BEACHY HEAD AND EASTBOURNE 285
Just north of the church is an early sixteenth-century clergy-house built of flint and stone, with mullioned windows and the usual features of the period; it is figured at the head of the chapter. Patched at all sorts of periods and overgrown with plants, it is now in a very dilapidated, not to say ruinous, condition. Its repair is greatly to be wished for.
There was of old in Eastbourne a strange institution called sops and ale, though why it should have been called that rather than anything else is not very clear. As to the precise character of the proceedings authorities differ very much, but apparently the senior bachelor of the place was elected steward, and when a child was born it became his duty, standing in church and holding a white wand, to issue a general invitation to a feast. Precedence at this repast was according to the number of children: the childless, whether wedded or otherwise, must sit at clothless tables and partake of the roughest fare, while the happy mothers of twins ate of the choicest viands, served on damask table-cloths and manipulated with silver forks and knives. Horsfield thought the custom honoured better in the breach than in the observance, but whether his objections were based on his general sense of propriety or on grounds that Parson Malthus would have approved does not appear.
Under the old Lamb Inn is a square chamber covered with a sort of dome vault, nine ribs without corbels meeting in a central boss, one from each corner, one from the middle of each of three sides, and one from each side of the entrance. There are small openings deeply splayed upward. Two flat arched doorways ar.e