National Geographic : 1935 Jul
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE late Victorian era, the roads of Sussex, over which visitors motor so smoothly now, especially in this neighborhood, were no torious for mud and deep ruts. A famous wit of the day attributed the long legs of the Sussex men and women, and of the cattle as well, to the constant pulling of the feet out of so much mud that the legs thereby became lengthened. Once, when the King of Spain visited Petworth Park, it took him six hours to do nine miles, and the royal carriage was pre vented from toppling over only by the Sus sex men supporting it with their shoulders. George IV experienced similar difficulty in his visits to Brighton. Once the coach containing his equerries came. to grief and they were shot out into the mud. All this accounts for the excellence of the work of Sussex wheelwrights, among the best of Britain's wagon builders. Near Washington village I came across one of the last of the old wheelwrights, a past master at his trade, with a skill handed down through successive generations, for son follows father and time brings perfection to the art. The hauling of the timber for the iron works required vehicles of great strength and rigidity, and their reputation lives to this day. Despite the advent of motor lorries and tractors there is still a demand for their predecessors, the cart and farm wagon, for in Sussex old ways and usages die hard (see page 66). WHEN QUEEN ELIZABETH RODE BY Long before Penn's time Queen Elizabeth was a frequent visitor to the county; she liked to do herself well, and so the people, when she passed their way, took care that she was provided with sound carriages to keep her in good humor. Had she been let down she would have sworn her celebrated oaths, and all and sundry would have been drawn into the vortex. Fortunately the Sussex chassis stood the strain, which may account for the frequent tours of Good Queen Bess. The roads had another effect; they made the Members of Parliament shy of visiting their constituencies, not wishing to get hopelessly bogged. At Bramber, a few miles from Washington, which returned two Members to the House, although the popu lation was less than a couple of hundred, they still tell you of the famous Wilber force, he who liberated the slaves. He was a Member for Bramber, and when he was passing through the village he asked its name. "Why, that must be the place I'm Member for!" he exclaimed (see page 66). The finer part of Sussex, those delightful villages lying secluded among the Downs, is to be seen only by walking or climbing. Adventure and romance greet you at every turn. Continuing westward, our journey leads among many scenes which must have been familiar to William Penn, and we pass within hail of the village of Bosham, at the head of a creek of Chichester Harbor. There probably is no village in Britain that has more picturesque history than Bosham. Perhaps its greatest fame is its connection with King Canute, who had a palace here. Tradition says that it was here the Dan ish king tried conclusions with the tide (see illustration, page 81). To the occa sional visitor it always seems to be low tide at Bosham; the retreating waters expose large stretches of mud, the craft in the har bor assume all sorts of angles, and the tidal waters appear to have a preference for going out rather than coming in. Who knows but what this may have helped Canute in the choice of time and place of his sporting effort with the waves! VESPASIAN HAD A PALACE AT BOSHAM Long before Canute appeared the Ro mans had a camp at Bosham; by this route the Emperor Vespasian brought into Brit ain his stolid and orderly legions, who subdued the hordes of woodmen, broke up their forts, and established discipline, cul ture, and, above all, peace. The Britons, reassured, came out of the woods and forests and mingled to some extent with the Romans, whose capital was at Chi chester, four miles away. Of Vespasian's palace at Bosham there are only a few re mains, but they indicate that it was exten sive and fulfilled the Roman idea of pomp. Bosham's finest gem is its church. The structure is certainly of venerable age, and the tower, which has figured in many Royal Academy exhibitions, is said to be the origi nal Saxon. It is represented in the famous Bayeux tapestry, which shows Harold on his way to embark at Bosham for Nor mandy, where he met the duke of that prov ince, afterwards William the Conqueror. The visit finally led to the Battle of Has tings, the defeat of Harold, and a momen tous change in English history.