Baron found hiding in a Brighton Windmill

Posted On 14 May 2017 at 9:02 pm

The Baron in Rottingdean Windmill

Everything came together perfectly this weekend! The weather cleared and the sun shone down on the Brighton and Sussex landscape. This allowed the hordes to venture out to see what they could discover and to lap up all of the culture on offer.

The Brighton and Hove News team was no exception. The amazing discovery of the weekend was that we have located a Baron hiding in a Brighton windmill. Not your everyday occurrence I grant you and so it’s well worth further investigation.

As we announced in a previous article, this weekend (13th and 14th May) was National Mills Weekend and so several Brighton area windmills and Sussex mills put on special events and were open to the public to take a step back in time and to experience the golden days of old. So we ventured to every windmill within the boundaries of Brighton and even a few beyond and we have photographic evidence to share with you.

Stoptober

One such windmill that was especially open was Beacon Mill that proudly sits atop Beacon Hill to the west of the village of Rottingdean. This three-storey smock mill has stood there for 215 years, but is still occasionally referred to as New Mill as it sits on the site of an earlier post mill. Beacon Mill ceased grinding corn in 1881, but thankfully has been maintained by the Rottingdean Preservation Society for all to enjoy.

The Barons work amongst the millstones

This mill is rarely open to the public and so it was a must on our list. As we arrived at the mill doorway, there standing inside was a Baron! We were most surprised by this. The Baron in question was actually the Firle based contemporary painter Baron Gilvan aka Chris Gilvan-Cartwright. The Baron had cleverly set up his artist studio within the darkened windmill and thus had created an outstanding bright exhibition area entitled Snowball Down a Mountain, which featured his magnificent paintings, drawings and animations which portray psychological dream-worlds through automatism and intuition. His raw, unflinching works of art are said to be portals between an inner and outer reality and thus exploring the dynamics of the imagination.

Rottingdean Smock Windmill

When The Baron was quizzed further, he revealed that he was in the mill as part of the Brighton Fringe Festival and would be there again on 20th, 21st, 27th and 28th May from 1pm to 4:30pm and everyone was welcome to come up and view his work and the inside of the historic windmill.

We then ventured over to Westdene to view the last true working windmill be be built in Sussex, namely Patcham Mill, which is also known as Waterhall Mill and Westdene Windmill. This is now a private residence, having been converted into a house in 1963 and not open to the general public. This 1885 built tower mill (that worked up until 1924) has fond memories for me personally as I could see it everyday from my house when I was a child. The windmill bug was obviously sown at a very young age.

Patcham Tower Windmill

We then ventured over into Holmes Avenue in Hove to see the magnificent West Blatchington Windmill and the fascinating museum of milling, which is contained within the barn that this hexagonal smock mill sits atop. The mill was built in the early 1820’s and ceased working in 1897, but the mills inner workings are thankfully still insitu and thus allows the visitor to understand exactly how a windmill works.

West Blatchington Smock Windmill

Someone has a great sense of humour at West Blatchington Mill

No trip on National Mills Weekend would be complete without a trip up the A23 to Clayton to see the country’s most famous windmills, namely Jack and Jill. We were very pleased to see that Simon Potter and his team had let the brake wheel off of Jill Mill (which is the white post mill) and so the sails were turning around just like all of the mills used to do when grinding corn. So as to not upset the Sussex and Kent windmill fraternity, I must make a note here to say that we locally do not usually refer to the arms of a windmill as sails, but in fact as sweeps. It’s probably something to do with them sweeping by as opposed to sailing by?

Jill Post Windmill

The hidden Duncton Mill Roundhouse

The new cap on top of Jack Mill

The white Jill mill was moved out of Brighton to its current site in 1852. Surprisingly, this was not as rare an event as it might seem. An amazing fact is however, that there is technically not two windmills on this site but actually three mills. The reason being that there is the roundhouse left of an earlier mill, known as Duncton Mill. This butts up right against the black tower mill known as Jack Mill (with its new cap) and both are located within a private residence and not open to the general public. There was a time when both Jill Mill and Duncton Mill worked together at the same time. This was up until 1864, but then the top half of Duncton was dismantled as the new Jack Mill was built.

Oldland Post Windmill

Looking north towards Keymer and Ditchling from the steps of Jill Mill you can clearly see in the distance a similar looking windmill known as Oldland Mill. So we had the calling to visit there too.

Our final mill encounter of the day was to the new six sweeper mock windmill known as Ashcombe Mill. This was recently specifically built on Kingston Down on the site of a mill lost in a gale 101 years ago. This new mill is a private residence with fantastic views.

Ashcombe mill is actually a house

For more information on Brighton and Sussex windmills visit:

www.sussexmillsgroup.org.uk/index.html

For further details about Baron Gilvan visit:

www.thebarongilvan.com

Models inside Blatchington Mill of the four different types of windmills

 

  1. Jan Hinchy Reply

    Fascinating run down. I think I mentioned at the Tuts gig I had a tea and cake once at the Jack or Jill Windmill. It’s en route when I was on my Mountain bike past the golf course years ago on the South Downs Way.

    • Nick Linazasoro Reply

      Tea and cake! You know how to live Jan 🙂

  2. Andrew Easton Reply

    A fascinating write up Nick! These amazing structures are simply passed by, by so many people everyday (like me), and are taken for granted. Little do we know what fantastic histories and stories lay beyond their wooden walls!

    • NICK LINAZASORO Reply

      Here! Here! Mr Easton.

  3. Norman Vener Reply

    Some 30 years back a taxi with a very old lady passenger was looking for the mill house located somewhere around the road I lived “Old Mill Close”. She claimed to be the Millers daughter who was born at the mill. Fortunately I did know the location of the house. History fascinating stuff.

    • NICK LINAZASORO Reply

      I have a sneaking suspicion that the mill was off of Old Ladies Mile Road near that secret twitten?

  4. Alan Yates Reply

    Hi Nick, it sounds as though you were very busy! It brought back many happy memories of seeing, and in some cases visiting, local windmills. Also a less happy one in that I fell from a horse while riding close very close to Rottingdean Windmill. I was briefly unconscious but re-mounted to descend into Rottingdean at which point I couldn’t remember how I got there. Luckily there were no long term effects – that I know of!

    • NICK LINAZASORO Reply

      Alan, I have heard of horses being spooked by the mills sweeps before. So I suspects that you were not the first or even last.

  5. mike mouse Reply

    a damn sight more attactive than the dozens of windmills in the channel! no tea and cake on offer out there!

    • NICK LINAZASORO Reply

      That would be a long way to row to just get tea and cakes! Best to stay on the land.

  6. Roberto Kennedy Reply

    What a treat to read about these rare landmarks. A really interesting read Nick. I know Simon P. Potter who runs Jill windmill very well and he is a thoroughly likeable chap who dedicates all his spare time into ensuring that she is open regularly to the public.

    • Nick Linazasoro Reply

      Yes sir Simon sure is a pleasant chap!

  7. The Baron Gilvan Reply

    Good to see you at the windmill Nick thanks for the article and drumming up interest , if you get a chance please pop by again. Ill be open next two weekends in May 20/21 and 27/28th . all welcome
    all the best The Baron

    • Nick Linazasoro Reply

      Hello Baron, I might just drop by on the final weekend. Thank you.

  8. Daniel Cammiade Reply

    So might i, this sounds like a wonderful exhibition in an evocative location. I very much looking forward to seeing the Baron and his work.

    • Nick Linazasoro Reply

      Hi Daniel, You have two more weekends to go and visit The Baron in the mill – enjoy!

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