Page:Highways and Byways in Sussex.djvu/147

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
XII
119
RUDGWICK

        Teach them to praise that God with grateful mind
        For babes that yet may come, for one still left behind.

A quarter of a mile west is Stane Street, striking London-wards from Billingshurst, and we may follow it for a while on our way to Rudgwick, near the county's border. We leave the Roman road (which once ran as straight as might be as far as Billingsgate, but is now diverted and lost in many spots) at the drive to Dedisham, on the left, and thus save a considerable corner. Dedisham, in its hollow, is an ancient agricultural settlement: a farm and feudatory cottages in perfect completeness, an isolated self-sufficing community, lacking nothing—not even the yellow ferret in the cage. The footpath beyond the homestead crosses a field where we find the Arun once again—here a stream winding between steep banks, sure home of kingfisher and water-rats.

Rudgwick, which is three miles farther west along the hard high road, is a small village on a hill, with the most comfortable looking church-tower in Sussex hiding behind the inn and the general shop. In the churchyard lies a Frusannah—a name new to me.

Rudgwick was the birthplace, in 1717, of Reynell Cotton, destined to be the author of the best song in praise of cricket. He entered Winchester College in 1730, took orders and became master of Hyde Abbey school in the same city, and died in 1779. Nyren prints his song in full. This is the heart of it:—

      The wickets are pitch'd now, and measur'd the ground,
      Then they form a large ring, and stand gazing around,
      Since Ajax fought Hector, in sight of all Troy,
      No contest was seen with such fear and such joy.

      Ye bowlers, take heed, to my precepts attend,
      On you the whole fate of the game must depend;
      Spare your vigour at first, nor exert all your strength,
      But measure each step, and be sure pitch a length.