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Chrishall Windmill

by | Nov 3, 2020 | At Work | 1 comment

Chrishall windmill

For nearly three hundred years Chrishall had it’s own windmill*. It stood next to Mill House on Mill Causeway and was a post mill, probably very similar to Chishill Mill. The mill was made of wood and could be turned around a main central post so that the sails were into the wind. Walter Brand (who lived at Building End Farm and later at Mapletons) said he had heard tell that men working in the orchard and fields opposite the mill would be called across by the miller to help push the mill round into the wind.

The Mill was in place by 1592 and was demolished around 1890. Unfortunately we have no pictures of it. The only image we have is from maps similar to the one shown above.

Mill owners

1699: John Pryor – The first miller recorded for Chrishall in K G Farries book Essex Windmills, Millers & Millwrights. Currently this is the first mention of Chrishall windmill and we don’t know exactly when it was built.

1700: Mention of Matthias Welch of Chrishall, miller, in a deed of conveyance regarding property in Bridge Street, Saffron Walden.

1793: The first mention of the Beans family who were to run the mill until the end of it’s use in 1877.

1793: Thomas Beans recorded in Farries Essex Windmills book (see above).

1808: Thomas was marked as the owner on the Enclosure Map for Chrishall.

1841: Thomas is recorded on the census, aged 75, Miller, living with wife Sarah, aged 77, and Thomas his son who was a Miller Journeyman aged 30.  Also at Mill House was Mary Beans aged 30 who it seems was Thomas Junior’s wife.

1843: Thomas Beans Snr again recorded as Miller in Farries book. However Thomas died in May of 1843 leaving everything to his son Thomas on condition that he allow “my dear wife Sarah to reside in the house…”

Sarah died in April of 1848. Both Sarah and Thomas were buried at Chrishall Church.

1851 Census: Thomas (junior) miller, aged 43 with wife Mary who was born in Elmdon.  They have sons Thomas, Stephen, Charles and John.

Sadly Mary dies in April of 1851 aged just 42 from ‘dropsy’ (an old term for swelling due to water retention – Mary may have had congestive heart failure.)

1861 Census: Thomas has taken on a house-keeper, Sarah Button.  His son, Thomas is now also a miller and Charles and John are still living with them at Mill House.

1863: Farries book records James Beans as miller in 1863 but I wonder if this might be an inaccuracy as Thomas is still listed as miller on the 1871 census.

1871: Thomas, widower with Sarah Button still his housekeeper and he has taken in Joseph Button too, Sarah’s brother who is noted on the census returns as an idiot. His son, Thomas, is now a miller in Waltham Abbey with his wife Hannah.

1877: The final entry in Ferries book for millers at Chrishall is for Thomas Beans and in November 1879 a Thomas Beans is buried at Chrishall Church aged 77.

Finally Walter Brand records the destruction of the mill in around 1880/1890.


* First record of the mill so far: The Chrishall Survey of 1592 on ‘Myllway’ (Mill Causeway).

1 Comment

  1. Jenny Armour

    Thomas Beans, 1765-1843 is my 3 x great grandfather, and I have done a fair bit of research into his ancestry and his descendants. Might you be interested in this, or have you already done it? Either way, thank you for the interesting article about the mill.


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