Snelling’s Mill

Snelling’s Mill is believed to be where Henry III’s brother Richard, Earl of Cornwall and German King (known as “King of the Romans”), took refuge during the Battle of Lewes. Here he was taunted by soldiers, asking if he was a king or a miller and eventually taken hostage. The incident gave rise to a popular satirical song implying that he had mistaken the mill for a castle.

What would the mill have looked like in 1264? Recent research, including dendrochronology, has established a few mills with posts dating to the early 1500s. In an article in Cornerstone, the magazine of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, mill expert Martin Watts says that tower mills – with the machinery within the fixed masonry shell, topped with a revolving cap carrying the sails – appeared before the end of the 13th century, so Snelling’s Mill could well have been of that design.

Watts also mentions the post mill in Nutley, also in East Sussex. The oak used for its post was felled at about the same time as that of Madingley mill (now located in Cambridgeshire) which is dendro dated as c1528. The SPAB magazine has several useful illustrations including ones that accord with post mill references already supplied. Ancient Machines for Living: Cornerstone, Volume 32 Number 2, 2011

Thanks to the Friends of Lewes, a plaque opposite the Black Horse Inn, Western Road, now marks the site of the mill.