Bridgham
postmill


Return to index of
Norfolk Windmills


Bridgham post mill was newly built c.1808 and ran a single pair of 3ft French burr stones. In 1861 it was advertised as having a large roundhouse and was running 2 pairs of stones.

On 13th May 1843, Robert Everett, a Gentleman of East Harling, made a will to the value of £6,000.00 that was proved in 1846.

The will appointed his wife Sarah, and his three sons, Robert, John & Thomas as executors.

To Sarah his wife – all that windmill in Bridgham and all securities etc and the land in Orford, Suffolk. On Sarah Everett's death or remarriage all the estate was to be shared between the 3 sons.

When will was proved the executors were noted as Quakers who thus gave solemn affirmation as they could not be sworn.


Sarah Everett, widow of Robert Everett, Gentleman of East Harling wrote her will on 3rd September 1846, probably just after her husband died. She appointed her sons, Robert, John & Thomas as executors and they all gave solemn affirmation as they were Quakers, which was noted on the proving of the will

Sarah Everett was recorded in the 1851 census as living in Norwich; she died on 1st February 1855 and her will was proved on 13th June 1855.

She left almost everything to her sons. And also bequeath cottage, tenement with barn, stables and appertenances thereto belonging. And also the windmill and the going gears thereof as the said cottage, and hereditaments are situate and being in Bridgham, to my grandson Edwin Thomas Everett. The mill rents and profits were to go to her son Thomas and if Edwin her grandson were to die, then the mill was to be sold at the best price and divided etc.

Interestingly the mill was valued at under £800.00 when a few years before the value was £6,000.00 in the will of Robert Everett.


Enclosure map 1804 - 1806
Enclosure map 1804 - 1806

The enclosure map of around 1804/6 shows Ruddock's millfield. Sterry bought a few perches of land from him. His block is also in yellow to the right of Algar's. Mill house is diagonally over the road the small yellow square within a larger one. My barn was not built until around 1830 the the house is square rather than tadpole shape! It has a 'c' in the square. from the text of the enclosure award it is clear that my house was already standing, as you can see from the map, but there is no reference to, nor image of the mill. 
The tithe map is 1838 so my barn is on it. Also, what I thought was a dirty mark, I now realise when enlarging it is an image of the mill standing in mill field.

David O'Neale - 20th January 2008


Tithe map 1838
Tithe map 1838

To be Sold by Auction
(Under a Deed of Assignment for the Benefit of Creditors)
By Thomas Calver On the premises of John Sterry of Bridgham, Norfolk, carpenter & shopkeeper. On Thursday 28 July instant
All the Household furniture, Stock in Trade etc. …
Also at Seven o’c in the afternoon of the same date
At the Lion in Bridgham
A new built small WINDMILL, with one pair of 3 foot French stones & going gears complete.
Also a small ESTATE consisting of … messuage late the residence of the said John Sterry.
The estate is copyhold of the Manor of Bridgham, the outgoings moderate.
To Creditors & Debtors
Notice given that Mr. John Sterry assigned estate & effects to Henry Rodwell of East Harling, Miller & John Wells of Garboldisham, grocer & draper, for the benefit of Creditors.

Norfolk Chronicle - 23rd July 1808


Notice to Debtors & Creditors of
William Self of Bridgham, Miller
Under Deed of Assignment
First & Final dividend payable at The Swan Inn, East Harling on Monday 15 July next at 2 o'c etc.
By Order of the Trustees
Daniel Calver
Kenninghall, 26 June 1833

Norfolk Chronicle - 29th June 1833


Map c.1835
Map c.1835

John Ruddock made a will on 14th May 1836, he died on 27th May 1836 and the will was proved on 10th October 1836. The will gave John's wife Harriot all my messuages, lands, tenements and hereditaments situate in Bridgham. 


BRIDGHAM, Norfolk
To be Sold by Auction by
Salter & Simpson at the Swan Inn at East Harling on Tuesday 25 June 1861 at 6 o'c in the Evening
A Dwelling House containing two sitting rooms etc., with Barn, Stable, Sheds, yards & Garden adjoining; and near the above a capital WINDMILL driving two pairs of stones, with large Roundhouse & nearly 3 acres of very superior Arable Land, all in the tenancy of Mr. Sayer, situated advantageously adjoining the Street & other Roads at Bridgham in Norfolk near East Harling & about two miles from the Harling Road Railway Station & affording a desirable investment & to a miller an opportunity of at once obtaining a good Country Business.
Apply to E.N. Clowes & Son, Solrs., New Buckenham.

Norfolk News - 8th & 22nd April 1861

House, Mill & Land.
To be sold by Private Contract
With possession at Michaelmas next
A Dwelling House containing two sitting rooms etc., with Barn, Stable, Sheds, yards & Garden adjoining; and near the above a capital WINDMILL driving two pairs of stones, with large Roundhouse & nearly 3 acres of very superior Arable Land, all in the tenancy of Mr. Sayer, situated advantageously adjoining the Street & other Roads at Bridgham in Norfolk near East Harling & about two miles from the Harling Road Railway Station & affording a desirable investment & to a miller an opportunity of at once obtaining a good Country Business.
Apply to E.N. Clowes & Son, Solrs., New Buckenham.

Norfolk News - 20th April & Norfolk Chronicle - 27th April 1861

BRIDGHAM, Norfolk
To be sold by Auction by
Salter & Simpson at the Swan Innn at East Harling on Tuesday 25 June 1861 a 6 o'c in trhe Evening.
A Capital Dwelling House containing two sitting rooms etc., with Barn, Stable, Sheds, yards & Garden adjoining; and near the above a capital WINDMILL driving two pairs of stones, with large Roundhouse & nearly 3 acres of very superior Arable Land, all in the tenancy of Mr. Sayer, situated advantageously adjoining the Street & other Roads at Bridgham in Norfolk near East Harling & about two miles from the Harling Road Railway Station & affording a desirable investment & to a miller an opportunity of at once obtaining a good Country Business.
Apply to E.N. Clowes & Son, Solrs., New Buckenham.

Norfolk News - 8th & 2nd June 1861

Windmill at Bridgham
TO BE LET OR SOLD BY PRIVATE CONTRACT, a roomy Dwelling House with convenient premises, a Windmill & about Three Acres of superior Arable Land, now occupied by Mr. Sayer, situate at Bridgham, near East Harling & at the Harling Road Railway Station.
Apply to Mr. J. Everett, East Harling or Messrs. E. N. Clowes & Son, New Buckenham.

Norfolk News - 24th August & 14th September 1861

Bankrupts. From the Gazette
Thomas Whitehead, Bridgham, miller. March 9
Norfolk News - 5th March 1864

Local Bankrupts. (From London Gazette)
Tuesday March 1
Thomas Whitehead, Bridgham, Miller.
Norfolk Chronicle - 5th March 1864

Bankrupts From The Gazette
Thomas Whitehead, Bridgham, Miller. March 9
Norfolk News - 5th March 1864


Local Bankrupts. (From London Gazette)
Friday March 11
Thomas Whitehead, Bridgham, Journeyman Miller.
Norfolk Chronicle - 19th March 1864

Bankrupts From The Gazette
Thomas Whitehead, Bridgham, Miller. March 23
Norfolk News - 19th March 1864


Situations Vacant
WANTED, a Young Man about 20 years of age as MILLER at a windmill to Board & Lodge in the house.
Apply to Mr. D. Davey, Bridgham, Harling.
Norfolk News - 26th December 1868

Thomas Whitehead, journeyman miller, who was declared bankrupt in March 1864 was probably related to the miller listed as J. Whitehead in White's directory although the J. could have been simply been a misprint.

The mill was probably demolished or moved c.1878 as George Tuck is listed as a grocer only in Kelly's directory of 1879.

O.S. Map 1905
O.S. Map 1905
Mill site (top) and mill house marked in red

THE RUDDOCKS c.1550 - 1650

At least two generations of the Rudddock family were millers in Bridgham in the early nineteenth century. They held Mill Field and some of them lived in Mill House. Apart from being aware that the present Mill House structure was built around 1800, little more is known of it or its previous occupants, if any. Although this branch of the Ruddock family first appears in Bridgham records in 1780, an earlier branch was here ‘since records began’ in 1558, (and presumably before that), until 1650. For Bridgham parish registers, 1558 is when records began, so the Ruddocks may have been here for generations before this date. What happened to the family after 1650 and before 1780 is something of a mystery, and one has to ask if they are the same family at all.

In support of a family connection leaping almost 250 years, there is a remarkable coincidence in that the first known Thomas Ruddock was miller of Bridgham. He owned the windmill and Mill Field which he held from the Lord of the Manor. As the post-mill was in a ruinous condition by 1900, though only ‘new built’ in 1808, it may perhaps have been a renovation of Thomas Ruddock’s mill, or a new mill on the same site - which was not unusual.

It was in 1558 that Thomas Ruddock died. His will, dated 8th September 1558, gives some insight into his family life:

“I give to Elizabeth Ruddock my daughter toward her bridal making 10 bushels of malt and in wheat five bushels, and I give to the same Elizabeth two ewes, 20s of money and goods, and all this to be paid to the said Elizabeth at the age of 18 years. (She married Raymond Hamblyn a year later).

I give to Joan and Jan(?), my daughters, to either of them two ewes, 20s a piece to either of them and all this to be paid to them at the age of 18 years provided always that if any of them, my daughters, do depart this present world before they come to the age of 18 years then I will those that be alive shall have the part of them that be dead.

I give to Thomas Ruddock my son my best feather bed with the best bolster pillow, a mattress, a pair of hemping sheets with a pillow berre, a pair of blankets, a coverlet, a cow with one bullock of two years of age, a cupboard saving I will Joan my wife shall have the occupying of the same cupboard for term of her natural life and then the said Thomas my son to have it.”

There is much more of this domestic distribution to Thomas junior:

"I give to the said Thomas my son two best horses, the price 20s a piece with halters, collars and harness for the same two best horses with all my tales (?) both small and great. 5 combes of barley and 5 combes of rye and 10 ewe sheep all this to be paid to the said Thomas my son at the age of 20 years. I give to Thomas my son one shodd cart with a tumbrel. They to be all to the said Thomas my son within one year of my death provided always if it shall please God to take the said Thomas my son to his mercy before he …… the age of 20 years."

Of particular interest to us is the disposal of one of his main assets, the windmill:

“I give to Thomas Ruddock, my son, my windmill standing in the fields of Bridgham and holding of my lord the Bishop of Ely with all things that pertaining there to ser..[unreadable]. I will Joan Ruddock my wife shall have the profits and commodities and occupation of the said windmill for the time and space of two years after my death then I will my son shall enter it with sufficient reparation and all things for the going thereof.”

Thomas, was one of the chief citizens and a man of property leaving his wife “all my houses and land bound and lying in the town and folds of Bridgham.”However, there were conditions in favour of the number-one son. She received the property "...for the term of her natural life, paying the lord and finding sufficient reparations and to make no charges nor waste in nothing pertaining to the said houses and land, and if there be, then I will Thomas Ruddock my son, with two or three of the lord’s tenants with twice or thrice friendly warning, then I will for the mending thereof and if it be not mended with such friendly warning, then I will Thomas my son shall enter the said houses and land to have … use and his for ever."

Two hundred and fifty years later, his likely descendants, William and John Ruddock, carried on the same tradition as pillars of the community and men of property, for as well as Mill House, John owned the White Lion (see Norfolk Pubs website) and his father, William, was the churchwarden.

A few years before Thomas Ruddock’s death, a previous rector of Bridgham, from the time of Henry VIII, also died. He left a bequest in his will for the poor people of Bridgham, still active today as part of the Bridgham Charities money. Rev. Risley was his name and Risley Close is named after him.

Returning to Thomas, we see a connection with Risley in his regard for the poor. In Ruddock’s case, though, there is an ulterior motive:

“I commend my soul into the hands of my lord God, to our lady Saint Mary and all the holy company of heaven, and my body to be buried in the churchyard of our Lady in Bridgham aforesaid. I will have at the day of my burial: dirge and Mass and the poor people of Bridgham to have among them, to pray for my soul, and all share 6s 8d.”

They only get the money, provided they pray for him - pray and pay!

Ruddock’s windmill replaced the medieval water mills mentioned in both Domesday Book and the Bishop of Ely’s survey of 1251.

Another document surviving from 1558 in the reign of Queen Mary is a terrier [i.e. register] of Sir Thomas Lovell’s lands in Bridgham. The terrier restricts itself to describing the size and location of land. Not all the land is his, for the simple reason that he is not the lord of the manor. Sir Thomas Lovell, was however, lord of the manor of East Harling. His magnificent tomb is in the church.

The terrier reveals that he had bought many small parcels of land in Bridgham, most only of one or two acres. The locations of these strips of land are defined by who else’s land abuts them, so it is difficult to relate their whereabouts to a modern map of Bridgham. A few field names are the same as are used today, but there is no guarantee they are in the same place! Others are a complete mystery.

The opening descriptions include abuttals starting at ‘burnt mill’. This is likely to be the remains of one of the two water-mills, mentioned as far back as Domesday book. They were known as West_Mill and Town_Mill. The description continues ‘the abuttals beginneth at Burnt Mill and so leadeth North towards Bridgham furres (furze?) and the Mill Field towards the West and the Town on the East.’ It is difficult to work out the starting point and the direction the terrier takes. We know that the two water-mills were half a mile apart. Could Town Mill be at the river bank south of Mill House? This may be the burnt mill and may help explain why the windmill was built direct north of it - close to the miller’s house. All this, of course, is complete conjecture. If they were the same water mills as mentioned in Domesday book, they were nearly 500 years old at least in 1558!



Extract from Domesday relating to Bridgham and the mills

Thomas Ruddock is mentioned in the terrier as his land abuts that of Sir Thomas Lovell’s: ‘3 roods lying between the land of the parson of Bridgham to the West and the land of Thomas Ruddock to the East, whose south head lieth upon Micklemeere way and the north head upon Mancrofts. Again, its location is not specific, but there were fields named Mancroft and Micklemere in the Tithe Award of 1838, but they were not near Mill Field.

Thomas Ruddock junior (who was born around 1539) married Alys and they had four known children: Elizabeth, Anne (who died within a year), George, and another Ann. There was also a Henry Ruddock of a similar age to them, but whether he is a brother to them is not known. Henry and his wife Ann (née Leader) produced a succession of children from 1583 until 1608 – 25 years(!): Thomas, Joan, (the names of Thomas junior’s parents, so Henry is probably a close relative), Ann, Thomas again (the first one died in infancy), and George or Henry (the name is difficult to read). Around this time, a neighbouring priest wrote that the people of Bridgham were:

‘wholly bent to the toil of manual affairs and the tilth of the ground’.

Life was a hard grind, a term a miller would appreciate. There are several more generations of Ruddocks in Bridgham, but establishing a family tree is difficult. The same names recur, but most of those who were baptised in Bridgham were not married or buried here and vice versa. The family disappears from Bridgham records in 1650 (following three burials), but that does not mean there were not any Ruddocks in the village, but simply that they were not baptised, married or buried here. Although there is a 130-year gap before the Ruddocks next appear in Bridgham records, can it be coincidence that the new family is also one of millers, perhaps working on the site of their possible ancestors’ mill?
David O'Neale - 20th January 2008

Additional
detailed history
of the Mill House

1905 map showing Mill House and field where mill stood
1905 map showing Mill House and field where mill stood

Mill House c.1982 Estate agent photo 1987
Mill House c.1982
Estate agent photo 1987

Greetings from Australia
This is an amazing coincidence. Today I was sent this link to Bridgham postmill:
John Sterry mentioned as a miller there is a relative of mine albeit fairly distant and I can tell you quite a bit about him should you be interested. I found the information on your site fascinating of course and beautifully presented.
Now here's the coincidence. I am the coordinator of a STERRY DNA Project and have very recently received the DNA results of a Charlie Sterry who lives out in the middle of  a particularly barren and hot part of New South Wales, Australia, called the Hay plain. Charlie is 72 and only got involved because he answered a letter I sent to all Sterrys in the all phonebooks in Australia inviting them to join the Project. He had no knowledge of his family roots beyond his own grandfather. His results match mine, confirming the results of many years of patient research. The progenitor of his line called himself William Ely and was a son of the John Sterry mentioned in your article.
I have often wondered where the Ely came from. Your article may well have offered a very good clue. ridgham was in the holding of my lord the Bishop of Ely!
John Sterry married Mercy Ruddock in 1798 at Bridgham and had three children together, including I believe the William above. His brother, Robert, also came out to Australia. John Sterry married twice more. He married a Mary Sayer, also in Bridgham, in 1816 and a Cecilia Greenham in Marylebone, London. Since I have never found his London marriage, I suspect they may not have married although they certainly had children, the last Mercy in 1850, when John was 71 !
I note that both the Ruddocks and the Sayers are mentioned in your article.
Mercy's parents according to her baptism on 24 Dec 1780 at Bridgham were John Ruddock and Mary Hunt. I have researched a little on the Ruddock side as follows:

1. John RUDDOCK     sp: Mary HUNT

2. Mercy RUDDOCK (born c.1780 Bridgham, Norfolk d.1815)
    sp: John STERRY (born c.1779; m.6 Nov 1798; d. between 1852 - 1860 Marylebone, Middlesex)

2. John RUDDOCK (born12 Oct 1785 Bridgham, Norfolk)

2. Rebecca RUDDOCK (born 24 Jul 1788 Bridgham, Norfolk)

2. Ragau RUDDOCK (born c.1792 Bridgham, Norfolk)

Robert Sterry, New South Wales, Australia - 10th February 2009

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

8th September 1558: Thomas Ruddock snr, miller made a will and died later the same year

c.1559: Joan Ruddock, miller having inherited mill from her husband for the duration of two years

c.1561: Thomas Ruddock jnr. inherited mill according to terms of his father's will

c.1808: Mill new built

1808: John Sterry, miller

July 1808: Mill advertised for sale by auction

1830: William Self, miller

1833: William Self, miller, bankrupt

White's 1836: John Ruddock, corn miller

27th May 1836: John Ruddock, miller, died

O.S. map 1838: Mill

1839: William Wilson, miller

Census 1841: William Whitten (25) miller, son of Edmund Whitten, a carpenter, living with father

White's 1845: William Wilton, miller

1846: Roberet Everett, mill owner died leaving the mill to his wife, Sarah Everett

Census 1851:

Edmund Wilton snr (67) carpenter employing 3 men
Sophia Wilton (65)
Bennett Wilton (32) b.Bridgham, blacksmith by trade.
Jonathan Wilton (21) b.Bridgham, miller by trade


Kelly's 1854: Batson Porter, corn miller

White's 1854: Potter Batson, miller

1855: Sarah Everett, mill owner died leaving the mill to her grandson Edwin Thomas Everett

1858-63: Thomas Sayer, miller - previously at Shropham Mill Lane smockmill

Census 1861:

Thomas Sare (65) b.Bridgham, miller & local preacher
Mary Sare (63)
Emily Sare (22) dressmaker.
William Bowen (17) servant miller
John Deasley (28) labourer & lodger
Mary Ann Deasley (27) lodger
Frederick Deasley (2)
Susan Deasley (1)
Address: Mill House


April 1861: Mill advertised for sale by auction

September 1861: Mill advertised for sale by private contract

September 1861: Mill advertised for sale or let

White's 1864: J. Whitehead, corn miller

March 1864: Thomas Whitehead, journeyman miller, bankrupt

1865: John Brame, miller

1868: David Davy, miller

1871: Robert Pinner, master miller aged 21

1872: George Pitcher, miller

1874: George Tuck, miller

1875: David Davy, miller

1878: George Tuck, miller

c.1878: Mill demolished

28th January 1988 - : David O' Neale & Hilary Farmbrough, 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

Nat Grid Ref TL96158610
Top of Page

Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2006