STREAM MILL BRIDGE

STREAM MILL BRIDGE AT CHIDDINGLY

WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT
The Domesday book entry for Chiddingly reads in part:  "... and 1 miller rendering 4s."  [4s is 4 shillings, = 20p in present currency].  It has always been accepted that this refers to a watermill at "Stream" in the northern part of the Parish.  A stream and low-lying meadow has been impounded by a significant earth bank to provide water for the mill, and the overflow for this pond is taken through the earth bank, being passed over by a stone bridge, which in early days was probably made of timber.  The current bridge is made of stone; the date 1752 is carved on a central stone.  Because this old bridge is deemed unsafe, East Sussex County Council has built a safe wooden bridge directly over the old stone bridge, to carry the public bridleway. 

 

Pictures of the bridge before clearing scrub and trees, April 2006

BACKGROUND
The bridge is private property.  The situation is complicated by the fact that it carries a public bridleway over it.  Because the old bridge has been deemed unsafe to allow people to cross it ESCC has built a new wooden bridge over the old bridge, to enable safe passage.  A public footpath also leads from the south to the bridge.  Apart from these rights of way, the bridge and surrounding land are all privately owned (apart from a small strip to the south east between the public footpath and the stream) and are registered with the Land Registry.  The easiest way to locate the bridge, and look up details held at the Land Registry, is to use the Post Code of the area -   BN8 6HG  - and to use Streetmap and the Land Registry web site.

PROGRESS TO DATE
In 2005 Chiddingly Parish Council determined that the whole structure should be Listed (with the consent of the owner) so that it would be more probable that it would be rescued and restored rather than just allowed to collapse and be replaced with a modern structure.  English Heritage was involved and in due course, in Autumn 2005, it was duly Listed Grade II.

The English Heritage assessment October 2005

WORK DONE SO FAR
In 2006 Chiddingly Parish Council was granted an Awards for All grant of 5,000.  So in April 2006 this grant was used to obtain professional clearance of the bridge and immediate surrounding area.  This involved felling several large trees, and clearing a lot of scrub and ivy.  The trees needed felling because the roots were invading the stonework and prising it apart; already much damage has been done in this manner.

It was when clearing the ivy off the bridge that the date of 1752 was discovered; for a long time no-one had any real idea of when it was constructed.

East Sussex County Council, who is responsible for the bridleway over the bridge, contributed a further 2,500, and with this money and what was left over from the 5,000, the architect Stuart Page was contracted to survey the bridge and produce a report on its condition.  The survey, done in March 2007, is technical but can be viewed as a series of Acrobat pdf files:  a survey key (759Kb); the north elevation (1.8Mb); the south elevation (1.53Mb); the east section (1.28Mb) and the west section (1.06Mb).

OLD MAPS OF THE SITE
We know of  two maps. The first is on the Portsmouth University Website  and is a Yeakell and Gardner map of Sussex 1778-1783, 2inch to 1 mile. The impounded hammerpond to the north of the bridge is clearly marked.

The second is on the 1801-1803 Ordnance Survey surveyors drafts which can be accessed at the East Sussex Record Office in Lewes.

HISTORY OF THE SITE
William Chives, who lived in Chiddingly between about 60 - 100 years ago, wrote about Stream Mill and its surroundings (and a great deal more about the rest of Chiddingly).

CANNON-BORING BAR
This is on display at the Anne of Cleves House,  52 Southover High St., Lewes  BN7 1JA
Emma O'Connor, Museums Officer, Lewes Castle and Museums, writes (October 11 2011):
I understand from an article published in the journal of 'Post Medieval Archaeology' vol 9, 1975, Butler and Tebbutt, that the cannon-boring bar was given to the Sussex Archaeological Society in 1975
by the owners, a Mr and Mrs Hartley, of the site of Stream Mill.  They had previously found the bar about 1.5 feet deep in clay below the surface of the vegetable garden.  The vegetable garden was apparently 'just behind the surviving corn mill buildings'. 
 
The article explains that whilst a date for the tool can not be exactly determined it bears some resemblance to the cannon-boring tools of the 16th century, however further evidence suggests that
Stream Mill was in operation as a forge only in the 16th century, and that by 1650 a furnace had been added and was working to around 1663.  Butler and Tebbutt suggest that the bar dates from
the latter period.