SEAWARD SUSSEX - online book

A Description of Travels in Sussex During the early 1900s

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finding that the orientation was not quite true, set his shoulder to the wall and pushed it straight! The visitor will note the fine effect of the raised chancel, the roof of which is composed of a one time gallery. Note, among other objects, the old screen and choir stalls; a squint; font dated 1666; iron slabs in the nave to the Sands (1668 and 1708); monument to T. Aynscombe (1620); chandeliers; and curious east window; and, not least, the glorious view from the churchyard. The Palace of the Archbishops is now a convent: it was restored by Pugin after being in a state of ruin for many years. Certain portions may be seen at uncertain times. In the ancient dining-room are preserved the hammer, tongs and anvil of St. Dunstan. The Saint's well is in the garden. It was hereabouts that St. Dunstan had his great tussle with the Devil, holding the fiend by the nose with his tongs; eventually the Evil One wrenched himself free; making an eight mile leap he cooled his nose in a pool of water, giving it for ever "a flavour of warm flat irons" and making the fortune of the future Tunbridge Wells. Mayfield has another claim to a niche in history, not a quaint old tale like the above but a sombre fact:
"Next followed four, which suffered at Mayfield, in Sussex, the twenty-fourth of September 1556, of whose names we find two recorded, and the other two we yet know not, and therefore, according to our register, hereunder they be specified, as we find them: John Hart, Thomas Ravendale, a shoemaker and a carrier, which said four being at the place where they should suffer, after they had made their prayers, and were at the stake ready to abide the force of the fire, they constantly and joyfully yielded their lives for the testimony of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ." (Foxe.)
The scenery hereabouts is distinctly of Devonian character. Rich and varied views reward the leisurely traveller who will make a side excursion to Rotherfield, passing, halfway the conical Argos Hill crowned with a windmill. The village, though not so interesting as Mayfield, is well placed and has a fine Perpendicular church, the spire being a landmark for many miles. Here is an east window by Burne Jones and several other good examples of modern stained glass which make fine splashes of colour in the old building. A quaint saying in reference to the handsome presence of the Rotherfield women is that they have an "extra pair of ribs."
The beautiful district between here and Tunbridge Wells deserves a chapter to itself. Frant Wadhurst and Ticehurst belong more
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