The Sussex Coast - online book

A Literary & Historical travel guide to the Sussex Coast

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bathing, and the village has not yet taken on the character of a regular town. Its chief title to repute was once derived largely from the factory of mouse-traps, which were made of the wood of beech on a plan particularly ingenious, useful, effec­tive, and humane. It may probably be affirmed that more people have heard of Selsey for its mouse­traps than ever knew of its Bishop's see. Nor is this by any means an inadmissible title to fame, for, as Emerson once wrote, " If a man can write a better book, preach a better sermon, or make a better mouse-trap than his neighbour, though he build his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door." It was not wholly how­ever with the object of handling mouse-trap freights that the world as represented by a commercial com­pany built a light railway from Chichester to Selsey. The two harbours that we now call after Chichester and Pagham were known as Wyder-yng and Underyng in earlier days. The latter was very possibly the port used by Aella and his Saxons when they landed in 477,* there is still a farm named Kynor, which may perhaps represent Cymenes-ora. Dallaway, in his well - known Western Sussex, says that " the Nonas Roll, in 1345, bears indubitable testimony that the whole of Pagham Harbour was occasioned by a sudden eruption of the sea not many years prior to that date," a mistake that has misled many.t Most
* According to the Chronicle, on whose early dates it is well not to place too much reliance.
t Even including the new 11th (Cambridge, 1911) edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Apart from early mention of the harbour it is very clear from an inspection of the site that there must have been reclamation on a large scale before the sea could break in.
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