The Sussex Coast - online book

A Literary & Historical travel guide to the Sussex Coast

Home | Order | Support | About | Contact | Search

Share page  

Previous Contents Next

350                   THE SUSSEX COAST
Harold's banner had flown was no suitable site for their residence, and in fact they began to build on lower ground. But the Conqueror insisted ; there where England had been lost and won, where fell the last of her Saxon kings, should rise the high altar of the church, on that spot and nowhere else. To the wearers of the cowl who grumbled about the dreary situation and the want of water he promised, "If God spare my life I will so amply provide for this place that wine shall be more abundant here than water in any other great Abbey." So the good monks had compensations, though they did have to build in a less delightful spot than they could have wished. Nor did they markedly abuse the good things so bountifully provided ; at any rate, Giraldus Cambrensis, the Welsh chronicler, records how John of Dover, Abbot of Battle, 1200-1213, once visited the Cis­tercian house of Robertsbridge, and in spite of efforts to keep him out of it he was guided by his nose into the refectory. Steaming joints were on the dining-tables of those who professed to be rigid vegetarians. Scandalised by the laxity of what was supposed to be a stricter form of the Benedictine Rule, he asked with a sneer of what saints he perceived the relics, and unceremoniously left the place. Things were presumably much better at Battle.
Everything that was possible for the benefit of his Abbey William the Conqueror did : property was given with a lavish hand, the house was made " free and quit of every custom of earthly service," " of all subjection to Bishops, especially the Bishop of Chichester." Within the Leuga or Lowey, com­prising a radius of three miles all around, there was the fullest right of sanctuary, neither royal
Previous Contents Next