Highways and Byways in Sussex - online book

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

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xl                         OLD RURAL ARCHITECTURE                        401
now remains. One can see that the mansion was of enormous extent; and the walls were so strongly built that when an attempt was recently made to destroy and utilise a portion for road mending, the project had to be abandoned on account of the hardness of the mortar. One beautiful tower (out of six) still stands. An underground passage, which is said variously to lead to the large lake in Buckhurst Park, to the church, and to Bolebroke at Hartfield, has never been explored farther than the first door that blocks the way; nor have the seven cord of gold, rumoured to be buried near the house, come to light.
It was of Duckings, the beautiful timbered farmhouse of which Withyham is justly proud, that Jefferies thus wrote, in his essay on " Buckhurst Park " : " Our modern architects try to make their rooms mathematically square, a series of brick boxes, one on the other like pigeon-holes in a bureau, with flat ceilings and right angles in the corners, and are said to go through a profound education before they can produce these wonderful specimens of art. If our old English folk could not get an arched roof, then they loved to have it pointed, with polished timber beams in which the eye rested as in looking upwards through a tree. Their rooms they liked of many shapes, and not at right angles in the corners, nor all on the same dead level of flooring. You had to go up a step into one, and down a step into another, and along a winding passage into a third, so that each part of the house had its individuality. To these houses life fitted itself and grew to them ; they were not mere walls, but became part of existence. A man's house was not only his castle, a man's house was himself. He could not tear himself away from his house, it was like tearing up the shrieking mandrake by the root, almost death itself. Now we walk in and out of our brick boxes unconcerned whether we live in this villa or that, here or yonder. Dark beams inlaid in the walls support the gables; heavier timber, placed horizontally, forms, as it were, the foundation of the first floor. This horizontal beam has warped
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