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IL 1831

Charles Miller

Charles Miller

Charles Miller


Roy Short arranged a display relating to his Grandfather as a novel exhibit at our Alternative Power event.

Roy Short at our Alternative Power event - photo : Nicola Stone
A flock of sheep, a bare hillside and a shepherd

The exhibit attracted great interest because it relates to probably the best known early picture of the Clayton Windmills depicting a flock of sheep, a bare hillside and a shepherd.

Hundreds of people must have seen this photograph for a great enlargement was once displayed at Forfars Bakery in Hassocks, at the instigation, it is understood, of the late Frank Gregory.

Martin Brunnarius in his book "The Windmills Of Sussex" gives a date of 1905 to the photograph, a time when the mills were in their final working days, for they ceased milling in 1906.

Now at last it seems that we can learn more of the shepherd and the origin of the photograph.

It would appear that the photograph was taken professionally for advertisement of the Sussex Downs and was to be displayed in Southern Railway carriages.


The shepherd was Charles Miller, who lived at Bank Cottages in Clayton.

Conclusive evidence of his appearance in the photograph was provided on the reverse of one of the original photographs, where there is the inscription :
"Mr. Miller
Best Wishes, Happy Xmas
and many thanks for helping with the photo"

The frame has the inscriptions "Benn & Cronin, Photographic Artists And Commercial Photographers" and "149 Great Titchfield Street London W and Victoria Works, Southwick, Sussex".

Charles Miller's Marriage Certificate dated 15th February 1908, when he was 28 years old, gives his occupation as "Shepherd". In later years he lived in the cottage beside Jack Windmill then at "The Cottage", Clayton Holt.

Shepherd : Charles Miller

Pyecombe Crook, the sheep bell and sheep sheers

In the exhibition we were also able to see the Shepherd's original Pyecombe Crook, the sheep bell which was hung round the neck of the lead sheep, and some sheep sheers.

Now the picture really takes on a more personal aspect.


Bob Cropper, writing a forward to the publication "Downland Shepherds" by Barclay Wills said :-

"By 1930, as a result of the decline in farming fortunes and much of the land being taken over by building development, we were forced to shake the soil from our boots and turn to more Urban pursuits as a means of livelihood".

detail from the photograph

So it was with our Shepherd, who latterly became a Nurseryman. His Brother, Peter was employed as a gardener at Clayton Windmills when they were owned by Miss Jones.

Charles Miller died in 1942 and was buried on 16th September, aged 63 years, in the Churchyard of St. John The Baptist at Clayton, adjoining millers from the Clayton Windmills, who also lie there within sight of their mills.

Article by Roy Short, Roy Vass and Simon Potter

Click here for a selection of vintage postcards of Jack and Jill Windmills