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'A Windy Day', Bleak Hall Farm, Brixton Hill 1818. This windmill stood by Mill Lane (now Morrish Road).

Image: Copyright © London Borough of Lambeth/ Lambeth Archives

The windmill's origins

Until the middle of the 19th century Brixton remained largely undeveloped and was agricultural in character. Although located just three miles from Charing Cross, in 1800 Brixton has more in common with the villages of rural Surrey than with London.

At the beginning of the19th century, the ancient manor of Stockwell was auctioned off. A Southwark merchant, Christopher Chrysell, bought about 62 acres that lay close to Brixton Hill and south of the current Blenheim Gardens.

After 1802, Hall gradually sold off parts of his land, and Brixton Windmill was built in 1816 on part of Stockwell Manor. It was built by John Muggeridge and Sons – family builders involved in the development of Brixton in the first half of the 19th century.

Map of London and its environs', published by BR Davies, 1840

Image: Copyright © London Borough of Lambeth/ Lambeth Archives

In 1817, John Ashby of Brixton Hill obtained a 99-year lease for two acres of land to the south of a new road to be called Cornwall Road (now Blenheim Gardens), together with a ‘brick corn mill’ and other buildings.

The windmill was soon surrounded by outbuildings, which included a mill cottage (which survived to the 1960s) and an adjacent bake house, where bread was baked and sold to local people. A double-fronted Georgian villa fronting Cornwall Road was built at the same time and occupied by the Ashby family until 1934.