Highways and Byways in Sussex - online book

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

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the cellar. For the gaining of such fastnesses the hollow ways of Sussex were maintained. Parson Darby's smuggling suc­cessor, in Mr. Horace Hutchinson's Sussex romance, A Friend of Nelson, thus described them to the hero of Withyham :—
" The sun strikes hot enough. Would you like to ride in the shade awhile?"
" Immensely," I replied, " if I saw the shade."
"Keep after me, then," said he; "but the roan will. You need not trouble !" In a moment, on his great big horse, he was forcing his way down what had looked to me no more than a rabbit-run through the road­side bushes. For a while I had noticed the road seemed flanked by a mass of boskage below it on the right-hand side. Into this, and downward, the man crammed his horse, squeezing his legs into the horse's flank. I followed closely, and in a yard or two found myself in a deep lane or cutting, very thickly overgrown, so that only occasional gleams of sunshine crept in through the leafage. We rode, as he had promised, in a most pleasant shade. The floor of this lane or passage was not of the smoothest, and we went at a foot's pace only, and in Indian file.
" What is the meaning of it all ?" I asked him.
"Well," said he, "you have heard, I suppose, of the 'hollow ways,' as they are called, of Sussex. This is one. They were in their origin lanes, I take it, and perhaps the only means of getting about the country. The rains, in this sandy soil, washing down, gradually deepened and deepened them. Folks grew to use the new roads as they were made, leaving the lanes unheeded, to be overgrown. Here and there certain base fellows of the lewder sort, commonly called smugglers, may have deepened them further, and improved on what Nature had begun so well, with the result that you can ride many a mile, mole-like, if you know your way, from the sea coast north'ard, never showing your face above ground at all. That is what it means," he ended.
Smuggling was in the blood of the Sussex people. As the Cornishman said to Mr. Hawker, "Why should the King tax good liquor ? " Why, indeed ? Everyone sided with the smugglers, both on the coast and inland. A Burwash woman told Mr. Egerton that as a child, after saying her prayers, she was put early to bed with the strict injunction, " Now, mind, if the gentlemen come along, don't you look out of the
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