The Sussex Coast - online book

A Literary & Historical travel guide to the Sussex Coast

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76                    THE SUSSEX COAST
brick, which was his favourite material* An oblong structure of two stories still retains its plain ribbed vault below and timber roof above ; there are traces of the existence of an extensive country house where now is merely a small one. The chief feature is a tower with a large turret on one side resting on a squinch arch, a wooden stair winds up to the top. Battlements and a chimney mark the skyline, and though string courses and square-headed windows are very plain, the general effect is striking and picturesque. At the bottom one might be in the middle of the Fens, but from the top of the tower appears a magnificent prospect embracing a wide stretch of sea—the Isle of Wight, Chichester Harbour, Hayling, and Portsmouth, with the flat plain stretching up to the South Downs and the cathedral spire (which in an American city would be overtopped by the lowest sky-scrapers) dominating the peaceful landscape. Here, perhaps, Sherburne often sat as the life of the Middle Ages in which all his ideas had been formed was rapidly ebbing away. Over the sea in front of him Columbus had sailed to the New World, Vasco da Gama to the more distant Asian shore. Yet in some ways his ideas were far in advance of his age : the precision of his instructions on all sorts of points connected with his numerous and admirable charities, for instance that certain documents should be kept in a box of adequate size and not exposed to erasure through folding, shows a foresight characteristic of the best minds of the present age. Decidedly modern, too, is his ideal for the Master of the Grammar School which he founded in his native village, Rolleston in Stafford­shire. He must be patient, and as far as possible distribute his mind into as many parts as there are
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