Mill Road Summary

This is a brief summary of what I have been able to find out so far about Malling Windmill, Mill House, the Steam Laundry, Malling Hill Villas, and the modern houses and chalk pits:

Malling Windmill

The windmill, its outhouses and associated dwellings were the only buildings in what is now Mill Road until the early 20th Century. Milling corn was undertaken on this site for more than 300 years from at least the late 16th to the early 20th Centuries.

I have a more or less complete record of who owned the mill and the millers who worked it from 1595 through to the early 20th Century. I have found references to substantial renovations and alterations made in the 1810s, when an upper storey was added to the roundhouse, and again in 1852, probably by the firm of Samuel Medhurst, millwrights of Lewes.

The last miller to work the site, from around 1887, was Frank Stone, baker and confectioner of Lewes, who was living at Mill House at the time of the 1891 census. By early 1902 the mill, house and land had passed into the ownership of Mr Castle Leaver, proprietor of the Lewes (later East Sussex) Sanitary Steam Laundry, which occupied the corner site at the bottom of Mill Road, where the flats now stand.

I have found newspaper reports of a series of accidents at the mill in the 19th century and of the fire that destroyed it in September 1908.

Malling Mill fire 1908
(Left) Fire destroyed the Mill on 8 September 1908. Image reproduced with permission from the Weald and Downland Living Museum – click to enlarge
(Right) Malling Mill after the fire. Image reproduced with permission from Bob Cairns, Lewes: the Postcard Collection – click to enlarge

In 1925 the remains of the mill were converted into a single-storey dwelling, further alterations and additions followed in 1985 and an upper floor was added in 2014.

Malling Mill 2019
Malling Mill, 2019 © Chris Taylor

Mill House

Mill House was built in the late 18th or early 19th Century. It appears on a map of the district made by William Figg in 1824. The wording of contemporary land tax assessments suggests that it might have been built in around 1770, but it is also possible that it was built at the same time as the mill itself was substantially renovated in the 1810s.

Malling Windmill and Mill House from The Wallands, c. 1858-1868
Malling Windmill and Mill House from the Wallands, c. 1858-1868
Cropped i
mage reproduced with permission of Sussex Archaeological
Society Ltd. (Click to enlarge)

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.

The house then became associated with the steam laundry, which stood at the bottom of Mill Road, where the flats now stand. Mrs Bishop, the laundry manageress, her family and two laundry workers lived there at the time of the 1901 and 1911 censuses.

Thomas J. Frampton CarterThomas J. Frampton Carter (left), laundry Managing Director and Company Secretary lived at Mill House from 1921 until the late 1930s. He was Mayor of Lewes from 1929 to 1931.



Image reproduced with permission of East Sussex Record Office, copyright reserved. P/410/2/2. (Click to enlarge)

Another long-term resident (1947 – 1986) was Mrs Hettie Woodward, who drove ambulances during the war, lived to the age of 102 and waited until she was 88 before taking a driving test.

The Steam Laundry

In September 1891 the Malling miller, Frank Stone, applied successfully to the Borough of Lewes for permission to build a flour mill and bakery on the empty site on the corner of Mill Road and the main highway, where the flats now stand. Later it included a baker’s and confectioner’s shop.

In 1899 Stone proposed a company to establish a steam laundry on a 2-acre site comprising the 1891 flour mill building and an adjoining field, together with stabling and the right to take water from a well at the Mill. By 1903 the Lewes (later East Sussex) Sanitary Steam Laundry Company had been established. Receiving offices in Malling Street collected laundry and horse-drawn vans called to collect direct from customers throughout the towns of the district.

Lewes Steam Laundry staff
The numerous laundry staff outside the premises, with Mr Frampton Carter, centre. Undated photograph 1920s. Reproduced with permission of East Sussex Record Office, copyright reserved. AMS 6871/1/3 folio 27r

The Laundry building was destroyed by fire in the early morning of 18 January 1941, after which the site stood empty for several years. At some point, which I have as yet been unable to identify precisely, it passed into the possession of Lewes Borough Council. The Council demolished the remains of the buildings and levelled the site in 1950, following a complaint about its poor condition.

Malling Hill Villas

Alfred Grieves, a builder with premises at 142 High Street, Lewes, bought the land on which the villas stand in 1901 from Mr Castle Leaver, managing director of the Lewes Sanitary Steam Laundry Company.

Malling Hill plots 1901
Advertisement for freehold lots for sale, 1901. Mill Road is referred to as ‘Old Ringmer Road’. Plan reproduced with permission of East Sussex Record Office, copyright reserved. ACC 5500/1/171 (Click to enlarge)

The houses were erected by 1903: a shares prospectus for the laundry company in that year refers to their inhabitants as a likely source of laundry workers. The houses were known as 1-17 Malling Hill Villas until they were re-numbered 13-45 Mill Road in the 1920s. Lots 1 to 15 became what is now the terrace comprising 17 to 45 Mill Road. The houses now numbered 13 and 15 Mill Road were built on Lots 16 and 17 on the opposite side of the access lane, nearest to the mill.

At the time of the 1911 census 16 of the 17 villas were occupied, providing homes to a total of 74 people, an average of 4.6 per dwelling. Perhaps the most interesting household was at Number 3 (21 Mill Road), comprising an actress in a portable (travelling) theatre company, her son, daughter and niece; and a husband and wife, both actors. The scattered birthplaces of the children (Aberdeen, Birmingham and Maidenhead) indicate the itinerant nature of the adults’ profession.

I have a fairly complete record of occupiers of the villas up to the early 2000s but not much idea of who owned them. Any further information about any of the villas and their owners/ occupiers would be gratefully received.

Mill Road Modern Houses and Chalk Pits

Numbers 2 to 32 Mill Road

Building began on the left hand side of Mill Road in the 1920s. In September 1926 East Sussex County Council submitted plans to Lewes Borough for two pairs of cottages ‘for the housing of county roadmen’. These houses (the present 2 to 8 Mill Road) were known first as numbers 1 to 4 County Cottages, originally numbering down the hill.

Plans for numbers 10 to 26 Mill Road were submitted by private individuals and approved by the Council in 1931 and 1932. They were all originally referred to by house names:

Spithurst (26 Mill Road)
Erzanmyne (24 Mill Road)
Wendy (22 Mill Road)
Thiseldo (20 Mill Road)
Cresswell and Wyndgates (16 and 18 Mill Road)
Dorarth and South Winds (12 and 14 Mill Road)
Sunny Brae (10 Mill Road)

In early September 1939, at the outbreak of war, the government compiled a National Register of all properties and their occupants. At four of the houses in Mill Road (numbers 10, 12, 16 and 22) the list of residents includes children with surnames different from the adults living there. Is it possible that these children were among the very first wartime evacuees?

Number 28 (Roman Way) first appears as occupied in the electoral register for 1979; number 30 (Crickets) and number 32 in the 1993 register.

Chalk pits and lime kilns

Mill Road leads to Malling Hill, where chalk pits and lime kilns are marked on all OS maps from 1873.

I have yet to make any progress in understanding the nature, scale and dates of these industries and I’d be particularly grateful for any information about them.