Back in the 18th century, smuggling was almost a way of life for people in south-east England - even more so than in the days of the booze cruise! Brandy, tea, tobacco, silk - all made their surreptitious ways across the beaches. As Rudyard Kipling had it:
Five and twenty ponies,
Trotting through the dark —
Brandy for the Parson,
Baccy for the Clerk;
Laces for a lady, letters for a spy,
And watch the wall, my darling,
While the Gentlemen go by!One delightful story concerns the Vicar of Preston, then a small village just north of Brighton. The gentleman in question was also in charge of the parish of Hove, then an even smaller village to the west of Brighton. He would conduct Sunday services in either church on alternate weeks. One Sunday the Vicar turned up to do his duty, but found that the bell was not being rung and, on enquiring why, was told that he had got his preaching timetable wrong. The Vicar, certain that he was right, pressed the Sexton who eventually informed him that he could not carry out the service because the church was full of kegs of spirits and the pulpit was full of tea.
But back to the memorial in Patcham churchyard. The grave is that of Daniel Scales, who, we are told, "was unfortunately shot on Thursday evening, Nov. 7th, 1796." The inscription continues:
Alas! swift flew the fatal lead,
Which pierced through the young man’s head.
He instant fell, resigned his breath,
And closed his languid eyes in death
.All you who do this stone draw near,
Oh! pray let fall the pitying tear.
From this sad instance may we all
Prepare to meet Jehovah’s call.
There must have been plenty of money in smuggling to cover the cost of that inscription!