High Ham Windmill
Read the short article below on the windmill in High Ham in Somerset and answer the comprehension questions that follow.
Stembridge Tower Mill is located on a hill high above the Somerset Levels, just outside the village of High Ham, near Langport, in the south-west of England. It is the last remaining thatched windmill in the British Isles, and is the last survivor of five windmills that once existed in the area. The mill is a grade II listed building.
The windmill is 26 feet (7.9 metre) high and was built in 1822. The mill consists of four floors and is surrounded by a mound, contained within a low stone wall. The purpose of the mill mound was to keep people and livestock away from the turning sails. The windmill is constructed of local limestone known in the area as Blue Lias. An old bakery, which was used once to produce bread from the corn milled at the mill can be seen at the rear of the mill.
The two pairs of mill stones were originally driven by four canvas-covered sails. However, the rotating cap of the mill became jammed in a storm in early 1898 and from then on the mill was operated by a steam engine. This was located outside the mill and attached to a drive shaft and gearing system via a drive belt. The mill last milled corn on a commercial basis in 1912.
The mill was left to the National Trust by its last private owner in 1969 and it has been in their care since then. It underwent extensive restoration in 1971, in 1984, and again in 2009. It stands in the grounds of the miller's house, which is currently let by the Trust to tenant custodians who are responsible for opening the mill to the public and for rotating the sails by hand every three months for maintenance purposes. The sails do not otherwise move.
A wide variety of wildlife and fauna can be seen both in and around the mill. Several species of rare bats, including Pipistrelle, Noctule, long-eared and lesser horseshoe bats, roost in or visit the mill to feed. And feral pigeons, and jackdaws live or nest under the cap at various times of the year. While the orchard is host to an array of wild flowers and plants, which include, numerous local apple, plum, and pear trees, an ancient walnut tree, and a most unusual mulberry tree.
The windmill is open to visitors on the first and third Sunday afternoons of each month between April and October. Tickets for admission to the mill and grounds are priced as follows: adults £4.00, children £2.00. National Trust members are admitted free on production of a valid membership card. There are no public toilets on site and parking is very limited. There is no entry to the mill or grounds outside of advertised opening hours.
Simon Haines BA (Hons), PGCert TESOL, MA
Article last updated: June 2015
1 - What type of roof does the windmill in High Ham have?
2 - When was the mill built?
3 - What type of stone is used in the mill's construction.
4 - What sort of cereal was primarily milled at the mill?
5 - When is it believed that the mill last worked?
6 - In what year did the windmill last undergo major restoration work?
7 - Who currently lives in the old miller's house?
8 - How many species of bats have been seen in and around High Ham windmill?
9 - How many times a month is the mill opened by the National Trust?
10 - If a National Trust member and two non-member adults wanted to see inside the mill how much would it cost?
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