Nutley is one of the best preserved of the eighty or so surviving windmills in Sussex, and is situated just north of the Nutley to Duddleswell Road. The mill is thought to have been brought to Ashdown Forest from Goudhurst in Kent. The mill is 300 years old, constructed of wood. She pivots on a beam and is one of only five of her type in the country. This type of mill is known as an open-trestle post mill.
The mill was restored to full working order in the early 1970s by the Nutley Preservation Society. The work gained an Architectural Heritage Year Award in 1975. She is now managed by the Uckfield and District Preservation Society and is open on the last Sunday of each month from June to September inclusive between 2.30 and 5.30 p.m.
A dendro-chronology (tree ring dating) examination by Dr Martin Bridge of the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, has shown that the oak post of the Mill has an outer ring dating to 1529. Tar penetration makes it difficult to determine sapwood, but from appearances, the outside of the tree is probably present. Dr Bridge is unable at present to give a precise felling date but states that the middle of the 16th century would not be at all unreasonable for this single timber. Would this make Nutley Windmill not only the oldest windmill, but the oldest working windmill in the country?
The only other timber dated was the front cross-support timber of the buck. This had an outside ring dating to 1738 – with some sapwood. Posts were obviously used again and again and many may be much older than realised. It would be interesting to know just how many 16th century posts there are in the country.
I have been provided with information about various Sussex windmills from Simon Potter who runs a brilliant site about Sussex Mills.
More information on this and other wind and water mills may be found on the excellent Windmill World site.
Check out my other windmill photographs in my Windmill Album.
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Photographs © Mark Collins 2006
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