History Of Brighton And Environs - Online Book

From The Earliest Known Period To The Present Time.

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engaged in the pious work. In a few years there sprang up, just outside the southern walls of Lewes, one of the most influential monastic houses that England ever possessed. Its endowments were enormous, and its Prior held a seat in the great Senate of the realm.
Gundrada died in childbirth, at Castle Acre, in Norfolk (where with her husband she had founded a second large Clugnaic Priory) 27th of May, 1085. Her body was brought for interment to Lewes, and buried beneath a slab of black marble in the chapter house of the Monastery. The Earl himself was buried in the same place three years later, under a tomb of white marble. The posthumous history of Gundrada is very remarkable. We have seen that she was buried in the chapter house of Lewes Priory. Some years later, when her flesh and that of the Earl had mouldered to dust, the bones of each were collected and placed, in two leaden coffins or cists, under the respective slabs of black and white marble just mentioned : these remained as objects of pious regard until it pleased Henry VIII. to dissolve the monastic establishments throughout the realm. In ]537, the Vicar-General Thomas Cromwell, levelled one of the finest monasteries in England to the ground. Small heed was given then to founders and foundresses, whose tombs were mostly thrown aside as useless things. Some kind soul who did not like that of a Princess being desecrated, bore it away from the scene of desolation, and Mr Mark Anthony Lower, in his work The Worthies of Sussex, thinks it might have been Edward Shirley, Esq., who resided at Isfield Place, and held the office of cofferer to the King; and singularly enough the slab was employed (its beautifully carved surface hidden from view) to prop up the tomb of that gentlemen himself. There it remained until Dr. Clarke, Rector of Buxted, discovered it in the year 1775, and reported it to Dr. (afterwards Sir William)
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