Iconic : A person or thing regarded as a representative symbol or as worthy of veneration
"Brill Windmill is an iconic building in a breathtaking location..." The words are from the forward of Tim Andrew's stunning photographic study of Brill Windmill but they are not original. Read any description of Brill Windmill and, sooner or later, the word 'iconic' will appear. It's a big ask of a small, rather plain, utilitarian building on the edge of a business-like village within sight of the M40 (not a thatched cottage or duck pond in sight!) I mean, look at Holgate Windmill with her FIVE sails* or some of the MASSIVE Dutch mills on Instagram - or even nearby Quainton Windmill, six storeys tall with a fancy fantail! How can dumpy little Brill Windmill even compete? Yet, somehow, she does.
A few of the comments on our Facebook and Just Giving pages:
I love this place, so many happy memories... Lovely place, great memories... We live in Greece but my partner used to play here as a child... I remember tobogganing down those hills... Used to come to Brill as a child...
So, nostalgia; rose-tinted memories of happier times when the snow lay deep, sheep roamed free, and children played unsupervised. But it's more than that, surely?
My family are from here... My family live here... My mother was born here... In loving memory of R who grew up in Brill... In memory of my dad...
There's a longing to belong, of making for a connection (if we had ten pounds from every descendent of the last miller..!), of being part of a story that has already been going 350 years*, quietly, unsensationally; a tale of drudgery and dust, hard work and hard times, sentiment and tenacity.
We've just got engaged by the windmill... Stopped off at Brill Windmill to take some wedding pictures... Lovely day with my daughter... One of my favourite places as a kid; got take my own kid there recently... Cycled up to Brill Windmill with my boys...
It's not just the past; it's the present - and the future. A desire to imbibe the continuity and stability - maybe even security? - represented by the windmill. Unchanging and stoic; face to the wind, eyes on the horizon. Maybe it helps that Brill Windmill is on the edge of the village; unobserved, uncontrolled, a place of safe solitude and distant views. Refuge for migrating birds, goal for the adventurous, home coming for the traveller.
All things to all people. Iconic.
Jill Lepores, January 2022
* Then there's Heckington Windmill with her CRAZY eight sails. ** Get that, Quainton! 200 years! Ha!
Wedding couple at Brill Windmill (photo Sam & Steve Photography, Aug 2017)
Family at Brill Windmill, possibly 1970s
Jumping for joy at Brill Windmill (photo Emma Canham, Oct 2017)
Air Cadets finishing an exercise at Brill Windmill (photographer unknown, Aug 2018)