The Sussex Coast - online book

A Literary & Historical travel guide to the Sussex Coast

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282                   THE SUSSEX COAST
ton) Place, whose monuments are in the old church, being visited by officials who were nosing round for incriminating papers, made time to burn the letters that might otherwise have got them into trouble by regaling the Roundheads on wheatear-pie, a delicacy with which they were both amazed and delighted. John Owen of the Middle Temple, Gent. {Britannia Depicta, 1720) tells us that Sussex is famous " also for ye delicate Ear Bird, sd. to be peculiar to it." Fuller was probably his authority for the last statement, which is not true ; in fact, Smollett describes wheatears in France, though in a sentence which, like so much that he wrote, is rather too indelicate to quote. Wheatears frequent the Downs, it seems, for a certain fly which breeds in the wild thyme. Over-caution is frequently the most dangerous of policies, but this wheatears do not seem to have learnt, for at the least menace of imaginary danger they fly for shelter into the nearest hole, which as likely as not is a trap. A piece of turf is cut out and a worm is temptingly displayed, but there is a noose of horse-hair too. A generation or two ago wheatears were in great demand, and sold for about eighteen-pence a dozen when fresh and about half a crown when potted.
Just beyond where the South Downs finally end, nestling under Beachy Head with the flats called the Crumbles at the edge of Pevensey Levels on her other side and the open Channel in front, East­bourne is splendidly situated, and even a Brightonian must confess it the most beautiful of Sussex water­ing places. Much foresight has been shown by the Dukes of Devonshire, on whose estates it is built —the whole place is full of trees, almost every street is a boulevard, everywhere one comes on gardens and parks. Flower-beds extend along
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