The Beacon stands on the site of a windmill of an early 18th century type which was a landmark in the district.
The mill was last used in 1905 and was restored in 1935, 1955 and 1982 but destroyed by the hurricane in October 1987. As you walk towards its site over the fields you will pass various depressions which are all that remain of once busy residential streets. One particularly large ditch on the far side of the cricket field marks the re-walling of the town which was carried out in the 15th century along one of the older roads.
Near the site of the mill was the little church of St. Leonard. This stood outside the original town wall and was, in fact, the parish church of Iham, the village that was here long before Winchelsea was built. The church probably fell into decay about 1500 but the walls appear to have been standing in 1763. It is possible that they survived until 1810 when the windmill was moved there from its original site some 200 yards to the north. Below the hillside is the site of Iham’s houses. Below this again was probably the site of a small harbour which existed in Roman times.
Now the church of St Leonard has vanished completely and so has the windmill blown down in the Great Gale of October 1987. The beacon that replaces them was erected as part of the Millennium celebrations and lit for the first time at midnight on New Year’s Eve to celebrate the start of the New Millennium.