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Cross in Hand Windmill (New Mill)

A Grade II* Listed Building in Cross in Hand, East Sussex

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Latitude: 50.9741 / 50°58'26"N

Longitude: 0.2177 / 0°13'3"E

OS Eastings: 555790

OS Northings: 121751

OS Grid: TQ557217

Mapcode National: GBR MRN.V5L

Mapcode Global: FRA C6BJ.QMJ

Plus Code: 9F22X6F9+J3

Entry Name: Cross in Hand Windmill (New Mill)

Listing Date: 13 October 1952

Last Amended: 14 October 2020

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1183064

English Heritage Legacy ID: 295576

Location: Heathfield and Waldron, Wealden, East Sussex, TN21

County: East Sussex

Civil Parish: Heathfield and Waldron

Built-Up Area: Cross in Hand

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex

Church of England Parish: Waldron All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Chichester

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Cross in Hand


Post mill. Built at Framfield in 1806 but moved near to this site in 1855 by the millwright Samuel Medhurst of Lewes, before moving again to the exact site in 1868 with a two-storied roundhouse erected around it. A lean-to was added to the roundhouse in 1900 to accommodate two further millstones powered by a steam engine. Repairs were carried out to the post mill in 1932 by Fred Neve and Sons, millwrights of Heathfield, 1955 and 1959 by Messrs Sands of Punnetts Town, 1969, and 2018.


Post mill. Built at Framfield in 1806 but moved near to this site in 1855 by the millwright Samuel Medhurst of Lewes, before moving again to the exact site in 1868 with a two-storied roundhouse erected around it. A lean-to was added to the roundhouse in 1900 to accommodate two further millstones powered by a steam engine. Repairs were carried out to the post mill in 1932 by Fred Neve and Sons, millwrights of Heathfield, 1955 and 1959 by Messrs Sands of Punnetts Town, 1969, and 2018.

MATERIALS: a timber-framed and weather-boarded buck covered in galvanised iron and steel sheeting on three sides, above a tarred English bond brick and timber-boarded roundhouse with an adjoining brick lean-to. Internally, there is timber and cast-iron machinery.

PLAN: the mill has five floors. There are three floors to the buck (main body), including, from top to bottom: the bin floor, stone floor, and meal or spout floor, with a two-storey roundhouse beneath it. A single-storey lean-to with a cellar is attached to the roundhouse.

EXTERIOR: the mill comprises a two-storey roundhouse and a three-storey timber-framed buck with timber weatherboarding faced in rectangular galvanised iron and steel sheets (all painted white) on the front and sides, continuing up to cover the curved roof. The roundhouse is 7.6m in diameter and the buck is 6.4m long and 3.7m wide. Altogether, the post mill is 13.7m high. The lower storey of the roundhouse is built of tarred-brick but the upper storey is constructed of timber boarding partly-covered in corrugated steel sheets (painted white). An iron and steel-clad conical roof to the roundhouse projects out from under the buck. The roundhouse has wooden-boarded doors to the front (south-west) and side (north-west), a casement window to the rear (north-east), and a single-storey lean-to with a cellar attached at the south-east. The lean-to has a timber doorway at the rear and segmental-headed windows, currently boarded-up, to the front and side. The buck has two small-fixed windows to the front, lighting the meal floor. Attached to the rear are a set of timber steps, which run on cast-iron wheels around an iron curb surrounding the mill (not currently (2020) fully intact). These steps lead up to two timber half-doors providing access to the meal floor beneath a boarded door to the stone floor and two boarded openings to the bin floor. On one side of the buck is a six-paned casement to the stone floor and on the other side is a boarded door to the meal floor and a boarded opening to the stone floor. The surviving stocks and sweeps (sails) of the post mill are currently in storage but the sweeps are of the double-shuttered patent type. The tailpole and fan carriage are also in storage on the site. When in place, the tailpole strikes down and through the steps, 0.3m square and 10.4m long, to support the eight-bladed fantail, which is 3.4m in diameter. This tailpole mounted fantail may be the only surviving example in Sussex; two others located at Argos Hill and Clayton are replicas. The fantail runs on large cast-iron wheels around a gravel track. Although currently in storage (June 2020), this structure is included in the listing and requires a clear turning circle, about 22m in diameter, around the mill in order to operate.

INTERIOR: the interior of the mill still houses the machinery, which includes a head wheel and tail wheel attached to the windshaft to drive two pairs of millstones. The following description outlines each floor, moving five storeys up through the windmill from its entrance at the bottom of the roundhouse to the bin floor at the top of the buck. The ground floor of the roundhouse contains four brick piers to support the crosstrees of the trestle and the joisted ceiling. Attached to one side of the roundhouse is the lean-to, which is now used for storage, including a cellar. On the first floor of the roundhouse are the quarterbars and main post of the trestle. The boarded roof is supported internally by struts attached to the quarterbars. The main post is about 0.8m square and carved from a single oak tree cut at Whiligh near Wadhurst, East Sussex. A wooden collar supports the bottom of the buck against the post. The meal floor contains the upper part of the main post. The crowntree (a huge transverse timber) pivots on a Samson head bearing on top of the post, and carries the weight of the buck. There is a Samson head bracket cast with the words: S Medhurst, Millwright, Lewes, June 1855. Also on the main post is Medhurst’s mark: 1868 M, painted at the time when the mill was last moved. Much of the timber frame can be seen from the meal floor. Horizontal side girts are morticed to each end of the crowntree, and from these rise four vertical corner posts. The top and bottom side girts, fitted to the corner posts at eaves and floor level respectively, run parallel to the side girts. Between these are fixed studding and diagonal braces. Several parts of the mill machinery can also be seen. Most prominent is the 1.22m diameter great spur wheel attached to the bottom of the upright shaft. The great spur wheel drives the stone nut (small gear) which under-drives a pair of French burr stones on the stone floor. Also on the meal floor is a governor and tentering gear, used to regulate the gap between the millstones, as well as the meal chutes. A wooden ladder leads up to the stone floor above, where the lower part of the head wheel and tail wheel can be seen attached to a cast-iron windshaft. The cast-iron head wheel is 2.95m in diameter and the tail wheel is 2.54m in diameter. The head wheel drives a wallower (gear) attached to the top of the upright shaft, powering the great spur wheel on the floor below. Next to the shaft is a set of French burr stones. There is also a maize kibbler (grinding machine) which was driven by a layshaft from the head wheel. The tail wheel on this floor drives a small gear attached to a shaft to turn a set of Derbyshire Peak stones currently surrounded by a wooden tun. The millstones are 1.2m in diameter. There is a second wooden tun on this floor, a set of hoppers, and chutes that originally fed grain down to the millstones from the bin floor above. Next to the tail wheel is a bell alarm to signal when the hopper requires refilling. Another ladder leads up to the bin floor, where the upper part of the head wheel and tail wheel can be seen, as well as the sack hoist and three large grain bins. There is a weightbox assembly currently in storage, which supported by a lever assembly acts directly on the striking rod of the windshaft to keep the sweeps of the post mill at the required pressure. The iron windshaft is unusually carried by three bearings: in addition to the two normally fitted at the tail and behind the fixing point for the sweeps there is an extra bearing located behind the head wheel. The roof is formed by curved timber braces.

Mapping note: whilst in operation the buck of the post mill is not static but moves as it is turned into the wind by the fantail, which extends out from the main body of the structure and has a turning circle, about 22m in diameter.


Windmills were introduced to England in around the mid- to late C12; the first certain mention is 1185 (Historic England 2018). In the 1190s there were at least 20 windmills in England and by 1300 it is estimated that there were more than 4000 in Britain (Gerrard and Gutierrez 2018, 503). Windmills harness the power of the wind to convert it into mechanical movement; typically rotational energy used in grinding corn. All medieval windmills were post mills where the buck (the body of the mill housing the machinery) was mounted on a single vertical post, around which it could be turned to bring the sails into the wind. The post was supported on a timber sub-structure called a trestle. The earliest post mills were small and liable to blow over in strong winds so the trestle was buried in a mound of earth (‘sunk post mills’). As mills became larger the trestle did not need to be buried and the first ‘open trestle post mills’ were built. Later the trestle was often protected by a roundhouse, which also provided storage. In the later C16, smock mills were introduced, which consisted or a sloping tower of six or eight sides, followed by tower mills, typically cylindrical brick or stone towers. Both smock and tower mills had a rotating cap to bring the sails into the wind. Windmills reached their heyday in England in the earlier C19, when as many as 10,000 windmills may have existed but the advent of steam power (among other causes) started the decline of the windmill (Bonwick 2003). Only around 50 windmills are capable of operating today (Ibid). The earliest surviving working post mill in England is considered to be Outwood Windmill, Surrey, built in 1665, but the earliest non-operational post mill still standing may be Drinkstone Post Mill, Suffolk, dating from the C16 (both examples Grade I-listed).

The village of Cross in Hand includes the site of an earlier post mill: the ‘old mill’. According to one source, there is an isolated reference to a windmill existing here in 1264 (Newnham 1969). An indenture relating to a windmill on the site is dated 1598 and there is map evidence from 1724. Edward Tester is recorded as owning a post mill called Cross in Hand Windmill in 1766. It was struck by lightning in 1790 but subsequently repaired. The mill was in use in the early 1900s when a stock broke and most of the structure was subsequently demolished except for the roundhouse, which still survives.

The ‘new mill’ at Cross in Hand was originally located at Mount Ephraim in Framfield, East Sussex. A mill is known to have been erected at Framfield in 1806; an advertisement to sell the windmill in The Sussex Weekly Advertiser dated 17 July 1809 states that it had been built three years previously (Newnham 1969). This mill is probably the one that was moved to Cross in Hand. The mill is depicted on the 1840 tithe map opposite the Barley Mow Inn at Mount Ephraim. In 1855, it was moved from Mount Ephraim for the owner William Kenward and erected on the other side of the main road (B2101) from where it now stands. This was carried out by the millwright Samuel Medhurst of Lewes whose name and the date 1855 is cast on the Samson head bracket (Medhurst built a similar post mill at Herstmonceux, East Sussex, in 1814 (Grade II*-listed)). The new location was much to the dissatisfaction of a local landowner, Louis Huth, because it overlooked his new home, Possingworth House (now Holy Cross Priory). The mill was thus moved again to its current location, on a mill mound, in 1868 and a two-storey roundhouse was erected. It had previously had a single-storey roundhouse but an additional storey was now added to provide extra height. The mill was largely used for grinding barley, oats and maize for animal feed. A list of millers is given by Newnham (1969).

Several alterations were made to the mill machinery over time. In about the late C19, the miller Jabez Ashdown modified the striking gear (the iron rods, levers and cog wheels used to open and close the shutters of the patent sails). It was found that on a day when the wind was variable there could be friction in the system using the conventional striking gear (with an outside weight-wheel and weight-box); the sails would remain stuck for a few precious moments (Hemming 1936, 40). Ashdown placed the weights in a box inside the windmill, which supported by a lever assembly acted directly on the striking rod of the windshaft. The weightbox loaded with the correct weight would thus bob gently as the wind rose and fell, keeping the sails set at the required pressure all the time (Ibid). The fantail has also been moved and altered. Originally, the fantail was roof-mounted, in a similar manner to that at Hogg Hill Windmill, Icklesham, East Sussex. However, it was later placed on a fan carriage running on cast-iron wheels at ground level. In addition the five-bladed fantail fitted by Samuel Medhurst was replaced by an eight-bladed one by Fred Neve and Sons, millwrights of Heathfield, in 1907. In terms of the millstones, there were originally two pairs of millstones; one pair of French burr stones under-driven by the head wheel and another pair of Derbyshire gritstones (Peaks) over-driven by the tail wheel. However, a third pair was later added to be driven by the head wheel. This arrangement of three pairs of millstones was unusual with few other known examples in Sussex. In 1933, one of the pairs of stones driven by the head wheel was removed. A layshaft (intermediate shaft) was installed to the back of the head wheel to drive a kibbler (grinding machine) in their place.

In around 1900, a lean-to structure was added to the roundhouse to accommodate two further stones for milling animal feed. These stones were powered by a steam engine housed in a single-storey brick engine house; the shaft was driven underground linking the two, an unusual feature. This allowed corn to be ground when there was no wind. Two wells were also sunk nearby to provide water for the steam engine. In about 1903, a power mill was built immediately to the south of the windmill; the earlier engine house is attached to the rear of it. The power mill was fitted with a gas engine in 1911 which was replaced by an electric engine in the 1950s but this has since been removed. Iron strengthening was applied to the windmill in 1926. A stock (beam for the sails) broke on the windmill in 1932 and caused some damage but was repaired by Fred Neve and Sons. Restoration work was carried out to the windmill in 1955 when a new breast beam was put in by Messrs Sands of Punnetts Town. The windmill was struck by lightning in 1959, severely damaging one sweep and the stock to which it was attached, as well as the tailpole; repairs were carried out by the same firm. Finally, in 1969 a stock broke when the mill was working, causing a sweep to fall and cause further damage, which ended the mill’s commercial use. It is thought to have been the last mill to work commercially in Sussex, as well as being one of the largest in the county. The sweeps, of which two remain, and the striking gear were subsequently put into storage. Restoration work was carried out in around 1969 when two steel stocks and two oak corner posts for the front of the mill were purchased. In 2015, a public appeal raised over £7000 for emergency repairs to the trestle, which were completed in 2018.

Reasons for Listing

Cross in Hand Windmill, built in 1806 and moved in 1855 and 1868 by the millwright Samuel Medhurst of Lewes, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest

* as a post mill dating from 1806 that survives particularly well, including the weatherboarding and timber-framing to the buck, the machinery, and the roundhouse;
* for the rare surviving internal machinery which remains in place, including, for instance: the head wheel, the wallower and great spur wheel attached to the upright shaft, the tail wheel, a governor and tentering gear used to regulate the gap between the millstones, French burr stones, a bell alarm and sack hoist;
* for a range of notable and/or unusual later refinements and alterations to the mill machinery, including the modified striking gear, the arrangement for three millstones, and the surviving tailpole mounted fantail;
* as a good representation of the highly-sophisticated late stage of wind-powered milling prior to the introduction of steam-powered roller milling later in the C19;
* as one of the best examples of a post mill involving work undertaken by the important C19 millwright, Samuel Medhurst of Lewes.

Historic interest:

* as a long-established windmill location; a post mill is recorded at Cross in Hand as early as 1264, with further references in the C16 and C18, whilst this particular windmill was built in 1806 and has a well-documented history throughout its working life;
* the post mill is thought to have been the last mill to work commercially in Sussex, as well as being one of the largest known to have been built in the county.

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