The oldest stone was recovered from Gamlingay wind mill on Potton road. In 1977 Mark Jefferies an employee at Fullers Hill Farm with Barry Sherman was sent to help Mr Les Barford a well known and liked local builder. Mr Barford who owned the site as a builder’s yard needed the mill demolishing as it had become extremely unsafe. The mill was probably disused by 1922. I recall scaling a long ladder to attach a rope to some part of the structure at the top of the mill. With a very small tug on the rope the mill came crashing down.
Several stones were recovered from the site, one was being used as the entrance to the mill facing East I recall. These stones were made from quatz imported from the Marne Valley in northern France. French burrstones, was used for finer grinding of flower. These stones are not cut from one piece, but built up from sections of quartz, cemented together with plaster of Paris and bound with an iron band. The construction can clearly be seen.
The Gamlingay mill was a “smock mill” a type of wind mill that consists of a sloping, horizontally weather boarded tower, usually with six or eight sides. It is topped with a roof or cap that rotates to bring the sails into the wind. This type of windmill got its name from its resemblance to smocks worn by farmers in an earlier period.
Gamlingay is steeped in history, with many listed buildings in the village. The stone for building the church was from a quarry within the village. This quarry then offered the perfect location for an archery range. Being dug into the ground it was a safe area where archery could be practiced, and thus was named ‘The Butts’. In medieval times it was a requirement that all men over a certain age were capable of using a bow and arrow. The Butts is now a children’s play area.
The second Mill stone we have here was recovered from Jordans Mills, Biggleswade, Jordan’s cereals are a well respected brand of health food. This stone is likely of the Derbyshire Peak stones of grey Millstone Grit, cut from one piece, used for grinding barley, Derbyshire Peak stones wear quickly and are typically used to grind animal feed since they leave stone powder in the flour, making it undesirable for human consumption. This is why medieval people had very badly worn teeth.