Highways and Byways in Sussex - online book

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

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266                                          ALFRISTON                                       chap.
tions that those in authority might have had were silenced by an occasional tub. But of this more in the next chapter.
And so we come to Alfriston; but, as I said, the right way was over the hills, ascending them either at Itford (crossing the Ouse at Southease) or by that remarkable combe, one of the finest in Sussex, with an avenue leading to it, which is gained from a lane south of Beddingham. Firle Beacon's lofty summit is half-way between Beddingham and Alfriston, and from this height, with its magnificent view of the Weald, we descend steadily to the Cuckmere valley, of which Alfriston is the capital.
Alfriston, which is now only a village street, shares with Chichester the distinction of possessing a market cross. Alfriston's specimen is, however, sadly mutilated, a mere relic, whereas Chichester's is being made more splendid as I write. Alfriston also has one of the oldest inns in the county—the " Star "—(finer far in its way than any of Chichester's seventy and more) ; but Ainsworth was wrong in sending Charles II. thither, in Ovingdean Grange. It is one of the inns that the Merry Monarch never saw. The " Star " was once a sanctuary, within the jurisdiction of the Abbot of Battle, for persons fly­ing from justice; and it is pleasant to sit in the large room upstairs, over the street, and think of fugitives pattering up the valley, with fearful backward glances, and hammering at the old door. One Birrel, in the reign of Henry VIII., having stolen a horse at Lydd, in Kent, took refuge here. The inn in those days was intended chiefly for the refreshment of men­dicant friars.
In 1767 the landlord was, according to a private letter, "as great a curiosity as the house." I wish we had some informa­tion about him, for the house is quaint and curious indeed, with its red lion sentinel at the side (figure-head from a Dutch wreck in Cuckmere Haven), and its carvings inside and out. The old and the new mingled very oddly when I was lately at Alfriston. Hearing a familiar sound, as of a battledore
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