The Sussex Coast - online book

A Literary & Historical travel guide to the Sussex Coast

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304                   THE SUSSEX COAST
They might have sunk like thee ; though thus forlorn . They lift their heads with venerable hairs, Bespent, majestic yet, and as in scorn Of mortal vanities and short-lived cares ;
Even so dost thou, lifting thy forehead grey, Smile at the tempest, and Time's sweeping sway."
Pevensey is now a mere village, and from the railway station being situated in the west hamlet nearly all the shops are in that part. The ancient corporation was dissolved by the Act of 1883, the little white plastered Town Hall, or Court House, with lock-up below and hall above, is not very interesting in itself. In the church is preserved the early thirteenth-century seal, the oldest in the possession of any of the Cinque Ports, figured in the initial letter of this chapter; there is a ship on one side and two on the other, with an invocation to St. Nicholas, the patron of the church. The Customal of Pevensey (p. 379), dating from 1357, of which a fifteenth-century translation is in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, tells us "Thees been the Usages and Customes of the Towne, Porte and of the Leege of Pevensey, of the tymes whereof no mynd is," and it provides that " Everye yere on the Mondaye next after the ffeaste Saynte Michael tharchangell all the Comones ... be wonte to be summoned in the Churche of Saynte Nicholas " to choose a bailiff, also a portreeve. Preserved like­wise in the church are the fine Jacobean silver-gilt mace, the beadle's hat, cloak and staff, and some old books. The Rate Book,* commencing in 1518 and ending in 1548, gives details of the " Town Scot"; for instance, in 1520 it cost John
* Help from papers by Rev. A. A. Evans in compiling much of what follows is gratefully acknowledged.
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