Page:Highways and Byways in Sussex.djvu/39

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SHULBREDE PRIORY

Two miles to the north-west, on the way to Linchmere, immediately under the green heights of Marley, is the old house which once was Shulbrede Priory. As it is now in private occupation and is not shown to strangers, I have not seen it; but of old many persons journeyed thither, attracted by the quaint mural paintings, in the Prior's room, of domestic animals uttering speech. "Christus natus est," crows the cock. "Quando? Quando?" the duck inquires. "In hac nocte," says the raven. "Ubi? Ubi?" asks the cow, and the lamb satisfies her: "Bethlehem, Bethlehem."

One may return deviously from Shulbrede to Midhurst (passing in the heart of an unpopulated country a hamlet called Milland, where is an old curiosity shop of varied resources) by way of one of the pleasantest and narrowest lanes that I know, rising and falling for miles through silent woods, coming at last to Chithurst church, one of the smallest and simplest and least accessible in the county, and reaching Midhurst again by the hard, dry and irreproachable road that runs between the heather of Trotton Common.

On the eastern side of Fernhurst, to which we may now return, a mile on the way to Lurgashall, was once Verdley Castle; but it is now a castle no more, merely a ruined heap. Utilitarianism was too much for it, and its stones fell to Macadam. After all, if an old castle has to go, there are few better forms of reincarnation for it than a good hard road. While at Fernhurst it is well to walk on to Blackdown, the best way, perhaps, being to take the lane to the right about half a mile beyond the village, and make for the hill across country. Blackdown, whose blackness is from its heather and its firs, frowns before one all the while. The climb to the summit is toilsome, over nine hundred feet, but well worth the effort, for the hill overlooks hundreds of square miles of Sussex and Surrey, between Leith Hill in the north and Chanctonbury in the south.

Aldworth, Tennyson's house, is on the north-east slope,