The Sussex Coast - online book

A Literary & Historical travel guide to the Sussex Coast

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BRIGHTON                             179
Early in the reign of Elizabeth strenuous efforts were made to fortify the town, and a strong round blockhouse with gun garden was provided on the shore, the streets being at the same time protected by walls and gates. It is much to be regretted that the ravages of the sea and the destructiveness of mankind have between them entirely destroyed these works. At this time Brighton possessed the largest ship belonging to any Sussex port, appro­priately named the Bartholomew, of 60 tons ; while the town had 170 fishing-vessels out of only 321 in the whole county. The position of the harbour is not clear. It may have been protected by shingle and sand at the eastmost mouth of the Adur, but more probably it was at Pool Valley, by the mouth of the stream called Wellsburne (cor­rupted into Whalesbone) which, rising at Patcham, gives its name to the hundred, including Brighton, Preston, and Patcham. The little river is now relegated to a brick drain which passes under the Steine and other gardens in the bottom of the valley. The sea has encroached by many yards, and but for groins and granite and concrete walls it would be encroaching still. It seems to have been undoubtedly because the waves were engulf­ing, or at any rate threatening, the original church that a new one was built on the Downs well beyond their reach. From the style of the present St. Nicholas it seems that this was done fairly late in the fourteenth century, and that the materials of the old church were to some extent used up. The often repeated statement that the present site was within a Druidical Circle whose stones were employed in building the existing fountain in the Old Steine seems to rest on very shadowy evidence. The round font with stiff foliage and other orna-
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