Akholte (Ackholt or Acol) windmill.

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

The earliest known reference to a windmill in Nonington is in a 1309 Latin document recording the transfer of ownership in the Manor of Ackholt from John (1), the son of Stephen de Akolte (Acholt) to John (2), the son of Thomas de Akholte, and Lucia, his mother, of a windmill (unum molendinum ventifluim) in the parish of Nonington near Holestrete (Holt Street) on Freydviles (Fredville’s) land and two shillings 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 windmill appears to have been located on or just to the west of the site of the pit head baths and car park of the now closed Snowdown Colliery on the west side of the road from Holt Street. The site would have been well served by roads to Ackholt, Holt Street in Nonington, and to Womenswold and Woolege Green. The site would have been well served by roads to Ackholt, Holt Street in Nonington, and to Womenswold and Woolege Green.

No reference is made to the mill in Archbishop Pecham’s 1283-85 survey of the Manor of Wingham which seems to confirm it was built between 1285 and 1309. 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.

Post mill from a 14th century manuscript
Post mill from a 14th century manuscript

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.

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