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PATCHAM WINDMILL

Published 21st December 2005

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When my former work colleague, Bob Baker, bought Patcham Windmill it had been derelict for two years and was in a bad way. Eleven years later and after having just undertaken a five month redecoration, Bob is now looking to sell which prompted me to ask for a tour for myself.

I first visited at night and after finding my way up the dark private road was immediately impressed by the privacy that this isolated, high-walled and secure property offers. The structure consists of the converted windmill, which was built for Joseph Harris, a baker, in 1884-5, along with an octagonal 1960s two storey extension and a large wooden conservatory. It was originally called Waterhall Mill and part of its machinery came from the old Preston Mill. It was the last brick tower-mill erected in Sussex and continued to grind corn until 1924. Its sails, which were renewed in 1990, are an impressive 55ft. In 1928 it was sold for just 50 and in 1936 was converted into a house. Most of the working machinery is still in place including the last three working millstones. As decorative features, several of the old millstones have been built into the staircase and boundary walls. Starting up the mill is quite a task but, in theory, possible – the massive 2ton 10ft brake must first be released though.

It goes without saying that the views over the South Downs from the rendered five storey 50ft tower are spectacular. For this very reason it was requisitioned by the Home Guard during the Second World War. It is believed that the spiral staircase in the tower originates from St. Paul’s Cathedral which makes sense as one of the previous owners was an important clergyman. It reverted to private use in 1950 and was Grade II Listed in 1952. In more recent times, a lightning strike caused considerable damage leading to a massive repair programme.

There are four bedrooms and three bath/shower rooms – none of which have 90 degree corners. The character of the building along with its secluded location, fantastic views and landscaped gardens, complete with koi carp pond, make this one of the city’s best residential properties. Landmarks like this rarely change hands, let alone come up for sale on the open market. Patcham Windmill is for sale and I am tempted I must say. Now if I could only find the 995,000 asking price…

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