History Of Brighton And Environs - Online Book

From The Earliest Known Period To The Present Time.

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257
persons imploy'd with their boats, near 30,000 pounds' sterling value of quicksilver; great quantities of her cargo were carried off by people from different parts, 60 of whom perish'd on the Beach, Downs, and other places; one was shot, and one broke his thigh ; but, notwithstanding those accidents, great numbers still continued to search, and often found some of her cargo, so that this may justly be recorded ye most extraordinary wreck that ever happen'd on any part of ye coasts of this Kingdom."
It was the sad loss of life occasioned by these catastrophes that induced the Incumbent of Eastdean and two neighbouring parishes, —the Rev. Jonathan Darby, a man of benevolent and philanthropic ideas, — to avert them if possible. He accordingly caused a cavern of considerable dimensions (consisting of a staircase opening from the beach, a dining room, and inner chamber), to be excavated in the cliff, above the flow of the tide, where unfortunate sailors might escape from the waters on their being cast ashore; and on many a stormy night did he wend his way to the cave and exhibit a light, to caution mariners on their too near approach. It is asserted that in consequence of his taking these pre­cautionary measures he, on one occasion, saved the lives of 12 seamen from a Dutch vessel. At last he fell a victim to his praiseworthy efforts; in the year 172G he contracted a cold and died. The cavern is situated about a mile eastward of Birling Gap,—and to this day is called " Parson Darby's Hole."
"The Charles's" before alluded to, are among the highest cliffs on the Sussex coast, being upwards of 500ft. Here great numbers of birds, including the raven, congregate and breed, but many of them at the latter part of the season migrate to warmer climates. The eggs of these birds are considered a great luxury, and in the procuring of them persons run the hazard of losing their lives. The following is the mode in which eggs are collected:
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