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Extracted from the publication "Clayton Windmills" compiled by Simon Potter and published by the Jack and Jill Windmills Society for the preservation of Jill Mill.

The earliest reference to a windmill at Clayton is from September 1765 when an indenture was made between Viscount Montague and Edward Oram of Clayton. It read: -

'Lease all that part of ground near to Duncton Gate on which a windmill has been lately erected by the son of the said Viscount and contained in the whole by five rods every way for a term of 99 years.'

Clayton Windmills

Mr. Oram's mill came to be known as Dungate or Duncton mill and is first shown on Yeakell and Gardner's map of 1780. A sale notice in 1816 described this as; "a substantial built post mill carrying two pairs of stones." She was brought into the wind by hand using a tailpole and talthur as is Nutley post mill on Ashdown Forest today.

Sadly no illustration of this mill survives. Although it is popularly believed that John Constable painted her, none of his windmill works carried out during visits to Brighton in the 1820s appear to represent this mill. She was undoubtedly equipped with common sweeps in her early days, these being covered to a greater or lesser degree with canvas according to the strength of wind. This again can be seen at Nutley.

These sweeps may well have been modernised later, with the coming of spring-shuttered sweeps in the late 18th century and Cubitt's patent shuttered sweeps in the early 19th century which used a counterweight system.

Unlike Nutley however, Duncton mill had a single-storey brick roundhouse surrounding the trestle timbers. This was left standing when the mill was taken down about 1866, and still stands next to the tower of Jack. Millers included Edward Oram 1767-1787, John Geere 1809, Thomas Hicks 1810, and John Hamlin 1816. Later came James Mitchell who is shown on the Tithe Award Map of Clayton for 1838 as 'tenant miller'. The mill ground was owned by William John Campion. Kelly's Directory and the census returns show Mr. Mitchell initially as 'farmer-miller'.

Amongst his casual customers during the year the names Medhurst and Lashmar appear, both of whom figure in the history of the second post mill to stand on the hill.

Duncton mill was bringing in an annual income of over £ 2,500 and Mitchell felt the need to expand his business. John Young Lashmar had been working a Brighton post mill, built in 1821, which stood to the east of Dyke Road on a site which is today occupied by part of Russell Terrace and immediately above Belmont railway tunnel.

A newspaper item dated 16th January 1830 reads: "On Sunday last while Lashmar's mill was working the main beam suddenly broke, and the swifts, or sails, which turn thereon, were carried a considerable distance. Two of them struck a storehouse in a corner of the field, in which the mill stands, and carried away nearly all the slated roof ". A new metal canister was fitted the following year, cast into this is the legend "I.L. 1831", being the millwrights Ingledew and Lashmar.

This mill was the most southerly of three post mills on the road as shown in an engraving dated 1847. Earlier Nash had painted a scene in 1839 which showed the eastern portal of Belmont tunnel under construction, with the top of Mr. Lashmar's mill showing over the hill above. This was just before the completion of the Shoreham line out of Brighton which pre-dated the through line from London. These illustrations show the mill here to have had a roof-mounted fan similar to that seen at Icklesham mill near Rye in East Sussex.

Brighton was expanding rapidly with the coming of the railways and building work progressed back from the sea, taking away Mr. Lashmar's wind. The mill was no doubt idle before being removed to allow Russell Terrace to be built. In 1852 Mitchell purchased Lashmar's mill and had her brought up to Clayton where she was re-erected to the west of the old Duncton post mill. The date of her removal is confirmed by a sale notice which appeared in the Brighton Gazette for the fortnight commencing 1st April 1852.

It had always been felt that the mill was hauled up from Dyke Road to Clayton Hill in one piece.

This illustration of such an event, often cited as evidence, in fact shows the removal of a post mill from Regency Square to Preston in 1797.

 Regency Square to Preston on 28th March 1797

It is now believed that the mill was dismantled and brought up from Brighton in manageable sections; not a notable event in itself and therefore probably not recorded.

At Clayton the Down had been excavated to allow the new two-storey roundhouse to be built in the centre of flat unmade ground approximately ninety feet in diameter. This was to allow the passage of a large tailpole-mounted fan. The slope of the ground is such that on the eastern side the hill was cut to a depth of ten feet or so. In retrospect the re-erection of the post mill at Clayton was perhaps the 'prototype' of remarkably similar work carried out by Medhurst when he rebuilt Cross-in-Hand post mill after her removal from Framfield in 1855. This had also been equipped with a top fan which Medhurst took down and replaced with his own tailpole-mounted arrangement.

Mr. Mitchell's 'new' post mill, later to be called Jill, was worked in conjunction with Duncton which was left standing. The new mill would otherwise have been erected on the higher and more favourable site of the older one.

Jill Windmill  

As she then stood she was a large three-floor head-and-tail mill equipped with two pairs of overdrift stones; a pair of peaks in the head for grinding such as barley or oats and a pair of French Burrs in the tail for producing wheatmeal.

A belt, driven by a skew-gear-meshed layshaft across the back of the brakewheel, drove a flour dresser. This type of drive is typical of Medhurst's work elsewhere.

She was winded by the Sussex Tailpole Fantackle and powered by four patent sweeps. These were controlled by a conventional weight wheel and chain on the back of the mill. Here again details of the striking gear used are of the Medhurst pattern.

James Mitchell ran both mills until 1866. Two years after the lease expired on Duncton mill, she was taken down and Jack was built. This tower mill, over 44ft from the ground to the curb (upon which the cap rotated), has an inside diameter of 13ft at the top of the tower and 22ft 8in at the base. Winded by a five-blade fan and equipped with large patent sweeps, the mill worked three pairs of underdrift stones plus dressing and cleaning machinery. The tower was erected next to the roundhouse of Duncton mill and a communicating door was provided so that the additional space could be used for storage.

The work of fitting out the tower is understood to have been carried out by William Cooper, the Henfield millwright. He is also said to have incorporated the large Duncton brakewheel which did not take lightly to the additional load imposed on it.

  Jack Windmill

Two brothers Joseph and Charles Hammond took over from James Mitchell after his death in 1867. Charles installed additional modern machinery in Jack, at a cost of £ 1500, including a large oat crusher and a roller mill.

He was of an inventive nature and had an eye to the efficiency of his mill and business. With this in mind he devised a means of regulating the speed of his mill by applying a large centrifugal governor to the control gear of the sweeps. He patented the mechanism in 1873, the patent drawing shows the system as fitted in the cap of Jack.

C.E. Hammond continued here with various millers in his employ until his death in 1903, brother Joseph having left Clayton in 1882. Mr. Wood of Hassocks then took the business on but only continued for three or four years. The two mills then became idle and, in 1908, Jill suffered damage to her fantackle. Although repaired, she did not work again. Jack suffered similarly in 1909 when gales blew the fan off and damaged the sweeps.

Jill had completely lost her fantackle early in her retirement and was loaded with chalk to prevent her swinging about.

In 1908, and for the following two years, Edward A. Martin made Jack mill his summer residence. Captain & Mrs. Walter V. Anson took on the lease in September 1910 and seven years later were able to purchase the entire property for £580.

The two windmills were purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Henry Longhurst in 1953, five years after Mrs. Anson's death. Jack and Jill were to become film stars in 1973 when they were used as a setting for the film "The Black Windmill".

The vast majority of the restoration work on Jill, which commenced in October 1978, was carried out by volunteers.

She is now grinding corn again after eighty years spent in hibernation, and is open to visitors on most Summer Sundays.

Please click here for details of the repair works that commenced in September 2012 on Jack Windmill.

Please click here for further details of the Clayton Windmills.             Windmill Tour