The Windmill which was located on the old heath at ‘Windmill Bank’, part of ‘Pitts Farm’ which extended east of the Donkey Track to the fields up to Gandish Road and across to what is now Mill | Heath Road & Gandish|Straight Road
The most easterly field was the location of the windmill, although now crossed by an electricity pylon and boundary hedges, it has been replaced in a similar location by an agricultural shed (on the ring road opposite Mill Cottage)
When leaving school, John Constable worked at his father’s mills, both at Flatford and here in the windmill at ‘Windmill Bank’.
In 1792 when the artist was just 16 he etched an image directly onto one of the timbers of the mill with a penknife, the piece is currently on display at Christchurch Mansion in Ipswich, and whilst it is certainly not a great piece of art, it is neat and accurate and depicts not only the general shape of the mill but that of its turning mechanism.*
The workings of the windmill also entailed the artist to observe the skies in order to predict the wind conditions and trim the sales appropriately. This discipline obviously proved invaluable when he came to paint the skies and for which he became famous in adult life.
Constable included this windmill in many of his paintings including ‘Golding’s Kitchen Garden’ 1815 painted from the gardens to the rear of East Bergholt house, across the Great Field, and over the Donkey Track to Windmill Bank.
We haven’t been able to find out the exact date that the windmill disappeared, but sometime between 1817 (when the road system was changed on the heath by landowners, and 1837 after Constables death)
*The windmill on East Bergholt heath was a ‘post mill’ the earliest type of European windmill, with its defining feature is that the whole body of the mill that houses the machinery (and mounted on a single vertical post) turns, where as with others the arm carries a fantail that turns just the top section that houses the sails.
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