In Short

Herne Windmill stands on a site that has had a mill for 600 years according to ancient Canterbury and County records. This relatively recent traditional Kentish *Smock Mill stands on a high down overlooking the village of Herne and its playing field, the 'Cherry Orchard', on the outskirts of the seaside town of Herne Bay, in Kent. 

(*The name smock mill comes from the appearance of the mill (from a distance) resembling a peasant wearing a smock. Tower mills, like Herne Mill, have the cap (the shape like an unturned boat on the top) rotate on a solid base; the other type of mill, a Post Mill, has the whole mill rotating around a central post.) Herne Mill

Herne Mill is equipped with three pairs of millstones: two pairs of French Burrs and a pair of Derbyshire Peak Stones. The refurbished sweeps (or sails) shown in the image here have only half the number of shutters of the original mill. In case you wondered, the sails turn anti-clockwise and it's surprisingly quiet inside the mill when the brake is off and the sweeps are turning.

A Quick History of Herne Mill

The present windmill has been in place since 1789 (when France had its Revolution) and was built by the miller Job Lawrance. The mill remained in the Lawrance family for a century until 1879 when it was bought by one Thomas Wootton. It was still used for milling of cereal grains until the turn of the 19th century.

The Wootton family continued its ownership, milling animal feed by wind power until 1952, then by electricity with a flail mill until 1980.

The windmill mill is now owned by Kent County Council and run by the Friends of Herne Mill.

For more go to http://www.herne-mill.btik.com/p_About_Us.ikml

The Friends of Herne Mill

Much more information on the mill is published in the small booklets ("A Guide to Herne Mill" by Tony Jarvis and "Herne Mill a Technical Description" by David Bean)  that should be available from the mill shop. Annual membership of the 'Friends of Herne Mill' entitles all members to free visits and copies of "Gleanings" the occasional Mill Newsletter.

The Mill in 2001

During the summer of 2000, the 'Friends of Herne Mill' had built a small extension which they called the Wootton Room (after the brothers Clive and Edwin who last worked the mill in 1980). The mill now has a proper visitor centre, office, shop, kitchen and toilets. The addition serves as a Parish Council office as well. (It is also available for rent to the public.)  Permanent floodlights have been installed replacing those hired at Christmas times in the past. 

The Mill: Christmas 2001In addition to the extension, Herne Mill had the millwrights working in the summer of 2001 fixing a few things that weren't quite right (shutters, curb teeth and skid bars) and the whole of the structure, except the sweeps, had a couple of nice coats of coal tar. And smelly (in a nice aromatic way) it was too! 

In 1999, after being open for only a short time and being refurbished, the mill received 920 visitors! In 2001 the number of guests sailed past the 1000 mark and hit 1231 by the close of the mill to the public on 30th September.

The mill's new facilities now gave it the ability to handle school parties who are more than eager to scramble up and down the four flights of stairs; school parties receive free entry. The mill looked forward to a grand future in 2002 and onward as a living museum and one of Herne Bay's main attractions!

Sad Days

In 2003 and after a fantastic year in 2002 (1536 visitors) it was all doom and gloom for the 2003 season. The mill lost its sails early in the year for repair and, although I believe promises were made to have them back for the summer of that year, by September the poor mill remained naked.

Happy DaysNew sweeps

The sweeps never made it back in 2003 but were re-installed in late Spring 2004 and all now seems to be well. The mill is sporting new, different sweeps. Compare the pattern of new shutters with the old ones which had shutters closer to the tips of the sails. (Click on the image, left.


The Mill is under internal refurbishment this year and shutters are due to be replaced. The Mill therefore will not be open until June 2010, maybe later still. Perhaps I'll get to visit this year if I ever get round to it...

Opening Times

Aerial Shot of Herne Hill - click for a larger imageI believe Herne Mill is open on afternoons on Sundays and Bank Holidays (2pm-5pm) from Easter to the end of September and on Thursdays during August. 

The entrance fee is 1 per adult with accompanied children at 25p. A guided tour of the mill is given by the Friends of Herne Mill as you climb the steep stairways to the cap. Most interesting, I'd say.



Check the weather if you plan a visit by clicking the image below for



Postcards, booklets and Mill mementos are available from the Mill shop...

Click on thumbnails for a larger image

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Close up of the Fantail

View from the rear

 June 2001

Newly painted with coal tar

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xmas201.jpg (54346 bytes) October 2004 - look at the new sails
Wootton Room
& Visitor Centre
Special Effect Ooh!  The lights
Christmas 2001
October 2004