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Watermills and Windmills of Middlesex (Second Edition)

Windmill gazetteer E-G


Early mill

A windmill stood on the demesne of Ealing manor in 1318(1), and was rebuilt in 1363-4(2). The new mill was destroyed in or before 1409 and had not been repaired ten years later(3). It seems to have been made good by 1431 – in which year it is again recorded as being damaged(4). After this, all references to the mill cease and no other is recorded at Ealing, suggesting that the lords of the manor, weary at this catalogue of misfortunes, had abandoned their experiment with wind power. Although we do not know the exact reason for it the unhappy history of Ealing’s windmill, particularly the long delay of at least ten years in putting it back into repair, demonstrates better than any other example the fragility of these mediaeval structures and the consequent difficulty of keeping them in sound condition.

(1) St Paul’s MSS, B76

(2) Ibid B89

(3) Ibid B89, B90; NA, SC 611138/9

(4) St Paul’s MSS B90


The unidentified mill which appears in a sketch by Havell is now thought more likely to have stood at Kingsbury than Edgware(1)  and is dealt with in this new edition of the book under the former parish.

(1) Mr Humphrey Ward (see under Kingsbury)


(1) Early mill

(2) Post mill, Tile Kiln Lane 328926

(3) Post mill, survived into C20 329928

A windmill stood on the manor of Edmonton in 1272(1) and 1295(2). In 1345, in the Calendar of Charter Rolls, it was stated to be out of action through lacking a millstone, and this deficiency had still not been made good in 1359(3).

 Between 1605 and 1627 a mill was erected on the Weir Hall Estate, whose position is indicated today by Weir Hall Road(4). It could possibly have been a predecessor of the mill insured against fire by William Bellis, miller, for a total of £300 in February 1776. This was a post mill, the policy note referring to a “roundhouse under”(5). It is marked “Edmonton Mill”, no symbol being shown, on Faden’s map of 1790 which puts it on the south side of the road, which later became part of the North Circular, between Tile Kiln Farm and the Fore Street crossroads. The following year Bellis took out another insurance policy for the mill, plus one for the nearby watermill which he also worked(6). At this time Benjamin Head of Tottenham, mealman, kept stock in both mills(7). The location of the property is given as Tanners End, a place name which does not now exist.

 The windmill is shown on the inclosure map of 1801(8). The lease of the property was for sale in April 1809, when it had twenty-seven years left to run; it would appear that the Huxley family, who owned it, doubted the mill’s economic value for prospective purchasers were given permission to remove it if desired. It drove two pairs of stones.(9) It was still there in 1816, when it is marked (as simply “mill”) on the Ordnance Survey, and in 1862 when the OS names it “Old Windmill”, indicating disuse, but at some point – the Victoria County History says before 1819 – was superseded by a new mill erected to the north of Silver Street where Huxley and Windmill Roads are today. When it finally disappeared is not known.

 The new mill exhibited characteristics of earlier post mills and was either built in an old-fashioned style out of tradition or moved from another site. The miller in 1823-4 was Thomas Hinckley, who by 1845 had been succeeded by George Hart. In February 1836 a new post was put in for £10 for the then tenant, John Humphrey of Bromley in Kent, by the millwright William Ashby, the job taking six days to complete(10). From 1851 to the late 1870s the mill was operated by the Parfrey family, becoming known as “Parfrey’s Mill”. Edward Parfrey was the miller in 1852 and 1855, followed by Philip Parfrey (1862), Youngs Parfrey (1867), and R A Parfrey (1874). By 1867 a steam mill had been built alongside the windmill, which after this date was probably used less frequently. In 1878 the miller was John William Neave, presumably identical with the J W Neave there in 1882 and the John Neave recorded in 1890. In the latter year a John Stock was assisting in the running of the mill; he was later to take it over completely.

 John Stock is last given as miller in 1899 after which directory references to the mill cease. A postcard dated 1904 shows it in a derelict state, with great gaps in the body and the sail frames removed. The steam mill also appears to have fallen into disrepair, with a number of boards missing from its lucam. 

 The exact date at which the mill collapsed or was demolished is unknown, but it seems certain to have been after 1920 as the structure was remembered in the 1990s by people born around that year. It certainly survived for some considerable time after the postcard was made. At the end little more than the skeleton of the main structure remained, with all the weatherboarding gone, though the stocks and whips were still attached to the windshaft. The granary survived until pulled down in the late 1950s.

 A few reminders of the complex lingered on after this, though not for long. Iris Krass, in an article in the Middlesex Review of August 1965 entitled “The Last Wyndmilne of Edmonton”, reported the demolition of “a very ramshackle tower-like structure”, which she described as the last remains of Edmonton’s windmill. What this might have been is not clear: possibly one of the chimneys shown in the drawing of the mills which appears in this book. The mill site is now a playing field used by the nearby school. 

 The mill had a roundhouse and four double-shuttered patent sails on which the leading edges were narrower than the trailing ones, unlike those at Hounslow where they were of the same width. It was winded by a fantail mounted on the access ladder to the superstructure in the East Anglian fashion. The weather beam was corbelled out, a feature more often associated with seventeenth- and eighteenth-century post mills. The roof was curved until about mid-height and then acquired a straight pitch, exaggerated in the painting mentioned below where it is uniform; it finally terminated in a slight ogee. Its weatherboarding slightly overlapped that on the sides of the mill – another East Anglian characteristic, and an example of how windmills near the borders of a county were influenced in their design by millwrighting trends within the neighbouring regions. A splendid watercolour now at the Forty Hall Museum, Enfield, shows a weathervane above the rear roof gable and a lever and chain (or rope) arrangement mounted on the tail which may have functioned as a talthur or been a kind of sack hoist.

 Photographs of the derelict mill in Enfield Public Library and the Mills Archive show that the body was extended at the tail at some point during its working life; the extension corner posts are breaking away, returning the mill to its original length. No tail wheel is visible, suggesting the mill was modified at some point to drive two pairs of stones in the breast via a wallower and great spur wheel.

 Edmonton was the last windmill to remain in anything like a complete state in the county of Middlesex, and as mentioned above survived within living memory until at least twenty years ago.

(1)   Chanc.132/42/6

(2)   Chanc.133/71/19

(3)   Chanc.135/144/7

(4)   LMA Acc.695/42, folio.3; Chanc.142/435/130

(5)   Sun FIP no 364948, vol.244, 7th February 1776

(6)   Sun FIP no 580464, vol.374, 24th February 1791 

(7)   Sun FIP no. 580175, vol.375, 12th February 1791

(8)   Robinson, Edmonton, p282

(9)   Norfolk Chronicle 22nd April 1809

(10) R Cumming, The Windmills of North-West Kent and Kentish London (Stenlake Publishing 2014), p88 

(40) Edmonton post mill, from a watercolour of 1890 (reproduced by courtesy of Enfield Museum)

(41) Edmonton post mill, c1890, with the mill house, steam mill and chimney, from a photograph in the Middlesex Quarterly, 1954 (PB)

(42) Edmonton post mill c1890-1900 (Windmill Hoppers website)

(43) Edmonton mill from a 1905 postcard (LBOEL)

(44) Edmonton mil in extreme decay, c1920 (LBOEL)


(1) Early mill

(2) C17 mill, Windmill Hill

(3) Post mill which evidently stood on site of (2) during the eighteenth century, and was possibly the same mill

(4) Smock mill, the successor to (3)  317967

There was a windmill at Enfield in 1284, held by Henry Frowyk(1); its exact location is unknown. In 1635 one on Windmill Hill, west of Enfield Town, on the eastern edge of the forest known as Enfield Chase, was stated to be in good repair(2). This site was to be occupied by successive windmills for at least 250 years.

 From 1720 the Enfield windmills were worked by the Robinsons, today still a well-known local family, who are said to have originated from Scotland. How they came to be associated with the Enfield mill is the stuff of fairy tales. The first of the Enfield Robinsons, one of a large family (the youngest perhaps?) walked all the way from Scotland in search of a living. Several days after setting off, and as the light was fading, he happened to be approaching Enfield mill. The sight of the mill must have been strange to him, coming as he did from a technologically backward land where watermills were almost universal. Perhaps his thoughts were like those of Jeanie Deans in Sir Walter Scott’s Heart of Midlothian, who undertook a journey to England and wrote home to say, “I have seen many strange things which I trust to tell you one day…all around…are mills which havena muckle wheels nor mill-dams, but gang by the wind…strange to behold.” Robinson had only five shillings in his pocket. He saw a light, knocked on the miller’s door to ask if there were any possibility of employment, and was taken on. According to an account of the story in a local newspaper he later married the miller’s daughter “And when the old man died, became master of this little domain perched high up on a ridge overlooking Enfield Chase”.   

One would like to think this story was true – who knows?

 Another legend associated with the Enfield windmill involved the Earl of Chatham, formerly William Pitt the Elder, the great statesman and Prime Minister. Chatham lived for a time at nearby South Hill Lodge, from which the mill could be clearly seen. He felt its colour spoilt his view and paid Robinson a considerable sum of money to have it repainted. The following morning, however, it appeared the work had not been carried out. Being a post mill, it rotated in order to keep facing into the wind, and when Chatham had first set eyes on the mill and been offended by its hue he had only seen one side of the structure – something Robinson had neglected to tell him. He now had to spend another large sum of money on repainting the other side!(3) Sadly, the authenticity of this story is doubtful. According to the late H E S Simmons it has been told too many times about windmills in different parts of the country(4). Probably some local dignitary could always be found to play the role of Chatham.

 Enfield’s windmills seem to have had a particular tendency to attract drama, or myths, though it is unclear which of them the following story relates to. Once, when the menfolk were absent from the premises, thieves came along in a wagon with the intention of robbing them. The attempt was foiled by an old lady, the miller’s wife or mother, who grabbed a shotgun and fired at them, whereupon they ran. Years later a skeleton was found in a nearby ditch, leading to the theory that one of the robbers had been fatally wounded and left to die by his companions.(5) 

 It is not known whether the mill shown on Faden’s map of 1790 is the post mill or the smock which at some time succeeded it. One account says the former was demolished, another that it was blown down. The new mill is first shown on the 1816 Ordnance Survey. It became an important feature of the locality, and was frequently photographed. Its site, at the north end of Enfield Old Park on the south side of the road between Enfield and East Barnet, can be identified today using the nearby church, which often appears in views of the mill, as a reference point. Joseph Robinson was the miller in 1823. He died in January 1849 and in 1851 and 1855 directories give an I (Isaac) Robinson as the miller. In 1862 he was Benjamin Robinson, another son of Joseph. By 1885 Benjamin seems to have decided to give up milling, for parts of the mill’s machinery were advertised for sale in the Miller on 2nd February. These were the three pairs of stones, measuring 3 ft, 3 ft 10 inches and 4 inches in diameter, 4 spring sails and the windshaft. Evidently there was no purchaser, for the mill appears to have been used by the family for another few years.

 The date at which the mill ceased work is uncertain. The 1897 Ordnance Survey map marks it as disused, but Isaac Robinson is still listed as miller in 1902, though only in the local directory, suggesting that trade was by then very slack and met only local consumption – which may explain the cartographers’ belief that the mill was no longer working. It was standing in April 1904(6). The exact date of its disappearance is unknown but the Imperial Magazine, published locally in 1904-5, reports that the mill has been “lately demolished.” Photographs reveal that towards the end of its life it was showing clear signs of decay, and that it stood without its sails for a short time prior to its destruction. 

 The wealth of photographic evidence, something not encountered in the case of any other Middlesex windmill, enables us to build up a good picture of what the mill looked like. The smock tower was broad, though not especially tall. It will be noted that there is no brickwork in the structure apart from the foundations, the woodwork of the smock beginning at ground level. This is a feature of certain smock mills in Kent and also in the Essex/Hertfordshire region, which this part of Middlesex borders. The cap was a horizontally boarded dome, rather flat in appearance, with a short decorative finial and a skirt of vertical boards at its base. Its large rearward extension, which housed the winding gear, was a prominent feature of the mill. Unlike the other late surviving Middlesex windmills Enfield was never converted to fantail winding, but had this been done the extension would most likely have been retained to serve as support for the fantail, as was done on a number of tower and smock mills in Essex.

 The four single-sided sails, one pair of commons and one pair of springs (until shortly before the mill ceased work, when the  commons were replaced by springs as the above sale notice indicates), were extremely long and it can be no exaggeration to say that they would have almost touched the ground. They must have been something of a safety hazard. By the end of the mill’s working life it was operating on two sails only, as many windmills did in their declining years.

 In one or two respects Enfield mill may be said to have resisted the march of time, when contrasted with those at Hampton, Heston, Edmonton and Kilburn, all of which had fantails and three of which possessed four shuttered sails. The photograph reproduced in this book conveys an impression of rustic simplicity and charm, which is enhanced by the weatherboarded barns to the right of the mill.

 “Windmill Fields” west of the village, close to the New River, at Enfield Highway possibly indicates a further site.

(1) CCP25(1)/148/30/132

(2) LMA, DL 42/125; MPC 145 (DOL 31/175)

(3) C W Whittaker, History of Enfield (1911); Tuff, Historical Notices of Enfield, “Greater London c1885”

(4) Simmons Collection, Science Museum Library

(5) Hertfordshire Countryside vol 23 no. 111, p13

(6) Photograph posted on Windmill Hoppers website, 5th December 2012

(45) Enfield smock mill, late C19. This is the only photograph to show the mill with all four sails.(LBOEL)

(46) Enfield, c1890. The ladder leaning against the cap suggests maintenance is being carried out.(LBOEL)

(47) Enfield, c1900.(LBOEL)


C18 mill 094719

Rocque’s map of Middlesex, published in 1762, shows a windmill at Lower Feltham. It also appears on a map of the manor of Hanworth drawn up in 1738 with additions in 1747 and 1748; as would be expected at this period the depiction is of an open-trestle post mill(1).

(1) LMA Acc.1023 


(1) Early mill

(2) Early mill, possibly same as (1)

(3) Early mill, possibly same as (1)

(4) Near Basings Pond                    

(5) Lodge Hill

In 1252 a windmill was part of the dowry granted to Alice de Basing by her father. In 1310-11 Hugh of Arderne and his wife Alice renounced the right to a windmill in Finchley to Simon le Ferour(1). Another mill, thought to have been the same one, was conveyed with lands in Finchley and Hendon in 1314-15 by Robert Kersebroke to Simon the Marshal and his wife(2). A mill was also part of an estate conveyed by William le Taillour to Eve of Boltby in 1346-7(3). It is not certain whether these references  concern the same mill or different ones. The name Millfields, given to an area which was part of Bibblesworth Manor from 1365 until the estate was broken up in the late sixteenth century, indicates that a windmill was situated on the edge of the Common, near Ballards Lane(4). In 1398 William de Kent had a windmill in the area which he gave to the Rector of Finchley.

 Nearly three hundred years were to elapse before another appeared. In 1627 a piece of waste ground near Basings Pond, west of the road to Whetstone, was granted to Thomas Rawson for him to build a windmill there for the use of tenants of the Bishop of London, who at that time owned the manor of Finchley, together with a house for the miller. Rawson, whose residence appears to have been in Hornsey, and who therefore probably did not operate the mill himself although he was a miller by profession, was granted a licence to let the mill and the land it stood on to William Cholmeley for twenty-one years. In December of the same year Rawson surrendered the mill to Richard Turvin. In 1633 the tenant was Thomas Mitchell, Cholmeley having evidently departed. Turvin was followed as owner by Michael Grigg (1635)(5) and Edward Crane (1654). The latter also owned the windmill at Bushey Heath in Hertfordshire. Crane’s widow Eleanor had the mill from his death in 1663 until her own in c1676, after which it passed to their son George, who in turn bequeathed it to his sister Ellen or Eleanor Cropper. This lady surrendered it in 1691(6). The mill may have been standing in 1734(7) but appears to have gone by 1754 when it is not shown on Rocque’s map. 

 A separate mill stood at Lodge Hill, near the present Bishops Avenue, in what was then a park owned by the Bishop. It is shown on Norden’s map of 1648, but thereafter all evidence of it ceases. It might have been the local windmill mentioned in a deed of lease and release in 1638-9(8).

(1) CCP 25(1)/149/41/60

(2) CCP 25(1)/149/44/135

(3) CCP 25(1)/150/61/220

(4) WAM 4818; LMA Acc.351/147, 209

(5) SC2/191/9

(6) Prob.11/312 (PCC.113 Juxon); St Paul’s MS.B68; Guildhall MSS 10312/101, m.18d.111.104651

(7) Fig’s Weekly Journal 20/7/1734, quoted in BLHL

(8) LMA Acc.035/682,683


Near Fulham Palace Road; gone by 1794  768239

A windmill existed here on the lands of the Bishop of London, who resided at Fulham Palace, for nearly four hundred years. The first reference to it occurs in 1404 when it is mentioned in a surrender by John Schamele along with the field in which it stood. The latter by then had acquired the name “Milleshot”; variations of it which one encounters in land deeds of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries are Millefield, Windmill Hill and Wyndmylleshot. It covered an area bounded by what are today Harbord Street and Cloncurry Street. The mill stood on the rising ground opposite the Lygon Almshouses, in the neighbourhood of the present day Inglethorpe Street. The road which ran beside it, once known as Mill Way or Windmill Worple, is now Fulham Palace Road.(1) Its position is shown on Faden’s map of 1790 as being about a third of the way between Putney Bridge Road and the top bend of the river, to the left of the road to Hammersmith.

 We know more about the windmill than we do most others in this period, due mainly to the researches of C J Feret, the historian of Fulham. References to it in the Court Rolls and other fifteenth century records are abundant. It seems to have been a witness to social history; events associated with it give us a revealing glimpse into aspects of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century life. In 1632 the Churchwardens paid the miller’s daughter “in her necessity” the sum of sixpence. At a vestry in August 1727 it was decided that an advertisement should be placed in the local newspaper offering a reward for information concerning the abandonment of a small child, which the miller nursed, in a sandpit near the mill. In 1738 a highwayman was cornered near the mill and shot himself; he was buried at a nearby crossroads, this then being the traditional place of interment for a suicide.

 The mill would seem to have been well used; in the seventeenth century people in the Munster Lane area had to be restrained from taking a short cut to it across Fulham Fields. The problem was a persistent one and the order of 1608 which levied a fine of 13s 4p on the offenders seems not to have been very effective for it had to be restated on three occasions, in 1614, 1618 (by which time the fine had risen to 3s 4p) and 1658. 

 The length of a tenancy varied from seven, fourteen or twenty-one years to as much as three “lives” (those of the lessee, his son and grandson). The rental could vary from 3d a year to £3, usually paid in cash although flour, grain, salt or fish could sometimes be substituted. In addition to this rent the tenant was required to furnish the Bishop with a couple of capons, or their value in money (6s 8d), at the latter’s option.

 Feret gives an exhaustive list of the mill’s tenants. In 1625 the mill was held by Richard Money who paid 33s 4d for it. On 27th June 1661 it was leased to Edward Butler, a baker. A new lease was granted to Thomas Dickens of the Middle Temple in 1677, and renewed in 1698-9. Dickens was followed in 1713 by the aptly-named John Mills. In 1748 the mill was unoccupied, but two years later was leased to Simon Jonas and Shole Focken of Crutched Friars. By 1765 they had been succeeded by Oliver Edwards.(1) In the meantime, in 1755, the mill had been burnt down but rebuilt(2). In 1771 the “house and mill” were in the occupation of Messrs Perkins and Spencer, and in 1781 the lessee was John Waters, who insured the mill against fire for £400.

 In 1781 another lease of the mill, to run for twenty-one years, was granted to Oliver Edwards (the same who had been recorded here in 1765?), but the mill was not to survive for that long, being dismantled by 1794 due to its decayed condition. According to the covenants of the lease the heir at law was to have rebuilt the mill, but this did not happen due to a dispute between the executors. Prior to the mill’s demise its annual value was given at £25.(3)

 There is no indication as to the type of the mill. It was most likely a post mill, but if, say, it had been blown down or otherwise destroyed at some time during the seventeenth century it could have been rebuilt as a smock; it certainly survived into the age when they were becoming common.

 The memory of the mill was to be preserved for some 100 years in the names of several local buildings. A beer shop called “The Windmill” once stood to the south of the Lodge, and adjoining it were four houses known as Windmill Cottages. This group was demolished in about 1880. In 1900 there was still a Millshot Farm on or near the site.

 Excavations carried out at the site in 1973 found no trace of the mill(4).

(1) C J Feret, Fulham Old and New (1900)  

(2) Oxford Journal 5th July 1755

(3) As (1)

(4) B Bloice, Excavation Round-Up 1973, London Archaeologist vol 2 no 6 1974 p134


Two post mills are depicted in a stained glass window, believed to date back to around 1500, in the parish church here. Whether they are intended to represent a mill or mills which actually stood locally we cannot say, but they are among the earliest known pictorial representations of windmills in England. Both have pitched roofs and circular, porthole-like window openings, and common sails. The tailpole appears stepped so that it also serves as the access ladder to the buck. The quarterbars in both cases are curved, but on one mill they are integrated with the post and crosstrees to form a single solid unit.

 Horsenden Wood in the area supplied millstones for a mill on the manor of Halliford in 1290-1 and 1381-2(1).

(1) WAM 27012, 27038

(48) Post mill, c1500, from a stained-glass window in Greenford church (SB)