278 THE SUSSEX COAST
was Churchwardens this pulpet was made," but for the benefit of those to whom this information would not convey very much they thoughtfully added that it was in the year of our Lord 1623. The churchwardens of an elder day were by no means unconscious of their dignity, and for the most part they were fully convinced that posterity would be very much interested in their names. A mediaeval bell in the old tower rather boastfully exclaims : " Me Melior Vere Non Est Campana Sub Ere." As the vicar (A. A. Evans) in his admirable pamphlet on the church translates it—
"No bell under sky Is better than I."
Several of his predecessors have been famous men, one (Bradbridge) was an Elizabethan Bishop of Exeter, another (Michell), who figures in Lower's Worthies of Sussex, was in the late eighteenth century a contributor to the Lewes Journal, the precursor of the excellent Sussex Daily Neivs, whose head office is now in Brighton.
But locally at any rate the most famous of the Vicars of East Dean was Parson Darby (d. 1723) who excavated a little cave called his hole in the chalk cliffs by Beachy Head, with the excellent object of warning passing vessels by means of lights and of saving shipwrecked mariners. In this noble work he had considerable success, but it did not make him popular in his parish ; many of his people, indeed, seem to have deserved the strictures in the Mourning Bride of his contemporary, William Congreve—
" Sussex men that dwell upon the shore Look out when storms arise, and billows roar,