The Sussex Coast - online book

A Literary & Historical travel guide to the Sussex Coast

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HASTINGS                             355
is a terrace over the vaults of the guesten house, and from it is a good view over part of the battle­field ; at the corners of the west end stand up alone two sixteenth-century octagonal turrets, frag­ments of the house of the Montagues. This coin­cides with the precinct wall, which on the north was detached except where it joins the gateway; it enclosed a rather irregular area, roughly 1,000 feet by 500 feet, and most of it remains, forming a sustaining wall to the garden. It is largely Norman with pilasters, but has been patched at different times and heavily buttressed. The gate­way is partly Norman as to the walling, and has windows and small arches in that style. The actual gate is a beautiful fourteenth-century examplo, with large and small arches and clustered pillar and shafts to sustain the vaulting, which has moulded ribs and bosses. There is remarkable arcading with straight-sided intersecting arches ; the battlements are panelled, and at each corner is a large octagonal turret. This gate was built, and the precinct wall was strengthened, with a walk along the top in places, when Edward III. gave licence to fortify. A military spirit was animating the monks, and during the same century the Abbot of Battle and the Prior of Lewes took an active and patriotic part in repelling French invasions.
The eastern section of the gateway building, which has sixteenth-century windows, at one time formed a court house, and it has never been re-roofed, it appears, since 1794 when, as the Gentle­man's Magazine records, the roof was by the violence of the wind and rain driven in, and the inhabitants of the town thrown into a dreadful confusion.
The abbey was granted at the Dissolution to Sir
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