There are about 140 windmills left in the UK today — of these, about 40 still work. By comparison, explains Mildred Cookson, chair of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB)’s mills section, there were more than 1,000 in the 1890s.
They tend to take one of two styles: the brick-built tower mill, where only the cap rotates, or the wooden post mill, which fully rotates around a vertical post and dates to about 1185, when one was built at Weedly, East Yorkshire.
Some are more famous than others. John Constable painted the mill at Petworth, West Sussex, and, in Buckinghamshire, Cobstone features as the home of Caractacus Potts in the 1968 film adaptation of Ian Fleming’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. In the BBC’s mystery crime series Jonathan Creek, starring Alan Davies, it’s King’s Mill in Shipley, West Sussex, that steals the show.