Built in 1809 for Thomas Higgs, Rayleigh Windmill was passed through several owners up until 1869, when £150 was spent on mill repairs. James Brown was the last miller to work it by wind; its cap and sails being removed in 1909, the mill workings were subsequently powered by steam and oil engines, then finally by electric motor until 1937. After a number of years of disuse, the building was converted into a museum. It was formally opened on 16th May 1970, and in 1972 Rayleigh Urban District Council launched an appeal to restore the mill as a landmark. In 1974 a new cap and sails were fitted by John Lawn and Phillip Barret-Lennard. In 2005, a comprehensive programme of restoration was undertaken, enabling it to host wedding ceremonies today.