The Sussex Coast - online book

A Literary & Historical travel guide to the Sussex Coast

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322                   THE SUSSEX COAST
The Wealden ironworks date from pre-Roman days, and are mentioned by Caesar (De Bello Gallico, Bk. v. ch. 12); they were encouraged in the tenth century by the excellent Dunstan, statesman-bishop. On a famous occasion at Mayfield with tongs of Sussex iron, in the words of the old doggerel—
" Saynt Dunstan (as the story goes) Caught old Sathanas by the nose ; He tugged soe hard and made him roar, That he was heard three miles and more."
His (he in Sussex always means the devil) efforts to cool the burnt part of him by plunging his nose into water caused the chalybeate character of a spring at Tunbridge Wells, to whose site he had fled from the presence of the Saint. On another occasion St. Dunstan had a quarrel with the common enemy of mankind. He was banished for his boldness in rebuking King Edwy for mis­behaviour of the grossest kind, when, to quote Holinshed, "This is also reported, that when he should depart the realme, the diuell was heard in the west end of the church, taking up a great laughter after his roring maner, as though he should shew himselfe glad and ioifull at Dunstanes going into exile. But Dunstane perceiuing his behauiour, spake to him, and said: Well thou aduersarie, doo not so greatly reioise at the matter, for thou dooest not now so much reioise at my departure, but by God's grace thou shalt be as sorrowfull for my returne."
Sussex iron-stone is of a low grade and the furnaces could only be kept going by a tremendous consumption of the woods that many writers
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