Page:Highways and Byways in Sussex.djvu/264

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236
CHAP.
THE SHEPHERD MATHEMATICIAN

Chailey on the west. Fate seems to have decided that these villages shall always be bracketed in men's minds, like Beaumont and Fletcher, or Winchelsea and Rye: one certainly more often hears of "Newick and Chailey" than of either separately. Chailey has a wide breezy common from which the line of Downs between Ditchling Beacon and Lewes can be seen perhaps to their best advantage. Immediately to the south, and just to the west of Blackcap, the hill with a crest of trees, is Plumpton Plain, six hundred feet high, where the Barons formed their ranks to meet the third Harry in the Battle of Lewes, the actual fighting being on Mount Harry, the hill on Blackcap's east. A cross to mark the struggle, cut into the turf of the Plain, is still occasionally visible. More noticeable is the "V" in spruce firs planted on the escarpment to commemorate the Jubilee of 1887.

Plumpton, which is now known chiefly for its steeplechases, has had in its day at least two interesting inhabitants. One was John Dudeney, shepherd, mathematician, and schoolmaster, born here in 1782, who, as a youth, when tending his sheep on Newmarket Hill, dug a study and library in the chalk, and there kept his books and papers. He taught himself mathematics and languages, even Hebrew, and ultimately became a schoolmaster at Lewes. In his thorough adherence to learning Dudeney was the completest contrast to John Kimber of Chailey, a wealthy farmer with a consuming but unintelligent love of books, who was once, says Horsfield, seen bringing home Macklin's Bible, a costly work in six volumes in a sack laid across the back of a cart horse. According to the excellent habit of the old Sussex farmers, Mr. Kimber's body was borne to the grave in one of his wagons, drawn by his best team.

Plumpton Place once had a moat, in which, legend has it, the first carp swam that came into England. The house then belonged to Leonard Mascall, whom Fuller in the Worthies erroneously ascribes to Plumsted. In Fuller's own words,