Images of Wales
Where's that?? - locate Llancayo on a map of South Wales.
|Old Windmill, Llancayo, viewed from north.||
The Old Windmill, Llancayo (Llancaeo), Monmouthshire
Scanned from 35mm colour prints
Photography by John Ball - November 1994
For much of its route, the B4598 road from Abergavenny to Usk runs through rich farmland on the flood plain of the river Usk. It is a route I've taken many times. On each occasion I've been fascinated by the ruins of a derelict old wheat windmill on the Llancayo Farm estate, one mile outside the town of Usk. The sails of the windmill have long since gone, but the shell of the tower remains.
In the stillness, and the soft warm light of a late autumn sunset in 1994, the deserted windmill appeared mysterious and rather spooky — I couldn't resist attempting to capture this moment of magic on film.
Above: Old Windmill, Llancayo, viewed from north.
Sixty years ago, Fred Hando, one of Monmouthshire's great chroniclers, commented thus:
There is a splendid shell of a windmill at Llancayo, near the Usk-Abergavenny Road. The walls are 2ft 2ins thick. The diameter at ground level is 28ft and this diminishes through the 56ft of height in such a way as to produce an impression such as an observer receives on viewing a Doric column.
Skills of a high order lay behind the planning and construction of this graceful tower, with its cut-stone circles, each slightly wider than the circle above, each stone sloping slightly inwards, its brick-arched window-heads, its two-stone string-courses, and its windows indicating the five floors of the tower.
At the summit of the tower, precariously perched, is a segment of a toothed wheel: another relic protrudes below the upper string-course. Behind the mill, from pole to pole, extend the wires conveying electric power from Glascoed to Llancayo.
Llancayo windmill was a tower or 'smock' mill, in shape, similar to a rustic's smock. At the summit, the cap was arranged to support the shaft and the sweeps, and to rotate so that the sweeps faced into the wind. This type of windmill first appeared in the 16th century but the author cannot date this one.
Signs of a fire are evident throughout the interior. Of the varied stories given me, the most probable tells how on a still summer morning the miller went to market leaving his sweeps coupled to the gearing. A sudden fierce wind sent the sails rotating rapidly, the red hot coupling and brakes ignited the timber, and the mill was a flaming torch before the miller returned.
Sketch by Fred Hando; text extracted from Hando's Gwent (Volume I), edited by Chris Barber
published 1987 by Blorenge Books, Abergavenny. ISBN 0-9510444-5-1
Many thanks to Alex Keegan for drawing my attention to this source.
Above and below: Old Windmill, Llancayo, viewed from south-east.
History of the windmill
Chris Lawton writes:
I believe that the Windmill was originally part of the Llancayo House estate. This estate was bought by Yorkshireman Edward Berry, later of Usk, Monmouthshire, who died in 1818. The eldest of Edward's two daughters was Louisa, my great great great grandmother. The estate remained with the family until the death of my great grandfather in 1937, when it was sold. However, the information I have is only about the house and I don't know when the house, farm, and mill were separated.
Thanks to Chris for sharing this link with his family.
If you know any more about the history of this old windmill, or have heard any stories relating to it, please write to me (John Ball) via my Contact Page with details.
The windmill is located at UK grid reference SO365030.
25 May 2002
A few days after uploading this webpage I was contacted by Honor Humphries of Monmouthshire, who told me that one of her friends had written an article on windmills, including a description of Llancayo Mill. The article, entitled The Windmills of Gwent, was written by Jane Jo F. Roberts and was published in the Journal of the Welsh Mills Group of which she is a member.
With the author's kind permission, I am now able to include extracts from the article on this webpage.
Click here to study extracts from Ms Roberts's article on Llancayo Mill.
17 January 2011
Laurence Hartwell offers an intriguing memory from his childhood:
I came across your pictures and info about the windmill at Llancayo farm. As a child I had several family holidays next door with Uncle George and his family at Llancayo House. I can remember being told that there was a connection between buried treasure from Captain Morgan and the windmill in some way – that was back in the early '60s so my memory is understandably shaky on the details!
Laurence's mention of 'Captain Morgan' is a reference to Sir Henry Morgan (1635-1688), a Welsh Admiral and privateer, known for his activities in the Caribbean. Born in Monmouthshire, he became one of the most notorious and successful privateers of all time, and one of the most ruthless who worked in the Spanish Main.
Update - added 23 April 2010
Twelve years after my visit in 1994, Glyn Buckle, of Buckle Chamberlain Partnership Ltd and Geof Wallis of Dorothea Restorations Ltd were commissioned to prepare an application to restore and re-use the windmill as a holiday unit, available for rent. By 2010, the external appearance of the windmill had been restored and its new sails connected to an electrical generator. The full story of the restoration of the mill is told on the Llancayo Mill website.
I took the three photographs below on 23 April 2010 with my Nikon D50 digital SLR camera.
Above and below: Old Windmill, Llancayo, after restoration, viewed from the south-east.
Above: Old Windmill, Llancayo, after restoration, viewed from the north.
Please use my Contact Page to send any comments or requests