If you were a visitor to the Windmill many moons ago you may remember Mr and Mrs Duke, who ran the pub 1964-1974.
Pasties and salads
Mrs Duke was pretty famous for pasties and salad, which were a great favourite with the customers.
Daughter Lynn remembers lunchtime was always a frantic busy time, with her father in the bar and her mother making lunches.
Planting willows and cleaning the river
The photos show a well kept garden and river, and if you look carefully you can see young willow trees, planted by Mr Duke, that now gracefully line the river.
When the Dukes moved in the river was a bit neglected (it happens). The following summer Lynn arrived with 15 student friends from a teacher training college. The students dredged and dug out the river. Exhausted, they slept in the lounge bar on the floor that night. Mr Duke was concerned for his stock, but nothing was amiss in the morning!!
Mind the frogs
The river was clean and loved by geese and visitors alike – everyone enjoyed the love and care the Dukes gave to not just the pub, but the outside space too. Lynn remembers Mr Duke venturing out with a bucket, and his young granddaughter, to collect frogs off the road as they made their way to the pond, to stop them being run over.
In the news
In 1966 the Dukes did a bit of publicising with an article about the Windmill in the Hertfordshire Countryside. Although the pub is just a mile from Hitchin, according to Mrs Duke, ‘a good many people do not even know about it’. This could be because Charlton was not signposted back then, but folks must have been in the know as Lynn remembers the car park was always full.
Cocktails, crisps and lemonade
The pub was a warm, friendly place, and Lynn has many happy memories - eating cocktail cherries from behind the bar, crisps from granny whenever she asked, and drinking golden lemonade (a Charles Wells special).
A 60’s drawing
Lynn also sent us a wonderful drawing of the pub back then (see below). It’s great to see the drawing compared to Keith Hornblower’s recent artist’s impression, has it changed much?
Goodbye in 74
Mr and Mrs Duke retired in 1974. The photos show them outside the Windmill and in the garden, with Lynn and Mrs Duke’s mother, in the back garden. You can see Henry Bessemer's house in the background.
Bring back the Windmill
With thanks to Lynn, daughter of Mr and Mrs Duke, for her fascinating memories and photos.
Lynn was very sad to see the much loved pub now so neglected. If you’d like to help return the pub and gardens, to their former glory, please get in touch, or register your interest to buy shares.
If you remember Mr and Mrs Duke, or Mrs Duke’s delicious pasties, we’d love to hear from you.