SEAWARD SUSSEX - online book

A Description of Travels in Sussex During the early 1900s

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mile and a half to Wiston ("Wisson") Park and church; this is the best route for the ascent of Chanctonbury. The park commands fine views and is in itself very beautiful; the house dates from 1576, though several alterations have spoilt the purity of its style. This manor was once in the hands of the de Braose family, from whom it passed by marriage to the Shirleys, another famous family. Sir Thomas Shirley built the present house about 1578. It was Sir Hugh Shirley to whom Shakespeare referred in King Henry IV.
"Hold up thy head, vile Scot, or thou art like
Never to hold it up again. The spirits Of Shirley, Stafford, Blount, are in my arms."
His great-grandsons were the famous Shirley brothers, whose adventures were so wonderful that their deeds were acted in a contemporary play. One went to Persia to convert the Shah and bring him in on the side of the Christian nations against the Ottomans. On the way he discovered coffee! His younger brother, who accompanied him, remained in Persia and married a Circassian princess. The elder, after being taken prisoner by the Turks, was liberated by the efforts of James I and then imprisoned in the Tower by the same King for his interference in the Levant trade. Ruined in pocket and with a broken heart he sold Wiston and retired to the Isle of Wight. The estates soon afterwards passed to the Gorings, who still own them.
Wiston church, which stands in the park and close to the house, contains several monuments to the Shirleys and one of a child, possibly a son of Sir John de Braose; a splendid brass of the latter lies on the floor of the south chapel; it is covered with the words 'Jesu Mercy.' There are a number of dilapidated monuments and pieces of sculpture remaining in the church, which has been spoilt, and some of the details and monuments actually destroyed, by ignorant and careless "restoration."
To the north-west of Wiston Park is Buncton Chapel, a little old building in which services are occasionally held. The walls show unmistakable Roman tiles.
Chanctonbury (locally "Chinkerbury"), one of the most commanding and dignified of the Down summits, rises 783 feet on the west of Wiston; the climb may be made easier by taking the winding road opposite the church. The "ring" which is such a bold landmark for so many miles around makes a view from the actual top difficult to obtain. The whole of the Weald is in sight and also the far-off line of the North Downs broken by the summits of Holmbury and Leith Hill with Blackdown to the left. In the middle distance is St. Leonard's Forest, and away to the right Ashdown Forest with the unmistakable weird clump of firs at Wych Cross. But it is the immediate foreground of the view which will be most
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