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          HAVOC WROUGHT BY THE SEA  
                 
        is that the land on part of which Shoreham lay was directly exposed to the waves. At the period of which we are treating no intervening shingle-bank existed to break up the waves of the Atlantic in their progress up the English Channel as now.
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  With regard to the general coast-line hereabouts in early times there is, of course, no really reliable information. There is among authorities a general agreement that in Roman times the land along the Sussex and Hampshire sea-board extended for some distance (some say a mile) further out than now. There is also documentary evidence-in the Nonae Rolls for instanceof considerable tracts of land having been overwhelmed and lost in early mediaeval times; but many circumstances combine to render such information vague even at its best.
  With regard to the sea-frontage of the land about Shoreham, however, there is one very important piece of evidence which helps us to understand what has occurred. From it we may infer that the law of the " eastward drift," which, quite early in the Middle Ages, closed the port of Hastings and pushed the mouth of the Ouse as far east as Seaford, did not affect very much the -mouth of the Adur till a much later period.   It is likely that this immunity was shared by the Arun as well and was due to the fact that neither the Arun nor the Adur possessed, on its western bank, any strong and steep promontory which could form a base or anchorage for the huge masses of shingle coming up channel to accumulate against, and from which such masses could afterwards work round and operate to stop the river-mouths. The low-lying coastal plain was probably fretted and washed away to a fairly equal extent all along these western shores. Perhaps, too, the " broad water " inlet before mentioned, which gave name to the parish north of Worthing and which converted the site of the latter into a peninsula, took a fairly long time to fill up and may thus have helped to preserve, in the case of Shoreham, the Adur's direct access to the sea for some centuries. However this may be it seems fairly certain that the land, which included the site of the town, lay all through the early Middle Ages immediately upon the sea-shore with no protruding peninsula of beach like the site of Bungalow Town to preserve it from the direct assaults of the sea.
        How do we know this ? In the 14th century Sir John de Mowbray, Lord of Bramber, gave to the Carmelite Priory in Shoreham an acre and a half of land south of the High Street to
                 
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Copyright © Martin Snow 2002 All rights reserved
Revised 27 February 2002