I consistently extol the physical and mental health advantages that walking provides not to mention the opportunities to get close to nature. I have discovered an additional benefit. Residents are sometimes, vaguely, aware of local places of interest perhaps only briefly noticing them in passing. Walking often allows one to look at things more closely and may induce a desire to learn more about such places and in turn learn a little more general background and history.
Many of our walks include such land mark places many of our walk leaders will give you a brief insight to such places. Typical is an ESW circular walk from South Nutfield via Outwood taking in a land mark Outwood Windmill. Indeed known to many but did you know it was one of a pair on the site?
The surviving mill is a post mill. This is the earliest type of European windmill. Its defining feature is that the whole body of the mill that houses the machinery is mounted on a single vertical post, around which it can be turned to bring the sails into the wind. The earliest post mills in England are thought to have been built in the 12th century.
The Outwood post mill was built for Thomas Budgen commencing in 1665. It is believed to be the oldest working post mill in England, The original deed for its erection is still in existence. Budgen borrowed the money to finance the project clearly it was a good investment as he was able to repay the loan within two years.
Rumour has it that the builders of the mill could see the Great Fire of London (1666) glowing in the distance,
The mill continued to be used through the centuries however by the 1930’s it was little used and deteriorated. Planned restoration was postponed due to World War ll. milling ceased in 1949 following the failure of the breast beam and collapse of the sails.
During the mid 20th century to the present day various owners have carried out restoration and indeed repairs following several severe weather damage incidents.
The second mill on the site was a smock mill. This is a type of windmill that consists of a sloping, horizontally weather boarded, thatched, or shingled tower, usually with six or eight sides. It is topped with a roof or cap that rotates to bring the sails into the wind. This type of windmill got its name from its resemblance to smocks worn by farmers in an earlier period
In 1796, William Budgen was granted leave to erect a windmill on a plot of land near the original post mill. This was in fact built to be in competition with the original mill following a family dispute.
The smock mill was run by the Budgen family until 1885 when the lease was sold to the Scott family (of Woolpits Mill in Nutfield ). This mill continued to be worked by the Scott family, In 1903 one of the sails broke it was then worked with only two sails, assisted by a portable steam engine. In 1953 a survey revealed rot had penetrated the cant posts and sills at the south west side (ie facing the prevailing weather) the cost to repair was prohibitive and unfortunately the mill finally collapsed in November 1960.
We hope that you may consider joining us on some of our walks please see our web site for details.
ESW wish you happy walking,
(ESW Publicity Officer)