The Sussex Coast - online book

A Literary & Historical travel guide to the Sussex Coast

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PEVENSEY                             297
Hastings, the other was merely known as its west hamlet. Some rough herring-bone patching of the old Roman walls which in places breaks their string-courses seems to be the result of Saxon repairs.
At Pevensey landed in 1066 William the Bastard, Duke of Normandy. When he stepped ashore his head was apparently so much among the stars that he failed to put his foot firmly on the earth, with the result that he went sprawling on the ground and got his ducal hands full of Sussex mud. His superstitious friends were inclined to find in the circumstance no omen of good, but he was quite equal to the emergency, and declared by the splendour of God that he had taken seisin of his new soil. Similarly when arming for the battle his coat of mail was by some mistake handed to him the wrong way about, and in this he professed to see a prophecy that the wearer should that day be turned from a duke into a king. Such is the common picturesque account, but according to the Chronicle of Battle Abbey it was the Duke's sewer, William Fitz-Osbern, "a man of great merit and much ready wit," who in each case saved the situation. On one occasion he made the Conqueror extremely angry by serving a half-cooked crane, but this was not remembered against him, and as Earl of Hereford he played a prominent part in the transactions of the reign.
The Rape of Pevensey was granted to Robert, Count of Mortain, William's half-brother, as a first-fruit of the Conquest, but he afterwards took the side of Robert against Rufus, and his brother Odo, the turbulent Bishop of Bayeux, by whose orders the famous tapestry was probably
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