The Sussex Coast - online book

A Literary & Historical travel guide to the Sussex Coast

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HASTINGS                              351
nor ecclesiastical officers could interfere with the arrangements of the abbot, who also had the exceptional privilege of doing a little hunting on his own account when passing through the king's forests, and of pardoning any thief or robber, should he chance to meet one on the way to execution. Whether the "robbers or murderers or other criminals " who were not to be interfered with if they took refuge at the place were fit or desirable company for the monks, or whether it was seemly that the market granted by Henry I.'s charter should be held at the very gate of the abbey every Sunday we will not stop to inquire.*
Though the abbot was mitred and sat in Parlia­ment, and the abbey had every possible privilege, it never ranked in the first class so far as buildings were concerned. The church was a little over 300 feet long, or about three-fifths the length of St. Albans, and the other buildings were about in proportion. The ruins however appear to the very best advantage from being in a beautiful garden, and the crumbling walls are splendidly set off by smooth lawns and bright flower-beds, by borders of box and tall hedges of yew, while rhododen­drons and azaleas of many kinds supply blazes of colour, and cedars, palms, and camelias give some­thing of a foreign air.
An account of the building is given in the Battle Abbey Chronicle, and it is interesting as illustrat­ing the difficulties that were encountered in such
* Nor whether any other country would allow such a national monument to be in private hands, opened under restrictions to the public only one day in the week. No one can reasonably blame owner or tenant for not wanting the whole world careering about a private garden, but things are very unsatisfactory.
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