Nutley Windmill History

The earliest record of a windmill at Nutley appears in the Manor of Duddleswell Court Book dated 20th May 1836 in which James Wood is recorded as selling ‘all that piece of land …. on which Henry Sitford has lately erected a windmill’.

It is possible that before 1836 the mill stood at Kilndown near Goudhurst where a mill ‘disappeared’ somewhere between 1710 and 1769. Certainly mills were moved across country, a famous local example being a post mill moved in 1797 from Regency Square, Brighton to Shaw Road, Preston by a team of 86 oxen.

Mills were also constructed or repaired with timbers taken from older mills. UDPS has commissioned a dendrochronological survey (tree ring dating) of Nutley Mill which concludes that the main-post came from a tree felled between 1533 and 1565. So at least one part of this mill is nearly 500 years old.

We know a little of the mill’s owners from 1836, starting with Henry Sitford who owned the mill until 1845, James Martin until 1851, Luke Godley until 1862 and B Martin until 1874. In 1874 William Taylor took over the mill, with the assistance of Mr Stevenson a local brickmaker, and a programme of modernisation and repair was undertaken. In 1907 William Taylor retired and in 1908 operations at Nutley Mill ceased altogether.

Ownership immediately after 1907 is unknown. In March 1920 the mill was sold at auction by G Maryon-Wilson to W Freeland, a baker in Nutley. In 1928 Lord and Lady Castle Stewart purchased it and soon had the whole structure strengthened with brick piers, steel girders and stout wooden posts and the complete body clad in an extra layer of overlapping boards.

During the next 40 years additional work was carried out at intervals but the mill continued to deteriorate.

Then in April 1968 Frank Gregory led a party of Sussex Archaeological Society members on a tour of Sussex windmills and watermills. Among them was Tony Turner, born near the mill and a descendant of Mr Stevenson, the brickmaker from 1874. Mr Turner became enthusiastically interested in the fate of this mill and in October 1968, with rising local interest, he called a public meeting in Uckfield which saw the creation of Uckfield and District Preservation Society. With the approval of Lady Castle Stewart, the support of a band of enthusiasts, a grant from the County Council and the expert knowledge of Frank Gregory, the task of restoration began.

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