History Of Brighton And Environs - Online Book

From The Earliest Known Period To The Present Time.

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Brighton, they dug into one of these pits, and exhumed a great quantity of human bones.
In the year 1805, whilst preparing the foundation for a new Church, at Lewes, it became necessary to disturb a leaden coffin containing the remains of one long since committed to earth: after the disinterment, the coffin was opened, and therein lay a perfect skeleton, the leg and thigh bones being covered with myriads of flies, of a species perhaps totally unknown to the naturalist. The specta­tors of this extraordinary sight were astounded, still more so at the wonderful activity of these singular insects,— in being as strong on the wing as gnats on a summer evening. The wings of this nondescript were white, and, for the sake of distinction, the spectators christened it " the coffin fly." A fleshy moisture still clung to the bones of the occupant of the coffin, and his fallen beard lay on the under jaw. The lead of the coffin had kept perfectly sound, presenting not the least chink or crevice for the admission of air, and this circumstance increased the wonder of all at the presence in the coffin of such strange companions of the dead.
At Mailing, near Lewes, there was at one time a collegiate Church said to be as old as Cadwaller, King of the West Saxons, whose death took place in the year 688. Its patrons were the successive Archbishops of Canterbury, and in 1805, whilst some labourers were levelling a piece of ground near Mailing Church, some human skeletons were discovered,—amongst them one much larger than the rest. Curiosity in the workmen led them to ascertain its length, and it proved, by accurate measurement, to be exactly 8ft.
In the early pages of this work allusion is made to the extensive and magnificent Priory erected in Southover by Gundrada and Earl de Warrenne,—but it will be of interest to our readers if we here give an outline of this spacious monastery at its dissolution, after an existence
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