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Website Design : Simon Potter  Where in Sussex is Tellhurst Watermill ?

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I first heard about this watermill when I received an e-mail on 1st January 2005 from Dr. Selby Whittingham, who advised that a drawing by the artist Joseph M. W. Turner dated 1795, said to represent this mill, appeared at auction in 2003.

Dr. Whittingham has published a number of books about Joseph Turner and is associated with the Independent Turner Society.

Dr. Whittingham, an authority on Turner, is wary of the artist's spelling and considers that the mill in question could well be spelled differently.

Andrew Wilton, an expert on Turner, believes that the artist made a tour of Kent and East Sussex in 1794 and 1795, where he also produced drawings of Pembury Mill in Kent and Withyham Mill in Sussex.

After studying the maps published between 1575 and 1825, I can find no reference to a village, town or mill in Sussex by the name of Tellhurst. There are, however, many place names in Sussex ending in "hurst" such as Wadhurst, Ticehurst, Fernhurst, Midhurst, Billingshurst and Chithurst.

The county of Kent also has place names ending in "hurst" such as Hawkhurst and Goudhurst. The majority of the maps identify watermills, so if Tellhurst Watermill did exist in Sussex, I am sure that it would be marked.

The dictionary definition for "hurst" is (1) a  hillock (2) a sandbank in the sea or a river and (3) a wood or wooded piece of rising ground.

I have also visited the Local History section of Eastbourne Public Library and have looked at the books "The Place Names of Sussex" part 1 and part 2, published in 1969 by Cambridge University Press and "The Place Names of Sussex", published in 1975 by Judith Glover. The words most similar to Tellhurst are Tilkhurst and Tillinghurst.

I also studied two books by Derek Stidder and Colin Smith : "Watermills of Sussex" volume 1 - covering East Sussex and volume 2 - covering West Sussex, however the only watermill that was listed with a name spelled similar to Tellhurst was Tablehurst Mill.

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After many exchanges of e-mail, and with additional input from John Farrant, it would appear that Tablehurst Mill at Forest Row (TQ430352) is the most likely mill to have been depicted by Turner. Tablehurst Mill had two overshot wheels in tandem, it ceased working in 1925 and was demolished by 1936.

Eventually I was sent a copy of the actual drawing produced by Turner and by studying the details, including the title written by Turner it was conclusively established that the mill in question was Tablehurst Mill, Forest Row.

  Tellhurst Mill, now identified as Tablehurst Mill at Forest row

During the process of this interesting investigation, Selby Whittingham has provided a large amount of material relating to Turner's interest in mills, especially watermills, and I propose to include some of this in future Newsletters.

Robin Jones

Sussex Watermill Tour
Website Design : Simon Potter
Website Design : Simon Potter