The Sussex Coast - online book

A Literary & Historical travel guide to the Sussex Coast

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323                   THE SUSSEX COAST
love of the parents of that child, whosoever they were, has given to a remote posterity a valued memorial of days before Charles the Great received the Imperial Crown, before Alfred the Great was born. It is the most precious piece of stone in Sussex. The walls of the west part of the nave have herring-bone work and are, perhaps, pre-Conquest, they are pierced by Norman arches, two each side, the round pillars have crude foliage and ornate scallop caps. The lower part of the tower is of the same date, and it seems to have been built over the roadway of which part may still be seen to the north, the arches for the traffic still exist, and there was doubtless merely a door into the church. This arrangement was common in mediaeval cities, but very unusual in villages. In the Early English period it became possible to divert the road, so the tower was opened to the church and a plain arch took the place of the door ; at or about the same time a third bay was added to the nave and a new chancel was built, destined after some six or seven centuries to give place to the present chancel, by Butterfield, with paintings, of which pictures may be seen in the large railway advertisements of Bexhill. The church has spread laterally as well as longitudinally, and the roof in the new north aisle to which antiquity has been given by a treatment with lime has exactly the appearance of fifteenth century work, while really but three years old.
Just east of Bexhill, at the mouth of the little stream called Asten, was the old port of Bulvar-hythe, once a non-corporate member of the Cinque Ports dependent on Hastings. A local legend gives a story about its foundation in connection with a bull's hide, similar to that told long ago
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