Poole - Baiter

Poole St James

O.S Grid Reference                     SZ 021 902   [Lat 50.7136 - Long -1.9716]    

Nearest contour height              0 - 2m

Topography                                  Formerly in headland in Poole harbour

                                              now reclaimed land                                                   


Earliest Dating                           Built in 1543


         A prospect of the town of Poole from the West End of Bruncksey (Brownsea) Island 

by Bastard & Mynde (Hutchins Dorset) [C17th]



Early Maps :  

Extract of early C17th map of Canford Manor showing Poole and the Baiter windmill. 

Bankes of Kingston & Corfe Castle Archive National Trust - DCRO D/BKL


An early chart of Poole Harbour drawn in 1662 showing the windmill on the Baiter peninsula. Depth soundings in the channels are shown together with Brownsea Island.

Plate 167 Poole - A Pictorial History            Ian Andrews - Phillimore1994

The Pythouse Map of Poole 1634 clearly showing the windmill on the Baiter peninsula

  Ogilby 1675 - not shown.  


A plan of Poole drawn up in 1751 for Sir Peter Thompson (surveyed by Thomas Reekes and William Tucker) locating the windmill accurately.

Note the faggot and bake house immediately to the east of the windmill suggesting that baking was carried out in conjunction with milling. 

A windmill field is shown on the extreme east side - this was later the site of the isolation hospital. Isaac Taylor's map (see below) locates the gallows here as well.

The plague burial ground is shown in the "swampey land" to the west with what appears to be a bridge connecting the peninsula to the town itself.

Taylor 1765                          

Windmill Point shown on Baiter peninsula. 

Gallows as also shown as being on the east end - presumably on or near Windmill field (see 1751 map above) 

Tithe Map (c1840)                   Powder house shown but not the windmill.      

1st Edition OS map           

Present OS map                       Not shown - all reclaimed & developed land



The windmill                            A postmill "framed up"; shown in illustration

The Millers                                 see below

Present site condition           Lost within reclaimed land

Baiter in the 1930's prior to reclamation. The narrow peninsula had not only been the site for the windmill but for plague burials, the town gallows, a powder House and an isolation hospital (last used in 1936).

The Powder House had allowed ships to offload their gunpowder prior to berthing at the nearby quay as a safety measure.

Plate 154 Poole - A Pictorial History            Ian Andrews - Phillimore1994

Stage 1 - 1966

Stage 2 - 1968-1971

Stage 3 - mid 1970's

Notes and comments      

Once a peninsula on Hole Bay to the SE of the town, the area known as Baiter has been extensively reclaimed, infilled and developed in modern times. The peninsula is shown as windmill poynt on Taylor's 1765 map and also very graphically on an early C17th map of Canford Manor [1].

Another engraving titled A prospect of the town of Poole from the West End of Bruncksey (Brownsea) Island by Bastard & Mynde shows a post windmill in this area.[2] 

The area to the east of the mill site had been the burying place for hundreds during the Black Death in 1348. The site of the town's gallows[3] was just to the west of the mill.

The construction of the mill can be fairly accurately dated as it followed an Act of Parliament passed in 1543[4]

             - Acte for thedifacaeon of a Wyndemylle, ........ at the Kinges majesties Town of Poole.......to erect, make, frame and set upp at in and upon your waste ground and Comon within saide Towne called Baiter ........one good and sufficient windemill to serve the saide Towne and port........and have oone hundred Fote of assize square of the saide waste grounde for a convenient Hill to be made to set oone windemill upon..........

Payment was to be yearly and Oone pepr corne if it be asked for.  

In addition to the mill, a conduit is also mentioned in this act and both projects together cost £7 17s 3d. Some of this cost had been paid to a  Master Notherell

 .................Paid to Master Notherell of the money towards the charges of the reckoning of the mill and the conduit and of the church money to make up his sum, 21s 5d. Sum of the whole costs - £7 17s 3d.[5]

The Poole Borough Records (p/copy ref 259) also have a Terrier of lands & tenements in Poole Town 1561-1567 which refer to the Tenant & tenure of the mill at this time[6].   The first tenant was James Mesurer who leased the mill for £3 6s 8d annually. There were four conditions of his lease :

1) He is bound, if anything perish within the windmill, to repair it at his own cost and charge.

2) He shall take of a bushel of wheat for the grinding, brought to the mill and fetched again, one half penny the bushel, and to take no wheat for the grinding.

3) For the grinding of a quarter of malt, 2d., brought and fetched.

4) If they will not bring it & fetch it, one penny for a bushel of wheat & a half penny for a bushel of  malt.

Presumably external repairs to the windmill were the Borough's responsibility and the Town accounts show expenditure on repairs some eight years after its construction in 1551[7].

 ..........In 1551, five carpenters were employed to make two vanes for the windmill, the head carpenter was paid 7d a day and another man was paid for bringing and mending two sails from the old windmill[8].

..........In 1553, a man was paid for going to Corfe and Wimborne to seek more timber for the windmill.[9]

It would appear that when this windmill was built in 1543, an old windmill in Hunger Hill was (or had been) abandoned. The reference in 1553 to a man being paid for bringing and mending two sails from the old windmill seems to support this.

The Town Accounts of 1551[10] also mention millstones being used as anchorage weights on the beach in front of the Town cellars prior to the quay being formed. This practice appears to have taken place since medieval times. The millstones may have been old ones from the earlier Hunger Hill windmill or perhaps damaged ones from elsewhere - many millstones were imported from France.

In Poole's Book of the Staple (1589-1727)[11], the windmill features several times :

Memorandon the Sixteenthe daie of  September Anno d[omi]ni 1608 the Seale of the Towne was putt to a Lease to John Bramble of the windemill and millhowse for xxj yeres which Lease beginnrth from the Feast of xstemas 1607 which Lease was so sealed in the p[rese]nce of mr william Hill maior mr Richard Swayne Recorder and other of the burgess[e]s then assembled at the olld lion.

M[emorandum] the First day of May 1639 the Comon seale of the towne & County of Poole was putt to a lease of the winde Mill to Richard Bushell[12] and his assignes for one and twentye yeares from o[ur] lady day last, 10 [pounds] fyne, and 40s p[er] annu[m].

William Williams maior.

On 3rd December 1658, a survey was taken of all leases of the Town by the mayor Rob Cleeves. The lease of the windmill appears uncertain probably due to the Civil War :

 The Towne Windmill now in hand   ( no rent shown)

The windmill does not feature again in the Book of Staple and it is uncertain when the mill ceased to operate. However it is still clearly marked on Sir Peter Thompson's plan of 1751[13] being adjacent to the bakehouse and faggot house.

This would seem to suggest that a bakery was being operated in conjunction with milling. If the windmill was not operational, it would not make sense to have a bakery in such an isolated position.  CHECK for bakers etc at this time ??


In the 1680's, a famous Poole smuggler[14] named Carter transferred his "cargoes" at sea from his ships and brought them in using dragger boats. He had many secret hiding places in the town, an often used one being near the windmill which was some quarter mile from the town itself. With his partner Moses Durrell, he had constructed "a pair of stairs where abundance of goods are run". A large stable near the windmill was used to store the contraband, "from whence 'tis by waggons carried directly into the country, few officers dreaming of it".

He was a merchant, mayor and magistrate in the years 1676, 1699 & 1705.

During a plague in 1645-6, the windmill was used as an isolation hospital. The Mayor's accounts show various sums expended :

For fetching in Shutler's wife & Barnes' wife to the windmill - 6d

For carriage of straw to the windmill - 4d

Paid Bradford, the watchman, at the windmill - 6d

The Salisbury Journal[15] of 30th November 1747, records the sale of Poole Mill. An area of swampy land to the east of windmill is shown clearly on Thompson's map of 1751 annotated as  ... a burying place in the time of Plague

During the Civil War, the Baiter windmill became the Town magazine and later in 1756 the Powder House was built here from the ruins of the old porch[16] adjoining the Town Cellars. During the Napoleonic Wars, merchantmen armed themselves but upon entering the port unloaded their explosives here to safeguard the quay area.

In 1880, it was converted to an isolation hospital during a small pox epidemic and the site is named Hospital Island on the 2nd edition 6" OS map of 1901. 

Present situation = this whole area now been filled / reclaimed - did I see a brass plaque in the ground ??

[1]  Bankes of Kingston Lacy & Corfe Castle Archive (National Trust). This earlly C17th map of Canford Manor shows the windmill in typical fashion for the time (ie a post mill with large square sails). An extract appears in a booklet The Story of Poole - Old Town and Harbour by Jean Sutton, Harwood Publication Vistor's Guide 1988. p9 

[2]  Reproduced in Hutchins History of Dorset  1861, Vol 1  p3

[3] Beamish, Dorkeroll & Hillier, Pride of Poole 1688-1851 :  For instance, in 1752, Anthony Colpis was

       hanged at  Windmill Point at Baiter for the murder of  "widow Buckler".

[4]  A copy of this act of 1543 is in the CRO.(refD1/2482)

[5]  Smith HP History of Poole Vol II p45

[6]  Smith, HP History of the Borough of Poole  Vol II   p 44-45.

[7]  Poole Borough Records (extracts at CRO) Vol 1 p13 [ref 52 (7)]

[8]  Poole Town accounts, 51 (6), p9 (extract from Medieval Poole - the documentary evidence (author/date

     unknown  - held in Poole Museum.

[9]  Poole Town accounts 51 (6), p10 (extract as above)

[10]   Town Accounts [PBA 51 (6)] 1/2/1551. Noted in DNHAS Monograph 10  Poole Excavations (1973-83)   

       p49 (Period II). Unfortunately no excavations involving mills appear in this publication.

[11]  Poole Museum Service Archival Series, Book of the Staple (1589-1727)  - Transcription made and

      published in booklet form in 1997. Poole was created a Port of Staple in 1433 and was one of a number

      of coastal towns awarded a special license to import/export certain goods including wool and hides. The

      Town's Staple Court sealed various transactions (mostly leases & rentals). The town was fortified when

      made a Staple port and the Town Cellars erected probably during  the same period for storing the staple


[12]   The new leasee Richard Bushell is interesting as there is a watermill called Bushell's mill to the north of

       Poole Town. Dating of this TO BE CHECKED - was this operating in 1639 ???

[13]  Plan surveyed by Thomas Reekes and William Tucker for Sir Peter Thompson in 1751. (copy in Poole  Library)

[14]  Guttridge, Roger. Dorset Smugglers, Dorset Publishing Co 1983 p10.

[15]  From an extract supplied by Ken Kirsopp via Mills Research Group.

[16]  Poole Borough Record Book (index at CRO) (NB all Poole Records transferred to CRO Nov 97)