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Stream Furnace and Forge, Chiddingly, TQ 555 155

From Crossley & Cleere
Physical description of site:
Bay L 155m H 1.6m/3m Carries bridle road. A ramp leads down towards working area.
Water system: Pond reduced to swamp. Modern spillway at W end. Position of forge and furnace wheelpit and tail-race probably obscured by those of later corn mill at E end.
Working area: Probably in present mill house garden, where much charcoal occurs, and where was found the cannon boring bar now in Anne of Cleves Museum, Lewes (Butler and Tebbutt 1975: 38-41) (image). Recent excavations of crashed German aircraft in field immediately S of bay revealed much glassy slag and fragments of cannon mould. 100m down the mill tail-race the bank is revetted with forge bottoms.

Documentary references:
This site began as a forge, the hammer at Chiddingly being included in the complaint of the coastal towns in 1548. John French had a hammer, c.1560, within three miles (5km) of woods in Framfield (ESRO Searle 13/1), and in 1574. The building of a furnace is suggested by the lease by Stephen French, 'forgemaster' in 1597 of the 'Lower furnace, called the New Furnace' for 21 years to Edward Montagu (BL Add. Ch. 30132). In 1648 the pond was still called the 'Forge Pond' (ESRO SAS RF5/26), yet a forge and a furnace are mentioned in 1653 and 1667. Guns were cast at 'Stream Furnace' in 1692-3 (ESRO SAS RF15/26). The furnace is marked on Budgen's map of 1724 (see below) but had not been listed in 1717.

Further documentary evidence:
John Fuller (1617-1679) inherited as co-lessee in 1650 on the death of his father in law Rev John Nutt of Mays in Selmeston. (SAC Vol 104 p64).
John Fuller (1652-1722) worked the furnace until at least 1693 when he built a furnace at Heathfield. (WIRG Bulletin First Series Vol 16 1979 p18).

Budgen's from Budgen's map of Sussex, 1724


The 1873 OS map (6") shows the pond which powered the corn mill.


Remains of corn milling site:
Upstream from Weir with bridle path over.
Weir from Downstream Downstream from Weir.

Information from recent visit:
The far end of the forge/furnace pond is now a wood newly planted by the Woodland Trust. The present owner of the Stream Mill has photos of the pond full of water after last year's rainy season.
The pool below the weir contains much metallic debris, including some plate-like iron material thought to be an accretion of Swarf thrown into the stream from the boring of the guns.
The gardens of the two properties on the forge/furnace site are littered with samples of glassy slag, both green and grey. Stream Mill itself has a number of furnace bottoms.
The area just above the bay, ie the site of the furnace pond (mill pond on map above) is rough scrubby grass

Recent Finds:
Part of a bear
Brick+Clay attached to Furnace Slag Brick and clay attached to Furnace Slag