The Sussex Coast - online book

A Literary & Historical travel guide to the Sussex Coast

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342                   THE SUSSEX COAST
It is not easy from its present rather featureless coast-line, harbourless but that two little modern breakwaters protect the fishing fleet, to picture Hastings as a great port, yet in a very true sense this place may claim to be mother of the navy that now patrols the salt waters of the world.
In the sandrock of the Castle Hill, entered from just above the old town, are St. Clement's Caves, and one of the two old churches is likewise called by his name. The Recognitions tell how Clement of Rome was banished by Trajan to the Crimea (where he is held in due honour by the Russian Church), and afterwards he was thrown into the sea by the enemies of Christ tied to the anchor which has become his well-known symbol, popular in seaport towns. In two other Cinque Ports, Sand­wich and (Old) Romney, he is also commemorated. The caves are purely natural though artificially enlarged in places; they are very extensive, the whole area of cavern, passage, and shapeless chamber being about two acres and a half, and only in one place (by a former entrance) is there any but artificial light. The air of mystery and gloom is not heightened by anything like stalactite formation, but there are a few sculptures on the sides, of which one may be mediaeval. The floor is clean loose sand. The church is a good speci­men of Perpendicular work ; there is no chancel arch, but centre and aisles extend for seven bays with clustered pillars; the west wall is not at right angles, following the line of the street; in the south-west corner is a fine tower with vaulting and large four-light transomed windows. In the south wall are two cannon-balls, which were probably fired by meddlesome French who wished to restore James II. in 1690.
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