STREAM MILL BRIDGE AT CHIDDINGLY
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English Heritage assessment October 2005, when being considered for Listing.
The bridge at Chiddingly in its present form dates from the late C18 or early C19. [We now know there is an inscribed date on the bridge of 1752.] However, its historical significance goes back to the C15 and C16 when a bridge on this site, possibly with elements remaining in the present bridge, was associated with a forge and cannon boring ironworks at the nearby mill. The bridge and mill are integrally linked, and the grooves for sluice gates to control the flow of water from the millpond are visible on the north bridge supports.
The bridge has some repair in the C19 to its supports, visible as inserted brick courses, but is essentially intact. The bridge has group value with the nearby listed C17 or earlier Stream Farmhouse and Barn, which has C16 and C17 elements. The Old Bridge at Steam Mill is considered to be of sufficient architectural or historic interest to merit listing.
DESCRIPTION: The keystone and arch is of ashlar. Parapet of wooden posts. Brick buttresses of probable early C19 type bonding. The deck of the bridge is of slag with stone protruding from the surface. Spillway on south side constructed of stone and brick. The bridge is closely associated with the operation of the nearby mill and has the grooves of a sluice gate on the stone blocks of its north side, by which it regulated the water flow from the mill pond. The track over the bridge is the major bridle way through the village with links to the Weald and the Vanguard Way.
HISTORY: The bridge is closely associated with a mill which lies about 100m to its south east. On the north side of the bridge supports are the slots for sluice gates to control the flow of water from the mill pond, showing that the bridge dates at least from the time of the working mill. The mill, in turn, is associated with iron working on the site. It is first mentioned in the Doomsday Book. and iron working on the site dates from C15, when it was controlled by the Elphic family who were listed in documentary sources as 'iron masters'. In the mid 1500s the iron works passed to the French family, who were also 'iron masters', and is again mentioned in early C17 in the ownership of James Lullham. Canon boring took place in the Tudor period south of the bay near the mill. The mill was originally a hammer mill for the iron works, but by the early 1800s the iron working had ceased, and the mill became a corn mill
SUMMARY OF IMPORTANCE: The bridge is significant as a well preserved late C18 - early C19 bridge, with an intact spillway, and as an integral part of the working of the nearby corn mill. Potential earlier fabric in the bridge gives it additional interest, as it ties the bridge to earlier uses of mill for iron working. The bridge also has group value with the nearby listed, C17 or earlier. Stream Farmhouse, and Barn, which has C16 and C17 elements.
The bridge is now Listed Grade II
SOURCES: H Cleere and D Crossley, The Iron Industry of the Weald (1985).