Highways and Byways in Sussex - online book

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

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Horsfield states that " a custom far more honoured by the breach than the observance heretofore existed in the manor of Eastbourne; in compliance with which, after any lady, or respectable farmer or tradesman's wife, was delivered of a child, certain quantities of food and of beer were placed in a room adjacent to the sacred edifice; when, after the second lesson was concluded, the whole agricultural portion of the worshippers marched out of church, and devoured what was prepared for them. This was called Sops and Ale."
John Taylor the water Poet, whom we saw, at Goring, the prey of fleas and the Law, made another journey into the county between August 9th and September 3rd, 1653, and as was usual with him wrote about it in doggerel verse. At East­bourne he found a brew called Eastbourne Rug :—
No cold can ever pierce his flesh or skin Of him who is well lin'd with Rug within ; Rug is a lord beyond the Rules of Law, It conquers hunger in a greedy maw, And, in a word, of all drinks potable, Rug is most puissant, potent, notable. Rug was the Capital Commander there, And his Lieutenant-General was strong beer.
Possibly it was in order to contest the supremacy of Rug (which one may ask for in Eastbourne to-day in vain) that Newhaven Tipper sprang into being.
The Martello towers, which Pitt built during the Napoleonic scare at the beginning of last century, begin at Eastbourne, where the cliffs cease, and continue along the coast into Kent. They were erected probably quite as much to assist in allaying public fear by a tangible and visible symbol of defence as from any idea that they would be a real service in the event of invasion. Many of them have now disappeared.
Eastbourne's glory is Beachy Head, the last of the Downs, which stop dead at the town and never reappear in Sussex again. The range takes a sudden turn to the south at Folkington,
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