SEAWARD SUSSEX - online book

A Description of Travels in Sussex During the early 1900s

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repel the invaders. They were insufficient both in number and skill to cope with the well-trained troops of France. The brave peasantry were totally routed, but not till one hundred of their party had sacrificed their lives, and the Prior and the two knights had been made prisoners. The loss which the French had sustained prevented further encroachments, and they returned to their ships with their prisoners, who were conducted to France."
That Rottingdean was known and appreciated over one hundred years ago will come as a surprise to many. The following account appeared in the Gentleman's Magazine, 1801:
"The pleasant and delightful village of Rottingdean is situated on the Newhaven Road, at the distance of nearly four miles from Brighthelmstone, a popular watering place. This place is no otherwise remarkable than for its wells, which are nearly empty at high water, but which rise as the tide declines. This little village has of late been the resort of a considerable number of genteel company, for which bathing-machines and every accommodation have been provided. Here are a variety of lodging houses, a good inn, with convenient stables, coach-houses, etc. It is most frequented by such families as prefer a little retirement to the bustle and gaiety of Brighthelmstone, and who occasionally may wish to mix with the company there, for which its situation renders it at any time perfectly convenient. The road from Rottingdean to Brighthelmstone is delightfully pleasant in the summer season. On one side you have an extensive view of the sea, and on the other the Downs, covered with innumerable flocks of sheep, so justly held in estimation for their delicious flavour."
About two and a half miles from Rottingdean in a lonely dene surrounded by the Downs is the little hamlet of Balsdean; there is nothing to see here but a building locally called "The Chapel" (the architecture is Decorated, with an ancient thatched roof) but the walk will give the stranger to the district a good idea of the
solitude and unique characteristics of the chalk hills. The curious T-shaped cuttings still to be seen in the sides of the Downs may be remarked; these are where the traps set to catch wheatears were set. A great trade was once done by the Downland peasantry in these "Sussex Ortolans," as they were called, but of late years the demand has dwindled to vanishing point.
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