A windmill may have existed in what is now Windmill Hill as early as Elizabethan times, when a survey of the Castle estate mentions "Wyndmylhyll".

In 1769, the windmill was tenanted by one John Edwards, and the mill is on Yeakell and Gardner's map of 1783. In 1814 the old mill was pulled down and "an immense post mill with an enormous tailpole" was erected on the same site.

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The Windmill before restoration

Steam power was installed in 1894, but steam working ceased in 1913. (See Richard and Richard McDermott, The Standing Windmills of East Sussex [Betford Publications, n.d.], 61.)  There is a Windmill Hill Windmill Trust and a preservation society, the Friends of the Windmill Hill Windmill. To see the Trust's website, CLICK HERE.

In December 2001, the Heritage Lottery Fund contributed 577,000 towards the restoration. "The windmill has now been dismantled and taken to the millwrights' for repair. Photographs of the roof coming off are now on the website."  To see's webpage on the Windmill Hill Windmill, CLICK HERE

The School House in Windmill Hill appears originally to have been built in the early Seventeenth Century as a farmhouse. It was purchased in 1766 by Edward Allfree, who founded there a school which had the distinction of being the first co-educational boarding school in Britain - pre-dating by some 125 years the founding of Bedales which currently lays claim to that title.

Allfree had previously been a surveyor and draughtsman, and these subjects took a prominent place in the boys' curriculum. His wife Elizabeth taught the girls needlework, music and French. The experiment proved an immediate success, and over 40 children were registered at any given time as boarders, along with many local day pupils. The school was renowned for its extravagant balls, intended as recruitment drives, and for its excellent food, which earned it the title of "Gluttony Hall". In 1777, fees for girls were 13 guineas - "tea and sugar included" - while boys paid 16 guineas, which included special tuition for university entrance.

The school flourished into the 1850s under the direction of Allfree's eldest son. Afterwards it passed through a succession of hands until competition from the free local church schools  led to its closure at about the time of the First World War. The Allfree dynasty continued for many years elsewhere, however, as five of Edward Allfree's 14 children went on to found schools in their own right.

Little physical evidence remains now of the school's activities, but in the County Records Office at Lewes there survives an exercise book which bears witness to the excellent standards of draughtsmanship practised by the boys under Allfree's tutelage.



brief history of Herstmonceux
Herstmonceux Parish
- vignettes from  Parish Council minutes
the name "Herstmonceux"
the Hundred of Foxearle
Herstmonceux Castle
History of Herstmonceux Castle
The Royal Greenwich Observatory at Herstmonceux
Herstmonceux Castle today
The Science Centre & Discovery Park
The Isaac Newton Observatory Trust plans

Herstmonceux CE Primary School
All Saints Church
Cowbeech village: history & environment
Gardner Street
small houses and cottages
The Met Office in Herstmonceux
village conservation area & South East in Bloom Competition
Sussex trug baskets
the Steam House (Lime Park)

Wealden Local Plan 1998 for Herstmonceux
population of the Parish
listed buildings in the Parish
protected trees in the Parish
19th Century Photographs

Windmill Hill
The Windmill Hill Windmill
The Allfree School

more about Herstmonceux history & environment
Herstmonceux & Wartling Research Group

Varengeville-sur-Mer (Normandy)


SUSSEX VILLAGES: interesting links and features of Herstmonceux in East Sussex