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The Star has deep roots in Alfriston

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The beautiful little Sussex village of Alfriston—whose name, by the way, in the local shibboleth, is “Arlston”—a rustic gem not so well known as it deserves, possesses a very fine pilgrims’ inn, the “Star,” a relic of old days when the bones of St. Richard of Chichester led many a foot-sore penitent across the downs to Chichester, in quest of a clean spiritual bill of health.

Finely carved woodwork is a distinguishing feature of this inn, whose roof, too, has character of its own, in the heavy slabs of stone that do duty for slates, and bear witness to the exceptional strength of the roof-tree that has sustained them all these centuries. The demoniac-looking figure seen on the left-hand of the illustration is not, as might perhaps at first sight be supposed, a mediæval effigy of Old Nick, or an imported South Sea Islander’s god, but the figure-head of some forgotten ship of the seventeenth century, wrecked on the neighbouring coast, off Cuckmere Haven. Ancient carvings still ornament the wood-work of the three upper projecting windows, the one particularly noticeable specimen being a variant of the George and Dragon legend, where the saint, with a mouth like a potato, no nose to speak of, and a chignon, is seen unexpectedly on foot, thrusting his lance into the mouth of the dragon, who appears to be receiving it with every mark of enjoyment, which the additional face he is furnished with, in his tail, does not seem to share. The left foot of the saint has been chipped off. All the exterior woodwork has been very highly varnished and painted in glaring colours, from the groups under the windows to the green monkey and green bear contending on the angle-post for the possession of a green trident.

Originally known as ‘The Star of Bethlehem’ until at least 1520. The inn dates from the 15th century. A wooden ‘Sanctuary Post’ is said to have given fugitives instant church protection. The Post can still be seen in the bar today

 

The Old Inns of Old England-A picturesque account of the ancient and storied hostelries of our own country. Vol. I by Charles G. Harper. 1906.