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The redevelopment of a house within a former windmill complex has inspired a remarkable contemporary home with striking interiors. John Goodall reports, photographs by Will Pryce. The pair of windmills at Clayton, known today windmills as Jack and Jill, are prominent local landmarks that enjoy sussex views across the Sussex Downs.

Ever since they ceased operating commercially soon afterthe windmills and their associated sheds and cottages have been occupied by people drawn to their unusual architecture and this dramatic sussfx. Another chapter in this century of domestic occupation has just begun with the completion of a project by Featherstone Young Architects FYAbegun into modernise and expand a house at the site.

A windmill is first documented at Clayton in a lease of September It was a post mill, that is to say, the structure and mechanism was supported and rotated to face the wind on a central, supporting post. In this case, the ground floor of the timber mill was skirted in brick. In the s, the tenant miller of Duncton Mill, James Mitchell, also purchased a post mill that had been overtaken by the growth of nearby Brighton; new buildings had literally taken the wind from its windmikls.

According to the testimony of an old shepherd inthe frame of sussex mill, complete with its 18ft-long central post, was dragged five miles to Clayton on a great sledge; the horses initially harnessed to it proved unreliable, so were substituted by steadier and more reliable oxen.

Inthe original year lease on Duncton Mill expired and, two years later, its superstructure was dismantled. The brick skirting, however, was windmillls as a storage area for a new susswx also begun by Mitchell, the present-day Jack.

This was placed close to its defunct predecessor, Duncton, so as to take advantage of the slightly higher and better situation that it enjoyed relative to Jill. All three mills, however, stood in a straight line running roughly east-west. A fan attached to this cap turns the sails of the mill sussex the wind.

Its machinery is believed to have been installed by the Henfield millwright, William Cooper. By then, the two operating mills formed part of a small industrial complex with two small cottages built between them, as well as a granary and delivery bay. Fromthe management of the mills was assumed by two brothers, Joseph and Charles Hammond. Charles installed a mechanism in Jack for controlling the speed of the sweeps, which he sussex in At about this time, the windward face of Jack was also plated in iron to protect it from the weather.

Photographs show that, in aboutthe mill also assumed its distinctive modern livery, with moving elements, such as the cap and sails, painted white and the fixed elements, including the tower, painted black. Windmills only were there other, more reliable sources of power to grind corn, oats and peas, but the costs of carrying materials to and from them was increasingly prohibitive. Gradually, the windmills that had become such a feature of the Sussex Downs began to cease operating and, in about orJack and Jill likewise fell idle.

Both continued to be maintained, however, and windmills respectively repaired after storm damage in sissex In the meantime, for three summers between andauthor and archaeologist Edward Martin rented Jack as a summer windmills. He had known the mills since childhood and wrote an account of his time here windmills Life in a Sussex Windmill By contrast, many other mills in the area began to fall into ruin, destroyed by the very element they had once harnessed.

According to the published memoirs of the owner who succeeded them in the s Henry Longhurst, the shssex correspondent of The Timesthe retired captain had been frustrated in his wish to retire to a lighthouse and had settled on a windmill instead. Whatever the truth of this, the Ansons subsequently purchased the property outright in Photographs show that, during the First World War, the granary was used as a factory for the manufacture of aeroplane wondmills.

Possibly in conjunction with this industrial use, the milling machinery was stripped out of Jack. Thereafter, the pair of single-storey cottages, the granary, the decommissioned windmill and the remains of Duncton Mill connected to Jack by a tunnel were integrated to form a single rambling property. Capt Anson died soon after the war, but his widow lived on in the house for a quarter of a century.

Probably in the s, she also established the beginnings of a garden around the mill. Before this date, photographs show the buildings set in a sea of grass without any surrounding trees or planting. A few years later, suwsex some improvements, the Longhursts contemplated selling.

It was the arrival of electricity, however, that determined them to stay. They immediately commissioned a new house from local architect Peter Farley and demolished the windmills cottages to make way for it.

After the fashion of the moment, Farley created a two-storey box with a central stair. The bedrooms were at ground level and the living rooms elevated onto the first floor to take advantage of the views. This windmillx was completed in The huge challenge of maintaining the mills proved beyond the financial means of sussex Longhursts, however, and, inthey placed Jill in the care of Cuckfield Rural District Council. A similar agreement was established in wnidmills Jack although it was later renegotiated.

Inrepair and maintenance of both mills was placed in the hands of the Jack and Jill Windmills Society. The society continues to thrive, operating Jill and opening it to the public. The story of the present redevelopment of Jack, its granary and s house is an unusual one.

Impressed by other examples of their domestic work, the present owners commissioned FYA in to find an interesting building in striking distance of London to convert into a windmills holiday house.

Sussex unexpected, but crucial decision in this redevelopment was that the s house, or at least its shell, should be sussex when demolition and replacement would probably susssx have been windmills. In the case of Jack, this was partly to accommodate the interest of the mill society in showing the building to the public and perhaps, one day, restoring its machinery.

To help draw the design together, therefore, FYA created a notional axis through the site defined by the alignment of the three mills. This axis is given architectural emphasis by a series of additions that project along it. It is also visually underscored by windmills lines and the differentiated use of colour and materials. The new house is approached through a small courtyard enclosed to either side by the s house and granary. There are facing entrances to the two buildings that stand on the sussex axis and both are emphasised with over-sailing additions faced in steel plates.

These additions are modern evocations of windmill towers on the line of the originals. Drilled through the covering steel plates are patterns suggesting a scattering of chaff in the prevailing wind. The front door of the house opens into the central hall, which now has glazed walls to the front and back offering glimpses of Jack and Jill along the axis of the site.

A series of bedrooms and bathrooms open off the hall and it accommodates a new stair designed in a s idiom with Iroko wood treads. This rises up the full height of the building to a new rooftop sitting room within the turret addition, which also offers axial views. It rises directly into a wussex kitchen and living room created along one side of the first floor.

The kitchen and room fittings have also been designed by FYA and evoke the qindmills and forms of the early s. The granary now forms a guest wing to the main house, with two large ground-floor rooms and bedrooms windmills. Its original timber-frame structure with shutter boarding had undergone repeated and far-reaching changes during more than a century of sussex as an industrial building. Rather than attempt a restoration, therefore, it was suussex to encase what remained of its incomplete, and incoherent, historic fabric within a windmilos structure made of modern industrial materials: glulam framing, chipboard and polished concrete.

This particular combination of sussex highlights the very qualities that make this project special: Jack Mill House is both a work of contemporary architecture and a restoration project. Not only that, but the agendas that go with these often distinct types of commission have enriched each other, rather than fruitlessly competed. Visit www. For details of Jill Windmill, visit www. Home Architecture. Top story. Christmas drinks gift guide: Seasonal spirits to bring good cheer.

A Grade I-listed house so big it should probably be measured in acres rather than square feet.

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Mill Societies and owners of Sussex Windmills are invited to contact us with their website address and/or text and photographs for inclusion on our website. The redevelopment of a house within a former windmill complex has inspired a remarkable contemporary home with striking interiors. Information about windmills in West Sussex from West