The restored Lacey Green Windmill has once again been standing with 4 sails since October 1981, but after 42 years (or around 15,340 days) it has been necessary to remove the sails, so after the 7th November 2023 the windmill had a very different look, see below.
4 sails and 1 stock were removed on 7th November 2023, because of rot in the centre of the stocks (the large timbers that hold the sails), where they are held in the Canister, on the front end of the Wind Shaft.
As part of a general Renovation Project, plans are under way to renew the stocks and replace the sails.
Lacey Green windmill stands on the escarpment of the Chiltern Hills, near Princes Risborough and halfway between High Wycombe and Aylesbury. Since 1971 it has been restored back to working order by members of The Chiltern Society. The 1970 picture below shows the sad condition it had reached. It has been restored to preserve its unique wooden machinery, which probably dates from around 1650, making this the oldest smock windmill in the country.
We ask for "Donations to Visit" with suggested minimum of Adult £3.00, Child (5 to 15) £1.50.
All children must be accompanied by an adult.
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Bunting on the sails has long been a means of "dressing" windmills for special occasions.
Inside the entrance to the windmill.
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The windmill was not opened on Monday 10th April (Easter Monday) due to the sudden forecasting of gusts of wind from the WSW of up to 50 mph. Gusts were recorded locally in excess of 40 mph, and up to 52 mph a few miles away. In the situation of Lacey Green windmill, right on the Chiltern Escarpment, winds from the S and W can be particularly powerful and unpredictable. Windmills and particularly their sails can be vulnerable in strong winds.
We always regret having to close the windmill, but in such cases the decision is made in the interests of our volunteers as well as our visitors.
It was good to be able to open for our normal 6 months in 2022, having only been able to open for 2 months since September 2019. The number of visitors in 2022 was less than usual, but that was the case with most properties that open to visitors.
Soon after we closed at the end of September 2022, a fault developed in the mechanism that enables the fantail to turn the cap, which normally keeps the main sails facing into the wind. Having investigated the problem, we now know it will need some significant engineering work to rectify. The cap is now parked with the sails facing SW.
The last two days of October brought strong winds to the South of England with gusts of 60 mph recorded. Such a gust broke one of the whips of Brill windmill, snapping it off level with the end of the stock. The whips had been renewed only 12 years earlier, in 2009 at the end of the large restoration scheme carried out on Brill Windmill. Incidentally, the stocks were not renewed at that time.
Brill Windmill, after damage on 31st October 2021
Like the photo of Turville in 2020, this illustrates why we close Lacey Green windmill when winds of 40 mph are forecast, and we ask people not to walk up to the windmill.
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The Windmill re-opened (for the first time in 22 months) on 11 days between Sunday 25th July and Sunday 26th September. This followed the move on July 19th to Step 4 of the Government's Road map out of lockdown. However we still took a cautious approach with certain Covid-19 precautions in place.
They included the use of Hand Sanitiser, the wearing of Face Masks, some social distancing (of 1 metre) and precautions for contacting surfaces, particularly the ladders between floors. We also had extra ventilation whenever possible.
These measures resulted in a lower capacity of people able to visit the mill, but that was not a problem.
As a joint decision between the Trustees of The Chiltern Society and the Windmill Restoration Committee, the windmill will not open as scheduled in April 2020. In the middle of March we considered the government's advice and decided that in the interests of the health of our volunteers and our visitors (some of whom travel large distances) and our local village community, the windmill would remain closed until further notice.
In the middle of May, despite aspects of the Lockdown being relaxed, it was obvious that "Social Distancing" (of 2 metres) would be remaining in force for a long time. Such distancing would be impossible in the windmill, particularly on the 2 upper floors. The decision was therefore taken that the windmill would not open at all in 2020.
In 2020, people were also asked not to go up the PRIVATE DRIVEWAY to the windmill (by walking or by any other means of transport).
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The storms of February 2020 that have caused severe flooding in many places, have also caused damage to some windmills. At Burgh-le-Marsh in Lincolnshire the cap was blown off the 5 sailed tower mill. At the time, the fantail had been removed, so the cap could not turn into the wind.
Just 6 miles to the SW of Lacey Green is Cobstone Mill, which stands high above the village of Turville. Over the weekend of 9/10 February (when wind gusts of 61 mph were measured near Lacey Green) Cobstone Mill lost 2 sails.
Cobstone Mill, from Turville village
Photo by Michael G Hardy, on 2nd March 2020.
This photo illustrates the damage that a windmill can suffer, and why we close Lacey Green windmill when winds of 40 mph are forecast, and we then ask people not to walk up to the windmill.
We are sorry to disappoint anybody who could not visit the windmill on 29th September, which should have been our last Open Day for 2019. Strong winds with gusts up to 40 mph were forecast, and did occur during the second half of the afternoon. In our exposed position on the Chiltern escarpment winds can be accelerated to higher levels. In strong winds windmills can suffer damage so, in line with our procedures, the decision not to open had to be taken for the safety of our Visitors and Volunteers.
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Wycombe District Council's Malcolm Dean Design Award for 1986 was presented to Lacey Green Windmill. The Chairman of the Council said that the Award was made for Excellence of Design and Achievement, and the windmill was an example to the whole county, not just Wycombe District.
Further details will be put another page.
The 86th Engineering Haritage Award was presented to Lacey Green Windmill by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.
Read more at: EHA Summary Page which also leads to a page on the Presentation Ceremony, and a pdf of all the speeches made on the day.
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The position of Lacey Green Windmill is at the very least an unusual one for a windmill, with the ground being 750 feet above sea level, making the tips of the sails 800 feet above sea level. It also makes Lacey Green (with the possible exception of Stokenchurch) the highest village on the Chiltern Hills. From outside the windmill, because of hedges having grown higher than they were, one can no longer appreciate the views over the Vale of Aylesbury, but you can do from the windows higher up in the windmill. Of course, the most spectacular local views are from the tops of Brush Hill and Whiteleaf Hill, both properties now being cared for by The Chiltern Society, and both just 2 miles around the escarpment from Lacey Green Windmill.
It is certainly true that (on a clear day) one can see parts of the Cotswolds from this area of the escarpment, with Chipping Norton being the nearest place.
However, from the top of the windmill, we are also able to look in the opposite direction, and right over the rest of the Chilterns looking towards London. The atmosphere is not often clear enough to see that far, but one day in June 2017 I was able to take the photo below which shows the BT Tower on the left, and on the right is the Arch over Wembley Stadium which is in front of the Shard by London Bridge station, which is 36 miles from Lacey Green.
Along the skyline: BT Tower / Electricity Pylon on Chilterns / Wembley Stadium Arch in front of the Shard.
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In case you wondered, the view at the top of this page, looking down on the windmill, was taken from this cherry-picker (or boom-lift) in June 2017, after we had finished painting the windmill. The cherry-picker was extended to its full vertical height of 20 metres, or 65 feet.
This website was compiled, and is now maintained, by Michael G Hardy, Honorary Secretary of Windmill Restoration Committee from 1984 to 2014, Windmill Manager and Committee Chairman from 2015 to 2021.
This page ( index.php ) was last updated on 26 Feb 2024.
The Chiltern Society is a Registered Charity No 1085163 and a Company Limited by Guarantee Registered in England and Wales Registration No 4138448.