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Website Design : Simon PotterHenfield, a village in West Sussex, midway between Brighton and Horsham on the A281, had two post mills for which some history and documentation exists. One stood in the south-west part of the village known as Neptown.


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I shall refer to this as the Neptown Mill to distinguish it from the other mill - the Mill on the Common - which stood on the edge of what is called the Lydds.

A footpath of about 100 yards leads up to the Mill House from the Brighton road, and the Mill on the Common stood in what is now the garden of the Mill House.

Neptown Windmill in 1900


Not much is known of the Neptown Mill and the only surviving photograph in close-up, taken in 1900, shows her leaning slightly backward, possibly supported by the main steps and tailpole.

This mill was located 60-70 yards west of Windmill Lane; the location was an ancient one, and a map of 1724 indicates a mill on this site.

The mill was variously owned and run by members of the Vinall family, by Jonathan Botting from 1838 to 1858, and by George Holman from 1866 to 1870.

The last Neptown miller was listed as Clement Knight, who ran her from 1874-78, though there was a miller listed as living in Neptown in the 1881 census - 48-year old John Sharp. The mill blew down in a storm in 1908.

The Mill on the Common is reputed to have been built around 1735. From her size, from the appearance of the roundhouse, and from the fantackle which can be made out in the 1909 photograph, it is probable that this is an overestimate of her age. Furthermore, as she was known variously as the New Mill or as Barringer's Mill, she was probably the younger of the two known village mills.

The mill had ceased working by 1885 and, at some later date the upper structure was turned into an observatory with the addition of a glass, cage-like structure on the roof. This can be clearly seen in both the 1909 and 1920 photographs and the mill was used as an observation post by the Home Guard in WW2. [1].

Henfield Common Windmill in 1909

The 1909 photograph shows the mill to be in reasonable condition, externally at any rate, although the stones and machinery were removed when the glass top was fitted.

Henfield Common Windmill in 1920

By the time of the 1920 photograph, only two of the sweeps remain.

A report from 1936 describes the mill as "a sorry sight in its present state" [2] and speculates that she drove three pairs of stones - "…the usual two peaks and a pair of French burrs". [3].

By 1953, weathering and vandalism had seriously damaged the structure of the mill; the photograph from that year shows both evidence of wind and fire just before the structure was pulled down as unsafe.


Henfield Common Windmill in 1953


Henfield Common Windmill in 1954

The 1954 photo shows the remains of the last mill in Henfield.

Mike Ainscough August 2010

[1] Barwick, Alan, ed. Henfield through the lens of Marjorie Baker. Chichester, Phillimore, 2007

[2] Hemming, Peter. Windmills in Sussex. London, the C.W. Daniel Company Ltd., 1936

[3] Ibid.

My great grandfather, Clement Knight, was the Miller and Baker at the windmill in Henfield. I know he was there in 1881 living at Wakeland Villa (which still exists in Windmill Lane) in Henfield with ten of his eleven children but not there in the 1891 Census and in Brighton in 1901 aged 56 years working as a 'Traveller'. His second son, Herbert Joel Knight was born in Henfield in 1871 and his son Oscar was born in 1882 in Henfield so we can assume he was the Miller during this time. His eldest son Clement Ellis in the 1901 Census is a 32 year old 'Baker/Journeyman' living in Haywards Heath.

Clement's father, Joel, was born in Heathfield in 1811 and there was a big family of Knights living there and in Chiddingly around 1841. I see that three generations of Knights were running the windmill at Sandy Cross Post Mill in Heathfield. No doubt that's where Clement's experience came from.

Henfield Windmill in 1906  

Thomas Knight who was miller at Heathfield in 1851 had Thomas Ellis as a miller there. There is a connection with the Knights and the Ellis's. On the 1841 Census the Knights were farmers in Chiddingly including my great great grandfather Joel. Living with the family were Ellis's. Joel's grandson was Clement Ellis Knight.

Further information on Henfield Common Windmill

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