The Sussex Coast - online book

A Literary & Historical travel guide to the Sussex Coast

Home | Order | Support | About | Contact | Search

Share page  

Previous Contents Next

134                    THE SUSSEX COAST
ing of fig-trees, for which the place is still famous. The trees were probably introduced by the Fecamp monks, whose abbey was a great centre of fig-growing ever since the Holy Grail traditionally floated to them in a fig-tree, which, being rescued from the sea, they planted with the happiest results. The fame of Tarring figs would seem to have travelled beyond the limits of the human race if there be any truth in the oft-repeated story of how the little white-breasted brown birds called beccaficoes annually fly over from the Continent to eat them. Richard, Bishop of Chichester in the thirteenth century, who won the love of the diocese as few other bishops have done by going about among the people doing goodóhis imme≠diate predecessor having spent much of his time in London attending to his duties as Lord Chan≠cellorólived in this village very largely while deprived of the revenues of the See by the dispute with Henry III., and its parish priest, Simon, became one of his firmest friends. The good bishop enjoyed country pursuits; he used to work in the garden tending the fig-trees and otherwise. Sometimes he went fishing. At his own palace after the dispute was settled he dispensed a splendid hospitality both to rich and poor; he tried to maintain a high level of conversation at table and kept a notebook to record any remark that seemed worth it. Would that the document were extant; it probably contained observations more interesting than our chronic abuse of our Governments and our climate. Richard was no believer in severe asceticism for all his clergy, and, in fact, gave the tithes of Stoughton to refresh the canons of his cathedral with ale. He died at Dover in 1253 while engaged in preaching a crusade; his
Previous Contents Next