Bourn Windmill

One of the oldest surviving post windmills in the country, Bourn Mill is a Scheduled Ancient Monument. Located to the west of Cambridge, the mill has been lovingly restored by local charity Cambridge Past, Present & Future. This wonderful windmill was given to the charity in 1932. It dates back to at least 1636, although it may be much earlier as this type of mill has hardly changed since the 13th century.

Bourn Mill provided inspiration for the work of one of our most eminent architects. Lord Foster prepared drawings of the mill whilst studying architecture at Cambridge University.

Bourn Mill is an open trestle post mill; the entire weight of the body is supported on a central post, which is then supported by a trestle. The sails of the mill have to face squarely into the wind and to achieve this the entire mill is rotated around the central post – a surprisingly easy, but dramatic, task for two or three people.

Opening hours and getting here

Open: The exterior of the mill can be visited at any time. To see inside the mill come to an open day – these are usually National Mills weekend in May and then one Sunday per month to September but check our Events calendar for details. Groups visits can also be arranged at other times. Contact us to discuss arrangements.

Location: The mill is located off Caxton Road, Bourn CB23 2SU between the villages of Bourn and Caxton. Postcode CB23 2SU.

Admission: There is a £3 charge to take a guided tour inside the mill on open days, which goes directly towards the upkeep of the mill. Free for members of the charity.

Parking: There is a small car park close to the mill (open from dawn to dusk) on Caxton Road (just beyond the turning to Bourn Mill Cottage) with a path leading to the Mill from the rear of the car park.

Other modes of transport: There are lovely walks in the surrounding countryside with a footpath link from Bourn village to the Mill and a new footpath from the centre of Cambourne to the mill. For information about bus services:

Access: Access to the mill enclosure is via a grass path. Disabled visitors, please use the public footpath and gate via the old Miller’s cottage. Access to the interior of the mill is by a steep external ladder.

Look out for

On open days there is lots to see as Bourn Mill comes back to life.

  • Come and try turning the mill on its post with our knowledgeable team of local volunteers
  • Examine the engineering wonder of 19th century mill machinery
  • Take a look at the oak trestle, renewed in 1874
  • Look for the initials JUP (John Ulysus Pain) carved on one of the cross trees.
  • Check out the grinding stones on the upper stone floor used to mill the grain.

What's on

The history of Bourn Mill

Bourn Windmill dates from 1636 – at least that is the earliest record which we have. This style of mill however has barely changed from the C13th so it may be much older. The machinery dates from the 19th century and the trestle itself was renewed using oak in 1874.

Changing landscape
Over the centuries, the mill has looked out over a changing landscape. The first grain to be brought here would have been grown in medieval open fields, and arrived by packhorse and cart along the track through ‘Mill Field’. In 1806 the open fields were enclosed, and a new landscape of small hedged fields was created. Changes continue today, with the new community of Cambourne taking its place within the historic landscape of Bourn Mill and linked to the mill by footpath.

Changing hands
The mill at Bourn has changed hands many times over the last four centuries. The first recorded owner was John Cook, who sold the mill in 1636 to Thomas Cook of Longstowe. By 1701 the mill was owned by John Bishop, a baker, grinding grain for his own bakery. The family owned several mills in the area. In 1741 his grandson, Richard Bishop, was killed when one of the mills blew down as he struggled to turn the sails out of high winds.
In violent storms the miller has to carefully judge the position of the sails to prevent them pulling on the wooden gears and brakes, which might lead to fire through friction. Fire is a big risk in wooden mills. Despite this accident our mill stayed linked to the Bishop family until 1875, and you can see the initials of some Bishop family members carved into the side timber of the interior of the mill.

The last miller
The last miller at Bourn was George Papworth, whose father was the landlord at ‘The Fox’ in Bourn. In 1926 the introduction of a paraffin engine in the barn made the mill redundant, and it was sold for £45, before passing into the care of Cambridge Preservation Society in 1932.

Repairing the mill
Traditionally millers spent the absolute minimum necessary to continue the operation of their mill, often resorting to straps and plates which were more in the nature of bandages than cures for ailments. As a result inside the mill much of the fascinating historic fabric is there for us to see today.

Repairs to the mill are undertaken as necessary. Repairs were carried out to the trestle timbers and the exterior repainted in 2008/09. The stocks and sails were last replaced in 2003 with grant aid from a number of funders. In 2016 we carried out repairs to the wooden pads which sit on the brick plinths and in 2017 the sails were painted.

Venue hire

Do you want to arrange an outing for a group of friends, work colleagues or a special interest group? Bourn Mill can be booked for a private visit at all times of the year. Get in touch with your ideas and we will try to turn them into reality. For further information on our other places to visit and hire in and around Cambridge, click here.

And don’t forget, if you become a member of CambridgePPF you’ll be entitled to cheaper ticket prices, venue hire and even free entry to some of our properties on special open days.

Support our work at Bourn Mill

Bourn Mill is much loved by locals and regular visitors as well as mill enthusiasts. We want to be able to continue to open the Mill for all to enjoy but this relies on support from our members, volunteers and local businesses.

Would you like to help look after the Mill or act as a guide on open days? We’re always keen to hear from people who can spare an hour or two of their time to volunteer; or who would like to make a donation to help fund specific projects or purchase essential items for this special structure. Becoming a member of CambridgePPF also helps support the upkeep of Bourn Mill.

Cambridge Past, Present & Future are pleased to be working with Cambridge web designers ibe, who kindly donated the design of this site.

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