Stoke St Gregory History Pages
Windmills were usually sited on the exposed slopes of the high ground, and locally these would have been along the sandstone ridge extending from North Curry to Stathe. We know of at least two of these sites. One, which had disappeared before the 18th century, was on the hill overlooking what is now the railway cutting at Bullplace. The other is on the appropriately named Windmill Hill - an excellent site with an almost constant wind coming off the Bristol Channel, and of course some of the best views in the village.
The Windmill Mound on Windmill Hill, looking across the Moor to East Lyng
It is likely that this would have been a post mill, a timber, box-like structure which carried the sails and machinery and pivoted on a massive vertical post so that the sails may be turned to face the wind. A building account for a post mill set up by order of Glastonbury Abbey at Walton in 1342-32 indicates that the mill was the work of the carpenter and the smith and built from local materials. Iron was expensive and so used sparingly, the only iron fittings being the nails to hold the timber cladding onto the frame and the important bearing surfaces in the machinery of the mill. It is interesting to note that most of the windmills belonged to the lord of the manor, in this case the Dean & Chapter of Bath & Wells. They were let for money rentals and their upkeep and repair was the tenants responsibility, in this case the North Curry family of Dummett. Samuel Powell, of the largest landowning village family of the time, took over the mill in the early 18th century. The mill is not represented on the 1840 tithe map of the village. Its demise is probably related to the change in land use from arable to pasture.
The windmill marked on the Lords' Map drawn by William White in 1787. This was before the common had been enclosed the two roads of Woodhill and Windmill were built.
The other mill was located on what had been the common called Woodhill Green (the piece of ground between modern day Windmill and Pincombe Drove). It had also been rented by a North Curry family by the name of Rossiter, but later was taken over by the local Daw family who lived in the cottage next door to the mill. This mill was still working in 1841, when William Daw was described as Miller in the census. Although seeming rather an odd place for a windmill there are several examples of low exposed sites on the Levels themselves. If this was a mediaeval mill site it might have been at a time when the higher land was still covered in trees. From the representation on the two maps it looks as though this would also have been a post mill.
The Tithe Map of 1840. Woodhill Green has been enclosed and Woodhill & Windmill roads have been built.