Page:Highways and Byways in Sussex.djvu/292

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CHAPTER XXVIII


ALFRISTON


Three routes to Alfriston—West Firle—The Gages—A "Noble Dame"—Sussex pronunciation and doggedness—The Selmeston smugglers—Alfriston's ancient inn—The middle ages and P… P…—Alfriston church—A miracle and a sign—An Alfriston scholar—Dr. Benbrigg—The smallest church in Sussex—Alfriston as a centre—A digression on walking—"A Song against Speed"—Alciston—A Berwick genius—The Long Man of Wilmington.


Alfriston may be reached from Lewes by rail, taking train to Berwick; by road, under the hills; or on foot or horse-back, over the hills. By road, you pass first through Beddingham, a small village, where, it is said, was once a monastery; then, by a southern détour, to West Firle, a charming little village with a great park, which bears the same relation to Firle Beacon that Wiston Park does to Chanctonbury Ring. The tower in the east serves to provide a good view of the Weald for those who do not care to climb the beacon's seven hundred feet and get a better. The little church is rich in interesting memorials of the Gages, who have been the lords of Firle for many a long year.

In the house is a portrait of Sir John Gage, the trusted friend of Henry VIII., Edward VI., and Mary, and, as Constable of the Tower, the gaoler (but a very kind one) of both Lady Jane Grey and the Princess Elizabeth, afterwards Good Queen Bess. In Harrison Ainsworth's romance The Constable of the Tower Sir John Gage is much seen. Sir John was succeeded at Firle by his son Sir Edward, who, as High Sheriff of Sussex, was