The Sussex Coast - online book

A Literary & Historical travel guide to the Sussex Coast

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84                      THE SUSSEX COAST
hall of a Saxon thane. While the somewhat numerous pre-Conquest features in Sussex churches are of late character, and few probably belong to an earlier period than that of Edward the Confessor, a considerably greater antiquity may reasonably be claimed for this simple structure. Its internal dimensions (as measured by P. M. Johnston) are 18 ft. 10 1/2 in. by 17 ft. 6 in., its walls where visible are of rudest herring-bone masonry, splinters of Bognor rock and boulders of many different kinds from the beach being set with wide joints in excellent mortar, the thickness of the walls 2 ft. 10 in. There is an original but altered doorway on the north, and on the south, going straight through the wall, an extremely neat round arch of Chara limestone (Eocene age), the tympanum filled in with ashlar, but no traces of jambs below. This arch is such a contrast to the walling as to suggest the possibility of its being an insertion. The hall is now divided by a floor, and its original features are so entirely buried that an unobservant person might live in the house for some time without realising that it contained the skeleton of a chamber resembling that through which flew the sparrow which served as text for the famous parable of the Northumbrian thane about the preaching of Christian missionaries. Less than five miles off in a straight line, near Aldingbourne, is a flat-topped mound and a ditch that formed the head­quarters of a Saxon landowner in yet more primitive days, when their houses were of wattle; the wood that nearly conceals it is called Toat Copse. A short distance north-west of the old hall at Barton, forming part of the same buildings, is an Early English chapel with trefoiled piscina,
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