A popular local landmark, the Windmill was built in 1817 to serve local residents who didn't trust the 'factory produced' flour from the large mills on the River Wandle. The mill's working life ended in 1864 when Earl Spencer, the lord of the manor, announced his intention to enclose Wimbledon Common and build a new manor house on the site of the mill. Local opposition led to a six-year legal battle, resolved by the 1871 Wimbledon and Putney Commons Act, which handed over the common to the local community. The mill was then converted into homes for six families.
Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Scout movement, lived at the adjacent Mill House for a time and wrote part of Scouting for Boys here. A museum opened in the Windmill in 1975; more recently Lottery funding has enabled the sails to be restored to working order. The museum tells the story of windmills around the world, including early Persian and Greek examples, as well as modern wind farms. An information centre with general information on Wimbledon and Putney Commons is a short distance from the Windmill.