The Sussex Coast - online book

A Literary & Historical travel guide to the Sussex Coast

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352
THE SUSSEX COAST
works even when so determined a man as the Conqueror was in command. Naturally it is expressed with delicacy and diplomacy, but we read between the lines that what the Americans call graft was extensively going on. The monks complaining of the absence of building stone on the spot, " the King, undertaking to defray all expenses out of his own treasury, sent ships to the town of Caen to bring over abundance of that material for the work. And when, in compliance with the royal order, they had imported some part of the stone from Normandy, in the meantime, as is said, it was revealed to a certain religious matron, that upon digging in the place indicated to her in a vision, they would find plenty of stone for this purpose. They commenced a search accordingly, and at no great distance from the boundary which had been marked out for the Abbey, found such an ample supply that it plainly appeared that a concealed treasure of it had been divinely laid in that very place from eternity, for the building there to be erected.
"Thus at length were laid the foundations of this most excellent work, as it was then con­sidered ; and in accordance with the King's decree, they wisely erected the high altar upon the precise spot where the ensign of King Harold, which they call the Standard, was observed to fall. But although skilful men, influenced by no love of filthy lucre, had the superintendence of the work, the building went on but slowly, on account of some extortioners, who sought their own things rather than those of Jesus Christ, and laboured more in appearance than in truth. Meantime also the brethren built within the intended circuit of the monastery mean dwellings of little cost, for
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