Bressingham Common smockmill was a 4 storey, 10 sided mill that had a boat shaped cap that formed its own petticoat and had a 6 bladed fan. The four double shuttered patent sails each had 8 bays of 3 shutters, were struck by rack and pinion and unusually, ran clockwise, driving 2 pairs of French burr stones.

R. Terry
Signatory to Notice re increase in charges for Grist Grinding.

Norfolk Chronicle - 24th November 1792

The following melancholy accident happened during the late high wind; Mr. John Greef, of Cranworth, being in his mill at the time it was blown down, was unfortunately killed by its fall.
A mill at Aldeby, and Mr. Chasteney’s mill at Brissingham (the third within three years) were also blown down. – The sails from Cringleford, Mulbarton, New Buckenham, Poringland, and several other mills in the county, were also swept off.
Norfolk Chronicle - 14th November 1795

Sale of Land
... lying near the Windmill in Bressingham New Inclosure & parcel of the great common ...

Norfolk Chronicle - 13th July 1805

To Millers, Bakers & others
To be Sold by Auction by Thomas Calver at the Half Moon, Diss on Friday 20 July instant at 6 o’c
A Capital TOWER WINDMILL with a Dwelling house, Barn, Stable, Cow house, Piggeries & other necessary Outbuildings & about 12 acres of arable & pasture Land adjoining, situate at Bressingham in Norfolk, in the occupation of Mr. Christopher Johnson, who has been tenant thereof for 19 years, but whose occupation ceases at Michaelmas next.
The Mill comprises four flour drives two pair of stones, flour mill & is in full trade. The Dwelling house is very comfortable & the land is in a high state of cultivation.
The Estate is part Freehold & part Copyhold.

Apply to Mr. Philip Chasteney, Gorleston near Yarmouth, the Auctioneer, Diss or to Messrs. Jay & Cremer Solrs. Norwich.
Norfolk Chronicle - 7th & 14th July 1832

Mr. Johnson's towermill at Bressingham lost its cap & sails in recent gale of November 29th. & took fire from the violence of the friction but was speedily extinguished by the worknen.
Bury & Norwich Post - 7th December 1836

Tithe Award map 1843
Tithe Award map 1843 as redrawn by Harry Apling

Map, Henry Calver, Surveyor, 1841
Owner: Benjamin Eaton
Occupier: do

No. 214
No. 215

Mill shown in 215
House, yard & garden

0a. 2r. 7p.
0a. 1r. 35p.
1a. 0r. 2p.


John Eaton made a will on 9th July 1847 and after his death on 10th January 1849. the will was proved on 9th February 1849. The executors were wife Ann Eaton, Robert Macro and Nathaniel Fisher who was miller at Bressingham Fen St. smockmill.
To wife
Ann Eaton:
All that my messuages, tenements, windmill, cottages, buildings, lands and hereditaments situate at Bressingham, including all going gears, machinery, tackle of the said windmill into and for the use of the said Robert Macro, and Nathaniel Fisher, heirs and executors and assings, UPON TRUST, that the said premises will be sold. 

However, John Eaton allows for the lack of sale with the rents being taken into the trust.  He mentioned his wife Ann should get £400 immediately after the sale and his nephew Samuel Carter should get £200.00 at the same time. The exectutors Robert Macro and Nathaniel Fisher were each to get £19 and 19 shillings for the executorship.

John Eaton's sister Mary Ann Eaton, married John Carter in Gorleston in 1819 and their son Samuel was born the same year. As mentioned above, Samuel Carter was bequeathed £200 in his uncle's will and went on to run the mill.

For Sale by Private Contract
A neat & convenient FREEHOLD DWELLING HOUSE with every rquisite Outbuilding & Garden
A capital Tower Windmill well placed for the wind with patent sails & wind tackle, driving two pairs of French stones, with machine & flour mill complete & in excellent working condition.
Also a comfortable Cottage & substantial Timber built Granary & Flour House with Stable & Cart Lodge.
The above Property, which is all in thorough repair & comprises in extent about One acre of Land is situated by the side of the road to Kenninghall only 3 miles from the market town of Diss & is now in the occupation of Mr. Samuel Carter whose tenancy will expire at Michaelmas 1850.
A good lucrative trade has been done at the Mill for many years by the late proprietor Mr. John Eaton& by the present tenant & the property is now offered for Sale only in consequence of Mr. Eaton’s death.
May be viewed on application to the tenant & the purchase thereof treated for with Mr. Robert Macro of Shelfanger, Mr. Nathaniel Fisher of Bressingham or Messrs. Wallace & Lyus, Solrs. Diss.
Norfolk Chronicle & Norwich Gazette - 31st March & 7th April 1849

Bury & Norwich Post - 6th March 1850
Bury & Norwich Post - 6th March 1850
Bury & Norwich Post - 6th March 1850

Messrs. Elliott & Sons are instructed by the Executors of the late Mr. John Eaton deceased to Sell by Auction at the Crown Inn, Diss on Friday 15 March 1850 at 5 o’c
In full trade with patent sails & winding tackle, driving two pairs of French Stones with Machine and Flour Mill complete & in excellent working order.
Also a neat and convenient sash-fronted Dwelling house & Garden lately occupied by Mr. Eaton.
A comfortable cottage & stubstantially built Granary & Flour house with Stables, Cart lodge & Outbuildings & Pightle of Land adjoining
The above valuable Property is situate at Bressingham, Norfolk by the side of the road to Kenninghall & about 3 miles from Diss & is now occupied by Mr. Samuel Carter whose tenancy will expire at Michaelmas next.
Particulars of Messrs. Elliott& Sons, Thelton near Scole or of Messrs. Wallace& Lyus, Solrs. Diss.
Norfolk Chronicle & Norwich Gazette - 2nd & 9th March 1850

To be let with possession at Michaelmas next
All that tower mill with patent sails, driving two pairs of French burr stones, with capital dwelling house & garden & two pieces of pasture belonging thereto, now in the occupation of Mr. Edward Orford. The mill, house & premises are all in excellent repair & a good trade has been carried on by the present occupier for several years past.
Apply to Mr. John Flatman, Laxfield, Suffolk, or Mr. Fowell, Solr. Garboldisham, Norfolk.
Diss Express - 14th May 1880

Bressingham, Norfolk
To be Let, with possession at Michaelmas next
All that TOWER WINDMILL with Patent Sails, driving two pairs of French Stones, with capital DWELLING HOUSE & GARDEN & two pieces of Pasture Land belonging thereto, now in the occupation of Mr. Edmund Orford. The Mill, House & Premises are all in excellent repair & a good trade has been carried on by the present occupier for several years.
For further particulars apply to Mr. John Flatman, Laxfield, Suffolk or to Mr. Fowell, Solr. Garboldisham, Norfolk.
Lynn Advertiser - 26th June 1880

Frank Burroughes of Diss Shelfanger Road postmill became bankrupt c.1891 as a result of spending £800 on renovating the mill after being promised the lease that was eventually not granted.

Mrs. E. F. Lambert wrote and told Philip Unwin (probably in the early 1970s) that the mill remained in the Bowen family for many years. During the first world war the mill was used by the army as an observation tower. The flour mill in the mill was in regular use until the authorities dismantled and took it away during the first war. After sail, steam was used for many years and eventually oil power.

... it was pulled over by traction engine in 1931 when in a semi-ruinous condition with one sail only.
The Miller - 17th November 1947

On 11th April 1973, R.A. Clegg of Horning wrote that Mr. Smith of the White Horse pub pulled the mill down for him in 1932-33.

O.S. Map 1883
O.S. Map 1883
Courtesy of NLS map images

1792: R. Terry, miller (possibly not this mill)

Faden's map 1797: Windmill

1813: Christopher Johnson, miller

Bryant's map 1826: Windmill

1832: Christopher Johnson, miller

July 1832: Mill advertised for sale buy auction

White's 1836: Christopher Johnson, corn miller

29th November 1836: Mill lost cap & sails and caught fire in a storm

Census 1841:

John Eaton (50) miller
Ann Eaton (20)
Samuel Carter (25) journeyman miller
Charlotte Branch (35) dressmaker
Charlotte Branch (13) servant

James Amyess (55) journeyman miller
Elizabeth Amyess (20) 

White's 1845: John Eaton, corn miller

Tithe Award 1846: John Eaton, owner & occupier

1849: Samuel Carter: miller

10th January 1849: John Eaton, mill owner, died

March 1849: Mill advertised for sale by private contract

1850: Samuel Carter: tenant miller

March 1850: Mill advertised for sale by auction

Census 1851:

Samuel Carter (32) b.Gissing, master miller employing 1 man
Harriet Carter (31) b.Tibenham
Samuel G. Carter (2) b.Bressingham
Walter W. Carter (
8m) b.Bressingham
William Carter (65) b.Burston, agricultural labourer
Mary Gaymer (13) b.Diss, house servant
Address: Common

1853: Samuel Carter died

White's 1854: Samuel Hewitt, corn miller

1856: Samuel Hewitt, miller

1863: Edward Orford, miller

1864: Edmund Orford, miller

Kelly's 1879: Edmund Orford, miller

1880: Edmund Orford, miller

May 1880: Mill advertised to be let

White's 1883: Charles Matthews, miller

O.S. map 1883: Windmill (Corn)

O.S. map 1891: Windmill (Corn)

Kelly's 1896: Horace William Lincoln, miller (wind & steam)

Kelly's 1900: Horace William Lincoln, miller (wind & steam)

Kelly's 1904: Horace William Lincoln, miller (wind & steam)

Kelly's 1908: Arthur Lock, miller & merchant

Kelly's 1912: Robert Long, miller

Kelly's 1916: George Bowen, miller (wind)

Kelly's 1922: George Bowen, miller (wind)

Kelly's 1925: George Bowen, miller (wind & steam)

Kelly's 1925: George Bowen, miller (steam) & contractor, The Mill

1926: A sail was lost in a storm. Mill carried on running with 2 sails.

March 1930: A gale smashed the fly and the mill was then powered by steam only

1931: Mill demolished by traction engine

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 TM09278260
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Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2006