stone, an old cross of Sussex sandstone. See a notice of this church (Archæol. Journal, VI, 139, 140.) This is one of the very few round-towered churches in this county; the others being Southease, which adjoins Piddinghoe to the north, and St. Michael's in Lewes. From the opinion that this peculiarity of construction was "evidently designed for better defence," (Suss. Arch. Coll, I, 9,) I must venture to dissent, deeming far preferable the idea, which has been suggested, that the adoption of the form originated from the quality of the building material most common in the districts, where these round towers exist. It must be observed, that in, I believe it may be said, all such localities, no other stone, at least in available quantity, is found, beside flints, and a sort of rubble sparingly scattered perhaps in small pieces in the soil. Both these kinds not simply make inferior walls generally, but are also especially unfit for coigns; when therefore means or inclination were wanting for importing a better article from a distance, it is easy to imagine the church architects departing from the customary square figure, and erecting their towers round, in which shape, it is manifest, they could be rendered more durable, with the materials they possessed, than if formed quadrangular. In the flint churches it will be perceived, that the angles of the towers, when square, are usually, though not always, and those of the body of the edifice most frequently, strengthened with hewn stone; and even should a few examples of this class be produced, as may be done, having neither round towers nor coigns of wrought stone, this circumstance cannot be admitted to invalidate the supposition as to the object, which it was intended to serve by employing the round figure in church towers." These towers, in every district, are built of rough flint, those of Sussex being meaner structures than the rest.—None are of freestone; but, with one exception (Taseburgh, Norfolk) freestone is used, more or less, in the dressings of all the towers I have seen.—Whether they owe their form rather to the fitness of the flinty material of the country for the circular shape, so productive of strength, than to caprice and fashion, it is difficult to decide; particularly when we reflect, . . . that they abound in some, and are rare, or not to be found at all, in other districts, where flint is the natural production : that they are imitations of the military round tower I think highly probable; &c." (Mr. Gage, in Archæologia, XXIII, 10 to 17, quoted in Gloss, of Archit. art. Tower.) Of the above extract I would direct attention to the
Page:Notes on the churches in the counties of Kent, Sussex, and Surrey.djvu/327
NOTES TO SUSSEX.