Vine's Mill

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Vine's Mill' page

Situated on the present day corner site of Clifton Hill and east-side Powis Villas

By Steve Myall

Vine’s Mill, probably built by 1808, was taken over by William Vine (1782-1836) in August 1818. The Sussex County Magazine suggests that he had seen the mill advertised for auction on July 20th of that year. In Verrall & Son's auction description the mill was 'lately new and in full trade'. The accompanying dwelling house, now 1 Vine Place and called Rose Cottage today, was included in the sale. This watercolour (illustrated above) is by Henry Bodle, one of Vine’s sons-in-law, and was painted in 1843, shortly after Vine’s widow had sold the mill to Edward Cuttress (the original Forfars business today). The scene is looking east and shows the wide part of what became Clifton Hill, just as the road narrows to pass between the Vine land on the south and the Church Hill School House estate on the north side. This picture of Vine’s Mill was owned by a direct descendent of William Vine, Mrs. Vine Molony who lives in Australia.  She has since donated it, with other Vine pictures, to Brighton Museum.

The windmill historian H.E.S. Simmons is the principal historical source on Brighton windmills, and he records that the mill was built towards the end of 1806, probably for a Mr. Weller of Chichester, who only held it for a little while. The only other recorded tenant was a Mr. Wood, who worked it for a short time, but there are no other tenants known up to the auction date. Having bought the mill late in the summer of 1818, Mr. Vine put a notice in the Sussex Weekly Advertiser of October 18th 1819 – ‘Wanted, a serious man, as a Grinder, who perfectly understands the management of a wind Mill in all its departments’. The Brighton Herald of January 19th 1828 reported ‘Considerable damage to buildings by a hurricane on Sunday morning. One of the swifts was blown from Mr. Vine’s Mill on the Church hill’. That must have been an exciting day for the inmates of the Workhouse, Mr. Vine’s windmill sail may well have landed in their grounds.

After William Vine's death in 1836, his wife Mary continued to work the mill, with her youngest child and only son James, until about 1842. The 1841 census shows Mary and son James living at 1 Vine Place, together with John Henley and his wife Esther, and their baby Esther Henley.

The site of Vine’s Mill was just behind the gardens of 6 and 7 Powis Villas, on the south western corner of the small staff car park for the Children’s Hospital, which area has since been developed for residential use. In Bodle’s picture there is a flint-stone wall on the left, and this still stands in the front  garden of 22 Clifton Hill. The brick wall that extends to the right from the base of the mill is the land boundary that established the position of Powis Villas, and the low roofs with chimneys seen just to the left of the mill are the cottages now in Vine Place.

This page was added on 15/04/2011.

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