SEAWARD SUSSEX - online book

A Description of Travels in Sussex During the early 1900s

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We now leave the Rother, turn south by the Chichester road and passing over Cocking causeway reach, in three miles, that little village at the foot of the pass through the Downs to Singleton, or better still, by taking a rather longer route through West Lavington we may see the church in which Manning preached his last sermon as a member of the Anglican communion. The church and accompanying buildings date from 1850 and were designed by Butterfield; they are a good example of nineteenth-century Gothic and are placed in a fine situation. In the churchyard, which is particularly well arranged, lies Richard Cobden not far from the farmhouse in which he was born. Dunford House is not far away; this was presented to Cobden by the Anti-Corn-Law League, and here the last years of his life were spent.
Cocking once had a cell belonging to the Abbey of Seez in Normandy but of this nothing remains. This beautifully situated little place has a primitive Norman church with a fine canopied tomb and an old painting of Angel and shepherds. We are now at the foot of Charlton Forest covering the slopes of the Downs which stretch eastwards to Duncton Beacon; and along the edge of this escarpment it is proposed to travel. This is one of the loneliest and most beautiful sections of the range.
"A curious phenomenon is observable in this neighbourhood. From the leafy recesses of the layers of beech on the escarpment of the Downs, there rises in unsettled weather a mist which rolls among the trees like the smoke out of a chimney. This exhalation is called 'Foxes-brewings' whatever that may mean, and if it tends westwards towards Cocking, rain follows speedily." (Lower.)
The hamlet of Heyshott need not tempt us from the hill, though Graffham, one of the loveliest villages in Downland, might well be visited. Where at last it is necessary to drop toward the Petworth Chichester road a divergence may be made to East Lavington with its associations and memories of Samuel Wilberforce, who is buried here and in whose memory a memorial brass may be seen in the church; note also the Bishop's pastoral staff fixed to the wall near the altar. There are still "oldest inhabitants" of this peaceful place who remember the celebrated Victorian, whose rather unkind sobriquet was really but a tribute to his genial kindliness of disposition. Here he married in 1828 the local heiress, Miss Emily Sergent, and here Mrs. Wilberforce was buried in 1841. It is said that at
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