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Jack and Jill Windmills is the popular name for a pair of 19th century windmills on a hill overlooking the village of Clayton, 7 miles north of Brighton. Surprisingly, they are also known as the Clayton Mills, the names ‘Jack and Jill’ being thought to date from day-trippers in the 1920s. In fact, there are the remains of three mills on the site.
Jill is a restored 19th century corn windmill, the restoration work being mostly undertaken by volunteers in their spare time. She is open to the public on limited days and run by the Jack and Jill Windmills Society, though owned by Mid Sussex District Council.
In fact, the first mill on the hill (so to speak) was Duncton Mill, constructed in 1765. This was demolished in 1866, with part of it remaining as a store, to be replaced by Jack. Jack is a tower mill, used to grind corn, and worked until the early part of the 20th century. It is now a private residence. Allegedly, a skeleton, dating from the Anglo-Saxon period, was found on the site in the 1920s, when the ground was being dug for a water tank.
Jill was originally Lashmar's New Mill, built in 1821 on the outskirts of Brighton. The land being required for development, in 1852 the mill was dismantled, the parts hauled up the hill and rebuilt on the current location.
Whether Jill is open or not, a visit to Jack and Jill Windmills is rewarding for the views over the Downs alone. The mills themselves are very photogenic too.
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