Click to watch Video
The building of the Windmill, the tallest in Buckinghamshire, started in 1830 to the order of Mr James Anstiss. The bricks for the 65ft high tower were burnt in a kiln set up near the mill, the clay being dug from a depression about 100 yards to the Northeast. Two of the bricks are inscribed "Ja Hunt 1830" and "G & B 1830".
There was a delay in building during the winter of 1830 while Mr Anstiss visited America : why he undertook this uncomfortable journey is not known. While he was away the half-completed tower was thatched. William Cooper, millwright of Aylesbury, installed the machinery during the following twelve months incorporating the latest ideas in millwrighting. The mill was completed in 1832. William Cooper was made a bankrupt shortly afterwards
James Anstiss , who had the mill built, was the only son of another miller and was baptised in the Quainton Parish Church on 28th January 1805. He was trained as a land surveyor and worked on the maps for the locality at the time of the Parliamentary enclosures of the open fields in 1841. He combined his work with the roles as farmer and miller. By 1881, aged 76, he had retired as an active miller and had handed over to his son Thomas Anstiss. During the mill's life other millers working here were Joseph Rose, Charles Burton and William Smith who moved his family here from Towersey, Near Thame.
Early in the mill's life the first floor was raised and reorganised to allow a 20HP Vertical Steam Engine to be installed on the massive bed-stone on the ground floor, with its boiler in the open outside the north door. This was a common practice at the time : the engine enabled the mill to work regardless of the wind, particularly important for this mill since it was shielded by nearby hills from winds from the northwest round to the northeast. The drive from the engine was taken up the mill to engage the great spur wheel. Coal for the engine had to be carted ten miles from the nearest railhead at Winslow. Although machinery for three pairs of stones were installed, historical records indicate that only two damsels were ever supplied. When the mill was put up for sale in 1912 only two pairs of stones were listed. It is believed that these two pairs were the only ones serviceable at the time, the third pair having disintegrated and now on the ground floor. It is recorded that one pair of stones was sold in 1914. It is thought that this was one of the serviceable pairs, leaving the mill, as it is now, with one pair of working stones and one pair in need of restoration.
It is not known precisely when the mill stopped operating. It was well built and there is no indication that it ever suffered a mechanical breakdown, but in the 1891 census both James and Thomas Anstiss were described as "Retired Millers".
The Quainton Windmill Society was formed in 1974 with the object of restoring the mill. The present owner, Mr Colin Dancer, is Life President : he is a descendant of James Anstiss. Restoration work has continued since 1974.
A small group works in the mill every Sunday morning, on restoration and to show visitors around. Volunteers are urgently required to help. If you would like to help, or to work at the visitor's desk, please visit us one Sunday morning. To arrange a special visit to the mill, or to find out more about the Windmill Society, please contact the Society's Secretary : Mr Patrick Tooms, 7 Torbay, Quainton: Telephone :- 01296 655306