Country houses for sale

An amazing converted windmill and adjoining cottage once owned by the woman who broke J.M. Barrie’s heart

Located in the hamlet of Braziers End, The Windmill is a fascinating opportunity to live in a former working mill, where quirky features meet you at every turn.

The four white sails on The Windmill haven’t turned for decades — since 1912, to be exact — since which time, the iconic former working mill has taken on a new role as a private residence.

Now for sale though Savills with a guide price of £1.65 million, The Windmill is a quirky, utterly charming five-bedroom property that is filled with some wonderful features, sure to entice buyers searching for a home with plenty of character and one-of-a-kind charm.

It is thought that a windmill has existed on or near the site since the 17th century and in 1863, a smock mill (a type of windmill with six or eight sloping sides, usually clad in horizontal weatherboard, with a clad or thatched roof, from which a rotating roof cap turns the sails into the wind), was built by the Norwich Wind and Steam Company. The following years were not successful, and by 1883, the mill was demolished.

In that same year, a masonry tower mill was built in its place – a vertical windmill made of brick or stone, with a rotating wooden ‘cap’ that turns the sails into the wind. It cost just £300 to build and is thought to be the last of its kind built in England. The original flywheel for the steam engine now sits on display in the dining room.

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Between the years of 1883 and 1912, two millers are recorded to have worked at the mill; Daniel Dwight, the first recorded miller in the new masonry design, and Thomas Robinson, who took over operations from Dwight in 1891.

The first people to live here were a couple at the centre of a minor scandal: Gilbert Cannan and his wife, Mary, who was the ex-wife of Peter Pan creator Sir James Barrie. Cannan was employed by Barrie as his secretary, but Cannan and Mary fell for each other despite their 20-year age gap; Barrie and Mary (whose marriage had been anything but close) eventually divorced in 1909.

The Cannans They socialised in close circles with two artists’ groups from London: The Bloomsbury Group and the London Group, both of which were prominent during the First World War. It’s thought that visitors included DH Lawrence, Katherine Mansfield and the painter Mark Gertler, who painted ‘Gilbert Cannan and his Mill’.

Gilbert Cannan and his Mill, 1916. Artist: Mark Gertler

Two dogs feature in the artwork — one of which used to belong to Mary and James Barrie whilst they were married — and it’s this dog that is through to have inspired the character ‘Nana’ in Peter Pan. The painting is on display at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

Over the following years, the Bloomsbury Group were said to have visited the mill on numerous occasions and, in 1916, American actress Doris Keane moved in. During the 1930’s the mill was used by artist Bernard Adams as an art studio and in more recent times residents include Sir David Hatch.

Upon entering the mill, the circular reception hall leads into the cottage, off which you’ll find the sitting room and drawing room, as well as a spiral staircase leading down to a good sized kitchen, utility and dining room.

Four bedrooms and three bathrooms are located on the first floor, including the beautiful circular ensuite room with balcony. A small circular study can be found on the second floor at the top part of the mill tower, but could be another smaller bedroom if required.

A pretty country garden surrounds the property with views overlooking the hamlet of Braziers End. The hamlet is tied with the nearby village of Cholsebury, which sits almost equidistance between London and Milton Keynes.

Countless pathways and bridle tracks weave through the Chiltern countryside — a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and there’s a good local pub, The Full Moon. The larger towns of Chesham, Amersham and Berkhamsted are all within a four-six mile radius, providing a full range of shopping facilities and London, (approximately 36 miles away) is easily reached for the commuter which stations located at Tring, Chesham Underground and Berkhamsted.

There are a number of excellent schools in the area including St Bartholomew’s Church of England Primary School (rated ‘excellent’ by Ofsted), Hawridge and Cholesbury Church of England School and Chartridge Combined School.

The Windmill is currently on the market via Savills with a guide price of £1.65 million — see more pictures or enquire with the agent for further details.

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