Paston
Stow Hill
towermill


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Drainage Windpumps
Steam Mills

c.1890
c.1890

Stow mill, situated on Stow Hill in Paston on the coast road near Mundesley, is often known as Paston mill. The imposing 4 storey towermill was built as a flour mill in 1827 and was unusual in that it was designed from the start to look scenic, even to the extent of having dummy windows on each of the upper floors. The tower was originally white-painted, as the two older photographs show. Around 1850 a steam mill was added that drove a further 2 pairs of stones using a 5 h.p. engine.


The tower originally had opposite doors on the ground floor, although one was bricked up in later years. Two blind windows were set into the tower on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd floors. The mill used 2 pairs of double shuttered sails struck by lever, one pair having 8 bays of 3 shutters and the other 7 bays of 3 shutters. The 12 sided domed cap was horizontally boarded and had a petticoat, gallery and a left handed, 8 bladed fan. The brake wheel was made of wood and had a clasp arm.


In the 1980s Rex Wailes provided Harry Apling with some technical information:
The mill had a shot curb with an independent ring of rollers between the cap and the curb.
The pair of sails with 8 bays of 3 shutters had come from Upper_Hellesdon_towermill in Norwich (Witard's Mill) having been shortened by two bays.
The thrust of the windshaft was let into the tail beam.
Rex Wailes sent the bolter to the Science Museum in London.


The Origin of the name “Stow”

In 1113 William de Glanville founded the Bromholm Priory at Bacton a distance of 3 miles from here.
In 1223 a chaplain of the Emperor of Constantinople, who was killed in battle, came to England with important relics which had been owned by the deceased.
Most of these relics were sold to St. Alban’s Abbey but a piece reputedly of “The Cross of Our Lord” was rejected.
The piece was eventually taken to Bromholm where it was well received.
After its acquisition divine miracles began to happen at Bromholm and the priory became a centre for holy pilgrimage.
Bromholm was destroyed during the “dissolution of the monasteries” and only ruins can be seen today.
Here, on this site, was a medieval chapel where pilgrims travelling between Bromholm and Walsingham rested. This became known as Stow Chapel, “Stow” meaning resting place in old English.

Stay awhile and rest
Plaque at Stow Mill - 2004

Notice re
Thomas Gaze late of Paston-hall, Gentleman, deceased accounts to Thomas Gaze, Gentleman ...

Norfolk Chronicle - 19th October 1805


Thomas Gaze snr died in 1805 and passed the property to his son Thomas Gaze jnr who in turn passed it to his son James Gaze who, being desirous of making provision for his said son in order to advance and prefer him in the world leased the property to his son Thomas Pleasants Gaze. Thomas had already built the mill on his father's land, presumably with his father's financial assistance. The lease was for
ALL THAT messuage tenement or dwelling house with the yard and garden containing by admeasurement thirty perches or thereabouts ... AND ALSO all that pightle of land called the oak pightle otherwise the oak close thereto adjoining ... one acre one rood and six perches or thereabouts TOGETHER with the tower windmill lately
erected
and built by the said Thomas Gaze on the same piece or parcel of land with the consent of the said James Gaze his father ... in Paston aforesaid and in Mundesley ...
Lease & Release - 12th & 13th October 1827


Thomas Gaze then took out a mortgage of £900 from Christopher Shephard of Heigham to acquire the mill, house and land along with
ALL AND SINGULAR the sails, sail cloths, going gears, stones, tackle, apparel, furniture, materials, implements and appurtenance whatsoever to the said windmill . . . belonging or used therewith . . .


The property was insured for £800 and in 1828 Thomas took out an additional mortgage of £150, also from Christopher Shephard to finance the building of the mill granary.


Enclosure map 1828 - as redrawn by Harry Apling
Enclosure map 1828 - as redrawn by Harry Apling

Enclosure Award & map
Paston, Witton, Edingthorpe & Paston 1828
Paston, Stow Hill
Central area, house with building to rear.
Also field to west, Newstead Pightle.
Owner: Thomas Gaze

Corner field, to east, Dyballs Pightle
Owner: James Gaze
No windmill


Tithe Award 1842
Map - James Wright, Land surveyor, Aylsham, 1841
Owner: Thomas Gaze jun.
Occupier: do

No. 265

House, Mill, Yards & Garden


part of

0a. 1r. 10p.
24a. 2r. 39p.

 

7d.
£2.5.10d.

 

Norfolk Chronicle - Saturday 22nd September 1860
Norfolk Chronicle - Saturday 22nd September 1860

GAZE - On the 5th inst., in his 84th year, after a few hours' illness, Mr. James Gaze, many years a respectable farmer, at Paston, in this county.
Norfolk News announcement of the death of James Gaze- Saturday 22nd February 1862


c.1890
c.1890

MUNDESLEY AND PASTON

To be sold by Auction by order of the Executors of Thomas Gaze deceased by Mr. Thomas Barcham on Thursday 3 July 1873 at the King’s Arms Hotel, North Walsham at 6 o’clock.
lot 1. A BRICK TOWER WINDMILL in Paston in capital repair driving two pairs of stones, with flour mill, jumper and all necessary tackle and gear. Also a STEAM MILL erected a few years since driving two pairs of stones with the five horsepower Engine and apparatus thereto belonging. Also a comfortable Brick and Tile RESIDENCE with the Granaries, Stable, Cart lodge and Outhouses thereto belonging - Freehold.
The Mill is now doing a flourishing business.
Possession at Michaelmas next.

Apply to Mr. Wilkinson. Solr. North Walsham or the Auctioneer, Mundesley.

Norfolk Chronicle - 14th June & Norfolk News - 14th & 21st June 1873

Thomas Pleasants Gaze, deceased
late of Paston near North Walsham, Miller and farmer
accounts to William Gaze, Paston, One of the Executors of the deceased.
8 September 1875

Norfolk News - 11th September 1875


Hand coloured postcard c.1900 c.1924
Hand coloured postcard c.1900
c.1924

1928 Mrs Bell and Rock outside the mill 18th June 1933
1928
Mrs Bell (aged 48) and Rock outside the mill 18th June 1933

Sails (mock) revolved in gale 2 April 1973
Eastern Daily Press - 3 April 1973


The Country Scene
LIVING IN A MILL

"During some thirteen decades this tarred, brick-walled wooden-capped tower mill has dominated Stow Hill on the Norfolk coast road ..."

It has been the writer's recent experience to become sole inhabitant of a converted windmill notable for an exterior not greatly altered from its original condition. Its sails no longer turn, but their size and outline emphasise a landmark locally familiar since the reign of George IV, and today a picturesque piece for canvas and camera alike.


Comparatively small windows face rockery and rose garden respectively. Three round rooms - one on each floor, excluding the topmost space (beneath the windshaft) now serving for water storage - are larger than appear from outside dimensions decreasing as one climbs stout communicating ladders wisely railed. Despite not infrequent buffetings of wind and rain, all stands firm - the walls are over two feet thick! An unusual but comfortable home with "modern conveniences", which never fails to intrigue visitors.


During some thirteen decades this tarred, brick-walled, wooden-capped tower mill (the third and final type known in England) has dominated Stow Hill, on the Norfolk coast road, looking northward across to adjoining Mundesley, and just inside Paston parish. Its predecessor, on another hill in the western part of that parish was bought early last century by the then miller's apprentice, James Gaze, after his master's death. Moving to Stow Hill, he had the existing building put up and fitted with much of the tackle brought with him. Such was the inference when, on being stripped with living memory, the tackle proved considerably older than the mill containing it. Some was of sufficient value to be preserved in a museum (not yet traced).


Paston Mill remained in the Gaze family for two generations, and in 1906 was leased by a new owner to Mr. Thomas Livermore, the last miller. Many still remember these premises to their heyday, as grinding did not cease there till his retirement nearly 25 years later. Conversion into a dwelling was effected soon after 1930 since when the property has seen various occupiers. It is, however, thanks to the efforts of Mr. Roland Bell and his wife (a member of the Mack family who long owned Paston Hall) that the windmill escaped demolition and was reconditioned to maintain its watch over windswept acres within sound and sight of eroding sea.

The original miller's cottage adjoining was substantially enlarged by these owners, who further added to an old brick-and-tiled outbuilding at the back, remarkable for solid internal timber including masts as main supports for the loft. Here was housed a steam mill, two places thus being available for grinding. This now echoes - more gently - to the clack of the loom and the song of the shuttle. One craft has yielded after long lapse to another, and the miller's grist has been replaced by the weaver's grist (otherwise the thickness of the thread used).

A survival of bygone industry, apart from certain gear immediately under the sail cap, (retained to help with the securing of the sails), lingers in massive mill stones of granite which flank a black knockered, white painted door. Others serve more practical purpose - doorsteps! A praiseworthy example of stonecutter's skill, the sections exactly fitted and held together only by circular steel bands. The best quality stones used to be imported from France but these are not so far identified.
The windmill can claim neither the antiquity nor the fame of Alphonse Daudet's mill in perfumed Provence, and in place of his mournful owl one hears cheerful chatter from sparrows which colonise the top storey, but savour no more the scattered grain that must have delighted their forebears.


These few notes cannot, of course, emulate the charm of the Provencal "Letters" (a school memory perhaps for many), but are simply meant to depict a pleasant retreat amidst unspoiled land - and seascape. Ideal setting, also, for exercising an ancient craft, which, intimately linked to the cloth trade, was once a source of great prosperity for East Anglia, this county in particular. Interesting to reflect, as the worsted thread races to and fro, that only a few miles southwest lies the village which in its prime gave birth and name to this fine cut from the fleece.

A far cry indeed from the atomic age to the 14th Century when Clement Paston - the site of whose home is in the neighbourhood - "rode to mill on the bare horseback with his corn under him."
The lane crossing the road by the gate known in good Norfolk tongue as the Yarmouth Loke, led formerly to a highway long engulfed by the waves.

For centuries traffic has passed over Stow Hill where, records relate, there was a medieval chapel, possibly a hallowed halt for Walsingham an Bromholm pilgrims. Now, swifter and noisier means of transport prevail, with only occasional clop of hoofs to recall the more leisured - and more arduous - travel of the past. Yet, in the less busy hours, the scene remains essentially the same as always - far flung fields and twisting tracks "in peace under an English heaven."

Eastern Daily Press - Saturday 9th November 1937

Comments re Reginald Preston's article in EDP 9th November 1937:
Thirteen decades: 1937 - 130 = 1800-1810
George IV: 1820-1830
Predecessor in western part of parish: Paston is a long triangular parish pointing roughly southwest from the coast.
The Old Mill was between Knapton and Edingthorpe, only slightly west of south of Stow Hill and near the eastern border of the parish. National Grid Ref. TG31203295.
Materials of the Smock_Mill were taken down and sold by auction on 3rd October 1840.
Both mills are on the O.S. map of 1838 but only the Smock_Mill is on Faden's map of 1797 and no mill is shown non Stow Hill on the Enclosure Award map of 1828.
Dates of 1780-90 for Stow Hill are queried. These are possibly dates on materials from another mill.

Millstones of Granite: Granite stones are not known in Norfolk. Are these a pair of "Composition stones" of carborundum or emery mixture?
Harry Apling - c.1980


c.1960
c.1960

c.1960 the property was bought by Northamptonshire businessman C. M. Newton. In 1971 the mill was conveyed to C.M. Newton’s grandson, Mike Newton, who enlarged the barn behind the mill and converted it to his home. With the help of admission fees and fundraising appeals he undertook the maintenance of the mill and with substantial restoration it returned the mill to its former appearance.


LEASE
25 October 1977
Lessor - Christopher Michael Boyd Newton, Paston Mill Cottage, Paston, Norfolk
Lessee - Norfolk County Council
Lessor demises ALL THAT building known as Paston Mill ...
To hold the same ... for the term of twenty one years from the 25th October 1977
Rent of one Peppercorn if demanded on the 25th day of October in every year.
(Lease terminated 1.12.1981)


23rd October 1970
23rd October 1970

c.1961 August 1974
c.1961
August 1974

In 1980 the skeleton fantail was replaced by a fully working version and repair work was carried out to the curb castings enabling the cap to turn to face the wind once again after fifty years fixed facing South. The sails were then also able to turn on a windy day, even though they lacked the shutters that would have been fitted when the mill was working.


Wallower and gearing 6th June 2004 Stones 6th June 2004
Wallower and gearing 6th June 2004
Stones 6th June 2004

On 30th May 1983 an upright shaft, wallower and crown wheel were installed, having come from Houghton mill in Bedfordshire. Other parts were also salvaged from derelict mills but were never installed including two pairs of millstones from Nedging Tye, Suffolk. The great spur wheel came from Gooderstone_towermill, this having been driven by clockwise sails that had in turn driven left handed or clockwise stones.

The sails and the stocks that carry them were also replaced. One pair of the replaced sails originally came from Hellesdon_Press_Lane_towermill in Norwich when it was demolished in 1920 but they had to be shortened by two bays in order to fit. The new stocks were made from galvanised steel, which it was hoped would prove far more durable than the previous Columbian pine ones.

The exposed position of Stow Mill and the salt air resulted in the need for extensive repairs and maintenance from the 1980s onwards.


6th June 2004 9th March 2009
6th June 2004
9th March 2009

How the mill worked

Stow Mill is a four-storey tower mill built of brick which is tarred for weatherproofing. Although all the interior machinery below the brakewheel was removed in 1930 the drawing overleaf shows how it was probably arranged. The sails are the most obvious feature of a windmill but they are only effective if they are facing the wind. The cap is therefore arranged to turn on the curb on top of the tower. It is driven by the fantail which rotates if the wind is blowing from one side or the other and this motion is transmitted through gears to a rack and pinion, rather like the steering on a car.

The mill has four sails which when working were fitted with shutters, as can be seen from the cover photograph. These could be opened or closed, like the slates of a venetian blind, to allow for variations in wind strength. They were controlled automatically by the ‘spider’ mechanism which was operated by the striking rod and lever. The weight hanging down at the rear could be altered as required to balance the wind pressure.

The sails are bolted on two long arms called stocks, enormous beams 52 feet (16m) long mounted at right angles to each other. These were originally made of pitch pine but because of the poor quality of new timber they are now made of steel, galvanised to resist corrosion. The stocks are carried on the cast iron wind shaft and as the sails rotate this turns the huge wooden brake wheel which is fixed to it. This brake wheel originally had teeth of apple wood but many were missing — the remainder have been sawn off in preparation for a new set of cast gears. Around the brake wheel is the brake itself, again of wood and operated by a lever inside the cap

The cast iron curb consists of U shaped sections with the rollers between them. The weight of the cap should be evenly spread over the 16 rollers but the cap frame has distorted over the years and the extra load has caused problems with some of the castings. A steel plate has been put in under the main beam instead and this copes more satisfactorily with the unequal stresse

The brake wheel is connected to a smaller cog wheel, the wallower. This wallower, the upright shaft which is driven by it and a crown wheel beneath were installed recently, having been salvaged from the derelict mill at Houghton, Bedfordshire. Some variation from the original layout has had to be allowed here as the shaft had to be put in through the doorway and this limited its maximum length.

The sacks of grain were raised to the top floor by a hoist driven by the crown wheel. The grain was tipped into bins from which it was fed into the hoppers or shoes for the millstones on the floor below. There were two pairs of millstones, very similar to the ones displayed on the ground floor, which were enclosed in octagonal wooden ‘vats’. They were made of a hard stone quarried near Paris, hence known as French stones and were reckoned to be the best for flour milling. Only the upper (runner) stone revolved, driven by the great spur wheel below. The bottom (bed) stone was stationary and the small gap between the stones was carefully controlled by a ball governor to maintain the fineness of the flour. When the speed of the sails increased the top stone was brought a bit closer to the bed stone by the action of the ball weights. There was a rotating drum sieve on this stone floor known as a bolter which was given to the Science Museum when the mill was dismantled. Unfortunately the woodworm went with it and it has since disintegrated.

The ground floor is where the flour was bagged up as it came down chutes from the stones above. The great spur wheel was probably set in the ceiling here, with the stones ‘underdriven’. The display cabinet is set into what appears to be a second doorway. Possibly this second entrance was needed when the mill was first built and fitted with longer cloth-covered sails - if the normal one proved too hazardous because of the sails passing in front then there was an alternative!
Excerpt from Mill brochure - 2009


3 Bedrooms, 3 Receptions, 2 Bathrooms
A corn mill, gift shop and cottage situated on the popular north Norfolk coast. The current owners have lovingly restored the windmill which now provides a successful tourist attraction. The shop was opened in 2003 and is a busy accessory to the mill. The cottage began life as a barn and was converted in the 1970's.
THE MILL
The tower windmill is of brick construction built between 1825 and 1827 and was in working use between 1828 to 1930. Although the machinery has been removed and the four floors are accessed by open tread ladders with hand rails. Machinery taken from other mills has been re-installed to provide a comprehensive history and tourist attraction. There are two windows on each floor and access to the fantail balcony on the top floor, providing views of the coastland. There was restoration carried out to the mill between 2000 and 2006 and the diameters measure between 16'2 and 15'8 and there are night storage heaters.
SHOP 5.2m x 4.3m
With buzzer through to the main premises. Glazed door and windows to the front. A range of custom made shelving units with Halogen down lights and illuminated glazed displays. Sink and hot water boiler for hot drinks.
£550,000 Freehold

Excerpt from John D. Woods Sale Details - July 2011


O. S. Map 1885
O. S. Map 1885
Mill is the large dot at the Stow Hill Farm junction
Courtesy of NLS map images

Paston smockmill once stood some 1¾ miles to the south of Stow mill.


Title Deeds 28th January 1778: John Taylor, yeoman, conveyed property to James Gaze, gentleman

1805: Thomas Gaze snr. died

Title Deeds 13th October 1827:
James Gaze conveyed property to eldest son Thomas Pleasants Gaze, who had lately erected and built the windmill

Deed 1827: Mill mentioned but was not shown on Enclosure Award of 1827

6th Novemevber 1828: Mortgage of £150 taken out to finance building of granary

1829; Granary built

White's 1836: Thomas Gaze jun, corn miller, Stow Hill

O.S. map 1838: Mill

Census 1841 Thomas Gaze (35) miller
Anne Gaze (35)
Anna Gaze (15); Elizabeth Gaze (13); James Gaze (10); Jonathan Gaze (8);
Thomas Gaze (7); Mary Gaze (3); George Gaze (1)
Mary Thompson (75) independent

c.1850: Auxiliary steam power installed to drive two additional pairs of stones

Tithe Award 1842: Owner & occupier: James Gaze jnr.

29th October 1853: James Gaze jnr. married Eleanor Green

1860: James Gaze gave up farming and took over Gimingham watermill

15th September 1860: Live & dead farming stock of James Gaze advertised for sale by auction

5th February 1832: James Gaze died aged 83

White's 1864: Thomas Gaze, miller & farmer, Stow Hill

14th November 1872: Thomas Gaze died and mill put to auction before being taken on by Thomas' son William

June 1873: Mill advertised for sale by auction

Title Deeds 30th December 1875:
William Gaze, 2nd son of Thomas Gaze took mill over from his 8 brothers and sisters. Steam mill had been erected a few years earlier

17th June 1906: William Gaze died

Title Deeds 15th December 1906: William Gaze Estate sold mill to Mrs. Mary Ann Harper

Title Deeds 3rd April 1907:
Mrs. Mary Ann Harper leased mill to her cousin Thomas Pilgrim Gladby Livermore on an annual basis

1926: Mill working

2nd January 1928: Mrs. Mary Ann Harper died and left mill to cousin Thomas Pilgrim Gladby Livermore

Title Deeds 30th December 1930: Thomas Pilgrim Gladby Livermore sold mill to Mrs. Cicely Margaret Bell

c.1931: Mr. & Mrs. Bell. Mill removed machinery from mill converted it into annexe for the house

Karl Wood painting 1937: Mill renovated with skeleton sails, gallery and skeleton fan

Title Deeds 24th May 1938: Mrs. Cicely Margaret Bell sold mill to Douglas Sidney Arundel McDougall

1960: After several ownership changes, mill bought by Northamptonshire businessman C. M. Newton

1960:
After several ownership changes, including one to Miss F. M. Noble, mill bought by Northamptonshire businessman C. M. Newton

1960:
Norfolk CC provided grant for new sails and skeleton fantail to be installed by Thompson's of Alford Remains of 1930’s kitchen units and a bath removed before the mill opened to the public

1971: C. M. Newton conveyed mill to grandson C. M. B. (Mike) Newton

25th October 1977: Mill leased to Norfolk CC for 21 years for peppercorn rent

March-April 1978: New steel stock 52ft 3ins. long made

27th September 1978: New stock erected

10th September 1980:
Skeleton fantail and gearing replaced by fully working version made by millwright Philip Lennard thereby reversing the gearing from anti clockwise to clockwise allowing the sails to once more turn into wind

1980: Skeleton fantail replaced by fully working version. Repairs allowed the sails to once more turn into wind

14th July 1981: Second steel stock installed by millwright John Lawn

1st December 1981: Norfolk CC lease terminated

June 1982: Locally made sails installed

30th May 1983: Internal machinery installed (see above)

1986: Upright shaft, wallower and crown wheel replaced with units from other mills

January 1999: Mill bought by Roger and Andrea Hough and remains open to the public - see Links page

2003: Gift shop opened

October 2008: Planning permission sought to convert the mill to domestic accommodation

October 2008:
Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) Mills Section objected to proposed redevelopment of the mill as submitted to North Norfolk Plannning Committee

July 2011: Mill advertised for sale by John D. Wood & Co. for £550,000

February 2015: Mill advertised for sale for £495,000


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 TG 31623579
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Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2004