SEAWARD SUSSEX - online book

A Description of Travels in Sussex During the early 1900s

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one within and the other outside the church. This was once an important "Black Country" centre. Local names, such as "The Forge" perpetuate the memory of this strange period in the history of Sussex, which was at its busiest about 1680, the last furnace being quenched in 1828.
"It is a strange thing to remember, when one is standing on the cold desolate hills about Crowborough Beacon, or in the glens of the Tilgate Forest—now the very picture of quiet, and rest, and loneliness—that this same Sussex was once the iron mart of England. Once, spotted over these hills and through these forests, there were forges that roared from morning till night, chimneys that sent up their smoke and their poisonous vapour from one year's end to another; cannon were cast ... where now there is no harsher voice than the tap of the woodpecker.... One cannot fancy the forests of St. Leonards and Ashdown, the Wolverhampton of their age. But so it was; and not the least remarkable thing ... is the absence of traditions about the life and customs of the manufacturers so employed." (Lower.)
[From Maresfield a round of about thirty miles could be made through the beautiful East Sussex Weald, rejoining the main road at Uckfield. In two miles is Buxted, which has an interesting Early English church standing high amidst woods. In the Decorated chancel is the brass of Britellus Avenel (1408) and J. de Lewes (1330), by whom the church was founded. Note the old muniment chest in the north aisle and the mortuary chapel of the Earls of Liverpool south of the chancel. Not far from the church is "Hog House," note the hog carved over the door and dated 1581. The Hogge family, ironmasters, once lived here. In 1543 was cast the first iron cannon made in this country.
"Master Huggett and his man John, They did cast the first cannon."
Not far away is the one time cell of a hermit, carved out of the rock, and named "The Vineyard." The road now winds through a remote country, which once resounded with the clangour of the forge, to Hadlow Down and Butcher's Cross and in seven miles reaches Mayfield. The village street is according to Coventry Patmore the "sweetest in Sussex." The half-timbered "Middle House" nearly opposite the church is the best example of this style of architecture in the south, it is dated 1575. Lower House was built about 1625. The fine Perpendicular church is on the site of the traditional building erected by St. Dunstan. This was made of wood, and the Saint,
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