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AND ITS ROUTES.
In the ancient days-the days of stage-coaches and posting-the road to Hastings lay through Sevenoaks and Tunbridge Wells. When a branch line was constructed from the Brighton Railway to Hastings, the passenger at once abandoned the old road, and the old coach,—surrendered himself to “ the train," and was carried round by Brighton and along the coast. This--a little shortened by means of the branch from Hayward's Heath, which avoids Brighton—is still the route. But soon—that is, in month or too,-a second course will be opened by the Ashford branch of the South Eastern line; and it is promised that at no distant day a branch from Tunbridge will be completed, and so the old route by way of Tunbridge Wells be in a manner re-opened.
We shall conduct the Excursionist over the Brighton, and touch on the Ashford, route. Starting from Brighton, we shall briefly glance at what is most noteworthy near the stations between our starting-place and Hastings; and then, after surveying that town, choose for our homeward route the branch line to Ashford, and endeavour to indicate the leading points of interest which on that side lie near Hastings.
L E W E S.
FALMER is the first station from Brighton ; and Stanmer, the only noticeable place near it, having been mentioned in our sketch of Brighton, we shall not stay there, but proceed at once to Lewes—a town full of interest, as well from its present state as from its history and associations. Lewes is the county town of Sussex, though Chichester claims that distinction for the Western Division. After Brighton, Lewes is by far the largest town in this part of Sussex. At the Census of 1841 it contained 9,199 inhabitants, and there can be no doubt that the number has since largely increased. It lies chiefly on the right bank of the small river Ouse, on the slope of a chalk hill—one of the famous South Downs ; and others of the range stand round about it, sheltering it on almost every side. The hilly, uneven site gives to the streets a peculiar and varied character. Its appearance is that of an old town, though it has few of the antique edifices, either public or private, which distinguish many of our old towns and cities. Rather it makes its antiquity felt by a certain air of quiet respectability and somewhat sombre picturesquenessman air which the innovation of the railway has yet far from destroyed.
Lewes, with a wide tract of country besides, was given by the Conqueror to William Earl of Warenne, who had married his daughter Gundreda. The Earl made Lewes his chief residence during life; and in the priory of Lewes—which they had founded - he and his wife were buried. The bodies of both the Earl and Gundreda were discovered in their original leaden coffins when the priory ground was excavated, in 1845. The chief event in the history of Lewes was the battle fought there between the Royal army of Henry III., commanded by the King in person, with his brother Richard, King of the Romans, and his son, Prince Edward, against the army of the Confederated Barons, under Simon Montfort, on the 13th of May, 1264, which ended in the defeat of the Royal army and the capture of the King of the Romans. When William IV. and Queen Adelaide visited Lewes in 1830, they were told, in the address presented to them by the townsmen, that that was the first time Lewes had been visited by the Sovereign since the Battle of Lewes.
The Castle is perhaps, to a stranger, the most interesting building in the town. It is of Norman date, and may have been erected by the first Earl de Warenne. The chief remaining portions are the gatehouse and the keep-both of massive proportions, but much changed from their primal condition. The interior, which is now being fitted up as a local museum, is open to visitors. From the castle leads, may be had an excellent view of the town and surrounding country, and it is a view well worth seeing. Of the Priory the remains are in a very dilapidated condition. No portion of it is left sufficiently perfect to exhibit the character of the architecture. As was mentioned, it was founded by William Earl of Warenne, and his wife Gundreda, in the latter part of the eleventh century. It was for Cluniac monks, and was from the first a large and wealthy establishment. The building is situated just outside the town, in the suburb of Southover. The railway is carried through the priory precincts, and in constructing it, a place of interment, besides the priory burial-ground, was cut through: thirteen waggon-loads of bones are said to have been removed. It was supposed, with much probability, that they were the bones of those who fell in the
There are in the town seven churches of various architectural character and excellence, but none very remarkable. The best, though one of the smallest, is St. Anne's Church, an early English edifice, which was a few years back completely restored. Of the chapels, equal in number to the churches, it is not needful to say anything. We may mention, however, that one of the most notorious preachers of the last, and early part of the present, century, William Huntington, S.S. (sinner saved)— lies in the burial-ground behind Jireh Chapel. The inscription on his tomb commences“Here lies the Coalheaver, beloved of his God, but abhorred of men.” The success of this coalheaver will make a rather curious chapter in the History of Modern Popular Delusions. Of the other public buildings, the County Hall is the most important. It is a neat and rather handsome pile, constructed nearly forty years back, at an expense of £15,000. In it the assizes, quarter sessions, county courts, and other legal and magisterial doings, are held. Town meetings and the like are also held here; and the great room on the second floor—a handsome apartment, some sixty feet long-serves not only for the meetings of the grand jury, but also for meetings of societies, county and town balls, lectures, concerts, and the other winter diversions which help the good people of the town and neighbourhood to quicken the lazy hours of the long evenings. Anew county jail is being erected just outside the town.
Famous are the South Downs—both hills and sheep. Lewes being seated in the very heart of the South Down hills, has, of course, a full share of South Down mutton : in fact, the annual September fairs at Lewes are the chief gathering of these interesting animals. Some 50,000 sheep are usually brought here for sale from the surrounding hills on these occasions. The great wool fair is held in July, and is in its way equally noted. There is a second fair for sheep in October: fairs for cattle are held in May and June.
We are loth to quit Lewes without saying a few words of the neighbourhood—of the rich walks over the Downs, by Mount Caburn, to Beachy-of the banks of the Ouse—and of the many pretty rustic villages in every direction,-for we have spent many a pleasant day in strolling over them; but Hastings is our chief object, and it is time we hastened thither.
Two or three miles beyond Lewes, a branch railway of six miles and three quarters diverges from the main line to Newhaven. This little village-like town is situated at the mouth of the Ouse, which here forms a harbour for vessels of moderate burden. Newhaven has been chosen by the Brighton Railway Company as the station for their steamer to Dieppe. It will be recollected as the port to which William Smith, ci-derant King of the French, cscaped after his flight from Paris. There is a good hotel by the steam-packet pier, and in the village a right comfortable old-fashioned inn. The noticeable thing in the village is the old church, which, though small, has a circular apse, and some other points for the eye of the ecclesiologist.
The next station need not detain us. By the Polegate station short lines branch off, on opposite sides, to HAILSHAM and EASTBOURNE. Hailsham is a quiet little country town, of small mark or interest. Eastbourne is in some repute as a retired wateringplace, and claims a passing word. Eastbourne consists of three villages. First, lying close to the sea—so close that in the winter-gales the Parade has been more than once shattered, and the smart lodging-houses built close to the shore, for summer visitors, have been sadly damaged--a little out-lying collection of lodging-houses, inns, a bathing-house, and the other usual buildings that go to the formation of a wateringplace on a small scale, that has grown up within a few years, by the sea-side: it is known as the Sea Houses. Next, somewhat inland, occurs a straggling hamlet, with some larger shops, more inns, good-sized villas, and a new church. Then, still farther, a mile and a half from the sea, is the old town (if it can be called a town), having some old-fashioned houses, an old weather-beaten church, and some good old trees. By the sea is a large fort, which is now being put into a defensive condition ; it will mount eleven large guns, and contain four hundred men. Eastbourne Bay, formed by the lofty promontory, Beachy Head, is a noble harbour, and affords often a splendid prospect, when a goodly fleet is lying within it. This Bay witnessed a strange sight in 1690: a battle between the combined navy of England and Holland and a French fleet—and the defeat of the English. But English arms have not won much honour here. In 1706, two English men of war were taken, and a third was only saved from a like fate by running ashore in this Bay. This is the Portus Anderida of the Romans. Many Roman remains, some of considerable value, have been discovered in the neighbourhood. In some parts of this Eastbourne Bay the shingle is accumulating along the shore, but elsewhere the sea is gaining on the land.
The next station is Westham and PEVENSEY; and this is a place the tourist ought to stay at or visit. The chief object in visiting Pevensey will, of course,
be to see its castle. No barrier prevents you from examining it. Care is taken to preserve it as much as possible from injury, whether by the elements or by idle people; but it is left quite open to every one, to wander at will about it. The chief path to the village lies across its area ; and the peasant whistles along it, as heedless of the former history of the vast structure, as he is of that of the village it overlooks.
The appearance of the castle is very striking. You pass through a huge gateway which has been defended by a succession of round towers of prodigious strength, and separated by drawbridges, and find yourself in a wide green field, with trees of