The Sussex Coast - online book

A Literary & Historical travel guide to the Sussex Coast

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associations that the town is really best known to the world. Joining Bognor on the east and practi­cally part of it is Felpham, an ancient village that is mentioned in Alfred's will, and later belonged to the Benedictine Nunnery at Shaftesbury, which he founded or restored, and which afterwards received the bones of Edward the Martyr. Felpham church seems to have grown from a Norman building whose side walls, as was frequently the case, were later pierced for arcades, the north one earlier and more massive than the other, though both are within the Early English period. The chancel is early Decorated, and the tower with chequer flint and stone rather late Perpendicular.
The real interest of Felpham is much later and clusters round a cemented and turreted house that stands within its own grounds, and a brick-chim­neyed plastered cottage with thatched verandah and roof buried among creepers and shrubs that stands by the side of the road. They were once the homes of Hayley and of Blake.
William Hayley (1745-1820) had inherited a beautiful place at Eartham, six miles north of Felpham in a straight line, in a wooded combe high up among the Downs, from his father (son of Dean Hayley), who had purchased the place from the heirs of Sir Robert Fagg. The tiny village with its Norman church is just outside the wooded grounds of the house. Here the poet used to entertain friends of various distinc­tion, among them Cowper, Flaxman, and Gibbon. The last, who rests on Sussex soil at Fletching in the Sheffield vault, records one such visit in his autobiography: " I seemed to blush while they read an elegant compliment from Mr. Hayley, whose poetical talents had more than once been
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