Polegate Windmill (Ovenden Mill)
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
Tucked into the middle of a modern housing estate in the East Sussex town of Polegate is an early 19th-century windmill, now restored to working order.
Polegate Windmill (alternately known as Mockett's Mill or Ovenden Mill) was moved to its present site from Willingdon in 1817.
This four-storey brick tower mill operated until 1943 when it was converted from wind power to electricity. After conversion, it ran on an auxiliary engine and then on an electric motor.
Construction is of red brick with a tiled upper section and a metal sheet cap.
The mill ceased operation in 1965 and lay derelict for many years until it was rescued by the Eastbourne and District Preservation Trust. The mill was restored to working order and is now open to visitors for specific days throughout the year.
There are guided tours on open days and exhibits covering the history of milling. In the grounds is an old windshaft, brought here from Caldbec Hill Smock Mill near Battle. Caldbec Hill is one of the sites suggested by historians as the actual site of the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
The mill has a domed cap operated by a fantail, and a stage at first-floor level. It has four patent sails driving two millstones and a further set of millstones driven by an auxiliary engine. The mill was built with four sails but was converted to use six sails in the Victorian period. The modern restoration, however, has reverted to four sails.
The mill tower stands 45 feet high and is listed Grade II* by Historic England for its heritage interest.
According to online sources, five millers are known. These are, in order:
Joseph Seymour 1817 – 1857
Mathias Mockett 1857 – ?
Ephraim Ovenden 1918 – ?
Albert Ovenden ? – 1965
Finding Polegate Windmill can be difficult if you are coming from the west, but relatively straightforward if you approach from the east. The mill is located in the middle of a housing estate and there seems to be a dearth of signage until you get quite close to the site.
The easiest way to get to the mill is off Eastbourne Road (the A2270). Turn onto The Thatchings, take the right-hand fork, and then immediately turn left onto Park Croft. Be aware that, when we visited, this turning was not signposted.
The mill stands down an alley just past 23 Park Croft, opposite Windmill Place. There is no dedicated parking but we found it easy to park along Park Croft.
Don't mistake this windmill for a similar historic mill just outside Polegate at Stone Cross, about two miles to the east.
About Polegate Windmill
Address: Park Croft, Polegate, East Sussex, England, BN26 5JX
Attraction Type: Historic Building
Location: Off Eastbourne Road (A2270) on Park Croft. No dedicated parking.
Website: Polegate Windmill
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest
Michelham Priory - 3.6 miles (Abbey)
Redoubt Fortress & Military Museum - 3.7 miles (Museum)
Alfriston, St Andrew's Church - 3.8 miles (Historic Church)
Alfriston Clergy House - 3.8 miles (Historic Building)
Upper Dicker, Holy Trinity Church - 4 miles (Historic Church)
Eastbourne Heritage Centre - 4.1 miles (Museum)
Pevensey Castle - 4.1 miles (Castle)
Friston, St Mary's Church - 4.1 miles (Historic Church)
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