Sussex Mills Group

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My last article described the real photograph postcard of Earnley Mill from about 1905. This time I will describe a real photograph card I bought cheaply because it was an unidentified windmill. It has no place name on it at all and it is not postally used so there is no postmark to give a possible clue as to its location. It has no manufacturer’s mark other than the reference letter "A" on the back. The card attracted me as it showed a smock mill with a Kentish cap that probably stood in Kent, East Sussex or East Surrey. There are several very distinctive features about the mill and after a short search I was able to identify it as Staplecross, East Sussex, finally basing my identification on Plate 146 in Brunnarius "The Windmills of Sussex". I have two other postcards of Staplecross but both of these and the Brunnarius photograph were taken from the road, which ran up past the mill. My real photograph postcard was taken from just inside a yard opposite the mill and the road can just be seen in the foreground. There appears to be an oast house to the right of this yard. Staplecross Mill is an eight sided, white painted smock mill (not black as given in Brunnarius) with a stage, a Kentish cap, eight bladed fantail and double shuttered patent sweeps, the striking gear of which, a modified Kentish lever mechanism, can be seen at the rear of the cap. The smock body stands on a two storey square brick base with brick built wings on either side. The stage, supported from the mill base by angled struts, is just slightly above these buildings. It has a handrail supported by struts from the protruding ends of the floor beams and by diagonal braces. The buildings under the stage have several sash windows, one double door and one large door. The right hand part appears to be in use as a house or possibly a shop with a separate access door. There are three people on the stage, two of these are dressed in long aprons and flat white (sailor type) hats. One of these men is proudly carrying his son or daughter who is wearing a dress and has long hair. The wall under the stage is covered with advertisements among which can be read "Molassine Meal for all Animals", "Molassine Dog and Puppy Cakes, Different from all Others" and "Kositos Cooked Maize, Best Animal Feed". The date stone, which according to Brunnarius is inscribed with the mark "TM 1815" (TM being Thomas Martin, the millwright), can be seen but it is not possible to read the inscription. This good quality postcard must date from well before 1916, the year in which Staplecross ceased to work. By 1936, Staplecross Mill was becoming derelict (Hemming) and in 1951, the smock body was pulled over. The windshaft was salvaged and was installed at Punnetts Town Mill. By 1979, the brick base had been converted to a house.

The final comment on this postcard must be from the point of view of a deltiologist. Now that the windmill shown on it has been identified, the postcard is more valuable as a record of local history than when I purchased it. It is also now a card with an enhanced monetary value although, to me, this is of little importance as I have no intention of selling this or any other card in my collection.


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Last modified: January 12, 2019