Page:Highways and Byways in Sussex.djvu/159

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CH. XIV
131
THE NELOND BRASS

West Grinstead church is isolated in the fields, a curiously pretty and cheerful building, with a very charming porch and a modest shingled spire rising from its midst. Brasses to members of the Halsham family are within, and a monument to Captain Powlett, whose unquiet ghost, hunting without a head, we have just met. Hard by the church is one of the most attractive and substantial of the smaller manor houses of Sussex, square and venerable and well-roofed with Horsham stone.

A mile to the west, in a meadow by the Worthing road, stands the forlorn fragment of the keep which is all that remains of the Norman stronghold of Knepp. For its other stones you must seek the highways, the road-menders having claimed them a hundred years ago. William de Braose, whom we shall meet at Bramber, built it; King John more than once was entertained in it; and now it is a ruin. Yet if Knepp no longer has its castle, it has its lake—the largest in the county, a hundred acres in extent, a beautiful sheet of water the overflow of which feeds the Adur.

Within a quarter of a mile of the ruin is the new Knepp Castle, which was built by Sir Charles Merrik Burrell, son of Sir William Burrell, the antiquary, whose materials for a history of Sussex on a grand scale, collected by him for many years, are now in the British Museum. But Knepp Castle, the new, with all its Holbeins, was destroyed by fire this 1904.

To the east of the line lies Cowfold, balancing West Grinstead, a village ranged on either side of a broad road. It is famous chiefly for possessing, in its very pretty church, the Nelond brass, being the effigy of Thomas Nelond, Prior of Lewes, who died in 1433. Few brasses are finer or larger; in length it is nearly ten feet, its state is practically perfect, and pilgrims come from all quarters to rub it. John Nelond, in the dress of a Cluniac monk, stands with folded hands beneath an arch, protected by the Virgin and Child, St. Pancras, and St. Thomas à Becket. This splendid relic would, perhaps, were ours an ideal community, be handed over to the keeping of the Carthusian