Mill House

Mill Road History > Mill House

How old is the building?

Mill House is a large, 3-storey dwelling, just to the NW of the mill. I have been unable to find any conclusive documentary evidence to identify precisely the date of its construction. The house’s Historic England Grade II listing dates it to ‘circa 1830’.

Mill House, Lewes, 2019
Mill House, 2019

The house appears to be of late 18th or early 19th Century construction. The 1783 Yeakell & Gardner map of Sussex shows a building more or less on the site of Mill House, but it is not set back from the road and is more likely to have been a stable or a store of some kind. The First Series 1 inch Ordnance Survey (OS) map (1813) has an apparently larger building on the site, which might be Mill House and would be consistent with its having been built at the same time as the mill was substantially renovated in the 1810s. It looks, however, more like an outbuilding of the mill.

Extract of 1 inch OS Map, First Series, Lewes, 1813
1” OS Map, First Series, 1813 (extract)

A building in this position is depicted on William Figg’s map of 1824 (see page on Malling Windmill). This might be Mill House or a predecessor on roughly the same site. Certainty appears in the land tax assessment of 1832 with the first clear reference to ‘Mill House and Land’; and the later tithe apportionment (1844) refers to ‘House, Mill and Lands’.

From the time of its construction Mill House was the principal dwelling associated with Malling Mill. A stable block stood to the west of the house from at least the mid-19th Century to at least the late 1930s: it appears on the 1938 OS map but is absent from the version published in 1950. Mill House was inhabited continuously by the mill owners or head millers (often the same person) and their families until milling on the site ceased in the early 20th Century.

Malling mill and Mill House
Mill and Mill House, c 1900. Mills Archive

The house then became associated with the steam laundry, which stood on the site now occupied by the flats (numbers 1 to 11 Mill Road). By 1901 Mr Castle Leaver, later the first managing director of the Lewes Sanitary Steam Laundry Company, had bought the property from the baker and miller, Frank Stone. The transition from milling to laundry is apparent in the two heads of household who occupied the house at the time of the 1901 census: William Robins, miller and baker; and Edward Bishop, retired draper, the husband of Sarah, manageress of the laundry.

Malling mill soon after the fire, September 1908
Mill House immediately after the fire at the mill, 1908. Bob Cairns collection

Mrs Bishop was still renting the property from Castle Leaver at the time of the Valuation Office survey in December 1914, for an annual sum of £30. The survey records two rooms, a kitchen, scullery, larder and WC on the ground floor and four rooms on each of the first and second floors. It describes the house as in fair structural condition, with a market value of £570.

In November 1921 Castle Leaver sold the house, the mill, the laundry and accompanying land (about 2 acres in total) to the East Sussex Sanitary Steam Laundry Company for Thomas J. Frampton Carter£2700. Thomas J. Frampton Carter, the new Managing Director and Company Secretary lived at Mill House from 1921 until the late 1930s.[21] He was Mayor of Lewes from 1929 to 1931, which coincided with the 50th anniversary of the incorporation of the borough in 1881. A locally shot film shows the Mayor and Corporation attending a commemorative service at the Dripping Pan on 14th June 1931, having led a procession of more than 1000 people from Castle Banks, including the Town Band, the Fire Brigade, the British Legion and the Boy Scouts.

T. J. Frampton Carter, Mayor of Lewes 1929-1931, ESRO Ref P410/2/23

The government register, compiled on the outbreak of war in 1939, records the house as unoccupied.

The Company sold Mill House to their tenant, Alfred Woodward, for £2000 in December 1947. Woodward is described as a retired baker and confectioner. He died there in May 1950. His widow, Hettie, took over ownership and lived there until June 1986, when it was sold to Brian and Margaret Pointing for £71,650.[22]

Hettie Woodward was a remarkable character. She celebrated her 100th birthday at Mill House in 1984. In her youth she had travelled with her army family in Afghanistan, Ireland and India. She was a keen motor cyclist and driver from an early age, drove an ambulance during the Second World War but waited until the age of 88 before taking and passing the driving test. She married Alfred in 1913 and they lived at first in Ditchling, next door to Vera Lynn. She was distantly related to the actor, Donald Sinden, and took part in many amateur theatrical productions. She loved animals: one of the bedrooms in Mill House was dedicated to the recovery of injured birds, often several at a time.[23]

Hettie Woodward celebrates her 102nd birthday at Mill House in 1986. Photograph supplied by Monty Driver, neighbour

[21] Pike’s Directories.

[22] House deeds

[23] Evening Argus 9.4.1984. Conversation with neighbouring resident