The Sussex Coast - online book

A Literary & Historical travel guide to the Sussex Coast

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HASTINGS                              339
influences, the Confederacy closely resembling but with local differences one of the old French Communes, his principal argument being derived from the fact that Communal House Demolition which existed in the Ports, but not elsewhere in England, was common on the Continent. If a person elected to office declined it with thanks (or without) and after being thrice admonished still persisted in his refusal, his fellow-townsmen called in a body and showed their opinion of his conduct by demolishing his house to the last stone. This strenuous method of ensuring to the com­munity the services of the officials it wished for was established at Amiens, and in many other Continental towns the same punishment was employed to deal with other offences. Very full privileges were granted by the charters of numerous kings, it was the traditional claim that the first was a general charter to all the towns granted by the Confessor. One of the most valued of the numerous ancient franchises of the Ports was the right to dry and mend their nets on the den, and to land their fish free of toll on the strand at Great Yarmouth. About this there was bitter feeling when the East Anglian seaport itself became a place of importance. At Brodhull met the Assembly and at Shepway the Court of the Confederacy, both were small places and in early days the proceedings were probably in the open air. In later times the " Brodhull," or Brotherhood, closely associated with another meeting called the Guestling, virtually superseded the Court of Shep­way and became fixed at Dover.* Each Port had
* The Court of Brotherhood and Guestling still meets to discuss whatever may concern the Cinque Ports to-day, for instance the representative Barons at the Coronation.
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