Pitstone Windmill
Pitstone Windmill
One of the earliest examples in Britain of a windmill, Pitstone was built in 1627 to a postmill design. The mill, set in attractive Chiltern countryside, has been fully restored.
The 17th century builders of Pitstone knew what they were doing, for the mill remained in continuous use until the early 20th century when a heavy storm caused severe damage. The mill was practically derelict, and pieces of wood were carried off for firewood and brass fittings pilfered from the ruin. The tail ladder fell apart and the sails disintegrated.

The mill was gifted to the National Trust and restored to working order in 1937. Though it is possible to run the mill, the sails tend to cause fierce shaking, and for that reason they are seldom used.

When was it built?
Though the date of 1627 is generally used, the actual date may be much earlier. The 1627 date is just one of several dates found carved on beams. It seems quite possible that this date marks one of numerous ongoing repairs to the building. If it indeed older, it may well be the earliest post mill in Britain. Records in the Buckingham County Museum show a payments made to carpenters working on the mill in the period 1624-1628, but there is no indication of how old the mill was at that date.

The mill ground grain into flour for the nearby villages. So important was it to the local economy that even after the advent of the Industrial Revolution the mill continued to be repaired and updated.

What is a 'Post Mill'?
A post mill pivots the entire structure around a central post, or pillar. A long beam provides leverage, and the entire mill is turned to catch the wind. This is quite different from later mills where just the top part of the mill pivots.