The last working windmill in the county is the big eye-catcher, though its dominance high on the ridge has a rival in the new BBC television mast. The New Mill (Cross-in-Hand’s old mill went out of action in 1903) has had a colourful past. It was built at Mount Ephraim in Framfield and moved to Cross-in-Hand in 1855, but Squire Hugh did not approve of its proximity to his mansion and grounds, where local gossip suggested there were unseemly goings-on. So it was moved again a quarter-ofa-mile to its present site in 1868, carried on rollers hauled by a team of oxen.
The English Place Name Society gives the earliest reference to the village as Cruce Manus in 1547, and the name is believed to be based on the legend that Crusaders assembled here before embarking for the Holy Land.
The village once had two fairs a year, on 22 June and 19 November, when the landlord of the Cross-in-Hand Hotel was expected to prepare a feast of roast beef and plum pudding with all the trimmings for the revellers. By tradition the fairs featured weight-lifting contests. These were always won by Strong John Saunders, a local miller who could lift 2cwt and died in 1835 at the age of 82.
A cottage industry that grew to greater things was established at Homestalls, in New Pond Hill, where George Foord lived with his wife Eliza and son Thomas Foord, aged 10, Labourer.’ Mrs Foord made ginger beer for the thirsty workmen out in the fields and young Thomas in later life made a successful business from it. He is recorded in Kelly’s Directory of Sussex for the year 1882: ‘Foord, Thomas. Manufacturer of ginger beer, lemonade, soda, seltzer, potash, ginger ale and other mineral waters for which he is famous.’ He was also a farmer and a parish surveyor at an annual salary of £10.
Another local delicacy was flead cakes (flead being pure lard from the pig’s intestines) made by a baker called Tingley in Warren Lane. This was the recipe:
1lb plain flour
pinch of salt
1/2 pint cold water
Method: Remove fat from membrane and rub one quarter of the flead into the flour. Add salt and water and mix to a smooth dough. Knead well. Roll out and use the method of incorporating the remaining fat as for flaky pastry. Shape and cut as desired.