click photo to enlargeApproximately 300 windmills are known to have existed down the centuries in the area that we now know as Greater London. A few of these date from the period between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries, but most were built in the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Much of this area was rural in the distant past, and the windmills in the villages that were swallowed up by the capital city's spread would have looked much like the village mills that are sprinkled across eastern and southern England today. However, many of London's windmills were in the heavily built up parts of the city. For example, sixteen windmills are known to have operated in West Ham, and Whitechapel had three. There were even windmills in Mayfair and Marylebone. The information about London's mills comes from written documents, but also from paintings and drawings of the city. Interestingly there are only eight windmills remaining in Greater London today.
Windmills are often thought of as structures of towns, villages and the countryside. In fact, many large towns and cities had them within their boundaries. That's not surprising really because in an urban area the market for a mill's produce is on its doorstep. When I lived in Kingston upon Hull, many years ago, I was always aware of a derelict mill on Holderness Road. Today it is restored and adjoins a pub, the only remaining survivor of over twenty windmills that once graced the city.
Several windmills are also known to have been built in the Lincolnshire town of Boston. Today the only remaining example is the Maud Foster Windmill that stands beside the Maud Foster Drain. And what an example! It is a fine, five-sailed, seven storey, brick tower mill built in 1819. Unlike many Lincolnshire mills it wasn't painted with black bitumen to keep out the rain, and its rustic brickwork blends beautifully with the white paint of the windows, wooden gallery, ogee cap, sails and fan-tail. I passed Maud Foster on a day when the sky was filled with soft, fleeting clouds blown on a wind that was turning the sails to mill the flour that is sold to visitors. The photograph I captured contrasts strongly with one that I took a few months after I settled in Lincolnshire.
photograph and text (c) T. Boughen
Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 20mm (40mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/1600
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On