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Chesterton Windmill

Chesterton ,  Warwickshire

Unique 17th century cylindrical stone tower windmill with an arched base

Click on the above picture
 to see a larger version

This unique and very special windmill you would think we would know everything about, but we don't, what we can say is how we feel it came about.

It was built in 1632-1633, probably by or for Sir Edward Peyto, who was Lord of the Chesterton Manor House. At this time John Stone, a pupil of Inigo Jones, was in Chesterton, designing the new Manor House, and he probably helped with the Windmill as well. Sir Edward was a mathematician and astrologer and probably his own architect to the windmill, but although claims have been made that the tower was originally built as an observatory, the estate accounts, now at Warwick Record Office, show that it has always been a windmill, making it the earliest tower mill in England to retain any of its working parts.

It is built of hard local limestone, with sandstone detailing. The mill tower, unique worldwide in structure and mechanics, is supported on six semicircular arches, on piers, the outer faces of which are arcs of circles radiating from a common centre. A sandstone string course surmounts the six arches and runs round the Tower, below the windows. There are four windows in the tower, two small and two much larger with stone mullioned windows. A small window set in the roof on the opposite side to the sails, has a small plaque above it with the letters "E. P. 1632".

Besides the open ground floor within the arches there are two more floors to the mill, the first, lower, or stone floor 15-foot (4.6 m) above ground level, housing millstones, great spur wheel, hurst frame, sack hoist rope passing through the floor trap, and the upper, second, or hoist floor with brake wheel, main gearing (wallover), sack hoist pulley, and parts of the winding winch. The windshaft and the main parts of the winding system including the wind direction indicator is installed within the cap. The space inside the arches, until 1930, used to have a wooden structure to store the grain, and an open timber staircase to reach the milling floors. This structure was removed to prevent vandalism. The cap of the mill is a shallow dome which used to be covered with lead sheet, but also because of vandalism is now covered with aluminium. Between the cap and the top of the wall is a system of rollers running in a track plate allowing the cap to be rotated easily. There is a wind direction indicator on the roof which is continued into the interior, and a small repeat indicator at its lower end, so that the miller could set the mill without leaving his work. The lattice-type-sails are 60 feet (18 m) span counter clock-wise rotation (seen from outside the mill, most of all windmills worldwide rotate clockwise seen from inside the mill - from "under the wind") and with 450 sq ft (42 mē) of canvas. The arched tower covers a very small diameter of 22 feet 9 inches (6.9 m) and it has an unusual "in cap" winding gear for an English windmill, the cap being winded by a hand operated winch having spur and worm gears.

It seems the mill has undergone three major reconstructions, one in 1776 when the mill shaft was modified, and the date carved in the tail of the shaft, and one in 1860 when the old curb and cap framing was altered. By 1910 it had ceased to function as a mill because the winding gear failed to operate, so that her last miller, William Haynes, was no longer able to turn the mill's cap round to make the sails face the wind. He abandoned the mill and moved to another mill nearby. It was not until 1969 that reconstruction of Chesterton Mill began again. The windmill repairs were finished in 1971, and the mill reopened for a few days to the public each year (volunteers from nearby villages help run the open days and provide stewards for the event).

In 1975 it was awarded one of the Civic Trust Heritage Awards, and the mill's status is reflected in the name of the nearby Leamington Football Club ground the New Windmill.

A stone tower similar to Chesterton Windmill exists in Newport, RI, U.S.A. The commonly accepted theory is that it was built by Benedict Arnold around 1676 after a previous wooden mill was blown down in 1675. It is not quite the same as Chesterton Windmill, having eight round pillars, but it was very similar. The Arnold family, whose place of origin is disputed but may have been either Leamington or further down the Fosse Way, near Ilchester in Somerset, emigrated to Rhode Island in 1635 where Benedict became governor in 1663. This has led to speculation that the Newport Tower was based on the Chesterton Windmill. However, some historians, as well as amateur researchers, dispute this theory and have claimed that it is several centuries older, thus being evidence of a pre-Columbian (Viking) settlement in New England.

Information above from Wikipedia.

In 2006 one of the sails came off (injuring one visitor slightly), since that time all have been removed, strengthened and put back. While this was going on there was a safety barrier around the mill, I assume that has now been removed.

Our visit

You can see and photograph this windmill from a number of directions, it is in open countryside, plus as you can see in the top photograph there is a wide pathway that runs through the corn field to it. There is an area around it that is also not planted but its not very large, however as you approach it there is a clear view with no cereals in the way. Of course had I gone after they had been harvested they would not have been in the way anyway, but perhaps not as pleasing a shot.

This is a very well known and popular windmill so there are nearly always other people here, but not large numbers, I did get some photos with no one in the shots, but in other cases I was able to use the figures to give an idea of size, as in both pictures above.

Further information Grid


Chesterton Windmill, Warwickshire

Ceremonial County: Warwickshire

Grid Reference:


Map Link:


Aerial photo:  



Best Times to Visit:






Other useful websites:




Nearby Locations:  
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Date Updated:05/2008

Planning Grid


Chesterton Windmill, Warwickshire

Grid Reference:


Getting there:



Access via a walk across a field, this is fairly level so not a difficult walk, the track is wide.


Road site lay-by put there for visitors to the windmill.



Things To Do, See and Photograph:


What to take:


Nature highlights:

Quite a lot of wildlife around the area.







Opening times:

Open all the time



Photo Restrictions:


Other Restrictions:  
Special Needs Access: Not difficult , no obstacles
Special Needs Facilities:  
Children Facilities:  
Dogs Allowed: No restrictions I could see, but best kept on a lead

CIN Page Ref:


Date Updated:05/2008

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