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  THE STORY OF SHOREHAM         SMUGGLING  
                       
smuggling, for which the export system, already well organized, gave every facility.     glossy silk) and 15 bales of raw silk were seized and delivered into the Custom House by Mr. Wade (probably the Customs Officer). Notice of the smugglers' arrival had been given by Charles Coring, esquire, who, on account of this information, claimed a share in the value of the goods, but apparently without success. In July, 1735, the preventive officers had a short encounter with smugglers at Kingston and seized the brandy which the latter had landed and carried it to the Custom House, but the smugglers escaped.
For this traffic no district could be better suited than the low-lying coast between Shoreham and Lancing. In the days when the river ran quite close to the Sussex Pad (destroyed by fire some years ago and since rebuilt) that house was a favourite resort of those engaged in smuggling. Its lonely position was of no small account in " running " a cargo with the secrecy    
necessary to such a business.   Its capacious cellars and hiding    
Picture   Nearly every class participated in this contraband traffic and made " a very good thing " out of it. The parson, preaching on Sunday to the squire, the farmer, tradespeople, and fisherfolk, on " the sinfulness of sin," was, like as not, as deeply interested as his flock in the business of smuggling carried on o'dark nights.
  In his " Tour through Britain," Defoe noted that the Shoreham, Brighton, and Rye boats went in numbers to the Yarmouth Fishery, but in 1785, such was no longer the case. A writer of that date tells us that the Sussex boats had given up going to the fishery, and that the owners were " supposed to have taken to smuggling," a trade which doubtless paid them much better.
  In June; 1790, the " Nimble " cutter seized off Shoreham 105 casks of contraband spirits. In August, 1791, two luggers, waiting a favourable opportunity to land their cargoes, were seized by H.M.S. Pomona and sent into Shoreham.
  The vessels employed in this traffic carried about sixty tons, and their cargoes were tea, silk, spirits, and tobacco, loaded by merchants in France. On the arrival of these vessels the cargo was rowed ashore in small boats and delivered into the charge of forty or fifty armed men, previously warned of the impending arrival, and who were lying in wait at some convenient spot. The goods were quickly loaded on horses and into carts and carried away to a hiding-place. More than once has a "little lost Down Church," nestling in its quiet coombe, served as a temporary warehouse for smuggled merchandise. An empty mansionespecially one having the reputation of being " haunted "found great favour with these gentlemen.   In such places the goods were stored until an opportunity for their final disposal could be found. The horses of the squires, parsons, and farmers were often employed in the transit of the goods, while their servants assisted in the bestowal. A favourite method of concealing kegs of spirits, was to rope them together and sink
places formed convenient receptacles for the contraband goods until they could be conveyed into the interior of the county by way of Shoreham Gap.    
There are one or two references to the appointment of riding officers at Shoreham, a preventive system which was in existence prior to the establishment of the coast-guards, but very few captures are recorded as taking place in the immediate neighbourhood.    
             
Some French and English sailors were taken near Shoreham in May, 1703. In the following May, 29 packets of lustring (a    
                       
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Copyright © Martin Snow 2002 All rights reserved
Revised 27 February 2002