SEAWARD SUSSEX - online book

A Description of Travels in Sussex During the early 1900s

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Oxford, or wherever the Bishop was resident, there hung in his bedroom a picture of Lavington churchyard "that I may ever see my own resting place."
Directly south of Lavington rises the summit of the DownsóDuncton Beacon (837 feet), like many other "highest tops" a great disappointment after visiting some of the lesser heights, for the Beacon, which is named "Littleton Down" on the Ordnance map, is not on the edge of the range but stands back among encircling lesser heights and is itself partly covered with trees which to a great extent cut off the view. Barlavington Down, about half the height of Duncton, and Farm Hill face east and both command fine views in this direction. The latter is above Bignor, to which village we now descend. This is a place beloved of archaeologists, for here is the site of the famous Roman villa. Bignor church is remarkable for the chancel arch which most authorities admit to be a genuine Roman work. Note also the long lancet windows in the chancel and the magnificent yews in the churchyard. Enquiry must be made in the village for the farm at which the keys of the villa enclosure are kept. (Notice the beautiful old house, timbered and with a projecting upper story, near the lane leading to the villa.) Authorities are at variance as to the actual history of the remains which were discovered in 1811. The conjecture that this was the fortified station on Stane street (which may be seen descending the hills south-west), at the tenth milestone, "Ad Decimum," seems lately to be discredited, and the supposition gains ground that the villa was simply the country palace of a great Roman, or possibly a civilized British prince. However that may be, the discoveries revealed one of the most important and interesting remains of the Roman occupation in Britain, and cover an area of no less than 600 feet in length by 350 feet in breadth. The principal pavement may be that of the Banqueting hall, in the centre of which is a stone cistern, probably a fountain. The hypercaust below has caused the floor to give way in several places. The pavement of a smaller room is perfect and shows a finely executed design; another is decorated with cupids fighting. The details of the building, too numerous to be mentioned here, deserve careful attention even by the uninitiated and prove more forcibly than history-books the magnificence of the civilization which once was, before Sussex became an entity, and which the first Sussex men so wofully destroyed.
The old Roman way could be followed directly across the hills for four miles until the high road is joined near Halnaker Hill, where we shall presently arrive from Goodwood, but a longer route must be taken to explore the lovely and retired part of the Downs which lies between Bignor and Singleton. A path between Farm Hill and Barton Down leads to Up Waltham where is a little Early English church with the rare feature of a circular apse. Just south of the village an exquisite combe opens out to the south-west and is traversed by a rough and
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