A miller’s tale
Bocking Windmill, also known as Bocking Churchstreet Windmill, is – to anyone who knows their windmills – a grade 1 listed Post Mill. And while everyone knows that windmills move, this particular mill literally took a walk. For while the structure now stands proudly overlooking the countryside at the North end of Braintree & Bocking, having been restored to a degree by the Friends of Bocking Windmill, the mill was originally built some 170 yards to the west.
Although a build date of 1680 is often quoted, the original mill was actually built in 1721, when first mentioned in an indenture dated 19 April 1721 where the lease of land that had been enclosed for the building of a windmill was sold to Joseph Nash, miller of Halstead for £11. Thereafter the mill’s story is intimately linked with the lives of its various owners and users.
Marked on Warburton, Bland and Smyth’s map dated c1724, the mill was conveyed to Joseph Nash Jr in April 1772. Thomas French, miller of Halstead, bought the mill for £135 on the death of the mortgagee around 1734. French sold the mill in 1774 to Bartholomew Brown of Wethersfield. And still the sails of the windmill turned. In 1784 John Tabor loaned £100 and from there the mill was run by the Brown family for three generations. Here the sails were stilled for a while when, in 1830, the mill was taken down and moved to its new site, when it’s thought the mill was modernised.
The old windmill’s sails continued to turn commercially through the First World War until, in 1929, the mill was presented to Bocking Parish Council by its owner, Edward H Tabor. Over £400 was subscribed and the mill was repaired again at a cost of £225, with the rest of the money being invested to raise a maintenance fund of £5 annually.
In the early 60s the mill was derelict, and Braintree and Bocking Urban District Council launched an appeal, undertaking to match pound-for-pound any money raised, with the aim of raising £2,500 in total. F J Bearman, a director of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, donated 50 guinees, and the mill was restored again in 1964, and officially reopened.
Although the mill no longer works today, most of the mechanics and infrastructure are still in place. The Friends of Bocking Windmill was formed to ensure the mill’s preservation. They hold open days for people to go and see it.
Polly’s Field Village has a lovely view of Bocking Windmill over the fields behind the development.
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