The Sussex Coast - online book

A Literary & Historical travel guide to the Sussex Coast

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36                     THE SUSSEX COAST
the Collegium Fabrorum of Imperial days, satis­factory as that would be. About 1394 it sold its hall to Bishop Mitford, who presented it to the Vicars of the Cathedral,* the vaulted crypt of this building with a central row of round pillars dating from the thirteenth century may still be seen, but apparently the hall itself was so dilapidated that it had to be rebuilt. In 1396 with most solemn ceremonial were laid no less than four foundation stones in honour of the Holy Trinity, the Virgin Mother of God, St. Richard and all the saints; upon them in due course rose the Common Mansion House in which the vicars had agreed to live. It seems likely that the existing Vicars' Hall incorporates much of this building, it is of Perpendicular character with a pulpit in the thickness of the wall, a lavatory under a flat ogee arch, square-headed windows and fine roof timbers, enlarged and rather altered during the seventeenth century. Extending from it to the south is the long court of the Vicars' Close, slightly recalling that of Wells, but the creeper-concealed houses are largely modern, while those on the east side have been refronted on to South Street, their gardens con­verted into back-yards and walled off, to the utter ruin of the effect. Formerly an archway opened into Canon Lane; it is shown on a plate by James Rouse (1825).
Canon Lane is entered from South Street by a plain fifteenth-century gateway, and it leads
* By Edward IV. the Vicars were incorporated as a separate College, having to obey the Dean and Chapter in all things lawful, honest and canonical. This is correctly stated in Dugdale, but Mackenzie Walcott, F.S.A., altering it to Edward I. has misled many.
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