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Norfolk Windmills

Watercolour by J.P. Chaplin c.1920
Watercolour by J.P. Chaplin c.1920

Ringstead towermill was a six storey tarred brick that once had six sails, which was quite unusual for Norfolk. The mill was built between 1837-1842 and had a boat shaped cap with a deep petticoat and a stage on the second floor. It stood at the end of a track some ¾ mile north of the village along with a cottage and outbuildings, having been built on the site of the earlier southern_postmill. When first built the mill had four single shuttered patent sails but two additional sails were added soon afterwards. The sails drove 3 pairs of French burr stones, a flour cloth machine and a jumper. The brake wheel and wallower were made of wood, as was the upright shaft. The dust floor was 17 ft. in diameter. A brick keystone had the Le Strange lion carved on it.

The other known six sail mills in Norfolk were at: Sculthorpe, Terrington St Clement - Balsam_Fields and Orange Farm, Walsoken and West Walton Ingleborough.

6th April 1970
6th April 1970

Both Faden's and Greenwood's maps show two adjacent postmills at Ringstead, the northern_mill and the southern_mill, the latter was advertised for sale and removal before Henry L'Strange Styleman le Strange built a towermill on the same site c.1840. It was reputed that the southern_postmill was moved about 2 miles east to Beacon Hill in Thornham, although up until 1863 the Rate Book in Thornham only records John Crane as owning one mill in Staithe Road even though both mills were known to be there in that year, thus the Ringstead_southern_postmill may have been assembled there during the course of that year, becoming Thornham_composite_mill.

To Let at Michaelmas next for a term of years
A superior Water Corn Mill at Heacham ...
Also at Great Ringstead, Norfolk
A capital TOWER WINDMILL with six patent sails, Flour Cloth Machine, Jumper etc. driving three pair of French stones, with Cottage, Gardens, Granary, Stable etc. and about an acre and a quarter of arable land.
Apply to Mr. William Norgate, Heacham.

Norfolk Chronicle - 22nd & 29th July 1854

Notice to Debtors and Creditors of William Norgate. Dated 25 July.
Relates to a Deed of Assignment for the benefit of his Creditors.
L. W. Jarvis & Son, Solrs.
Norfolk Chronicle - 29th July 1854

WANTED, a good pair of second hand 4 ft. French Burr Millstones.
Apply to John Crane, Ringstead, Lynn.
Lynn Advertiser - 1st January 1887

25th August 2003 25th August 2003
25th August 2003
25th August 2003

The mill was converted to domestic use in 1927 and in 1981 still contained the windshaft and the six armed cross canister. The cap was removed in 1927 and the stones were removed later.

On 16th March 1974, Mrs. Clare Chapman wrote to Philip Unwin to say that her parents, Prof. & Mrs. Cornford, bought the mill in 1927. It was derelict and had no sails. It was converted to residential use by architect Hugh Hughes of Granchester near Cambridge, who also converted Burnham Overy towermill and still owned it.

Re conversion to dwelling:-
At Ringstead Mill, Norfolk, the oak machinery has been preserved and gives a robustious air to the round rooms.
Old Watermills & Windmills, R. Thurston Hopkins - 1830

O. S. Map 1886

O. S. Map 1886
Courtesy of NLS map images

Ringstead towermill

Ground Floor
Staircase on wall outside tower, in attached bungalow

1st Floor
Divided into 2 bedrooms, staircase on outside

2nd Meal Floor
Base of upright shaft
Pulley for governors
Drive coming down from 3rd floor to bolter etc.
Under staircase to 3rd floor a few pieces of iron - spider?

3rd Stone Floor
Wooden upright shaft 16½ ins. diameter
Wooden clasp arm 7 ft. great spur wheel with iron segments.
1 pair of 4 ft. French burr stones in 8 sided modern vat with no hopper or shoe. Overdriven.
Iron mortise stone nut on 6 ft. quant
Two other glut boxes with rings for holding quants out of gear
Another pinion on iron shaft driving down to meal floor

4th Corn Floor
Divided as to landing and bedroom
Lower section of upright shaft topped with iron joint to upper section

5th Dust Floor
Upright shaft round
All wood wallower with friction drive underneath to sack hoist
Sack hoist

All wood 9 ft. clasp arm brake wheel, no brake lever
Windshaft 12 ins. diameter at head wheel, 7 ins. at tail

Harry Apling - 22nd July 1981

Hunstanton and Around, issue 89, March 2013
Hunstanton and Around, issue 89, March 2013

1st December 2009
1st December 2009

In September 1939 my brother and I were evacuated to old Hunstanton billeted with a Mrs Wyn who took us to visit an elderly man at the old mill at Ringstead I understood he was related to her in some way, in conversation he said he had spent a long time at sea  He gave me a secret opening wooden box that he had made by hand during his quiet time whilst at sea. His presence doesnt seem to fit in with the history of the Mill, could he perhaps have been the caretaker of the Mill at that time?
PS Mrs Wyns Mother, Mrs Finbow also lived with us. It remains a minor mystery to me.
Cyril Webb - 13th February 2015

1837 - 1842: Mill built for Henry Le Strange

1842: William Norgate, miller

White's 1845:
Here is a fine Six-Sail Mill, erected a few years ago, by Mr. Le Strange, at the cost of about £1,500.

White's 1845: Robert Powell, mill manager

1850: William Norgate, miller

White's 1854: A fine six sail mill was erected here some few years ago at the cost of £1,500.

1854: William Norgate, miller

1854: William Norgate, miller, insolvent

July 1854: Mill advertised to be let

1863: John Crane, miller & farmer

Admiralty chart 1871: Windmill

Kelly's 1879: John Crane, farmer & miller

O.S. map 1880: Windmill

White's 1883: John Crane, corn miller & farmer

White's 1890: John Crane, corn miller & farmer

1892: John Crane jnr (son) miller & farmer, advertised Thornham composite mill for sale

1897: Mill ceased working

1927: Mill bought by Prof. Francis Macdonald Cornford

1927: Mill converted to residential with corrugated asbestos cap by architect Hugh Hughes for Prof. Cornford

Karl Wood painting 1934: Mill with cap, sail canister, fanstage and stage

1936: Mill used as the meeting place for the Theoretical Biology Club

1937: Mill used as the meeting place for the Theoretical Biology Club

1956: Mill bought from Prof. Cornford by Dr. Myer Head Salaman

1981: Mill owned by Dr. Myer Head Salaman, also of Highgate, London; later conveyed mill to his daughters

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 TF 70574163
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Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2004