The Sussex Coast - online book

A Literary & Historical travel guide to the Sussex Coast

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BRIGHTON                             177
the eighth and last Earl of Warenne and Surrey (p. 230), got a charter "for a market every Thursday at his manor of Brightelmstone." Thus mediaeval Brighton was more than the " mere fishing village " so often described to emphasise the contrast with the present importance of the place. The fishing industry, however, which still makes the eastern part of the beach attractive and picturesque, dates from the earliest times, and was probably the original reason for the existence of the town. During the Middle Ages Brighton vessels in con­siderable numbers used to resort to the waters off Great Yarmouth for purposes of fishing, like the ships of the Cinque Ports.
Brighton had to suffer a good deal from Henry VIII.'s most unnecessary wars with France. In the sixth year of that sovereign's reign, Hall's Chronicle records : " About this time, the warres yet contynewynge between England and Fraunce, prior Ihon, great Capitayne of the Frenche nauy, with his Galeys and Foystes charged with great basylyskes and other greate artilery came on the border of Sussex and came a land in the night at a poore village in Sussex called bright Helmston and or the watch coulde him escrye he sett fyer on the toune and toke suche poore goodes as he founde: then the watche fyred the bekyns and people began to gather, whiche seynge prior Ihon sowned his trompett to call his men aborde."
In 1545 the French again tried to burn the town, and the proceedings are depicted in a drawing in the British Museum, frequently reproduced. There is no trace of a harbour, the town is enclosed by the still existing North, East, and West Streets, whose direction, as well as that of the lanes be­tween them, is mediaeval, despite the absence of any
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