Gressenhall
Workhouse
postmill



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Norfolk Windmills


Gressenhall workhouse (or House of Industry) opened in 1777. In 1781 a postmill was built beside the workhouse on its west side. A bakery was also operated with the mill.


The mill was built to supply the House of Industry and the neighbourhood with cheap flour. When it was ordered that the full price should be charged, business plummeted by over half. In 1825 the mill was leased out to Henry Hastings of the nearby watermill.


Hundreds of Mitford & Launditch in the county of Norfolk

Wanted to be erected & completely finished, a good & substantial Windmill with a Flour Mill therein for the Use of the House of Industry at Gressenhall in the Hundred of Launditch, the situation will be shewed by the Governor of the said House.

Any Person willing to contract for the building of the said Mill & finding all Materials is desired to send his Proposal to Mr. John Crisp of East Dereham within two months from the date hereof.

Proper Security will be expected for the Performance on the Contract.

Norfolk Chronicle - 15th July 1780

Hundreds of Mitford & Launditch in the County of Norfolk

Wanted at Midsummer next a SURGEON & APOTHECARY …

Proposals to Mr. John Crisp of East Dereham on or before 10 th Day of June next.

Also wanted immediately a Single Man at the Said House of Industry as a Miller & Baker.

Norfolk Chronicle - 7th & 14th April 1781

Hundreds of Mitford & Launditch

The General Annual Meeting of the Directors & Acting Guardians of the Poor … will be held at the George Inn in East Dereham on Wednesday 25 th Day of this instant June at 10 o’c …

A Young Man who understands the Business of Baker & Miller is wanted in the said House of Industry.

Norfolk Chronicle - 14th June 1783

Mention made of the windmill at House of Industry, Gressenhall in Vol II pp 62-64 under East Dereham

Excursions in the County of Norfolk - c.1818

p. 494
The Poor. Houses of Industry.

Mitford & Launditch. Incorporated 1773.

Minute 1792:-

Inter alia

A Windmill

p. 496
1802. Salaries.

Inter alia

Miller & Baker £15. 12s.

Arthur Young. General View of the Agriculture of the County of Norfolk - 1804
D & C Reprint 1969


The Corporation (Mitford & Launditch Union. H.A.) purchased an old farmhouse, formerly a religious house (Note: now Union Farm) at Gressenhall & sixty acres of land for £1200 & built a large & convenient building also a windmill for grinding corn, the whole costing £16,249.
Boston & Puddy, Dereham - 1952


Henry Hastings, the late owner of the Hoe portion & tenant of the Gressenhall part of the (water) mill had been a farmer & miller living in Gressenhall to whom the Guardians & Directors of the Gressenhall House of Industry leased the Union Farm, and in 1825 they also leased him the Workhouse windmill with 51 acres of land at £100 per annum.

This windmill, on top of the hill close to the workhouse, had been built in 1781 to grind flour & meal for the inmates of the Union, (as well as other persons in the neighbourhood at a cheap rate) but in 1814 it was ordered that the full price should be paid by all except poor persons, whereupon the receipts declined to less than half what they had been.

The History of Gressenhall Mill & Mill House - Eric Puddy, 1966


Photograph per Miss Bridget Yates, Norfolk Rural Life Museum Gressenhall, 16.9.83.

An oil painting by Roger Kerrison, which has been labelled ‘View of Gressenhall Union, 1810’, now in the Norfolk Rural Life Museum there, shows the south and east sides of the building, with the Chapel Mills watermill in the foreground. Behind the western end there appears the roundhouse of a postmill with a portion of the post protruding from the roof, the body and sails having been dismantled. However, this date cannot be reconciled with the late Dr. Puddy’s account of the mill being worked in 1814 and possibly in 1825, unless the mill was later rebuilt, for which no advertisement for tenders has been found in the newspapers of the period.

The roundhouse is shown as being painted white on a sloping red brick base and with a white roof.

With regard to the above mentioned label:-

‘Gressenhall Union’, really ‘The Union of the Hundreds of Mitford and Launditch’, is a 20th century euphemism for ‘Workhouse’. In 1810 this was called ‘The House of Industry’.

A closer scrutiny of the painting might disclose a later date.

Harry Apling - c.1980


1781: Mill built

1792: Windmill

1825: Henry Hastings took on the lease for Gressenhall Workhouse postmill and 51 acres for £100 p.a.


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 TF97301695

Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2007


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