Highways and Byways in Sussex - online book

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

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XXII
THE MAGNIFICENT COVERTS
217
Bolney. After securing a fish he used to retire to an old tree on the more exposed bank to devour it, and about the close of evening was in the habit of flying off towards the north west, sometimes carrying away a prize in his talons if his sport had been unusually successful, as if he dreaded being disturbed at his repast during the dangerous hours of twilight. Having been shot at several times without effect, his visits to these ponds became gradually less frequent, but the surrounding covers being unpreserved, and the bird itself too wary to suffer a near approach, he escaped the fate of many of his congeners, and even re-appeared with a companion early in the following September, to whom he seemed to have imparted his salutary dread of man—his mortal enemy—for during the short time they remained there it was impossible to approach within gunshot of either of them."
The indirect road from Bolney to Hand Cross, through War-ninglid and Slaugham (parallel with the coaching road), is superb, taking us again into the iron country and very near to Leonardslee, which we have already seen.
The glory of Slaugham Place is no more; but one visible sign of it is preserved in Lewes, in the Town Hall, in the shape of its old staircase. Slaugham Place was the seat of the Covert family, whose estates extended, says tradition, "from South-wark to the Sea," and, says the more exact Horsfield, from Crawley to Hangleton, above Brighton. Slaugham Park used to cover 1200 acres, the church being within it. Perhaps nowhere in Sussex is the change so complete as here, and within recent times too, for Horsfield quotes, in 1835, tne testimony of " an aged person, whom the present rector buried about twenty-five years back, who used to relate, that he remembered when the family at Slaugham Park, or Place, con­sisted of seventy persons." Horsfield continues, in a footnote (the natural receptacle of many of his most interesting state­ments):—"The name of the aged person alluded to was Harding, who died at nearly 100. According to his statement,
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