Highways and Byways in Sussex - online book

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

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CHAPTER XXIX
SMUGGLING
The Cuckmere Valley—Alfriston smuggling foreordained—Desperado and benefactor—A witty minister—Hawker of Morwenstowe—The church and run spirits—The two smugglers, the sea smuggler and the land smuggler—The half-way house—The hollow ways of Sussex—Mr. Horace Hutchinson quoted—Burwash as a smuggler's cradle.
Alfriston's place in history was won by its smugglers. All Sussex smuggled more or less; but smuggling may be said to have been Alfriston's industry. Cuckmere Haven, close by, offered unique advantages : it was retired, the coast was un­populated, the roadway inland started immediately from the beach, the valley was in friendly hands, the paths and contours of the hills were not easily learned by revenue men. Nature from the first clearly intended that Alfriston men should be too much for the excise ; smuggling was predestined. Farmers, shepherds, ostlers, what you will that is respectable, these Alfriston men might be by day and when the moon was bright; but when the " darks" came round they were smugglers every one.
Chief of what was known nearly a hundred years ago as the "Alfriston Gang " was Stanton Collins, who lived at Market Cross House. Collins employed his men not only in assisting him in smuggling, but for other purposes removed from that calling by a wide gulf. Thus when Mr. Betts, the minister of the Lady Huntingdon chapel at Alfriston, was high-handedly suspended by the chief trustee of the chapel, on account of
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