The Sussex Coast - online book

A Literary & Historical travel guide to the Sussex Coast

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STEYNING                             155
In the water gap on the way to the channel, both on its western side, are two tiny villages, places of importance when ships came up, little beyond churches and farms to-day. Their names are St. Botolph's and Coombes. The former con­sists of a lonely little church close to a farmyard; it may easily be distinguished from the great Hub of the Universe, but the names mean exactly the same, for Boston is Botolph's Town. This Botolph, or Botulph, was a hermit abbot of the seventh cen­tury, and, like other holy men, was sadly plagued by devils. A doubting saint was once allowed, for the confirmation of his faith, to see all evil spirits for the space of a day, and, hastening to a city world-famed for its evil life, he passed the cell of a very holy hermit. To his horror, he saw devils in hundreds sitting round or flying in the air above ; at the city only one sleepy imp. He was amazed, but was told that he at whose command the powers of evil are best knows how his forces should be disposed. So the holy Botolph suffered; he is claimed as a Benedictine pioneer in England. There are about fifty churches dedicated to him, most of them in East Anglia, where he founded a monastery, not identified with any certainty. The little church here has early Norman features, par­ticularly the chancel arch, with curious corbels covered with a sort of network. In the thirteenth century an aisle was added on the north, but the three arches that once opened into it are now walled up. The squat tower and two low side windows are of rather later date.
On the Down side, with a fine old timber and plaster manor-house among farm buildings and trees, rests the little village of Coombes. The tiny Norman church has no outside division in its
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