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Tales of an English Village

Updated on March 4, 2017

The Mill at Rodmell

Rodmell Post Mill

This wooden post mill is long gone but it was built up on Mill Hill around 1800. Rodmell vilage is in two parts, divided by the main road and the Mill obviously stood at the highest point, up on the South Downs looking over towards Telscombe village and Brighton beyond.

The first owner was John Fuller who sold it to John Glazebrook in 1810. His son William worked the mill for fifty years until 1877 when his executor's sold it to Jacob Verrall. In 1911 he sold it on to George Skinner who had already been Verrall's tenant since 1902. In 1912 George Skinner and his two sons demolished the mill as it was under-used and in poor condition. They then sold the wood to a building firm.

In 1871 an ancestor of mine, James Deadman, was playing outside the mill while his father was working there and was hit by one of the sweeps. He had a broken arm and a head injury, he went to hospital and made a full recovery.

There had been a windmill at Rodmell ever since medieval times so 1912 was the end of an era - except we now have wind turbines on our horizons and I know which I prefer the look of!

Wind Turbine

Rodmell Village


First and foremost I would like to get one thing straight, the origin of my ancestral surname has nothing to do with dead men, it reputedly comes from Debenham in Norwich and derives from living 'near the river' hence Deadman. Thankfully around 1900 somebody had the foresight to drop the a and so I come from the Dedmans. What with Hubbard being my other ancestral surname I do not come from a very illustrious heritage - but I do come from Sussex so I feel that makes up for all the ribbing and nicknames I got called at school!

Rodmell vilage has variously been called Redmelle or Ramelle in the 11th century, Redmelde in the 12th century, Radmelde in the 13th century, Radmill in the 18th century and Rodmill in the 19th century. The name probably derives from 'mylde' meaning (the place of) red soil. This makes sense to me because there was a Pottery at Rodmell in Mill House, at the bottom of Mill Lane. From about 1954 to 1962 it was run by Judith Partridge, it was made a listed building in 1965 and is now a private house called (not surprisingly) The Old Pottery. I still have a small dish I actually bought in the working Pottery back in the early 1960's.

Rodmell Church

The Deadmans

I can trace my Sussex ancestors back to 1720 without much trouble, thanks to the internet and found my earliest recorded ancestor is Thomas who married Elizabeth in 1745 in Ovingdean near Brighton. Their fourth son Richard was born around 1758 in Sussex, baptised in Falmer and married Sarah in Rodmell. He was a shepherd and the family originated from Brighton, roaming the South Downs looking for work and tending sheep. I assume Sarah was a Rodmell girl and they were married in her home village which was called Rodmill in those days.

There was a church in Rodmell at the time of the Doomsday Book, St.Peters is early Norman although the font is thought to be Saxon which is earlier. I was christened in Southease church just along the road because the one Rector covered both villages. The Rectory is an imposing Queen Anne residence, about halfway down The Street, I have been in there and played with his daughters when the Rector lived there, but the current Rector lives in Kingston and The Old Rectory is now a private residence.

Church Altar

The Dedmans

I am descended through James who was born and baptised in Rodmill in 1791, he married Sarah in 1817, they had seven children and he died in 1873. His son Thomas was born in 1827, he married another Sarah and died in 1908. This was about the time they changed their surname so my great grandfather is William Thomas Dedman who was born in 1865 and died in 1953 at the ripe old age of 88. This man I remember and if you have read some of my other hubs you will remember him too, he was the man who worked as Leonard Woolf's part-time gardener.

In 1881 he was listed as living at 14 Street, Rodmell and was listed as a Roadman in the 1901 census. He married Rachel, who cooked for the Woolfs, they had eight children one of whom was my grandmother who was born in 1892 and died in 1966. She was a formidable woman who was nicknamed Enemy Flo in the last war! She bore three children, the middle one being my father born in 1922. Next in line is myself then my five children.

The Dedman lineage in Rodmell finally died out in 1984 when my great-uncle James died. They lived in the first house (clockwise) in the Dicklands, he left a wife who died in about 2000 and two children who moved away from the village. An aunt and uncle also lived in the Dicklands in one of the middle houses, before they immigrated to Australia in the early 1950's, (my long-distance god-mother!).Her mother was my grandmother's sister who lived in #1 Vine cottages, they bought #2 at a later date for their son and family. We lived in Bybles that used to be called simply The Cottage. My grandfather lived around The Loop opposite Pear Tree Cottage and my great-grandparents down the bottom in Briar Cottage. We were spread all over Rodmell in those days!

The Dicklands and Green (originally council housing)


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© 2015 Bren Hall


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