Highways and Byways in Sussex - online book

An illustrated appreciation, of the most interesting districts in Sussex.

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In the early years of the last century it boasted the possession of a labourer with a memory of amazing tenacity, one George Watson, who, otherwise almost imbecile, was unable to forget anything he had once seen, or any figure repeated to him.
On the road between Maresfield and Crowborough is Heron's Ghyll, the residence of Mr. Fitzalan Hope. It stands to the east of the road, in one of those hollow sites that alone won the word " eligible " from a Tudor builder. Hard by the road is the perfect little Early English Roman Catholic church which Mr. Hope built in 1897, a miracle, in these hurried florid days, of honest work and simple modest beauty. The church being Roman Catholic one may with confidence turn aside to rest a little in its cool seclusion, relieved of the irritating search for the sexton of the national establishment, and freed from his haunting presence and suggestion that the labourer is worthy of more than his hire.
While on this subject I might remark that a county vicar describing the antiquities of his neighbourhood in one of the Sussex Archaeological Society's volumes, writes magnanimously : " A debt of gratitude is certainly due to our Roman Catholic predecessors (whatever error might mix itself with their piety and charity) for erecting such noble edifices, in a style of strength to endure for a late posterity." It seems to me that a very simple way of discharging a portion of this debt would be to imitate the excellent habit of leaving the church doors wide open, as practised by those Roman Catholic predecessors. My own impulse to enter many of the Sussex churches has been principally antiquarian or aesthetic, but to rest amid their gray coolnesses is a legitimate desire which should be fostered rather than discouraged, particularly as it is under such conditions that the soul even of the stranger whose motive is curiosity is often comforted. The arguments in favour of keeping churches closed are unknown to me. Doubtless they are numerous and ingenious, but, doubtless equally, a locked church is a confession of failure; while to urge that one has but to ask
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