SEAWARD SUSSEX - online book

A Description of Travels in Sussex During the early 1900s

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St. Mary's is the first house to be seen on approaching the village from the east. It is a beautiful specimen of a timber-built Sussex house; notice the open iron-work door with its queer old bell-pull.
Every visitor should inspect the quaint museum of taxidermy in the village street;
here guinea-pigs may be seen playing cricket, rats playing dominoes and rabbits at school; the lifelike and humorous attitudes of the little animals reflect much credit on the artist.
Steyning is a short mile farther on our way (both Bramber and Steyning are stations on the Brighton Railway). This was another borough until 1832 but, unlike its neighbour, it was of considerable importance in the early middle ages and at the Domesday survey there were two churches here. The one remaining is of great interest; built by the Abbey of Fécamp to whom Edward the Confessor gave Steyning, it was evidently never completed; preparations were made for a central tower and the nave appears to be unfinished. The styles range from Early Norman to that of the sixteenth century when the western tower was built. Particular notice should be taken of the pier-arches which are very beautifully decorated; also the south door.
The original church was founded by St. Cuthman. Travelling from the west with his crippled mother, whom he conveyed in a wheelbarrow, he was forced to mend the broken cords with elder twigs. Some haymakers in a field jeered at him, and on that field, now called the Penfold, a shower has always fallen since whenever the hay is drying. The elder twigs finally gave way where Steyning was one day to be and here Cuthman decided to halt and build a shelter for his mother and himself. Afterwards he raised a wooden church and in this the saint was buried. The father of the great Alfred was interred here for a time, his remains being afterwards taken to Winchester when his son made that city the capital of united England, though the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle asserts that the King was buried at Worcester.
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