Wortwell Mill
River Waveney



Mill and ford c.1910
Mill and ford c.1910

Wortwell mill was built of weatherboard over a brick base with a pantiled roof that also houses the lucum to the front. The mill house is joined to the mill on the southern, Suffolk side of the river and are Grade II listed. The mill ceased working c.1948 and although the waterwheel had gone by 1972, some machinery still remained including the cast iron pit wheel. This was built in two sections on its 10½" diameter cast iron axle that would have also supported the waterwheel, it was 7' 5" in diameter with 8 spokes and 128 wooden teeth. The cast iron wallower had 6 spokes with 54 teeth and was mounted on a 7"-7½" cast iron vertical shaft that also held a wooden pulley with cast iron compass arms that once drove the belt for the tentering gearing. The cast iron bridge trees that supported the stone nuts and the wood great spur wheel also remained. The great spur wheel was made in 5 sections with six cast iron arms and 120 wooden cogs. The wooden crown wheel's wood cogs meshed with two cast iron gears that in turn powered two layshafts, one had a cast iron pulley and also a wooden pulley for the sack hoist and the other had a cast iron pulley. Another pulley was on the outside of the first floor at the front of the mill and was used to take a drive from a portable engine.


In the 1770s the wheel was powering three pairs of stones - one each of Cullens, peak and French burr.
From the early 1900s until c.1932 the mill also ran a small ½ sack roller plant.


Mill dam c.1910
Mill dam c.1910

Wortwell Mill was usually known as Limbourne Mill and at the time of Domesday a fifth part of the mill was held by Bury Abbey, the whole being worth 10s. The manor of Limbourne in Homersfield was owned by the Benedictine Nunnery of Bungay around 1100. Later there was mention of Limber Lands and Limber Mill within the parish. Many years later these were bought by Alexander Adair of Flixton Hall along with Downs Farm. A conveyance of 1364 included two mills called Lymburghmilles but it is probable that it was the one building with two pairs of stones.


For many years the mill was worked in conjunction with Wortwell postmill.


Mill dam c.1920
Mill dam c.1920

To be SOLD, and entered upon at Michaelmas next O.S. An ancient and well-accuftom'd WATER MILL, with a Bunching-Mill for Hemp adjoining, with a Dwelling-houfe and other Outhoufes, and about two Acres of Meadow-Land adjoining to the faid Mill and Houfe, with Commonage on Limbourn Common; the whole being in tolerable Repair, and all Freehold fituated in the Parifh of HOMERSFIELD in the County of Suffolk, known or called by the Name of Limborn Mill, within 3 Miles of Harlefton in Norfolk, and about four Miles of Bungay in Suffolk; two very good Market-Towns.
For particulars enquire of Mr. Thomas Goode, Cooper, at Wortwell, Norfolk; or of Mr. Wm. Titfhall, the present Occupier, who will fhew the Premifes.
Ipswich Journal - 26th August 1767


Near Harleston...
A Water Mill with three pair of stones. One pair CULLENS, one PEAK and the other FRENCH.
'Limber Mills' 2 miles from Harleston.
Norwich Mercury - 21st April 1770


August 1967 June 1967
August 1967
June 1967

Last week died at Wortwell, much regretted by all who had the pleasure of her acquaintance,
Mrs Harvey, aged 31, wife of Robert Harvey, miller, of that place.

Norfolk Chronicle - 19th October 1782


It appears that Robert Harvey and Edward Hill were involved in the running of several mills including Alburgh_postmill, Wortwell Mil Hill postmill, Wortwell postmill and Wortwell watermill.


re Commission of Bankrupt bearing date 24 September 1825 awarded and issued forth against ROBERT CRYTOFT HARVEY, of Alburgh and EDWARD HILL of Wortwell, Millers and Flour Merchants ...
Meeting of Commisssioners 27 May 1829.
Norfolk Chronicle - 9th May 1829

c.1970
c.1970

This particular stretch of the Waveney is rich in eels and many were caught below the mill and sent to London hotels and restaurants.


May 1972
May 1972

Earlier in the 20th century the mill was owned by the Marriage family.

It was later owned by an artist of the name of Smith before being taken over by Arthur Bush.

Arthur Bush jnr hired the waters by the mill before eventually buying the property in 1949. Arthur was still helping to pull in the eel nets when in his eighties. His father Arthur Bush snr had owned Needham_Mill. When Arthur jnr died in 1973 the mill was sold. The sale particulars stated,
Limbourne Mill was the last corn mill on the River Waveney to cease operating on a trading basis. The River Waveney is renowned for silver eel which can be trapped at this point. Arthur Bush maintained traps here for many years and claimed in one year to have caught as many as half a ton in weight of eels.


May 1972
May 1972

The mill was auctioned by Apthorpes at the Magpie Hotel in Harleston on 26th September 1973 on the instructions of the executors of the late Arthur Bush. The mill was sold along with the 3 bedroomed mill house and 2½ acres of land.


The mill has a variety of names and dates carved into woodwork throughout the internal structure:
A bracket on the ground floor framing has a carved fleur-de-lis above CS1783 (or 1785) along with RS and the date 178? Another bracket on the ground floor has W+V1783 and E+H97 and a top floor beam has JNURSEY and JB (or JR).


Pitwheel, wallower and spur wheel 1988
Pitwheel, wallower and spur wheel 1988

August 2004
August 2004

Stanley Clifford-Smith (1906-1968) sold the mill to Arthur Henry Bush jnr. of Magpie Hotel, Harleston before moving to great Bardfield in Essexm where he became an important member of the art community during the 1950s.


19th November 2005 9th February 2007
19th November 2005
9th February 2007

15th April 2008 15th April 2008
15th April 2008
15th April 2008

3rd January 2010
3rd January 2010

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

Domesday 1086: Mill mentioned

c.1100: Mill owned by Benedictine Nunnery of Bungay

Conveyance 11th April 1334: (Monday after St. Ambrose 8 Edward III) included 2 mills called Lymburgh Mills

Conveyance 12th April 1356: (12th April 30 Edward III) included a
mill and meadow Lymbone and appurtenances

Conveyance 8th April 1364: (Monday after St. Ambrose 38 Edward III) included two mills:
Lymburghmilles

1762: John Moore, tow-dresser, mill owner. Stephen Stannard tenant (son in law) and married to Sarah

1767: William Titshall, miller

1782: Robert Harvey, miller

19th October 1782: Roberty Harvey's wife died at the age of 31

1822: Edward Hill, miller

September 1825: Edward Hill & Robert Harvey, bankrupt

Bryant's map 1826: Limber Mill

c.1830: Mill owned by Revd. Richard Aldous Arnold, Rector of Ellough, having been earlier sold to Aldous Arnold, Esq. of Lowestoft

Pigot's 1830: Edward Hill

1836: Edward Hill, miller

O.S. 1st Edition map 1837: Limborne Mill

White's 1836: Edward Hill, miller

Pigot's 1839: Edward Hill, miller

Hunt's 1850: William Tippell, miller

1854: Christopher Johnson, miller

1855: Christopher Johnson, miller

1858: Christopher Johnson, miller

White's 1864: Richard Doggett, miller

Kelly's 1865: Richard Doggett, miller and farmer at Hall Farm

Harrod's: Richard Doggett, miller

Kelly's 1869: Richard Doggett, miller and farmer at Hall Farm

Invoice 9th August 1862: miller, sold 10 stones of flour to Robert Tidd of Wortwell for £1 3s 4d

Kelly's 1875: Samuel Goulder, miller

22nd August 1878: Mill auctioned along with Wortwell Hall along with other property but did not reach reserve

Kelly's 1879: Harry Goulder, farmer & miller, Wortwell hall

White's 1883: Philip Goulder, miller and farmer, Hall farm

White's 1890: Philip Goulder, miller and farmer, The Hall

Kelly's 1892: Philip Goulder, farmer & miller (water), Wortwell hall

1900: Robert James Smith miller and farmer at Says Farm, tenant

Kelly's 1904: Robert Smith, miller (water) & farmer, Says farm & Wortwell mill

Kelly's 1908: Robert James Smith, miller (water) & farmer at Says Farm

1910: Mill sold at auction to Robert James Smith for £500

Kelly's 1929: Robert James Smith, miller (water) Wortwell mills & farmers, Says farm

1933: Robert James Smith, miller

c.1934: Brian I. Marriage, miller also at Pakenham watermill in Suffolk

c.1948: Mill ceased working

1949: Mill bought from Stanley Clifford-Smith, artist by Arthur Henry Bush jnr. of Magpie Hotel, Harleston

1973: Arthur Bush died

26th September 1973: Mill sold at auction by Apthorpe's for £47,000

October 2004: Mill and mill cottage offered for sale by Bidwells at a guide price of £675,000

August 2009: Mill and mill cottage offered for sale by Strut & Parker at a guide price of £795,000


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 TM2818 8445
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Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2005