The Sussex Coast - online book

A Literary & Historical travel guide to the Sussex Coast

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274                     THE SUSSEX COAST
muddy cement, the roof timbers are much blackened by smoke, and the brick chimneys are obviously later than the rest, the original fire was probably in the middle of the floor. A timber arch constructed of the root pieces of oak forms the hall doorway. A very similar priest's house exists at West Hoathly, in Sussex, but it has rooms only at one end of the hall, and its roof is covered with stone slabs instead of, as at Alfriston, with a widely overhanging thatch. After having been long in a dilapidated state the old Alfriston vicarage has been purchased and repaired by the National Trust for Places of Historic Interest.
The mediaeval clergy houses which Sussex is for­tunate enough to possess do not differ in any marked manner from other domestic buildings of the same period. Their occupants were probably married as a rule, and lived very much the same life as other men. That the mediaeval secular clergy, as distinguished from their regular or monastic colleagues, were always unmarried is a common but perfectly erroneous impression. From time to time well-meaning reformers, up to and including Queen Elizabeth herself, sought to impose celibacy upon them, and sometimes used abusive, and as we should now think it rather libellous, expressions about their wives ; the result, however, was invari­ably that the parish clergy continued to follow the advice of St. Paul. One such futile attempt is rather amusingly set forth in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle under date 1129. "When they came thither the meeting began on the Monday and lasted till the Friday, and it came out that it was all concerning the wives of archdeacons and priests, that they should part with them by St. Andrew's
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