Windmill Inn, Clapham Common

Above: The Windmill Inn today. When compared with the painting below, it will be seen that the Georgian windows on the façade are remarkably similar.

A mill and a house once stood on or near the site of today’s pub. They are mentioned in a lease of 1631 but they may have been in existence long before that time.

The Windmill Inn is first recorded in the early 18th century and the present building dates from about 1790 – although it has undergone several alterations since that date. According to Lillywhite’s ‘London Signs’, the earliest records go back to 1760, which points to a similar date.

Above: Painting of the Windmill Inn in 1836.

The building was at one time used as a coaching inn – probably from the 1750s until the railway era in the 1840s and 1850s. The British artist James Pollard (1792–1867) painted the scene of the London-Clapham coach arriving at the inn. The oil painting is dated 1836. Pollard exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1821-1839 and also at the British Institution in 1824 and 1844. He died at his house in Chelsea.

In 1848 Young’s Brewery of Wandsworth acquired the freehold of the Windmill Inn and the premises became one of the last to which their beer was delivered by horse-drawn dray. It was here, in an upstairs room, that the founder of the Boy Scout Movement drew up his first Guide to Scouting.

One of the great advantages of the inn, as far protecting its architecture is concerned, is that the building was last erected well off the main road. The site has not suffered from road widening and it therefore still has an air of ‘yesterday’ about it, even though it is surrounded by cars in the car park. The inn now has rooms in which to stay and, as well as being a traditional pub, it is now listed as a hotel.


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