The Sussex Coast - online book

A Literary & Historical travel guide to the Sussex Coast

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THE MANHOOD                         69
Wight. The South Saxon King now presented to Wilfrid the whole peninsula of Selsey and much more to the north; quarter of a thousand slaves were included in the princely grant, and these the bishop at once set free. Professor Maitland {Domesday Book and Beyond) carefully analyses these two gifts, and shows how extremely con­fused in the seventh century was the line between sovereignty and personal ownership of land. Much of the Selsey peninsula remains Church property to this day.
Considering its great historical importance little of interest now remains at Selsey. While Sussex has gained upon the sea by the filling up of shallow fjords, the general line of the coast has in most parts receded, and coast erosion is still an anxiety in many places. It seems that the whole of the old Saxon settlement, original seat of the bishop's stool, is now covered by the waves, though the old rectory, called the Priory, at the spot now known as Church Norton, by the mouth of Pagham Har­bour, is supposed to be on the site of Wilfrid's College of Canons. It is an interesting house, of various dates, with some much-patched Tudor brickwork of about the time of Henry VIII. The bishop's park is gone, all but the name, which now describes (or at any rate denotes) a section of the sea ; it was formerly well stocked with deer, and sundry poachers were attracted, who got most elaborately excommunicated. In 1407 Bishop Robert Rede thundered from his fortified manor (or castle) at Amberley the following appalling curse: " Whereas it has come to our ears, through trustworthy sources, that certain sons of damna­tion, whose names and persons are unknown, seduced by a devilish spirit and abandoning the
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