Little Cressingham towermill
Watton Brook


Little Cressingham mill was a rare combination of a wind and watermill working together. The only other Norfolk examples are Burnham Overy Union mills and Thurning mill.

The pale grey brick 50ft high, six storey tower was built c.1821 and had four patent sails, eaxchwith 8 bays of 3 shutters. The boat shaped cap had a petticoat, gallery and a six bladed fantail. A wooden reefing stage was built around the third floor, which was the meal floor and contained the elegantly stop-chamfered lower section of the upright shaft. A wooden clasp-arm spur wheel underdrove one pair of peak and one pair of French burr stones on the floor above. The wallower was probably the smallest in the county with only 26 teeth - as opposed to the 72 teeth giant at Old_ Buckenham_towermill. Another left-handed pair of each type of stone were installed on the first floor and were underdriven by an oil engine or an iron breast-shot water wheel that was 12 feet in diameter and 6 feet wide. An oat crusher on the second floor was also water-powered. A Tattershall Half-sack Midget Mill and a wheat cleaner were also used.

One pair of sails was lost 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.

A more comprehensive history of the combined mills can be found on the Little Cressingham watermill page.

Tithe Award 1845
Map - 1843
Owner: Sir Francis Goodricke, Bart.
Occupier: John Marsh

No. 266 Mill, house, garden etc Pasture 1a. 0r. 33p. Pt. of £21.13.11

Notice to Debtors & Creditors of Benjamin Henry Land deceased. Miller & farmer.
Executrix Mrs. Caroline Land.

Norfolk Chronicle - 24th December 1853

... the notable wind & watermill of Little Cressingham, now strictly speaking a watermill, for the huge yellow-brick tower with white balustraded gallery has lost its sails.
In Search of Windmills - Hokins & Freese - 1931

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.

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

c.1940 the cap and machinery down to the top section of the upright shaft were removed and a flat concrete roof was constructed. Unfortunately, the slab designed to cover the access hole to the roof above the sack hoist was never put in place and over the years rainwater penetrated to the ground floor, rotting the wooden timbers all the way down.

c.1940 the cap and machinery down to the top section of the upright shaft were removed and a flat concrete roof was constructed. Unfortunately, the slab designed to cover the access hole to the roof above the sack hoist was never put in place and over the years rainwater penetrated to the ground floor, rotting the wooden timbers all the way down.

20th May 1978

c.1972 the millpond and part of the river that had been bypassed with a new channel, was filled in. In 1975, the outbuildings constructed of clay lump and flint were demolished.

May 1993
May 1993

The Norfolk Windmills Trust is pleased to announce that they will soon be commencing work on the restoration of a unique combined Wind and Watermill at Little Cressingham, near Watton in south-west Norfolk. The Chairman of the Trust, Mr. A. G. Hodges, will mark the occasion at 10.00 a.m. on Wednesday the 8th of July, 1981, when he receives the keys fom Mr. J. E. Davies, the owner, who is letting the mill at a peppercorn rent to enable the Trust to embark upon its restoration. The ceremony will be held at the mill.
Press Release - 1981

I used to live with my parents at the Fairsteads just up the road (towards great cressignham) 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

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

c.1821: New water and wind combined mill built

Bryant's map 1826: Separate watermill & windmill

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

1850-1853: Benjamin Land, miller

1853: Benjamin Land died

1854-1879: Robert Chapman

1883-1890: Herbert John Chapman - miller and farmer

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

1890: Samuel Goddard, miller (Michaelmas to Christmas) - moved from Carbrooke towermill

Kelly's 1892: John Dowe, miller & farmer (wind & water)

Kelly's 1896: John Goldson Mason, farmer & miller (wind & water)

1896-1898: John Goldson Mason

1900-1904: Frederick Panton Rodwell

Kelly's 1900: Frederick P. Rodwell, farmer & miller (wind & water)

Kelly's 1900: Frederick Button Roe, miller

Kelly's 1904: Frederick P. Rodwell, miller (wind & water)

1907: Freestone family acquired the mill

1908-1924: Horace Freestone, miller

1908: Horace Freestone, miller

1911: One pair of sails lost in storm

Kelly's 1912: Horace Freestone, miller (wind & water)

Kelly's 1916: Horace Freestone, miller (wind & water)

1916: Windmill ceased operation after being tail winded in a storm

Kelly's 1922: Horace Freestone, miller (steam & water)
[actually oil & water]

1924-1928: Mrs. Annie Elizabeth Freestone, miller

Kelly's 1925: Mrs. Annie Elizabeth Freestone, miller (steam & water) [actually oil & water]

1926: Mill powered by an oil engine

1928-1937: Executors of Mrs. Annie Elizabeth Freestone

Kelly's 1929: Mrs. Annie Elizabeth Freestone, (exors. of) millers (steam & water) [actually oil & water]

Kelly's 1933: Mrs. Annie Elizabeth Freestone, (exors. of) millers (steam & water) [actually oil & water]

Kelly's 1937: Mrs. Annie Elizabeth Freestone, (exors. of) millers (steam & water) [actually oil & water]

1937-1951: George Freestone

c.1940: Cap, gallery and windshaft removed and a flat concrete roof installed

1949: Mill powered by an oil engine

1951-1952: Mrs. Dora Freestone

1952: Mill ceased working

c.1972: Mill pond filled in

1975: Outbuildings demolished

24th July 1979: Mrs. Arnold of the Mill House wrote that restoration is envisaged and that a grant had been received for that purpose

1981: J.E. Davies, mill owner

8th July 1981: Ceremony at the mill to hand keys to 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
Top of Page

Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2004