Highways and Byways in Sussex - online book

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

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were four open courts. Upstairs, round three sides of the Green Court, were the Bird Gallery, the Armour Gallery, and the Green Gallery, and lords' apartments and ladies' apartments " capable of quartering an army," to quote a writer on the subject. On each side of the entrance, gained by a drawbridge, was a tower—the Watch Tower and the Signal Tower.
In the reign of Elizabeth a survey of Hurstmonceux was taken, which tells us that in the park were two hundred deer, " four fair ponds " stocked with carp and tench, a " fair warren of conies," a heronry of 150 nests, and much game. The de Fiennes, or Dacres as they became, had also a private fishery in Pevensey Bay, seen from the Watch Tower as a strip of blue ribbon.
In addition Hurstmonceux had a ghost, who inhabited the Drummers' Hall, a room between the towers over the porter's lodge, and sent forth a mysterious tattoo. Sometimes he left his hall, this devilish musician, and strode along the battle­ments drumming and drumming, a terrible figure nine feet high. Most people were frightened, but there were those who said that the drummer was nothing more nor less than a gardener in league with the Pevensey smugglers, whose notes, rattled out on the parchment, rolled over the marsh and gave them the needful signal.
Hurstmonceux once had a very real tragedy. The third Lord Dacre, one of the young noblemen who took part in the welcoming of Ann of Cleves when she landed in England preparatory to her becoming the wife of Henry VIII., was so foolish one night in 1541 as to accompany some of his roystering companions to the adjacent park of Sir Nicholas Pelham, near Hellingly, intent on a deer-stealing jest. There three game­keepers rose up, and a bloody battle ensued in which one John Busbrig bit the dust. Pelham was furious and demanded justice, and Lord Dacre, though he had taken no part in the fray, was held responsible. Three of his friends were hanged
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