Snapping and ketching in Fletching

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Rouser has a soft spot for the pretty village of Fletching. Simon de Montfort and his army camped there on the eve of the Battle of Lewes in 1264.

They are supposed to have spent the night in vigil before making their way through the dawn countryside to victory on the Downs above the county town, and legend says that those knights who were killed were carried back to Fletching and buried in full armour beneath the church.

In the church, which was new when de Montfort was there, is a tomb which tells a sad little love story. It bears the recumbent alabaster figures of Richard Leche (died 1596) and his wife Charitye, though she was still alive when it was made.

After his death she married the second Earl of Nottingham who was as unkind to her as her first husband had been kind. So ‘she of her own accord caused this monument to be made and herself living, to be pictured lying by him as you see.’

There is also a small church brass to glover Peter Denot (1450), a supporter of Jack Cade’s ill-fated rebellion, with a simple inscription and a pair of gloves to indicate his trade.

Arrows were the big business in Fletching at one time, supplying both the heads and flights to the ammunition that helped win the battles of Crecy and Agincourt for England. There is nothing to indicate, though, that the village got its name from the fletchers who applied the arrow feathers.

A more undercover local pursuit is found in the old Sussex proverb: ‘The people of Fletching live by snapping and ketching.’ This implies that a fair amount of poaching went on to supplement rural incomes.