend, but if still for the Downs turn to the east along the summit, and you will come to Pyecombe, a straggling village on each side of the London road just at the head of Dale Hill. Pyecombe has lost its ancient fame as the home of the best shepherds' crooks, but the Pyecombe crook for many years was unapproached. The industry has left Sussex : crooks are now made in the north of England and sold over shop counters. I say " industry" wrongly, for what was truly an industry for a Pyecombe blacksmith is a mere detail in an iron factory, since the number of shepherds does not increase and one crook will serve a lifetime and more. An old shepherd at Pye­combe, talking confidentially on the subject of crooks, com­plained that the new weapon as sold at Lewes, although nominally on the Pyecombe pattern, is a "numb thing." The chief reason which he gave was that the maker was out of touch with the man who was to use it. His own crook (like that of Richard Jefferies' shepherd friend) had been fashioned from the barrel of an old muzzle-loader. The present generation, he added, is forgetting how to make everything : why, he had neighbours, smart young fellows, too, who could not even make their own clothes.
Pyecombe is but a few miles from Brighton, which may easily be reached from it. A short distance south of the village is the Plough Inn, the point at which the two roads to London—that by way of Clayton Hill, Friar's Oak, Cuckfield, Balcombe and Redhill, and the other (on which we are now standing) by way of Dale Hill, Bolney, Hand Cross, Crawley and Reigate—become one.
On the way to Brighton from the Plough one passes through Patcham, a dusty village that for many years has seen too many bicycles, and now is in the way of seeing too many motor cars. In the churchyard is, or was, a tomb bearing the following inscrip­tion, which may be quoted both as a reminder of the more stirring experiences to which the Patcham people were subject
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