Archaelogists find 18th Century windmill in Crowborough

Archaeologists appointed to examine the site of a residential development in Crowborough have found the base of the old windmill that gave Mill Lane its name.

The former car park and woodland has been cleared in advance of 68 houses and flats being built on the site.  As the site lies within an Archaeological Notification Area, an archaeological survey was a condition of planning consent.

Beacon Mill was built c1782 and first appears on Gardner & Gream’s 1795 Map of Sussex.  It burnt down between 1940 and 1944 and the site was cleared in 1968.

It was originally painted white, but later tarred black.  Photos in the Mills Archive show the preserved windmill without sails, but with a “Belvedere” or viewing platform and a flagpole.  Malcolm Payne and Luther Batchelor’s 1987 book “Bygone Crowborough” also says at around that time teas were sold in the roundhouse at the bottom.

Archaeologists from University College London have excavated part of the footprint on the edge of Mill Lane, the rest will be preserved under an area of retained trees.

Paul Mason, Archaeology South-East said:

We found an artificial mound that was created prior to the construction of the windmill, with the stone foundations of the mill cut into it. Also a curving wooden runner, maybe for a fantail. The recorded 18th century date for the mill’s construction was supported by the archaeological evidence.

The excavation finished last week.  In due course a report will be published.  In the meantime you can read the Scheme of Archaeological Evaluation and view old photographs on the Mills Archive.

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