William Vine

Photo:Portrait of William Vine about 1830

Portrait of William Vine about 1830

reproduced by permission of Vine Malony

Photo:Pages from William's meteorological diary "Wheathers"

Pages from William's meteorological diary "Wheathers"

photocopy of original held at East Sussex Records Office

Photo:Painting of the Mill by Henry Bodle, William's son-in-law, 1843

Painting of the Mill by Henry Bodle, William's son-in-law, 1843

reproduced by permission of Vine Malony

The honest miller

By Stephen Henley

Vine Place, a small lane behind Clifton Terrace, was named after William Vine, who lived in the cottage at 1 Vine Place (still standing) and who owned and operated a windmill in the fields behind, from 1818 until his death in 1836.


William Vine was born in Heathfield, East Sussex in 1778. His father was also a William Vine, and his mother, Mary Fitsell.

William married Mary Bradford on 23 May 1803, in Willingdon, under licence from the Lewes Archdeaconry -- this was the normal practice for nonconformists, who were not allowed to marry in their own churches at that time. (William was a very devout Particular Baptist, and later became an elder of the Salem Chapel, which formerly stood in Bond Street, Brighton.)

In the years up to 1813, William worked at Windoor or Windover Mill, Wilmington, Sussex, which is where his first two children, Sarah and Mary were born. While at Wilmington, he kept a detailed meteorological diary entitled “Wheathers", in which he also made drawings, and -- on the page shown here -- what appears to be a poem.

By 1813 William and Mary had moved to Brighton where he bought Patcham windmill. Then in 1818 he took over the mill near St Nicholas Church which became known as Vine's Mill. William himself described the place in these words:

William Vine on the Church Hill
Just by the side of a wind mill
The Dwellings neat and fenced around
Its inmates Dwell on mercys Ground

At a time when millers were not always known for their honesty, and it was all too easy to adulterate the flour, William built an enviable reputation for straight dealing.   

William continued to work this mill until his death in September 1836, when his widow, Mary, and their son James took over and continued to work it for a few years. Then management of the mill was taken over by Edward Cutress, who acquired the mill and land, and continued to operate the mill until it was demolished in 1850.

Vine's Mill was painted by William's son-in-law Henry Bodle in 1843, and it was also the subject of several paintings by John Constable.

It was long thought that the mill used to stand on the site of the staff car park of the old Royal Alexandra Children's Hospital. However, Steve Myall, who has published a book on the development of this area of Brighton, has discovered that it actually stood on the corner of  Powis Villas and Powis Grove, where the gardens of the semi-detached houses of 6 and 7 Powis Villas now are.



This is a shortened version of an article that Stephen Henley wrote for CMPCA News no.12. The original article contains more details of William Vine's family history, and the stories of some of his descendents. Stephen is a great-great-grandson of John Henley, tailor, and Esther, William Vine's youngest daughter, who married in 1838, a year after William Vine's death. Although born in London and now living in Derbyshire, he has always been aware of the Brighton connection, and there are many Vine and Henley descendants who still live in the city or close by.


To find out more about William Vine, see www.williamVine.net. For more information about the mills and millers of Brighton, see H T Dawes' book "The Windmills and Millers of Brighton".


This page was added on 02/11/2010.

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