A cursed church and a wicked witch

The Mill on the Road is given as one source of the title Rodmell, near Newhaven - far more attractive than the basic Red-Mould, derived from the reddish tinge of the local ploughlands.

Certainly mills and millers have played their part in Rodmell’s past, though there is no mill in the village today - just the memory of its site on the Downs in the name Mill Road.

When the mill was demolished its timbers stayed on in the village, incorporated in the construction of a cottage.

Local folklore says that when the village blacksmith fashioned a new bell for the church tower it not only disturbed the slumbers of the windmiller but drove him to distraction.

He cursed the church, the bell and the blacksmith, and finally in desperation sought the help of the village witch to end the clangour.

She told him he could only stop the noise by tying a hair from the tail of the Devil to the bell’s clapper.

Not an easy item to come by, and the miller resigned himself to living with the racket.

Many years later the miller lost his way in a sea fog which enveloped the flooded flatlands of the Ouse below Rodmell. Only by following the sound of the church bell was he able to find the ford which led to the village and avoid a watery grave. Filled with gratitude and contrition, he promptly presented the village with a new chime of bells.

In the churchyard, approached like the 12th century building itself, through the netball court of the village school, is the grave of the last miller of Rodmell, marked appropriately by a millstone.