Buckenham Tofts Mill
River Wissey



Northern tailrace 1977

Buckenham Tofts watermill was another estate mill that has long disappeared. Although it was still in use in 1928, by 1977, all that was left was some brickwork, the old wheelrace channels, part of the weed grid and some ironwork on the ground with one gear wheel. One section of the ironwork bore the date 1840, which almost certainly relates to the time of the mill's reconstruction.

Mill repairs from manorial records May to Michaelmas (29th Sept) 1667
Mill repairs from manorial records May to Michaelmas (29th Sept) 1667

Mill repairs from manorial records May to Michaelmas (29th Sept) 1667
Mill repairs from manorial records May to Michaelmas (29th Sept) 1667

The document is part of a very rare C17th set of estate and other accounts in an even rarer binding. It states that the expenses were for the period from May 1667 and for repairs to the mill. It seems as if the stones were carried by water to Brandon and then carted to Buckenham Tofts.
"Paid out at Lynn for a pair of Millstones for Watter Carradge from Lynn to Brand." "Fetching the stones from Brand." "Helpt to Lay the stones Upp the Mill."
John Underwood - 1st September 2014



Northern tailrace 1977
Northern tailrace 21st April 2005

Northern wheelrace in 1977
Northern wheelrace 21st April 2005

By 2005 the northern wheel channel tailrace arch had collapsed and the majority of its water had been diverted to the mill bypass by virtue of filling in the mill dam leaving just a small channel that presumably helped in times of flood.

Mill dam and weed grid November 1968
Mill dam filled in 21st April 2005

Wheel channel inlets 1977
Wheel channel inlets 21st April 2005

Southern wheelrace channel filled in 21st April, 2005

At around the time the mill was demolished the southern wheel channel was filled in for the majority of its length. The ironwork and remaining gearwheel indicates that the channel may well have housed a turbine. The keystone above the southern wheelrace arch bears the inscription LP 1761, which probably relates to when the mill was built or rebuilt.

Southern wheelrace channel 21st April 2005

Closeup of the 1840 date

Gearwheel and dated ironwork (top right) in 1977
Gearwheel and ironwork 21st April 2005

Millpool 21st April, 2005

Estate map c.1770
Estate map c.1770

Pig’s Ear puts Farmer through the Mill

Farmer Mr. Dennis Burton was surprised to read that the historic Old Buckenham Mill on his farm was to be turned into a youth field centre.
For Mr. Burton, of Mill Farm, Old Buckenham, knew nothing about any scheme and he did not want a field centre on his farm.
When his neighbours also read about the £20,400 scheme they were none to pleased, either.
“People are getting a bit hot under the collar thinking it’s something to do with me,” Mr. Burton said yesterday. “The first I saw of it was in the paper, and then when I went down to the local and they told me I was in the Sunday Express.”
The information, which started the furore at Old Buckenham came from a Manpower Services Commission Press release. The Commission said it was going to give Old_Buckenham_Mill, an early 19th century windmill a new lease of life. Two craftsmen and eight unemployed youngsters would put in lavatories, showers and partitions so the mill could be used as a centre for field studies, painting and other activities.
The mystery was finally cleared up by Norfolk County Council Youth and Community officer, Mr Cyril Grant, who is sponsoring the scheme with the commission. “The mill we are converting is at Buckenham Tofts, near Mundford, on the edge of the battle area,” he said.
The brick and flint watermill stands beside the River Wissey, next to a campsite already used the county council youth service.
With the £20,400 grant from the commission, plus £5,000 from the West Norfolk Jubilee Trust and some money from the county education budget, the empty building will become a much needed field centre for the area.
Mr. Grant was certain Norfolk County Council had no designs on Mr. Burtons mill and neither had the commission.

Finally the gaffe was traced to the Central Office of Information in Cambridge, where the existence of four Norfolk Buckenhams had not been suspected. “In the research for the Press release some of the wires got crossed; that’s clearly what happened.” said the regional information officer, Mr Ian McKellar. ”I hope it hasn’t worried him too much. I am sorry if he has been upset by it. It does seem to be a pigs ear we have made.” he admitted. “Let’s face it, with four Buckenhams, we had a 25% chance of being right. We hope it won’t be a millstone round our necks.”
Eastern Daily Press - 24th January 1979

One of the millstones was squared off and set in the bank as a step.

O. S. Map 1882

O. S. Map 1882
Courtesy of NLS map images


O.S. map 2005
O.S. map 2005
Image reproduced under licence from Ordnance Survey

Manorial record 1667: Expenses for mill repairs listed included many building materials

1761: Probable date of mill restoration as recorded on the southern wheelrace arch keystone:
LP 1761

Faden's map 1797: Mill

1840: Probable date of rebuild

1928: Still in production

RAF aerial photo 1946: Mill buildings visible

1968: Only foundations left

If you have any memories, anecdotes or photos please let us know and we may be able to use them to update the site. By all means telephone 01263 713658 or

Nat Grid Ref TL8309 9503
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Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2005
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