Little Cressingham Mill
Watton Brook


Little Cressingham Mill is on a Domesday site, as 2 mills were listed in the parish at that time. This was one of only three mills in Norfolk that were powered by both water and wind, the other being Burnham_Overy_Union mill. Lt. Cressingham mill was rebuilt in 1821 and despite its dual power source, this was only a small mill. The watermill was a single storey brick building with a slate roof that housed two pairs of stones driven by an iron breast-shot water wheel, 12 feet in diameter and 6 feet wide . The windmill was a six storey tower mill that housed an additional two pairs of stones.


In 1780 the watermill was running on its own as the windmill had not yet been built although a smockmill had recently been built nearby, opposite the White Horse pub. The watermill and the smockmill were advertised for sale in the Norfolk Chronicle of 16th February 1782. The combined structure was built in 1821.

Autumn 1940
Autumn 1940

My father (Bertram Charles Whittle) took a photo of the mill in autumn 1940 when he was a reconnaissance photographer for the RAF at Watton during WWII. I was scanning some of his photos from the war (a large collection) and thought you might like this one.
Phil Whittle - 13th June 2018

Mill dam April 1967 April 1967
Mill dam April 1967
April 1967

To be Sold, or Lett, and entered upon immediately, a Water-Mill and Wind-Mill, with six Acres of Land, in Little Cressingham, in Norfolk, within two Miles of Watton, and six of Swaffham. For Particulars enquire of Mr_Brown, Millwright, in Ber-street, Norwich, or of Mr William Trundle, at the Mill, in Little Cressingham aforesaid.
Norfolk Chronicle - 16th February 1782

It would appear that William Trundle, owner of the mill had moved to Necton, probably during 1782 and that he had not managed to sell the mills over the course of the year.

To be Sold, or Lett,
(And entered upon immediately)
A Water-Mill and Windmill, with a new House adjoining, together with six Acres of exceeding good Land, Part Freehold, Part Copyhold, with a Right of Common thereunto belonging, situate in Little Cressingham, in the County of Norfolk. -- Cressingham is within two Miles of Watton, and six of Swaffham. For further Particulars enquire of Mr TRUNDLE, of Necton, the Owner,
Mr John FARROW, in Little Cressingham aforesaid, who will shew the Premises, or of William TOWNSHEND, Attorney, Downham, Norfolk.
Norfolk Chronicle - 22nd February 1783

To be SOLD
A WATER-MILL and WIND-MILL, and about Six Acres of Land, in Little Creffingham. Alfo to be fold in Necton, a WIND-MILL and House, with Four Acres of Land, with a good Right of Common to both Places; if not fold, to be lett immediately.
For further Particulars enquire of William Trundle, in Necton.
 N.B. Any Perfon inclinable to enter into Partnerfhip in the Trade, he will be inftructed in the Bufinefs.
Norfolk Chronicle - 28th June 1783

To be Sold by Auction By W. PARSON In three Lots
On Wednesday November 4, 1795 at 3 o'c
At the Crown Inn, Watton, Norfolk,
Unless sooner disposed of by Private Contract
Lot 1. A Water Corn Mill, Dwelling house, baking office, outhouses, yards & garden, with two Common Rights, situate at Little Cressingham, in the occupation of Mr. J. Pearson, the Owner, who will shew the premises.
Lot 2. A Tower Windmill & about half an acre of land situated near the above mentioned Lot.
Lot 3. A cottage in excellent repair, with two enclosures of exceedingly good arable Land containing about four acres situate at Cressingham aforesaid.
Immediate Possession of all the premises may be had as the owner wishes to retire from the business on account of his ill health.
Apply to Mr. Pearson on the premises or to the Auctioneer at Attleborough Bear.
Norfolk Chronicle - 31st October 1795

Tailrace April 1967 Tailrace March 2003
Tailrace April 1967
Tailrace March 2003

Thomas Norman wrote his will on 24th August 1816 and was buried a week later on 31st August 1816. He left the Cressingham mills to his son Robert and Harpley towermill to his son William. Thomas Norman's will was proved on 26th February 1817.

Sale Particulars of Clermont Lodge in Great and Little Cressingham & Threxton, 1844
by Messrs. DRIVER At the Auction Mart, Bartholomew Lane, London
on Friday 19th July 1844 at 12 o'c in One Lot.


In the occupation of Mr. John MARSH at the Annual Rent of £155 - 16 - 0
The Premises comprise a brick-built_Mill, 5 floors high, worked by wind as well as water power, consisting of two pairs of Stones to each power, built about 23 years since (the wheel & machinery excepting the shafts) belong to the Mill.)
A Dwelling house of brick & flint, containing Parlour, four Bed Rooms, Kitchen, back Kitchen, Dairy & lean-to a walled garden, Poultry house, Bake house, Cart Lodge, Stabling for four Horses & a Box & Cattle Lodge.
In no. 19 is a brick Barn & Cart house. (No. 19 is the field east of the house)
A water Engine to supply the Hall.

On Christmas day 1890 the miller, Samuel Goddard and his wife Elizabeth, took a bucket of coals up to their room to try and keep warm. Sadly they were suffocated by the smoke and were found the following day. They were aged 36 and 37.

Wheelhouse April 1967 Pump house and wheelhouse March 2003
Wheelhouse April 1967
Pump house and wheelhouse March 2003

A Blackstone mill with vertical stones was installed in the cart shed in 1908, it was powered by a portable steam engine in the yard and was mentioned in Kelly's of 1928. This shed along with others were demolished in 1975, the Blackstone mill having been superseded by a Victorian single cylinder paraffin engine that was geared to the watermill's stones in times of insufficient water.

May 1993
May 1993

In 1910 a Tattershall Roller Mill was installed and used intermittently until 1952 when the mill ceased operating.

c.1905 9th March 2003
9th March 2003

The windmill lost one pair of sails in 1911 and then in 1916 severe tailwinding cost the windmill its commercial life, as it was damaged beyond repair. When the sails were finally removed in about 1920, one pair was reinstalled on Carbrooke_towermill. The cap, stage and top machinery were removed in about 1940. However, the watermill section using its iron 12 foot diameter by 6 foot wide breastshot wheel, supplemented by the paraffin engine, continued to grind corn for local farms until the early 1950s. In 1918, at a cost of £400, a Tatterhall half sack roller plant was installed and powered by the paraffin engine.

After commercial milling ceased in 1952, the mill dam continued to supply water for Claremont Hall gardens using a second smaller 8' x 3' waterwheel that drove a c.1800 Bramah pump that was housed in a separate pump house to the side. Eventually this arrangement was replaced by two more powerful hydraulic rams made by Green & Carter of Winchester. The first was installed in 1934 and the second in 1935. Dredging in the 1960s robbed the mill of sufficient water to turn the wheel.

On 30th August 1972 Horace Freestone of Hilborough wrote to Harry Apling to say that he had formerly been at Little Cressingham Mill and also Hilborough Watermill.
His father Horace Freestone left Poringland_High_Mill and went to the Star Public House for a year before moving on to a postmill at Kenninghall, possibly Mill_Lane_postmill. He did not work the mill and in 1907 moved on to Little Cressingham Mill and
Hilborough Watermill.

Pump wheel February 1990 The 3 ram Bramah pump
Pump wheel February 1990
The 3 ram Bramah pump
February 1990

Restoration work in August 1990 Clearing the old water channel in August 1990
Restoration work in August 1990
Clearing the old water channel in August 1990

Norfolk Historic Buildings Trust and the Norfolk Windmills Trust took over Little Cressingham Mill for a restoration project on 8th July 1981. As the machinery was basically intact, their aim was to bring it back to working order once more and able to provide grinding demonstrations. The building is Grade II listed.

Rainwater had caused considerable damage to the floors and woodwork, so in the early 1980s the Trust spent £16,000 repairing the floors, doors and windows. They also limewashed the interior.

In 1988 the Bramah pumphouse was repaired for a further £6,000.

Windmill spur wheel c.1981
Windmill spur wheel c.1981

In the 1980s Harry Apling queried as to whether the upright shaft, spur wheel, bridge trees and other white painted timbers from the earlier smockmill were reused during the construction of the combined water and towermills.

As restored by Norfolk Windmills Trust March 2003
As restored by Norfolk Windmills Trust March 2003

Young shoulders to wheel at mill
There was much splashing, wading and mudlarking at Little Cressingham yesterday - all to help restore a unique 19th century mill.
Little Cressingham mill is thought to be the only combined wind and water mill, certainly in Norfolk and probably in Britain, and it is being restored by the Norfolk Windmill Trust with the help of yopungsters on the Duke of Edinburgh gold award scheme.
The youngsters are all former Wayland High School pupils and all come from around the Watton area. They are being supervised by Mr. Tim Leonard who said they were helping to dig out the mill pond and restore the mill's watercourse - work which involved a lot of wading through mud and weed.
"Part of their award involves doing some for of commuity work," said Mr. Leonard. "These youngsters have decided to do about 60 hours work on helping to clear out the watercourse for the mill."
The mud clearers, Michael Smith, Ian Soame, Harvey Pledger, Ian Timms, Fiona McNeil, Natalie Adcock, Anthea Lowry, Neil Barber, Michael Barnes, and Dawn Coughlan started at the mill lst Sunday and will put in a 10 to 4 day there once a month.
Apart from clearing tons of mud, slime and weed, the youngsters are helping to restore an ancient water wheel and pump built in the easrly 19th century by Bramah of London.
Little Cressingham mill was built about 1821 and was used by local millers until 1916 when it stopped working. The sails were taken down around 1920 but the mill still ran of water power until 1952.
The Norfolk Windmill Trust took over the property in July 1981 with the intention of restoring it to full working order. Yesterday was the first public open day at the mill and visitors had the chance to see the workings of the ancient building.

Eastern Daily Press - Monday 18th October 1982

I used to live with my parents at the Fairsteads just up the road (towards great cressingham) between 1980 and 1985 I think. Back then the mill was in total disrepair and abandoned.
I used to play in the grounds and once or twice explored the watermill hut, fortunately someone had put a massive padlock on the windmill (well I guess it would seem massive to an adventuring 12 year old) main mill so I never took a peep inside.
I seem to remember the old lady who lived in the house next door. I shall have to ask my Mother because I seem to remember there was some interesting trivia relating to her and the mill.
I would love to ignite those precious childhood memories once more of playing on the Wissey and the mill.

Jonathan Bristow - 9th August 2009

9th October 2008
9th October 2008

Old ladies memories, so more about me than the Freestone family.
Horace I didn't know, but I was sent to Little Cressingham as an evacuee with my sister aged 3, I was 9. We went to water end cottages across the common from the mill
Walter Freestone and Jane his wife had two boys, Walter and Frank who still live in Watton.  Mr  freestone who we all called dad. worked at the big house as a gardener and worked at the mill grinding the grain.
George his brother was married to Dora, she used to "sing pity you are such a scatterbrain," when I went in to the yard,  Walter the son went into the RAF, she was older,  they kept 4 goats, pigs, hens and ducks, we would roam the river Wissey looking for ducks eggs that laid away.
When the sluice gates were opened eels and pike got stranded in the shallow  water so catching them was easy.
At Christmas we went up Into the granary and plucked the turkeys, they were kept outside the yard in a large fenced field full of horseradish, one year the river froze over and the whole village turned out to skate and even sat on chairs to be pushed about it was so thick.
What a wonderful War I had, I didn't want to come back to London where our house had no walls only a tarpaulin, after 4 years I hardly knew my mother.
When the doodlebugs started I was  sent to high Wycombe in Buckinghamshire,  when Walter the son came home from the RAF he moved to Aylsham, but he also had a son Chris, but I didn't know him, it was after I left. 

Doreen Viner (née Sansom) - 13th October 2018

O. S. Map 1883

O. S. Map 1883
Courtesy of NLS map images

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

1782: William Trundle, miller

1782: Mill advertised for sale or let by William Trundle

1783: Mill advertised for sale or let by William Trundle, owner, now at Necton towermill

1795: J. Pearson, miller

1795: Mill advertised for sale by auction due to J. Pearson's ill health

Faden's map 1797

Poll Book 1802: Thomas Norman

31st August 1816: Thomas Norman buried aged 58 years

1816: Thomas Norman left mills to son
Robert Turner Norman and his heirs and assigns forever

c.1821: New water and wind combined mill built

Bryant's map 1826: Separate watermill & windmill

Census 1841: John Marsh (40) miller
Elizabeth Marsh (35)
Ann Marsh (30)
Robert Chapman (30)  miller
Robert Sparks (20) miller.

White's 1845-1846 : John Marsh - wind & water

1850-1853: Benjamin Land

1854-1879: Robert Chapman

White's 1883-1890: Herbert John Chapman - miller and farmer, Little Cressingham Mills

1890: Samuel Goddard (Michaelmas to Christmas)

Kelly's 1891: John Dowe

1892: John Dowe

1896-1898: John Goldson Mason

1900-1904: Frederick Panton Rodwell

1907: Freestone family acquired the mill

1908-1924: Horace Freestone

1911: One pair of sails lost in storm

1916: Horace Freestone, miller (wind & water)

1916: Windmill ceased operation due to storm damage

Kelly's 1922: Horace Freestone, steam & water

1924-1928: Mrs. Annie Elizabeth Freestone

1928-1937: Executors of Mrs. Annie Elizabeth Freestone

1937-1951: George Freestone

1951-1952: Mrs. Dora Freestone

1952: Mill ceased working

8th July 1981: Restoration work begun by Norfolk Windmills Trust

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 TF86970021
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Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2003