Cross in Hand Mill

Cross in hand is a settlement in East Sussex just outside Heathfield. It is memorable firstly for its lovely and unusual name and also for its windmill.

My family first got a car in 1959 and it must have been soon after, no doubt on a visit to grandparents in Bexhill, that we drove past the mill and the sails (or sweeps) were turning. There followed a memorable time as my dad got permission for the family to visit what was still a commercial windmill doing the job it had been built for back in the 1850s and moved to the current site in 1868. It was, simply magnificent and made a huge impression on ten year old me.

Sadly, I don’t have a photo from then, so I’ll borrow one from The Mills Archive.

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This was actually quite early in the twentieth century, but it still looked the same in about 1960.

My grandparents knew of my interest, and from time to time sent me news cuttings. One made me laugh. That fantail, on the back of the mill turned the whole structure of the post mill so that the sails always faced the wind. Big metal wheels supported it and these, if my memory is correct, ran around a metal track set in the ground. On one occasion a wheel came to rest on the hairy end of a cow’s tail and the cow was trapped. Poor beast! I shouldn’t have laughed and I do not know now, how long it was until it was released.

Another news cutting was of a lightning strike which severely damaged one of the sails. It was removed, along with its opposite partner and the mill continued under reduced power.

The end came in 1969 and sadly, since then the mill has fallen into decay as my photos from September 8th 2014 will show.

This mill was called the New Mill because there had been an older one. The roundhouse still survives.

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It’s in use as a poultry feed place.

And now the mill.

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There it is, devoid of sails; devoid of glamour; devoid of beauty. It’s enough to make a grown man weep.

The ladder up the back of the mill no longer provides access. The fan tail – a wonderful bit of machinery – is no more.

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A wheel on the bottom of the ladder – not a cow catching wheel for that was one supporting the fantail itself.

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I pose, rather mournfully, with the mill I had known and loved.

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There is a family historyto the area.

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This little semi-detached cottage (photo taken in 2006) in Cross in Hand is an ancestral home. In 1891 my great great grandfather was there along with a whole swathe of children and grandchildren. Sadly, they had gathered for great great grandmother’s funeral.

But back in 1960, I had no idea of this and neither did my father.

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