Corpusty Mill
River Bure

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c.1870 before the second storey was added to the mill
c.1870 before the second storey was added to the mill

Corpusty watermill was also sometimes known as Saxthorpe Mill - possibly depending on which side of the river you lived. However, the mill house is in Corpusty and so is the majority of the mill. Grain was taken in on the Saxthorpe side and flour or feed was delivered out on the Corpusty side. The river is the parish boundary, with Saxthorpe to the east and Corpusty to the west.

A mill has been on the site since the time of Domesday, when in fact two mills were recorded - Then 1 mill, later and now 2. By the 13th century the two mills were known as Gate Mill and Lound Mill. Gate Mill seems to have been owned by the Lord of the Manor, Hugh Tyrel who leased it to Simon de Creping and his heirs - "he rendering yearly three quarters of barley which came to the Mill."


When the mill house was built adjoining the mill in the 16th century, the roof line was the same for both structures and both were built of brick with a pantile roof. One of the old mill arches bears the date 1699.
A second storey was added to the mill in 1880 and clad in weatherboard. Unusually for a Norfolk mill, the new mill roof was of slate, which was probably brought in from Wales via the new railway station at Corpusty. The now lower mill house retained its more traditional pantile roof. A new section was also added to the end of the mill house and this allowed the mill to utilise what was previously part of the house. A steam engine was also in use by this time, housed in a shed behind the mill house and a large chimney was built that stood considerably taller than the mill.


INSOLVENCY.

THE CREDITORS of WILLIAM LAKE, of Saxthorpe, in the County of Norfolk, Miller, are earneftly requefted to meet at the Houfe of James Simmons, known by the Sign of the Half Moon, fituate in Brifton, in the faid County, on Wednefday the Firft Day of October, 1783, about Ten o'Clock in the Forenoon, that a State of his Affairs may be laid before them, and Affignees appointed to difpofe of his Effects for their equal Benefit. Perfons indebted to the faid William Lake are defired not to make Payment till fuch Affignees fhall be chofen by the faid Creditors, and further Notice given in this Paper. And to that End, the full Amount of all the Debts of the faid William Lake may be afcertained, fuch of the
Creditors as cannot be prefent at the intended Meeting, may be pleafed forthwith to fend the Accounts of their Demands upon him to THOMAS MENDHAM, of Brifton aforefaid.

Norfolk Chronicle - 27th September 1783

Corpuffy Mills, October 9, 1783.
To be SOLD BY AUCTION,

For the Benefit of the Creditors, by CHARLES RICE, from Northwalfham, on Monday the 20th  Inftant, at the Flour Mills and Premifes of WILLIAM LAKE, Miller, in Corpuffy aforesaid.
ALL the  HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE, Farming Stock, Implements in Hufbandry, Utenfils, and Effects of the faid William Lake.
The SALE to begin about TEN o'Clock.
All Perfons indebted t the Eftate and Effects of the faid William Lake, are defired to pay their refpective Debts to Mr John Barber, of Oulton, or Mr John P. Sterling, of Wood Dalling, Norfolk, Affignees of the
Effects of the faid William Lake, within one Month from the Date of this Advertifement, otherwife they will be fued for Recovery of fuch Debts without further Notice.

Norfolk Chronicle - 11th October 1783

Tithe Award 1839
Owner & Occupier Samuel Goldsmith Snr.


No. 1: Water Mill & Premises. Pasture 0a. 1r. 39p.
No. 2: Home Meadow. Pasture 1a. 3r. 32p.
No. 113: Black Mill. Pasture 0a. 1r. 0p.
No. 118 White Mill. Pasture 1a. 0r. 7p.
  3a. 2r. 38p. = 16s.

1838 Tithe Award Map
1838 Tithe Award Map - as redrawn by Harry Apling

The Goldsmith family also owned two postmills in Corpusty known as the Black Mill and the White Mill


Saxthorpe & Corpusty

Compact Watermill...two watermills (error for two windmills corrected 18th August 1860)
CLOWES & FLOWERDEW are favoured with instructions to Sell by Auction at the Norfolk Hotel, Norwich on Saturday 25th August 1860 at 3 for 4 o'c.

Lot 1. That excellant Watermill, Residence
, Stable, Warehouse, Meadow Land, & Post Windmill all in Corpusty doing a capital home trade.

Lot 2. The White Post Windmill, Warehouse & Arable Land near Lot 1. etc...

8 lots with the exception of about half an acre in Corpusty.)
The above is all Freehold & occupied by Mr. Goldsmith who will give possession at Michaelmas.
Particulars of J.H. Tillett Esq. or at the Auctioneers' offices, Bank Chambers, Norwich

Norfolk Chronicle - 11th, 18th & 25th August 1860
(also in Norfolk News)


1896 enlarged mill and house Samuel Goldsmith Fred Faircloth Eliza Goldsmith
1896 enlarged mill and house

The photograph above shows that the left hand door in the mill is now no longer part of the house, which it was in the photograph at the top of the page.


Details from the picture above
Eliza Goldsmith   Samuel Goldsmith   Fred Faircloth (on left)
Eliza Goldsmith
 
Samuel Goldsmith
 
Fred Faircloth (on left)
- mill manager

Tithe Award 1839
Owner & Occupier Samuel Goldsmith Snr.


No. 1: Water Mill & Premises. Pasture 0a. 1r. 39p.
No. 2: Home Meadow. Pasture 1a. 3r. 32p.
No. 113: Black Mill. Pasture 0a. 1r. 0p.
No. 118 White Mill. Pasture 1a. 0r. 7p.
3a. 2r. 38p. = 16s.

1838 Tithe Award Map
1838 Tithe Award Map

Robert Faircloth was shown as a journeyman miller at the mill in 1841 and by time of the 1851 census, his son Robert had married and moved to work at Castle_Rising_watermill. Eddie Faircloth (his brother?) ran the bake office.
Jack 'Sprat' Bush was also recorded as working at the mill.


The 1851 census lists the miller as being Henry A. Massingham (38), who was a master miller employing 2 men and two boys. One of those boys was his nephew Samuel Goldsmith, who at the age of 16 in the 1851 census was already described as a miller.

Samuel Goldsmith snr who died on 9th January 1851, left his farm, animals and the business to his son Samuel. However, Samuel jnr was, within six months, required to pay one third on the inheritance to Samuel snr's widow Frances and one third to his sister, Ann. Samuel's snr's daughter Ann, married Henry Massingham, so her one third share ended up with Henry Massingham (one of the will executors) who then took over as miller and farmer in Corpusty.  Ann's brother Samuel Goldsmith jnr continued to own the farm and stock at Guestwick.

The Goldsmith family also owned two postmills in Corpusty known as the Black Mill and the White Mill


George William Hill on his wedding day in 1902
George William Hill on his wedding day in 1902

George William Hill

In common with most village folk he had his nicknames: 'Blue-choke' and 'Flacky'.
born on 24th April 1880 and fourth son of Richard & Charlotte Hill. Until his marriage he lived in the centre house of as terrace of three adjoining the Primitive Methodist Chapel in Norwich Road. His father was at various times a coal merchant and smallholder. He had two sisters and six brothers that was by no means the largest of the village families.

After marr
iage in 1902 to Henrietta Platten he moved into her parents' house at Mill Hill, Corpusty, a semi-detached cottage with two bedrooms built in 1837. In that cottage he fathered fifteen children, ten daughters and five sons. Following the death of his parents he and his family moved - at Michaelmas 1934 - to their house in Norwich Road. His working life centred on two activities. Firstly, a full-time job at the Corpusty watermill, primarily as a delivery man, by horse and cart, of flour and animal feedstuffs to farmers and villages within a radius of about five miles and secondly he worked part-time early mornings and evenings in the village bakery. The bakery was owned and run by Eddie, i.e. E.O. Faircloth.
He died on the 5th of May 1954 and is buried in Corpusty churchyard.

I've mentioned my father's nicknames but within the family he was Dadda and in a way this perhaps gives an idea of the affection we felt for him. From what I've been told he left school art the age of ten to become a bird scarer on local farms and most probably on the few acres his father owned or leased. He did attend night school in Saxthorpe Reading Room for several years. Hence his mental arithmetic prowess? There is no clue as to what he earned at this most tedious task but long hours and hard work with little reward was his lot for the rest of his working life. He had no choice after 1902 as he had more and more mouths to fill. His primary job in adult life was at Corpusty Mill as the deliveryman or carter. With horse and cart he delivered flour and feed stuffs to houses and farms within five or six mile radius of the mill. I was able to occasionally visit the mill to explore and to watch the various processes involved with producing flour and all sorts of animal feed. The machinery, with it's big greasy cogs converting water energy into grinding wheels, was always of great interest to my inquisitive mind. In particular I remember a maize product that resembles corn flakes; it was Kositos and was quite tasty as I ate handfuls collected from the chutes filling the sacks. The dirt and dust didn't seem to cause me harm but in retrospect there could have been mice droppings mixed in with the Kositos. Dad with his horse and cart sometimes came past Melton school which I attended after 1931 and a lift home was much better than walking the five or so miles. His horse was either stabled at the mill or put out to graze in a riverside meadow. He would give me - or Roger or Alan - a treat by letting us ride the horse into the river for a drink before returning it to the stable. The same horse and cart filled another essential need, taking us to Lion's Pithole to collect wood, which was brought home and used for the fire. Dad's day was far from being a nine to five job at the mill, as he also worked in the village bake house run by Eddie Faircloth. This extra job meant very early starts to the day, for six days a week, working for a couple of hours or so before heading for the mill. Some evenings he would be back in the bake house mixing and kneading dough in a long and deep wooden trough over which the two would work and sweat. No machinery to ease the aching backs. Sometimes I would grease the tins in readiness for the dough and subsequent baking. This hygienic process involved wearing a mitten made of sacking, dipping it into a tin of grease and thence to the insides off the bread tins. Eventually I was able to grease the inside of the tin in one continuous movement as I rotated the tin by the other hand. Cakes were also made and this is possibly where I gained and never lost an appreciation of home made cakes. At Easter the hot cross buns were turned out in their hundreds and one holiday task was to mix in the currants and brush on the egg yolk. My other jobs included delivering bread, on foot, to houses in the village with the aid of a big wicker basket or with Eddie in his van to neighbouring villages. There were occasional dividends, for example, when calling on Tich Wright on Needle Hill I could almost guarantee to get one of his wife's cakes. It was essential to learn of the individual customer requirements. Jimmy Carr, or “Club-foot” as he was know because of his disability, was always insistent that his bread was burnt on the outside as he lived in Folgate Lane it could be a long walk if the loaves were not to his liking. I soon learnt how many extra minutes to leave his bread in the oven.
One thing puzzled and disappointed me; Eddie would never let me use the peels to remove the bread. The peels of different lengths were stacked near the oven doors. Today's food officials would never have given Eddie a clean bill of health as the work of mixing and kneading was in a dusty atmosphere with puffs of smoke if the fires were not drawing properly. That was not all; turning on the lights could be the sign for cockroaches to flee to their hideouts. Customers must have been satisfied as many brought their cakes and roasts to be cooked in the ovens and especially at weekends for their Sunday dinners. The bake house door was a typical stable door in two sections either one could be opened. The lower section was ideal for resting on and to watch the life of Corpusty Street and to recall Eddie doing just that and passing the time of day with everyone passing by is my lasting memory of him. He must have spent a fair part of his time doing just that – and why not? Isn't that a pleasant part of village life? When not at the mill or bake house Dad could be found in the garden or sheds. It was never ending. A large garden, mending and tarring sheds, cleaning and mending shoes, collecting firewood, emptying the earth closet were just part of the daily chores. I can but wonder how he found time to play in the village band, be a member and treasurer of the local Loyal Walpole Lodge, helping with his father's small holding and, of course, raising 15 children. The saying of “if you want something done ask a busy man” was as true then as it is now. However, none of us starved, none became unemployed in later life and all of us achieved respected and creditable status. We were fortunate to have such parents.
The garden was big, almost an acre, both at Mill Hill and at Norwich Road after we moved there in 1934. Nearly every square yard was cultivated by hand and used to keep us self-sufficient with fruit and vegetables. We spent time, backs bent, weeding, hoeing or picking endless rows of peas, beans, onions, celery and potatoes. Fertilisation was based on two methods; growing green crops such as clover for digging in or by the unsavoury emptying of the earth closets; this latter task thankfully left to Dad for which I imagine all five boys remained grateful. Father kept the odd pig as a source of meat although tragedy struck with swine fever. This entailed forcing medicine down the throat via a cows horn but if that failed, the pig was killed and buried in the garden in a lime filled grave.
Dad didn't often dress up but if he did to attend a function or to visit he always worn a brown suit, which, I believe he was married in and wore to the day he died. The suit was made complete by highly polished boots and a peaked cap. “ Club Nights” were such occasions for this when he would collect payments in pence for the Walpole Lodge of the Manchester Oddfellows. I may have the name slightly wrong but for the purpose was to create funds to help members who might fall on hard times. Dad was the Treasurer and he maintained the books meticulously as I found after his death. Probably Dad's main relaxation was playing his tuba in the Corpusty and Saxthorpe brass band irreverently known as “the gut”. The tuba or E flat base to give it the proper name gave some of us a regular chore; cleaning and polishing it for the next band meeting; for some unknown reason Ena and I seemed to be chief cleaners. Dad joined the band at an early age as he is on a photograph of the band taken in about 1902 and he continued playing until the war caused its disbandment in 1940. I saw him play and practice many times but two events stand out. In 1935 the band travelled to Long Sutton to play at their King George V Silver Jubilee fete. Secondly, just before the outbreak of World war 2, the band led the Royal British Legion parade at the county Rally in Kings Lynn where General Playfair was the reviewing officer. Dad was in the front row of the band and at the head of the parade, what a pity we had no camera to record the special day but my memory is one of pride.

A Story of a Corpusty Lad - Ron Hill, 2006


Eddie Faircloth, 1963
Eddie Faircloth, 1963

From 1890 to 1892 Samuel Goldsmith also had the lease for Foulsham towermill


North of the railway bridge & on the west side of the road to the village were MILL VILLAS built by Samuel Goldsmith for mill workers. A tablet was inscribed S. G. 1898
Harry Apling - 14th July 1972


O. S. Map 1885

O. S. Map 1885
Courtesy of NLS map images

The above map clearly shows where a new cut had been dug below the mill to straighten the dramatic meanders in the river that would have impeded and slowed the flow of water leaving the mill as well as greatly contributing to flooding the low lying meadows. This could well have taken place c.1870 when the mill was enlarged.


Charles Pegg anf family c.1903 Charles Pegg with Mrs Goldsmith's coal delivery cart c.1903
Charles Pegg and family c.1903
Charles Pegg with Mrs Goldsmith's coal delivery cart c.1903

The above left hand photograph shows Charles Pegg, his wife Florence (née Bean) and their 3 eldest children, Charles, Arthur and Georgina. Charles was Mrs. Goldsmith carter and it's said that he kept the horses in his outhouse. It is also said that he held fisticuff boxing matches outside his house in what became known as Fighter's Yard and that he was known as Fighter Pegg. The house was later demolished apart from the well. The Pegg family were residents of Corpusty and Saxthorpe for at least two hundred years and at the time the above photographes were taken, Charles' brother Philip was also living in the village with his wife Anne and working as a fishmonger.


c.1910
Mill workers c.1910
left to right - George Faircloth, Dick Hill
Fred Faircloth, George Hill

c.1912
c.1912 with a ford instead of the bridge.
The wall colour was changed in 1900.

In 1908 Mr. Francis (Frank) Fisher bought the mill. He gave the children of the village a penny and an orange on Christmas mornings. These were given out in the Mill yard by his manager, Mr. Fred Faircloth, who had also been the manager when the Goldsmiths owned the mill.


c.1910
c.1910

The great flood of August 1912 was especially bad at Corpusty and Itteringham. About two miles upstream from the mill, the railway crossed over a tributary of the Bure known as the Blackwater via a 20 foot high railway embankment and a small single arch bridge. The small bridge was unable to cope with the tremendous amount of water trying to flow into the Bure and consequently the water level quickly rose and a vast lake built up behind the embankment. When the water was at its height, a train full of holidaymakers passed over the embankment and bridge. Upon drawing into Corpusty station the driver reported that he felt the embankment to be unsafe. Shortly afterwards the whole structure gave way unleashing a virtual tidal wave of flood water into the Bure and surrounding area. On arriving at Corpusty Mill a few minutes later, the majority of the water turned to sweep around the gable end of the mill on the north east side before rejoining the river course and heading towards Itteringham. It is this mass of water that almost certainly destroyed the old_single_arch_bridge in that village. At one point the water at Corpusty reached the mantelpiece of one of the hearths in the mill house.


Blackwater Bridge in August 1912 Blackwater Bridge in August 1912
Blackwater Bridge in August 1912 with the railway line suspended in mid air

August 1912
August 1912

Remains of the old bridge near the gable end after the flood in August 1912 Remains of the old bridge near the gable end after the flood in August 1912
Remains of the old bridge near the gable end after the flood in August 1912

Up until this great flood, the road crossing by the mill was a ford, as can be seen in the second photo on this page. Crossing such a wide area of water could be quite hazardous and vehicles frequently became stuck in the resulting mud - a horse was kept nearby to help pull them free. Motorists who knew the area often used the much shallower ford at Little London, a mile higher up. Prior to 1912, villagers had conducted a 20 year campaign to have a bridge built and after the flood, the County Council at last provided the funds. In order to accommodate this, the road was built up and moved further away from the mill, with the bridge finally opening in 1914. By 1999, the bridge was deemed unsafe for heavy goods vehicles. These were then diverted through Aylsham until the bypass was completed in early 2002. The bridge was then renovated.


The new bridge in 1914
The new bridge in 1914

1947 1954
1947
1954

1965 30th June 2004
1965
30th June 2004

1968 May 1968
1968
May 1968

c.1970 December 2002
c.1970
December 2002

The breastshot waterwheel was made of pearwood. It was 20 feet in diameter and 7 feet wide. It was removed along with its gearing and stones in 1939 as flour milling ceased and the mill switched completely to grist (animal feed) milling with all power being supplied by a Crossley heavy oil engine.

Milling finally ceased in 1965. However, all the machinery including the heavy oil engine, seed crushers and milling machinery were left intact and remain so to this day (2002)

The mill itself is also in good structural repair and it is now a listed building.


October 2004
October 2004

The photo above is of the first floor with the stonefloor visible as a raised section just above it. The stonefloor housed the three pairs of stones and the oat crusher. The sloping housing of the elevator installed by Jack Last in 1954 is visible to the rear and at the time the photo was taken, the mill interior had remained untouched since the mill ceased working in 1965.


O. S. Map 1885

O. S. Map 1885
Courtesy of NLS map images


O. S. Map 1885

O. S. Map 1885
Courtesy of NLS map images


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

9th May 2007
9th May 2007

c.13th century: Lord of the Manor, Hugh Tyrel, owner. Leased to Simon de Creping and his heirs

1699: Mill built or possibly rebuilt on site of an earlier mill

1777: Index of wills proved in Norwich lists John Lake as miller

1783: William Lake, miller, bankrupt

Monday 20th October 1783: Auction of estate and effects of William Lake

1801: Samuel Goldsmith bought the mill

1818: Samuel Goldsmith bought the White postmill from Revd. Suckling of Edgefield for £450

White's 1836: Samuel Goldsmith, miller

Census 1841:

Samuel Goldsmith (63) miller
Elizabeth Riches (26) servant
Address: Near the river

Robert Faircloth (40) journeyman miller
Mary Faircloth (35)
Mary Faircloth (17)
Robert Faircloth (14)
William Faircloth (12)
John Faircloth (7);
Frances Faircloth (3)
Mary Faircloth (67) (mother)

Robert Richmond, miller (employee)
Sarahann Richmond (22)
Elizabeth Richmond (5)
John Richmond (2)
Ann Richmond (6 wks)
Address: The Street


White's 1845: Samuel Goldsmith, miller. Samuel Goldsmith also owned both of the windmills in Corpusty - the White Mill and the Black Mill

9th January 1851: Samuel Goldsmith snr died

Census 1851:

Henry A. Massingham (38) b.Coltishall, master miller employing 2 men & 2 boys also farmer of 62 acres employing 3 men 
Ann Massingham (38) b.Corpusty (38)

Samuel Goldsmith jnr (16) b.Guestwick, miller (nephew)
Elizabeth Riches (39) b.Saxthorpe, servant
Elizabeth Richmond (15) b.Holt, servant

Robert D. Faircloth (55) b.Walsingham, journeyman miller
Mary Faircloth (48) b.Corpusty
John Stimpson Faircloth (17) b.Corpusty
Francis Stimpson Faircloth (13) b.Corpusty
Henry Faircloth (7) b.Corpusty
Mary Faircloth (76) b.Walsingham, pauper agricultural labourer (mother)

Robert Richmond, miller (employee)
John Richmond (12) miller (employee)

Kelly's 1854: Samuel Goldsmith, miller & farmer

1860: Samuel Goldsmith - Insolvent Deed of Assignment

Census 1861: William Bruce (23) b.Wramplingham, miller employing 5 men
Mary H. Bruce (21) b. Guestwick, miller's wife (sister of Samuel Goldsmith)
Samuel Goldsmith (26) b.Guestwick, miller's clerk (brother in law)
Sarah A. Neal (26) b. Guestwick, house servant
Address: No. 94 by the river

Robert Faircloth (65) b.New Walsingham, miller
Mary Faircloth (58) b.Corpusty
Address: No. 32 Valley Farm

William Faircloth (32) b.Corpusty, miller
Sarah Faircloth (30) b,Corpusty
Sarah S.O. Faircloth b.Heydon, scholar
Address: No. 60 Corpusty Street

Harrod's 1863: William Bruce, miller

Kelly's 1865: William Bruce

Harrod's 1872: William Bruce, miller

Kelly's 1875: Samuel Goldsmith, miller

Kelly's 1879: Samuel Goldsmith, miller, coal & corn merchant & c.

1875: Black Mill gone

Kelly's 1883: Samuel Goldsmith

1894: Extension added to the mill house

Kelly's 1896:
Samuel Goldsmith, now 61, owned the White_Mill once more, along with the watermill and he was also a farmer

15th April 1899: Samuel Goldsmith jnr died

Kelly's 1900: Samuel's widow, Eliza Sayer Goldsmith as miller

October 1902: White Mill demolished

Kelly's 1904: Eliza Sayer Goldsmith, miller

1908: Mill bought by Francis Fisher

Kelly's 1908: George & Frank Fisher, millers. Fred Faircloth, manager

Kelly's 1912: Frank (Francis) Carlyle Fisher, miller

1928: Frank Fisher died

1929: Mill bought by Corbett James Cooke Lee

1930: C.J.C. Lee installed a 36hp heavy oil engine to supplement the water power. It is said the the engine had previously been running to supply the power for Greshams School before mains electricity arrived in Holt

1939: Waterwheel with its gearing and stones were finally removed

1947: Douglas (Jack) Last bought the mill and it has remained in that family for rest of its working life. Jack eventually installed an additional small diesel engine to supplement the large one.

1957: Mill working as a provender mill using a hammer mill powered by a 36 h.p. diesel engine

4th December 1960: Jack Last killed

1961: Business of D. J. Last carried on by Jack's widow Mrs. H. M. Last and eldest son Brian Last

1965: Mill ceased to operate and milling machinery removed to a warehouse where operations continued

1967: Brian Last miller of Corpusty

28th February 1967: Business merged with that of Robert Seaman Ltd. of Bintry Mill

1993: Roger Last took ownership of the mill

2010: Roger Last, Mill House


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

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Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2005