Windmill Inn

Two Hundred Years of Protestant Tradition at The Windmill Inn

by Ed Grimsdale

The Windmill Inn stood at 33 High Street on the corner with Vicarage Road. The buildings now house a Veterinary Practice and they have gone through many transformations in the past. The present, neat Victorian frontage is a mere carapace and hiding behind are bricks and mortar that have learned to adapt to changing needs over hundred of years. It’s infuriatingly difficult to pin down when an Inn first took root on this site. But, this piece may show a little evidence that The Windmill stood upon its principles as early as 1650.

We do know that ownership of The Windmill was unusually settled. From before 1752 to 1835, members of the Gibbs family were in chargeas owners, licensees or both.  Such circumstances can lead to “family traditions” and this seems to have been the case with The Windmill.

The Windmill’s tradition was to hold a sumptuous dinner on November 5th each year. Yes, it celebrated the failure of Guy Fawkes’ Gunpowder plot.  The piece below reveals that in 1844, those attending celebrated as many as 200 years of such feasts. Given the continuity of management, it may well be that the assertion was true: hence it’s reasonable to speculate that The Windmill was serving drinks and food in 1650.

In 1844, songs were sung. The Chairman of the feast was Mr George Maydon – almost certainly a relative of the William Mayden (sic!) who was licensed to serve ale in The Windmill in 1790 & 1795.  The splendid “200th Birthday” party received press coverage and a report appeared the following week in The Bucks Herald. It reveals that a special song had been written for the event.  The song’s contents - rabidly Protestant and feverishly anti-Papist - hark back to earlier times. Words and phrases remind me of those verses in The National Anthem that we omit to spare our own blushes!

It’s dangerous, inflammatory stuff that we should read in a context: the Catholic Emancipation Bill had been forced through a reluctant Parliament in 1829. Its tenets were unpopular with many, possibly most, voters, and North Bucks, which had a strong protestant, dissenting tradition,  was no exception. When Hymns Ancient and Modern was first published in 1861, there were letters to the national press from Church of England clergyman living in this area reviling the popular hymnal for its reliance on ancient Catholic hymns which were full of sentiments that they could neither espouse nor sing.

How long did the Anti-Papist Annual Dinner at The Windmill survive? Times, mores and traditions did change, little by little. The hatred created by Guy Fawkes' act of treachery in 1605 faded, look back in anger morphed into a nursery rhyme “Remember, remember, the fifth of November”, rallies, feasts and protest songs were binned. In their place a children’s festival of fireworks arose.   Did the spark go out of The Windmill’s event when sparklers were placed in the hands of children?

Report in the Bucks Herald (9 Nov 1844)

WINSLOW – The annual supper took place at the Windmill Inn, in the town, on Tuesday last, the 5th of November, a commemoration that has been observed in that Inn, according to tradition, for nearly two hundred years. A most respectable company assembled to partake of the convivialities of the evening, the chair being taken by Mr George Maydon, whose efficiency and pleasantry of deportment rendered the occasion more than usually interesting. Several songs were sung, amongst which was the following, composed in special celebration of the event:-

About two hundred years ago,
If tradition tells us true,
Our forefathers assembled here,
Mirth and pleasure to pursue
With tables well provided,
With the best of Britain’s land,
They pass’d their days in jollity,
Till exhausted was life’s sand.
So deem it not surprising
If we follow in the wake

Past history informs us,
Upon this very night,
The dark designs of Popery
Were fully brought to light;
And though many years have rolled away
Since that foul and bloody plot,
As Protestants we still declare
It ne’er shall be forgot.

The shades of the departed,-
The martyrs of past times,
Still haunt imagination,
And tell us of their crimes
That stain the page of history
While Rome bore ruthless sway; -
And restore but her supremacy,
She’d shew the same array.

May Protestant ascendancy
Still rule the British Isles,
And blasted and confounded be
All Popish tricks and wiles;
And should another Guy appear
A second plot to act,
May he, like his progenitor,
Be taken in the fact.

A Guy Fawkes Acrostic Poem from Winslow

The citizens did not lay down their pens after 1844 on the subject of the Gunpowder Plot. In 1883, George D. Day of Winslow won the prize of two guineas (£2.10) offered by the proprietors of the Weekly Despatch for the best-rhymed acrostic on “Guy Fawkes’ Day”. His tone is a little milder than that of the lyricist who wrote the song, but is this poem, in some sense, a response to those earlier lines?

Grim spirit of the past, whose odious name
Undying ages brand with ceaseless shame;
Yet from thy crime let so-called patriots see

Freedom can ne’er be gained by devilry.
A nation’s wrongs how think they to redress,
While stained her hands are in blood-guiltiness?
Kindling the torch of discord and unrest,
Embit’ring even those who loved her best.
Stay the red hand, the glittering blade put back,

Despair must follow in the murderer’s track
A free-born nation all rejoice to see –
Ye but profane the name of Liberty.

Footnote: How appropriate it was for one of Winslow’s leading inns to be called The Windmill. Before the Industrial Revolution, the windmill was to Winslow what the watermill was to Buckingham. Both market towns drew their power from nature, one was built within a loop of the river Great Ouse, the other was on dry land and had to look heavenward for energy.

Ed has also suggested a connection between The Windmill and Keach's Chapel, through the Gibbs family: read his article. Until the Oddfellows Hall was started in 1903 (now the Public Hall), The Windmill was also the headquarters of the Oddfellows: see below.

Windmill Inn with 3 storeys The Windmill in the late 19th century consisted of a 3-storey Victorian building and an earlier thatched house.
Windmill Inn 1960 The premises were rebuilt in the 1920s. They are shown here from a different angle, c.1960.


History of the Windmill Inn

The earliest use of the name The Windmill found so far is from 1709. At that time it would have been one of the nearest buildings to the actual windmill.

Windmill signNorman Saving, Glimpses of Past Days (1973, 21): Under the thatched roof of this inn at one time was a curious old sign board, showing a man leading a horse and cart to a windmill and being of the tower type (one of this type stood on the brow of the hill between Gt Horwood and Winslow). It is traditionally said that the windmill from which the inn obtained its name once stood in the corner of Jennings Close (the Old Flower Show Field).

1688: manor court
Antony Deeley and Margaret his wife surrendered a messuage now in the occupation of William East ... To the use of Daniel Steevens and Ann his wife, who sought admission. To be void if Antony pays them 50s annually for 3 years in 2 equal portions: £1 5s on 1 Nov next, 1 May and 1 Nov 1689 and 1690, and the full sum of £51 5s on 1 May 1691. Rent [blank], fine 5s.

1691: manor court
Anthony Deeley on 17 Dec last surrendered through Thomas Deeley and Richard Phipps a messuage in Winslow in which William East then lived with all barns, stables, yards, pig-sties, etc., now in the occupation of William East, and for "the Eaves Droppings" as much ground on the outer side of the backyards which stands in the palings of Thomas Wright and directly 18 inches in length from the pig-sties [translation uncertain]. To the use of Thomas Bett, who was called and did not come. First proclamation made.

1708: manor court
Anthony Deely formerly died seised of the equity of redemption of a messuage late in the occupation of William East ... Thomas Deely his son and heir, of full age, sought admission.
Ann Stevens widow died since the last court seised of a messuage once in the occupation of William East and now of Thomas Gally ... Subject to equity of redemption for the heirs of Antony Deely deceased. ... William Shelton [her brother-in-law and beneficiary] sought admission. Rent [blank], fine [blank].

1709: manor court
Thomas Bett by Thomas Hornsby gent. his attorney sought to be admitted to all that messuage called by the name of The Windmill with barns, stables, orchards, backyards and all other buildings and structures which came into the lord's hands on the surrender of Antony Deely deceased dated 17 Dec 1692 [=1690] and presented at the next court, as appears in the rolls. Rent [blank], fine 5s.
Thomas Bett, customary tenant, by Thomas Hornsby gent. his attorney, surrendered the messuage called The Windmill with barns, stables, orchards, backyards, now in the occupation of Thomas Galley. To the use of Thomas Deely jr, son of Antony Deely deceased. Rent [blank], fine 5s.

1752: Will of John Gibbs of Winslow, cordwainer & victualler
 The will does not make clear where John Gibbs' premises were, but he left a life interest in them to his wife Kesiah.

1760: Alehouse recognizances
Windmill: Keziah Gibbs
In 1753-6, the licensee of The Windmill is given as Isiah or Hezekiah Gibbs, presumably a mistake for Keziah.

1762: manor court
Kesiah, wife of John Gibbs late of Winslow Victualer deceased, while she lived held by copy of court roll for her life a messuage in Winslow known by the name or sign of the Windmill. She died since the last court. Heriot: one Brass Copper. John Gibbs by his will dated 9 April 1752 devises it after her death unto his son Stephen Gibbs. Stephen desires to be admitted. Rent 4d, fine 5s.
Stephen then surrendered the Windmill, now in the occupation of Matthew Morris, to the use of himself and Rebecca his wife and his heirs. Fine 5s.
Keziah died 2 Feb 1762 aged 62 (gravestone recorded by Arthur Clear).

1765-74: Alehouse recognizances
Windmill: Richard Gibbs

1772, 10 July: Sun Insurance, 11936/215/313668

Stephen Gibbs of Winslow glover
On his dwelling house situate as aforesaid 
On the Windmill Alehouse and brewhouse only adjoining
in the tenure of Richard Gibbs victualler

1776, 4 Aug: Will of Stephen Gibbs of Winslow, glover, recorded in Manor Court Book
He left to his son John Gibbs:
Copyhold messuage or tenement situate and being in Winslow aforesaid now in the tenure or occupation of John Carter called or known by the name or sign of the Wind Mill

1776: manor court (Centre for Bucks Studies, D 82/1/259)
Admission of John Gibbs under will of Stephen Gibbs

1776: Alehouse recognizances
Windmill: John Carter

1777, 8 April: Sun Insurance, 11936/256/382479

John Gibbs of Winslow glover
On his house and leantoos adjoining in the tenure of Thomas Ives bellman
House brewhouse and leantoos adjoining called the Swan in the tenure of Thomas Footman victualler 
Tenement stable barn leantoos under one roof separate in said tenure  
House only adjoining the Swan Alehouse aforesaid in the tenure of William George shopkeeper 
Two houses only adjoining in the tenure of  … Griffin … Walker
Barn only adjoining
House brewhouse and leantoos adjoining separate from the above called the Windmill in the tenure of Thomas Carter victualler 
Barn and pigsties adjoining each other separate from the above

The Swan is not listed in the Alehouse Recognizances at this date, although there was a White Swan until 1765.

1780, 7 July: Sun Insurance, 11936/284/430754

John Gibbs of Winslow victualler and glover
On his house and leantoos adjoining in Winslow in the tenure of Thomas Ives  thatched 
On his now dwelling house and brewhouse and leantoos adjoining the above  thatched 
Household goods therein only 
Utensils and stock therein only
Wearing apparel therein only
House only adjoining in the tenure of William George shopkeeper
Two houses only adjoining in the tenure of Griffin and Walker thatched
House brewhouse and leantoos adjoining near in the tenure of Thomas Carter victualler  thatched 
Barn pigsties adjoining separate  thatched 
Two stables and coalhouse adjoining separate  thatched in his own tenure
Utensils and stock therein only
All in Winslow aforesaid

1781: Land Tax
John Gibbs (owner); John Carter (occupier): 8s 8d

1782, 27 July: Sun Insurance, 11936/303/462813

John Gibbs of Winslow victualler
On his now dwelling house and four tenements barn and leantoos all under one roof situate as aforesaid in the tenure of himself Ives George Griffin and Walker
On his household goods in his said dwelling house only 
On his stock therein
On his wearing apparel therein only
Two stables and barn adjoining each other separate
House only called the Windmill near in the tenure of William Edwin
Barn and pigsties only adjoining near

1785-90:  Alehouse recognizances
Windmill: William Maiden / Mayden  

1786: Land Tax
John Gibbs; William Maydon: 7s 11d

1792: Manor court
John Gibbs of Winslow Glover customary tenant and Elizabeth his wife on 16 March 1792 mortgaged to James Burnham the Elder of Winslow gent. for £100 + interest payable 16 Sep next:
Messuage in Cow Street now in the occupation of the said John Gibbs commonly called the Windmill
+ 4 messuages in Cow Street now in the occupations of William Maydon, Kitty Hazard widow, Catherine George widow and Thomas Griffin, with houses outhouses Edifices Buildings Barns Stables Yards Orchards Gardens backsides
[The 4 messuages appear to be 29-31 High Street and properties at the rear]

1795-1821: Alehouse recognizances
Windmill: John Gibbs

1796:  Land Tax
John Gibbs glover; self:  7s 11d

1798: Directory
Stephen Gibbs glover & postmaster

1805: Land Tax
John Gibbs glover; self:  7s 11½d

1822-7: Alehouse recognizances
Windmill: George Mayne

1823: Directory
Windmill: George Mayne, High Street

1828: Alehouse recognizances
Windmill: Joseph King

1830: Directory
Windmill: Joseph King, High Street

1832: Land Tax
John Gibbs; Joseph King: House (the Windmill),  7s 11½d

1833: Voters List
John Gibbs: Copyhold house & premises, Cow Street (Jos King tenant)

1834: Will of John Gibbs of Winslow, glover & victualler (made in 1788)
Property left to his children John, Rebecca & Margaret (the last born after the will was made)

1835, 12 May: manor court, D 82/5/98
Surrender by John Gibbs of Cuddington butcher; Rebecca Dawney of Winslow widow; Robert Biggerstaff of Westminster gent and Margaret his wife
Admission:  Joseph King of Winslow, wheelwright and victualler
Price: £300
All that Messuage or Tenement situate and being in Winslow aforesaid within this Manor now and for some time past called or known by the name or sign of the Windmill heretofore in the occupation of John Carter since of John Gibbs now deceased and George Mayne and now of the said Joseph King.
And also all those two undivided moieties of those two Messuages or Tenements situate in Cow Street in Winslow aforesaid within this Manor heretofore in the respective occupations of Thomas Ives Sarah Wilson widow and John Walker since of the said John Gibbs deceased and George Lomath and John Lomath and now of the said George Lomath John Lomath and Rebecca Dawney … said John Gibbs Rebecca Dawney and Margaret wife of the said Robert Biggerstaff admitted 7 October 1834 as only children and devisees of the said John Gibbs deceased

1841: Census
High Street

Joseph King 43 Wheelwright b. in county
Elizabeth do 35   do
do do 12   do
William do 10   do
Joseph do 6   do
George do 2   do
Mary do 1m   do
William George 19 Male servant do
James do 17 Male servant do
Hannah Shelton 17 Female servant do
Betty Gibbs 55 Female servant do

1842: Directory
Windmill: Joseph King, High Street

1844: Bucks Herald, 10 Aug
WINSLOW – The following song written by Mr. H. Wigley, was sung at the first anniversary of the Loyal Selby Lodge of Odd Fellows, held on the 24th July, 1844 at the Windmill Inn:

AIR: Nae Luck about the House
When Men unite in brotherhood,
The ills of life to share,
And meeting once in every year,
They banish grief and care;
To take a part in such a scene,
The man with feelings right,
Will deem his highest privilege,
And the climax of delight.
Then long life to all Odd Fellows,
Prosperity and Love,
May Justice, Peace, and Truth prevail,
The gifts of heaven above.

Of all the institutions,
That so well deserve our praise,
The “Order of Odd Fellows”
Is the glory of the age;
Yet let not aught disparage,
Or a shade on others cast,
But if she is not first in fame,
‘Tis plain she’s not the last.

Though the title of the Order,
Might suppose eccentric men,
No man that e’er enrolled his name,
Found aught he would condemn.
That “Odd Fellows” may in numbers grow,
Each gives the approving nod,
But that discord may never know,
They exclude all fellows odd.

The “Winslow Loyal Selby Lodge”,
Asserts her claim this day,
Each man rejoices to respond,
And highest honours pay;
‘Tis the launching of her vessel,
On board’s her faithful crew,
May she stem each raging billow,
And her onward course pursue.

The younger Mr Cowley [George Cowley, surgeon]
Bore the honours of the chair,
Whose blandness and urbanity,
Gained the favours of all there;
With enthusiastic cheering ,
They drank the loyal toasts,
And stronger ne’er was loyalty
Within the British coasts.

The Lodges of the Order,
Were drunk with great applause,
Observing all the honours,
And the customs of their laws;
From the vice-chair Brother Seager [Richard Seager, writing clerk]
Gave the signal for the move,
When with simultaneous clapping,
Did each man his ardour prove.

Brother Malins from the Coker Lodge
With animation rose,
A right good jolly fellow
As ever fuddled nose;
He said that perseverance
Would all obstacles surmount,
And to cheer the heart of Brother King,
Their success he did recount.

Mr. Barton of the George Hotel, [Alfred Barton]
No longer could contain;
With inspiration doubly strong
Right well did he declaim;
The Lord of Winslow Manor,
With pride he did propose,
A bumper join’d with three times three,
He demanded as they rose.

A further honour waited
Mr. Barton by and bye,
In the absence of the chairman,
His eloquence to try;
With overwhelming force he gave
The chair with honours due,
Each bosom heav’d with transport,
While his claims he did review.

Now to the Host and Hostess,
Who have so well prepar’d,
For the comfort of the inner man,
In which we all have shared.
May the Windmill Inn ne’er want a breeze,
To expand her strength of sail,
(Is the wish of every honest heart,)
‘Till wind and water fail.

1851: Census
High Street, Windmill

Joseph King head married 52 Wheelwright & victualler b. Shipton Lee, Quainton
Elizabeth King wife married 47   b. Bierton
Joseph King son   15 Wheelwright apprentice b. Winslow
George King son   11 Scholar b. Winslow
Thomas Smith lodger unm 64 Agricultural labourer b. Winslow
Mary Tims servant unm 20 General servant b. Cropredy[?], Oxon

1853: Directory
Joseph King, victualler, Windmill, and wheelwright, High Street

1861: Census
High Street

Joseph King head married 63 Wheelwright & victualler employing 2 men b. Lee Grange, Bucks
Elizabeth King wife married 58   b. Bierton
James Forster brother-in-law single 66 Labourer
b. Granborough
Thomas W. Forster nephew single 47 Carpenter b. Norwich
Elizabeth Forster niece single 13 Victualler’s assistant b. Winslow
Joseph Adams lodger widower 53 Hurdle maker b. Silverstone
John Adams lodger single 21 Hurdle maker b. Silverstone
George Pharo lodger single 40 Blacksmith b. Oxford

1864: Directory
Joseph King, Windmill, and wheelwright, High Street

1871: Census
Windmill Inn

Thomas Oliver head married 31 Wheelwright b. Blakesley, Northants
Hannah Oliver wife married 39   b. Napton, Warws
Thomas Howes nephew   10 Scholar b. Byfield, Northants

1872: Return of Public Houses
Occupier: Henry Oliver
Owner: Alfred Hopcraft, Brackley

1877: Directory
Thomas Oliver, Windmill & machinist, carpenter & wheelwright, High Street

1881: Census
High Street, Windmill

Thomas Olliver head married 41 Wheelwright & publican b. Blakesley, Northants
Hannah Olliver wife married 49   b. Napton, Warws

1891: Directory
Frederick Phipps, Windmill P.H. & farmer, High Street

1891: Census
High Street

Fred Phipps head married 35 Blacksmith & publican b. Shipston on Stour, Worcs
Eliza Phipps wife married 40 Landlady b. Winslow
Dorothy Phipps daughter   6   b. Winslow
Thomas Phipps son   2   b. Winslow
Ada Smith servant single 17 General servant b. Nash

In 1881, Fred and Eliza lived in Winslow, probably in the house which is now 172 High Street, with their sons Frederick T. aged 2 and Arthur J. aged 3 months, and a servant.  He was a blacksmith and she was a dressmaker.

13 Jan 1900: Bucks Herald
DRUNKENNESS. William Hancock was charged with being drunk at Winslow. P.S. Trevener said at 11.10 p.m. on the 29th December he was on duty in the High Street, when he saw the defendant very drunk, and staggering about the street. He was behaving indecently in the centre of the street, opposite Mr. Stevens' shop. He went staggering along the street and a man named Campbell took him away by the arm. He was shouting at the top of his voice, and was very drunk indeed. Witness followed him up to the railway bridge. Defendant called George Campbell, who said he was a groom at Redfield. He saw defendant on the 29th Dec. They were together most of the night. He did not take defendant home. He saw the Sergeant the other side of the bridge, but he did not follow them. They did not stop in the street, nor till they got the other side of the bridge. He went home after the Sergeant flashed the light on them. Defendant was perfectly sober. They went into two publichouses. They were in the Stag about a quarter-of-an-hour; then went to the Bull and stopped there about two hours, leaving there about 10 o'clock, and going to Fred Phipps'. He did not assist defendant down the street. They had beer at the Stag, and some whiskey at the Bull - 3 drops - and they both had two-pennyworth of whiskey at Phipps'. Defendant said he got into Winslow by himself about 7 o'clock and had 2 two-pennyworths. He met Campbell at Saunders' and went to the Bull, where they had 3 two-pennyworths. He had lived ten years in Winslow, and had never had anything said about him by the police or been in any court before. The Bench said they believed the police evidence and that defendant was drunk. They fined him 9s., including costs. Defendant said the verdict was against the weight of evidence. The police had no witnesses. The Bench said if he had called ten witnesses they might not have believed them.

2 Sep 1902: Bucks Herald
We regret to record the death of Mr Frederick Phipps, blacksmith and landlord of the Windmill Inn, at the comparatively early age of 45. Mr Phipps only survived his wife by a few weeks, and although he had been ill for a long time, his death was not immediately apprehended.

Centre for Bucks Studies D/WIG/2/1/43 (Feb 1905 - Feb 1906): Valuation (Phipps executors to Hopcraft, Norris & Wilson)

1911: Census
Windmill Inn

Edward Wilson head 41 married Blacksmith & licensed victualler b. Bicester
Sarah Wilson wife 41 married 21 years, 5 ch Assisting in the business b. Bicester
Dorothy Wilson   12   School b. Rousham, Oxon
Florence Wilson   10   School b. Oxford
Edward Wilson   7     b. Winslow

Description in Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Buckinghamshire (1913):
The Old Windmill Inn
, at the corner of Back Lane, is of two storeys, built probably in the 17th century. The walls are plastered, but some timber-framing is visible in the covered archway at the N. end of the house. The roof is thatched. Inside the house are some chamfered ceiling-beams.

1920: Directory
Edward Wilson, Windmill P.H., High Street

1939: Buckingham Almanac
33 High Street: Windmill Inn - E. Wilson

The Wilson family ran the Windmill, and a blacksmith's business at the rear, until the 1960s. The building came into the ownership of Mann's Brewery. The Windmill closed as a pub in the early 1990s and the Windmill Veterinary Surgery opened in 1995.

See also:



Copyright 26 January, 2017