Sunday, 17 May 2015

St Nicholas Galley

The church of St Nicholas of Myra stands on a hill just outside what was the village of Brighthelmstone.  That's the church in the picture, as photographed in the late 1860s by the Old Bat's great-grandfather.  The church is easily visible from the sea - or it was until the area around became so built up - and was used by sailors as a landmark.  Likewise, it was a good vantage point from which to watch for approaching ships.

This print shows the village of Brighthelmstone in 1765.  The bumps on the horizon in the centre are supposed to be the isle of Wight (but are completely the wrong shape!) and St Nicholas church is shown on the hillside at the far right.

It was on this hillside that the fair Lady Edona, daughter of the Lord of Bramber, watched on 17th May as her lover's ship returned from Byzantium.  Manfred de Warrene had been sent to fulfill a pledge to travel there and place the belt of St Nicholas on the shrine of the Virgin Mary before he could marry the Lady Edona.  But his galley, the St Nicholas, struck a rock and keeled over with the loss of all but one sailor.  Lady Edona collapsed and died on the spot.  Legend has it that Manfred's father, the Earl de Warrene, survived only long enough to have the church built and that Lady Edona was buried under the plinth of the cross in the graveyard.  The Earl was also buried in the graveyard - along with his horse.  It is said that his ghost, on horseback, may be seen on dark nights.

Legend also has it that at midnight on 17th May, the galley St Nicholas can be seen approaching the harbour at Shoreham and striking the same rock.

I don't think I shall stay up to see. 


Sophie said...

Oh why not, would be a good idea to check if there is some truth in the legend :-)

It is incredible how many places in Brighton should be haunted... I've told my Mum that Preston Manor is haunted and when we left after our visit she was quite dissapointed because we haven't seen a ghost... I wasn't too sad about that fact, I don't really believe in ghosts, but you never know....

Brighton Pensioner said...

My wife's parents had a friend who worked at Preston Manor and who swore that he had seen the ghost. And thanks for dropping by!