You'll have a real time travelling experience when you visit Bembridge Windmill, the only surviving windmill on the Isle of Wight. Fully restored after being given to the National Trust in 1961, it's so pretty it even inspired Turner to paint a watercolour when he visited the island in 1795.
When you walk into the windmill it feels like the miller has just popped out to stretch his legs. He’s even left his smock hanging up in the room. Built around 1700, the walls are thick and strong – over a metre thick at the base and tapering upwards for 11 metres.
The mill still has most of its original machinery intact and you can climb up the steep stairs to the top and follow the milling process back down its four floors. The views from the little window at the top are stunning. See the Great Brake Wheel in the top room that was turned by the sails outside - this enormous cog with an iron band around it operated the mill.
Next floor down is the Stone Floor, where the millstones ground the grain into flour or meal. Each stone weighs half a ton and the way that the floor slopes inwards towards the central Main Shaft will make you feel quite uneasy!
One more floor down is the Machine Floor with the enormous Main Shaft in the centre on the room, turned by the Great Spur Wheel by the ceiling. Look up and you can see right to the top of the windmill.
Last used just before WWI, and then turned into a barn. During WWII the tower was used for observation by ‘Dad’s Army’ the Home Guard, but the only damage it had during the war was when one pair of sails was struck by lightning and lost.
- generally opens at 10:30 - please check the calendar on the left for specific days and times
- 30 minutes before closing time. However it will close at dusk if this is earlier.
- free parking, 100 yards in lay-by (Not National Trust)
- drop off point at the windmill but car must be returned to lay-by
- 2 steps to the entrance kiosk
- access to different floors is by means of steep ladder steps and narrow doorways
- Braille guide
- sensory experience
- induction loop
- children aged 4 and under are free of charge
- children's miller trail
- children's nature trails during school holidays
- climb the tower, learn how the mill worked and look out for the secret millers
- there are walking trails, nature trails, and best of all a kiosk selling ice-cream and coffee or buy a souvenir from the ticket kiosk
We hope you enjoy your visit and don't forget to tweet a pic
( @RedFunnel @)
Bembridge Windmill Address: High Street, Bembridge, Isle of Wight, PO35 5SQ
Bembridge Windmill was built in the early 1700s when Bembridge was almost an island in its own right, cut off from the rest of the Isle of Wight.
Inspiration for an artist
When the artist JMW Turner visited in 1795 he began a watercolour of the windmill showing the sea lapping at the bottom of the hill on which the mill stands. A copy of this unfinished painting can be seen in the windmill kiosk.
A vital part of the community
For two centuries the windmill provided a service for the local community and work for generations of millers. Little is known about the millers although in January 1811 the Hampshire Chronicle reported that 'Mr Cook, miller of Bembridge [was] found frozen to death by his own mill'.
Visit the windmill early in the year and you may still find the wind whistling through the mill's windows but it's hard to think that Mr Cook died solely from the cold.
Grinding to a halt
In the 1880s Bembridge's isolation ended when Brading Haven was drained. The arrival of the railway bringing cheap flour meant that from 1897 onwards only cattle feed was produced. Poignantly the mill last operated in 1913. By the following harvest the men had gone off to fight in the Great War and the mill never reopened.
Repairs were made in the 1930s, and then in the late 1950s local people paid for further restoration work before giving the mill to the National Trust in 1961.
As the only surviving windmill on the island, Bembridge Windmill is an important part of the island's heritage.