Highways and Byways in Sussex - online book

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

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XXXV
LETTER-WRITING
331
the defender; by Stephen in 1144, the fortress being held by Maude, who gave in eventually to famine; by Simon de Mont-fort and the Barons in 1265 ; and by the supporters of Richard of York in 1399, when Lady Pelham defended it for the Rose of Lancaster. A little later Edmund, Duke of York, was imprisoned in it, and was so satisfied with his gaoler that he bequeathed him £20. Queen Joan of Navarre, wife of Henry IV., was also a prisoner here for nine years. In the year before the Armada, Pevensey Castle was ordered to be either rebuilt as a fortress or razed to the ground; but fortunately neither instruction was carried out.
The present owner of Pevensey Castle is the Duke of Devonshire, who by virtue of the possession is entitled to call himself Dominus Aquilae, or Lord of the Eagle.
Pevensey has another and gentler claim to notice. Many essayists have said pleasant and ingenious things about the art of letter-writing ; but none of them mentions the part played by Pevensey in the English development of that agreeable accom­plishment. Yet the earliest specimen of English letter-writing that exists was penned in Pevensey Castle. The writer was Joan Crownall, Lady Pelham, wife of Sir John Pelham, who, as I have said, defended the castle, in her Lord's absence, against the Yorkists, and this is the letter, penned (I write in 1903) five hundred and four years ago. (It has no postscript.)
My dear Lord,—I recommend me to your high Lordship, with heart and body and all my poor might. And with all this I thank you as my dear Lord, dearest and best beloved of all earthly lords. I say for me, and thank you, my dear Lord, with all this that I said before of [for] your comfortable letter that you sent me from Pontefract, that came to me on Mary Magdalen's day : for by my troth I was never so glad as when I heard by your letter that ye were strong enough with the grace of God for to keep you from the malice of your enemies. And, dear Lord, if it like to your high Lordship that as soon as ye might that I might hear of your gracious speed, which God Almighty continue and increase. And, my dear Lord, if it like you to know my fare, I am here laid by in manner of a siege with the county of Sussex, Surrey, and a great parcel of Kent, so
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