During the current coronavirus pandemic I’ve been undertaking #Covid19constitutionals that I’ve recorded on this blog’s Born Again Swindonian Facebook page.
Today’s such stroll took me on a visit to the Windmill Hill windmill. And, moreover, a Swindon in 50 more buildings post.
It’s only taken me 26 years in Swindon and a pandemic to get me to find out more about it. I even used to work on the aforementioned location, in Trigonos.
What is Windmill Hill?
Good question, the eponymous site upon which said windmill sits, is in fact a business park. One that’s stuffed to the gills with futuristic buildings that opened to great acclaim back in 1984. And I can see why. This website has some great photographs and drone footage of the business centre.
‘Windmill Hill Business Park is an imaginative collection of high quality office buildings. It’s set in a beautifully landscaped business park setting. It overlooks the Wiltshire countryside and lies less than 20 minutes from Swindon town centre and the railway station.
The environment is peaceful and relaxed, with lakes and pedestrian walkways to the local shops. Easy connections to the Wiltshire cycleway and direct access to J16 of the M4 a quarter of a mile away.’
But what about the windmill?
As a 2015 Swindon Advertiser article explains: ‘This graceful structure, with its majestic sails, originally adorned the fields of Chiseldon around six miles away before its dramatic though not unproblematic rebirth.’ Onto Windmill Hill that is.
Built in the 1820s, next to Chiseldon church, local historians claim the windmill still did its thing as late as 1892.
The rationale for putting the windmill there it that, it seems, there used to be a medieval post mill on the site. That traditional business activity gave the name to the centre and the reason to move the Chiseldon windmill to where it stands now.
A 2008 Swindon Advertiser article, written by Frances Bevan tells us the following:
In the absence of any archaeological remains of the windmill there is one compelling piece of pictorial evidence.
Among the St John monuments in St Mary’s Church, Lydiard Tregoz is the Golden Cavalier. That’s a tribute to Sir John St John’s son Edward who died from wounds received at the 2nd Battle of Newbury in 1644.
On the base of the statue there is a relief carving of the Cavalier leading his troop . Alan Turton, writing in English Civil War Notes And Queries 1985 about the presence of a Post Mill (windmill) in the carving says:
‘the whole design may show Captain Edward St John parading his troop in the park, hence the railings, of his family home at Lydiard Tregoze where there is also a Windmill Hill on the estate.’
Another remnant of Swindon past
Close by to this windmill is another hidden remnant of Swindon past – now serving as the site office for the business park.
Now office accommodation, this is the Marsh Farm, Farmhouse.
The 101-acre dairy farm, once part of the Lydiard Park Estate belonged to the St John family.
The tithe map apportionments, produced in 1841, record ancient field names such as The Shannells and Picks Mead.
Read more about it here.