The Sussex Coast - online book

A Literary & Historical travel guide to the Sussex Coast

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STEYNING                             153
Bramber, that in the days of the Confessor ships went up to the Portus S. Cuthmanni (near Stey­ning), but that a bridge lately erected at Bramber prevented this (Round, Feudal England, p. 319). It seems altogether probable that the bridge was not the only impediment to navigation, since about the same time shingle bars at the mouth of the river moved the seaport from the Old Shoreham to the New. In 1839 were discovered in the marshes 600 feet west of the present course of the river remains of a fine four-arch bridge which seemed to be of Roman origin. Close by this bridge was a chapel dedicated to St. Peter de Vetere Ponte, and this would seem to confirm that the structure was Roman once. If so, it was apparently allowed to become ruinous, and in the interests of shipping was never rebuilt until the river was becoming less navigable.
In days gone by the nation, or rather its Par­liament, profited by the wisdom of no less than twenty-eight members from Sussex; now it has to get along with only nine. Of the twenty-eight, two were knights of the shire, two were citizens of Chichester, eighteen were burgesses (two each from Steyning, Bramber, Shoreham, Arundel, East Grinstead, Horsham, Seaford, Lewes, and Mid-hurst), six were barons from the two Ancient Towns (Rye and Winchelsea) and the Premier Cinque Port (Hastings). Bramber was not always famed for clean politics. De Foe tells us "The chief House in the Town, when I was there, was a Tavern, where, as I was told, the Vintner, or Ale-house-Keeper rather, for he hardly deserv'd the Name of a Vintner, boasted that, upon an Election, just then over, he had made 300Z. of one Pipe of Canary.
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