Windmill Hill Windmill, Herstmonceux gears up for a new season
The restoration of the old windmill at Herstmonceux really has been a labour of love for all concerned; not least for Bee Frost, the woman whose back garden it is located in.
She and her husband bought the property by auction in 1994 and, although they could live in the house, they were unsure what to do about the listed mill building in the garden.
The mill was built in 1815 and converted to run on steam in 1894 until it was closed. What made it so unique was that it had been untouched since the ‘day the miller left it’. This uniqueness was what appealed to organisations like English Heritage who supported the restoration, along with funding from the EU, Wealden Rural Funding and Lottery Funding.
The restoration was a 20-year commitment completed in 2016, and earned Bee the British Empire Medal.
“I suppose I was the driving force behind the project but, I couldn’t have done it on my own. I was supported by lots of very helpful people, good trustees and volunteers who were vital,” commented Bee.
Work still continues on the project as all 104 cogs need to be remade by hand. The job is about 50 per cent underway but, happily, it is possible to visit the mill and see the sweeps in action – there just isn’t any milling happening until the cogs are replaced.
The mill is well set up for visitors and accommodates those who can’t climb the steep steps by offering a virtual tour of the mill from the comfort of a seat or wheelchair. This visitor experience was financed by a Wealden Community Grant. The mill is also illuminated at night for all to see.
If you would like to visit the mill the season opens on April 1st, Easter Sunday from 2.30-5pm, and is open most Sundays and Bank Holidays throughout the summer. There will also be a special free event day on 13th of May to celebrate National Mill Day with Morris Dancers, steam engines, a BBQ, teas and a tour of the machinery. Check the website for details.
With thanks to Bee Frost, BEM, Chair of Friends of the Windmill for her help with this article.
Windmill Hill Windmill Trust Reg Charity no.1054504 Just Giving Page
The Old Bakery, Windmill Hill, Hailsham BN27 4RT