A post mill, taken from a King's Lynn, Norfolk, funeral brass, 1349

A post mill, taken from a King’s Lynn, Norfolk, funeral brass, 1349

In 1309 John (1), the son of Stephen de Akolte (Acholt) transferred to John (2), the son of Thomas de Akholte, and Lucia, his mother, the ownership a windmill (unum molendinum ventifluim) in the parish of Nonington. The mill was recorded as being situated near Holestrete (Holt Street) on Freydviles (the Manor of Fredville) land, and with it came two shillings [10 pence] and two hens free rent (duos solidos et duas gallinas de libere redditu) from Thomas le Kete of Holestrete, who was presumably the miller. The Fredvile land in question was almost certainly Cookys, later Cooks Hill, which was recorded as being a part of the Akolte estate in the 1440’s.

The possible location of the 14th century Ackholt windmill [1859 Poor Law Commissioners map]

The windmill appears to have been located just to the north of the site of the old Snowdown Collier  pit baths and car park  on the brow of the hill on the west side of the road up from Holt Street. The site would have been well served by roads to Ackholt, Holt Street in Nonington, and to Womenswold and Woolege Green. As can be seen on the 1859 Poor Law Commisioners map below, the road up from Ackholt which now joins the main road from Holt Street on the south side of Snowdown railway bridge then joined the Holt Street road some two hundred yards or so closer to Holt Street approximately where the gate now goes into the field. The road was re-routed when the railway line was actually built in 1860, a year or so after the map, which only shows the proposed route of the railway, was drawn up.

In 1341 John de Acholte granted the mill along with other property and rents in Nonyngton, Rollynge (Rolling) and Wimelyngewelde (Womenswold) near Crodewode (Crudeswood or Curleswood) to Peter Heyward. After this transfer there is no presently known reference to this mill, so it would appear to have gone out of service and was not replaced.

These early post mills were usually constructed with two crossed beams resting on the ground and four angled beams coming up to support a central post, usually wooden, around which the superstructure of the mill was built. These cross beams were often buried stop the mill blowing away in a storm. This style of construction allowed the mill to be turned to face the wind by using a long beam attached horizontally to the body of the mill. Often the windmills were built on a specially constructed mound, although sometimes an existing barrow (burial mound) was used, to increase exposure to the wind. The sails on the early mills were sometimes only six or seven feet long, much smaller than those on later mills.