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«Buckinghamshire Windmill Farmhouse, Archaeological Society Wingrave HISTORIC BUILDING REPORT / March 2012 SURVEY AND REPORT: Andrew Muir Report ...»

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Fig 35 shows Fred Honor probably taken at the same time and Fig 37 shows Fred and his wife Eva at a later (unknown) date. Fig 36 shows the barns in 2010 which still retain the original doors and windows, over 100 years later.

Fig 38 Roof timbers (reused windmill sails?) Fig 39 Mr and Mrs George Fleet

Fig 40 The house circa 1936 (Bucks County Council) The 20th century - The Fleets and Buckinghamshire County Council In September 1911 Josiah Fleet signed a memorandum of agreement with Leopold de Rothschild [15] for the rent of the Windmill Farmhouse, the farm buildings and "147 acres, 2 roods and 5 perches or thereabouts" of land for annual sum of £153.19.10. Josiah lived at Windmill House on the village green (then known as Southampton Lodge) and was a prosperous local farmer and property developer. Unfortunately he died the following year on 15 September 1912 following a fall from a pear tree in his garden, and the tenancy of Windmill Farm passed to his son George (Fig 39).

This tenancy continued until 1917 when Leopold de Rothschild died; his son Lionel, acting as executor of his father's will, then sold the farm house and the 147 acres of land to George Fleet in 1918 for the sum of £3,900 [16].

George Fleet had purchased the farm with a mortgage, but appears to have lived beyond his means: he sold Windmill Farm in March 1920, and thereafter lived on his capital which was gradually depleted until he was declared bankrupt in 1932 [17]. The purchaser (for a price of £4650) was Buckinghamshire County Council, which at that time was buying farmland in the aftermath of World War I [18].

The indenture between George Fleet and the County Council [19] describes the property as "that messuage or farmhouse (formerly two cottages) with the outbuildings and the several closes or pieces of land situate in the Parish of Wingrave and comprising in the whole one hundred and fifty three acres, one rood and five perches or thereabouts". In effect, thi s is the same land as that which was owned by Francis Cox in 1798 (when Wingrave was enclosed), although the estimates of acreage vary slightly. Note also the reference to "formerly two cottages".

The County Council then owned the farm for over 50 years until 1971. There are few records dating from this period, and it is probable that no significant modifications were made to the house. The only known photograph is one of the south west corner dated about 1936 (Fig 40) which shows that the main access to the house was on the south side, up steps in the bank from the road. Indeed, the main entrance had probably been on the south side for many years

- Fig 37 (on the previous page) shows Eva and Fred Honor at what was presumably their front door, again on the south side of the house. Figs 34 and 35 suggest the reason - the farmyard on the north side was extremely muddy.

A number of village residents have personal recollections of Windmill Farmhouse during the ownership of the County Council. Bert Lambourne (who died in the early 1990s) described life during the second World War when the home guard was stationed in the barn and a prisoner of war lived in the upstairs room of the barn for a while.

Tony Lambourne (no relation of Bert) often visited Windmill Farmhouse in the 1950s when he was a boy living in the Anchor pub. He recalls that a bull was kept in the far left stall of the barn and milking was carried out in the middle stalls.

Fig 41 Auction notice, November 1971 Fig 42 Windmill farmhouse, 1970s Note changes to windows The late 20th Century: Windmill Farmhouse ceases to be a working farm The last of the County Council's tenants were Ralph Higgings and his family, who lived in the western half of the house and sub let the eastern half. In the 1960s Alan and Mary Rawlings occupied the eastern half, leaving on 2 October 1963, a short while after their daughter, Angela, was born in the house. During the time of their residence the front door continued to be on the south side of the house, and the back door opened from the kitchen into the farmyard. There were three rooms downstairs - the kitchen and two living rooms and upstairs there were three bedrooms. Solid walls on both the ground and first floors separated the eastern and western halves of the building.

When the Rawlings moved in there was an earth closet in the cowshed (the remains of which exist as a brick wall in the garden); later on a flush toilet was installed in the dairy, but this was still accessed by an external door. There was no fixed bath.

Windmill Farmhouse was sold by the County Council at an auction to Mr and Mrs Bailey in November 1971 (Fig 41). The Baileys continued to work the farm in the 1970s (Fig 42), but in 1982 the house was offered for sale as two properties with the adjacent Tythe Barn being converted to a dwelling house (Fig 43).

The farmhouse was purchased by Mr and Mrs Saunders in 1982 who sold it to the current owners, Jane and Andrew Muir, in 1992.



Windmill Hill Farm which is being divided into two properties with a third in the Tythe Barn is a very pretty 16th century house, built of brick with exposed timbers. There is a large courtyard with outbuildings to the other two sides, of which two garages and half the brick built barn (at present looseboxes) would be sold with No. 2.

Fig 43 Estate agent's details circa 1982 Acknowledgements Thanks are due to the many people who have supported me in the research of Windmill Farmhouse and the production of this booklet.

Within Wingrave, Prudence Goodwin has been tireless in unearthing facts and photographs of former owners and residents of the house and I am extremely grateful for her support.

Thanks are also due to Robin Moat, chairman of the Wingrave Archive Association and to Ken Morley who, with his late wife Margaret, undertook so much research on the history of the village, including Windmill Farmhouse. I would also like to thank all of the former residents of, and past visitors to, the house who have provided me with memories and/or photographs.

It would not have been possible to produce this booklet without the help, guidance and encouragement of Historic Buildings Group of the Bucks Archaeological Society and in particular Peter Marsden and Sue th I have especially enjoyed the many discussions with Fox.

th them on the finer points of 15 and 16 century construction techniques.


1. Royal Commission on Historical Monuments 1911, Buckinghamshire Volume 2 Page 339 (Wingrave)

2. Images of England (www.imagesofengland.org.uk) Windmill Farmhouse, IoE number

3. Cunnington, P How Old is Your House? ISBN 9781840334425 page 66

4. Brunskill R W Illustrated handbook of Vernacular Architecture (fourth edition, 2000) ISBN 0571195032 page 109 drawing b

5. Cunnington page 68

6. Brunskill page 56

7. Brunskill page 211

8. Cunnington page 164/5

9. Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies: Enclosure Map of Wingrave (1798)

10. Morley, Ken and Margaret Wingrave A Rothschild Village in the Vale ISBN 1871199999 page 29

11. Tunnicliffe M Unto the Poore of Wingrave Town Unpublished pamphlet, page 8

12. Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies: Map of Wingrave drawn by the Parish Clerk,

13. Buckinghamshire County Council Legal and Democratic Services Archive: Indenture between Sir Nathaniel Mayer de Rothschild and his sons and grandson, 17 February

14. Ken and Margaret Morley page 74

15. Rothschild Archive: Memorandum of Agreement between Leopold de Rothschild and Josiah Fleet for the rent of Windmill Farm,28 September 1911, Document K 129

16. Rothschild Archive: Conveyance of Windmill Farm by Lionel de Rothschild to George Fleet, 24 May 1918, Document L103

17. Newspaper cutting provided by Prudence Goodwin - source and date unknown

18. Ken and Margaret Morley page 186

19. Buckinghamshire County Council Legal and Democratic Services Archive: Indenture between George Fleet and Buckinghamshire County Council for the sale of Windmill Farm, 3 March 1920


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A dendrochronological survey [1] was undertaken by Dr Andy Moir of Tree Ring Services in October 2010 with a follow up visit in March 2011. Twenty five core samples were taken from various locations on the first floor and the roof space, and seven of these samples were crossed matched to form a 75 year site chronology spanning AD 1541 to AD 1615 (i.e. the outermost ring of the core samples corresponded to 1615 and the innermost ring corresponded to 1541).

As seven of the samples all indicated the same tree felling date, it can be concluded with a high degree of confidence that the timber used to build the house was felled in 1615. It was the general practice at that time to use recently felled ("green") timber for house construction, and hence it can be concluded that Windmill Farmhouse was built in 1616. This date is consistent with the overall design and construction of the building.


1. Moir, Andy Dendrochronological Analysis of Oak Timbers from Windmill Farm, Wingrave Tree-Ring Services Report WGWM/05/11


19th CENTURIES There are several primary sources (notably wills and thenclosureth records) which offer the potential to identify the owners and occupiers of houses in the 18 and 19 centuries, but often these sources are of limited use - for example many wills lack a definitive house name which can link the signatory to a particular property. Consequently an analysis of most of the primary sources will inevitably include an amount of speculation and/or assumptions and the following paragraphs are no exception!

The Mortimer Family The earliest primary source found to date which identifies an owner of Windmill Farmhouse is the will of Francis Mortimer, dated 1744 and granted probate in 1751 [1]. In this will he left all of his property in Wingrave to his widow Anne Mortimer and also made provision for his sole child, Mary, who was married to Thomas Lamb.

In addition Francis Mortimer's will made provision for a charity to provide a coat to the poorest person in the village on an annual basis: "such person who should by virtue of his will be the owner or possessor of his four acres of arable land, lying in the North field of Wingrave, in the furlong there called Sunriddy furlong, parcel of premises thereinbefore devised, should yearly, for ever, on St Thomas's day, pay into the hands of the churchwardens and overseers of the parish, one annuity of 20s..laid out in a blue coat for the poorest man living in the said parish of Wingrave..." The annual sum continued to be paid into the 20 th century and in 1921 there is a record of the sum being paid by Buckinghamshire County Council as owners of Windmill Hill Farm [2]. Francis Mortimer's will was written before the 1798 enclosure of Wingrave when the fields were consolidated and redistributed amongst the local landowners. Consequently the connection with Sunriddy furlong appears to have ceased with the enclosure, and responsibility for providing the coat was transferred to the owner of the house occupied by Francis Mortimer.

Francis Mortimer's father was also named Francis and he signed his will in 1715 with probate granted in 1722 [3]. Francis senior bequeathed to Francis junior all of his freehold property in Wingrave, and hence it is probable that Windmill Farmhouse was in the ownership of the Mortimer family at the beginning of the 18 th century and possibly earlier.

Francis Mortimer's widow Anne outlived her husband for more than 25 years - she signed her will in 1773 and probate was granted in 1778 [4]. Anne's will is complex and divides her estate between a large number of individuals but is contains no reference to her dwelling house, so it is probable that Windmill Farmhouse was sold out of the Mortimer family during Anne's widowhood or shortly after her death.

The Keene family There were several branches of the Keene family living in Wingrave in the 18 th century - and many of the family members shared the same Christian names (Thomas, Daniel), making identification of individuals difficult. However there does appear to be a linkage between the Keene family and Windmill Farmhouse through a painted signature "D K 1722" in the main bedroom; this was very probably one of two Daniel Keenes who were known to be living in the village at the time [5] but it is not possible to determine whether they were residents of Windmill Farmhouse or merely vi sitors.

There is evidence of close relationships between the Keene and Mortimer families in the mid 18 th century - for example the witnessing of wills and appointment of executors, and it is tempting to speculate that "D K 1722" is a sign of occupancy by the Keenes when the house was owned by the Mortmers.

The Cox family The first known connection between the Cox and Mortimer families appears in the will of James Mortimer [6] which is dated 1740. James, who lived at Crafton, was the son of Francis Mortimer senior and brother of Francis Mortimer junior (see above), and his will was witnessed by Thomas Cox. The same Thomas Cox wrote his own will in 1797 [7], at which time he was living in Long Crendon.

The second connection between the two families appears in the enclosure documentation of 1798 where the owner of Windmill Farm is recorded as Francis Cox of Eythrop, and the farmer is recorded as Robert Cox [8]. The relationship between Francis, Robert and Thomas Cox and between the Cox and Mortimer families is not clear, but it would appear that all three members of the Cox family had an interest in Wingrave, and Windmill Farm in particular, even though at least two of them lived some distance away on the other side of Aylesbury in the late 1790s. Possibly Francis Cox purchased Windmill Farm from Anne Mortimer through a personal connection.

In the first half of the 19 th century (up to 1830 at least and probably as late as 1850) Windmill Farm was owned and farmed by William Cox who became a major landowner and a "village eldef' within Wingrave. William lived in Wingrave for many years until he moved to Thame in the mid 1830s [9], but again it is not clear whether he lived in Windmill Farmhouse or elsewhere in the village.

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