There is a working mill today, at Kingston near Lewes, but it isn’t the Kingston Windmill.

There are lots of paths in Kingston, but some of them don’t go anywhere.

Why is this?

The village of Kingston near Lewes is historically a farming village.  During the 1970s it became a place to live for many staff at Sussex University and, apparently, a hotbed of partner swopping.

The historic route of Juggs Lane runs just north of the village.  It is an old highway from Lewes to Brighton and between 1756 and 1770 it was the route used by the first stagecoaches between London and Brighton via Lewes.  Going up the Lane as it ascends the downs must have been quite an experience.  Having been on the road all day on the rough roads of the day, and perhaps having had an indifferent meal at the White Hart, they were probably in no state for this final leg of the journey

Juggs Lane as it ascends the Downs Imagine riding this on a stagcoach, up or down!

The Kingston Enclosure

In 1830 the parish of Kingston was enclosed by act of Parliament.  Enclosure was the way that the common parts of the parish which were grazed by commoners and the strips of land which were farmed by them were handed over to larger land owners, who enclosed the land and farmed it themselves.  The parish went further towards Lewes than it does today so land currently in Lewes was included.

Informal enclosures had taken place in East Sussex for Centuries, but in the late 18th and early 19th century they were formalised by legislation.  There are a lot of controversies amongst historians about enclosures. Some say they made agriculture more efficient. Some say that they marked the end of England as a peasant economy.  Certainly one of the intentions was to force peasants to form a workforce for these larger farmers.

It was necessary to set out in the enclosure order the paths and roads that were to exist after the enclosure.  New paths would be needed because people could no longer roam freely, but it was also necessary to specify what existing routes would remain, otherwise they would be abolished.

The Kingston Enclosure specifies a large number of public paths and bridleways which are still in use today, but it also sets out two routes that are more problematic and which are today shown on maps as dead ends.  Rights of Way are shown in green The map below shows two routes that are currently dead ends, and also, in yellow, where they once might have gone

The Bridleway from Kingston to the Newmarket

The enclosure order sets out a bridleway going off from Juggs Lane on Kingston ridge heading straight north-west.  It is shown as a bridleway on ordnance survey maps today.  But because the enclosure order was only concerned with Kingston, the mapping stopped.  There was no clue where the bridleway went after it left Kingston.  Some people think it went down a dip in the Downs at  Scabby Brow and then under the railway, but there is no evidence for this.

But there is one piece of evidence which tells us where the bridleway might have gone.

When a railway was promoted, promotors had to set out a map of the land they wanted to take and a description of to whom it belonged.  Roads, paths and other ways across the proposed railway had to be shown.

The 1836 plans for the South Eastern, Brighton, Lewes and Newhaven Railway show a bridleway setting off boldly in a straight line from the current site of the Newmarket Inn on the A27 heading towards the bridleway from Kingston.  The railway was never built and the plans for the railway that did get built, dated 1844, did not show the bridleway.  Presumably no one complained, because this part of the bridleway was cut in two and disappears from history.  There is no later trace of it.

The footpath from Juggs Lane to Kingston.

Today’s ordnance survey maps show a footpath leaving Juggs Lane heading straight for the pub at Kingston, but stopping at the current Lewes/Kingston border.

Whats the story?

The Kingston enclosure set out the path all the way from Juggs Lane to Kingston.  Its purpose seems to have been to provide foot access to the Kingston and Southern windmills. These mills date from the 18th century and were both some way from the village.  You can still see the remains of the Kingston windmill.  As you walk up Juggs Lane from Lewes the route levels out. On your left you can see first a modern wood-clad building, and then an older building which has the remains of the mill in its centre.

Remains of the Kingston windmill, picture by Justin Brice

After this the path disappears from history.  It is not on any later maps and only resurfaces in the 1950s. This may be because in 1839 the Kingston Mill blew down and in 1842 the miller of the Southern mill was killed in an accident with the mill machinery.  Both mills were out of action for a while. Plainly milling was a dangerous business.  The nearby Ashcombe mill, which was nearer to the village and which had been built by 1823, may have taken all the business from the village, rendering the path redundant.  The Ashcombe mill has now been restored to working order.

map of windmills around Juggs Lane

The early part of the 20th century

Initially Kingston expanded little, but map a map dated 1930 shows that a number of properties on large plots began to be built around this time, staring with Kingston Ridge above the village and then moving a little nearer and along Ashcombe Lane. Around this time there were proposals for a halt on the railway line where the road for Kingston to Ashcombe passes under it, but nothing came of them.

A notable inhabitant was the artist Trekkie Parsons, who lived here with her husband, whilst conducting a passionate, if unconsummated, relationship with Leonard Woolf after the death of Virginia. The relationship started in 1941 and lasted till 1968, although Trekkie did not live in Kingston for all of that time. The letters between them are recorded in the book “Love Letters” edited by Judith Adamson.

These new homes must have changed the character of the village considerably.

The first definitive map of rights of way

In 1949 the radical Labour government passed an act which said that all rights of way should be recorded on a “definitive map”.  Before this there was no clear way of knowing where you could walk or ride.  You had to rely on local knowledge and there were often disputes.  It took most of the 1950s to create the maps. First of all, each parish was asked to mark all the paths it knew about in pencil on a map and to write down details of the paths.

Kingston added their part of the Kingston to Newmarket Inn route, which you could apparently see on the ground. But the route then passed into the parish of St Anne Without, whose inhabitants knew nothing of the route and so did not mark it on their plan.

But then an official in County Hall looked at the enclosure award and added the path from Juggs Lane to Kingston.  This is because, until 2026, once a public path, bridleway or road is recognised as such, it remains legally in existence, unless it is legally stopped up or diverted, even if it is never used.

The next stage was to draw up a formal draft map of rights of way and invite objections.  If no one objected the route was added to the rights of way map.  No one said that the Kingston bit of the route to the Newmarket Inn should not be added, and no one said that the route should be extended through St Anne Without.  So half the bridleway was added to the rights of way map.

On the Juggs Lane to Kingston path no one objected to the part of the path that was, by now, in Lewes, so it went on the map, where it remains to this day.  But there were objections in Kingston.  The objectors said, amongst other things, that no one had heard of the path, and that although it was in the enclosure order, the path was never laid out on the ground.  The Kingston part of the path was taken off of the draft definitive map and a dead end remained.  The path in Lewes was obstructed, but no one was particularly interested because it didn’t go anywhere.

The second half of the 20th century

The coming of Sussex University to Falmer in the early 1960s had a major effect on Kingston and Lewes.  A map dated 1971 shows that a significant number of houses had been built in Kingston between the ancient Street and the large houses on the ridge. These were built on smaller plots than the earlier developments. Many of these were occupied by younger academics at the University.  The attraction of Kingston and Lewes was that they were near the University, but were not full of the students who tended to congregate on campus and in Brighton.

In the early 1960s students tended to meet a partner at university and marry shortly after graduation.   By the late 1960s they were often settled with children.  But the summer of love in 1967 and the student rebellions of 1968 suggested to them that they might have settled down too early.  Genteel experimentation with drugs and partner swapping were the result, often initiated by the women. What was possibly the first men-against-sexism group was formed in Lewes in 1971 and Brighton, largely consisting of men who had been sent along by their partners.  Your author was in Lewes at the time and was not familiar with the Kingston scene, but was told by one former Kingston resident that “those were generous days” in the village, or at least the university part of it.  You could see the attraction.  Kingston was not a hot spot of entertainment and it was hard to get out of.  The 1972 Southdown bus timetable reveals that there were only 4 buses a day to Kingston in the week, and none on Sundays.

The phenomenon was not confined to Sussex. It has been documented in David Lodge’s book “Changing Places” and Malcolm Bradbury’s “The History Man”.

In due course partnerships rearranged themselves and things settled down again.  If these things are still going on in Kingston your writer doesn’t know about it.

The 21st Century

The government has introduced new laws which mean that on the 1st January 2026 any right of way which existed before 1949 and which is not on the rights of way map, will be extinguished.   This means that we have a few short years to get these two Kingston rights of way on the map.  To do this we have to produce new information which East Sussex Council has not considered before.

Alas, there is not enough information to add the rest of the bridleway to the Newmarket Inn and it is doubtful if the group of us doing research will find anything before 2026.

But the Juggs Lane to Kingston footpath is a different matter.  I made an application to add the rest of the route to the rights of way map a couple of years ago, using evidence that I had discovered.  At first East Sussex Council refused to make an order to add the route. They said that I had not discovered anything new.  But the Planning Inspectorate ruled that they were wrong. The inspectorate said that a document that I had found that appeared to show the path before the enclosure was new evidence and that there was enough evidence to argue that a right of way existed.  The council must now publish an order.  If people object to the path another Inspector will decide whether or not to add the path to the rights of way map.

Article date 11/6/20