Two familiar landmarks in Wealden have today been placed on a register in a bid to help save them and restore them to their former glory.
The Mint House in Pevensey and Cross in Hand Windmill have been included on this year’s Heritage at Risk Register, which identifies historic sites most at risk and most in need of safeguarding for the future.
Historic England works with owners, friends groups, developers and other stakeholders to find solutions for those historic places and sites across England which are ‘at risk’ of being lost as a result of neglect, decay or inappropriate development.
The Mint House, opposite Pevensey Castle, is a Grade II* listed building which contains medieval timbers taken from the hall of neighbouring Pevensey Castle.
The high-status 16th century hall is listed due to the high quality of the surviving timberwork including the roof structures, finishes, and the surviving wall paintings, decoration and carved panelling.
The Mint House has seen many uses over the years - occupied as a dwelling, used as a brew house and from the early 20th century it became a large antique shop, owned by Charles Henry Allen. In 1937, it was visited by Queen Mary who bought some antique furniture to be sent to Buckingham Palace.
Then, in the early 2000s, the site was sold off separately from the rest of the complex and The Mint House and its associated buildings stood vacant for a decade before being sold in 2018.
Historic England says water penetration is causing wet rot and deterioration of the timber frame and structural movement has caused further damage. The chimney has been removed as far as the eaves for safety, and further investigations and a comprehensive programme of repairs are now urgently necessary.
A newly formed charity, the Friends of Mint House is working to further understand the building, find a future use which will support the local community and fundraise for the much-needed repairs.
Harriet Tait, chair of trustees for the Friends of Mint House, said, “In April 2021, we formed the Friends group with the idea of conserving it for the future so that all visitors could once again share it, and lucky for us, we had a very understanding and supportive owner in Jason Rolf, who gave us custodianship of the building in August 2021 so that we could open it to the public. We continue to raise much-needed funds for its purchase and conservation.”
Councillors Pam Doodes and Ray Cade, who represent Pevensey at Wealden District Council, said, “The Mint House is a familiar landmark to so many residents and visitors and steeped in history.
“The inclusion of it on the Heritage at Risk Register can only be seen as a good thing as it has identified the historical importance of the building and the need to preserve it.
“The Friends of Mint House is working to further understand the building, find a future use which will support the local community and fundraise for the much-needed repairs. We are delighted that as a council we will be supporting this initiative and look forward to helping with the aim of the building being restored to its former glory.”
Cross in Hand Windmill, also a Grade II* listed building and known as New Mill, is on Mill Lane, Lewes Road, and was originally built at Framfield in 1806 but moved near to this site in 1855 before moving again to the exact site in 1868 with a two-storied roundhouse erected around it.
A lean-to was added to the roundhouse in 1900 to accommodate two further millstones powered by a steam engine. Repairs were carried out to the mill in the 1930s, 50s, 60s and finally in 2018.
Historic England says the mill, which has five floors and was one of the last remaining working corn mills in Sussex, has survived particularly well, including the weatherboarding and timber-framing to the buck, the machinery, and the roundhouse; the rare surviving internal machinery which remains in place, French burr stones, a bell alarm and sack hoist.
Councillor Ann Newton, who represents Framfield and Cross-in-Hand at Wealden District Council, said, “The windmill is a hugely important part of our landscape and its inclusion on the register will come as good news for those who have and continue to work to establish a meaningful dialogue with all the correct parties to halt its decline.”