Wighton
towermill

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Karl Wood painting 1934
Karl Wood painting 1934

Wighton towermill stood to the south of the village on the east side of the Walsingham Road and was known as the New Mill with the postmill to the southeast being known as the Old Mill.. The mill would have been built with common sails and later converted to patent sails, possibly in 1826.
The brick tower had an ogee cap with a gallery and ball finial and was turned to wind by a fantail. From the above painting, it would appear that the mill had a six storey tower with a stage set around the second floor.


From the 1895 sale particulars it is noted that the mill used the following machinery:
Wind shaft about 18 feet, head wheel 10 ft. 2 in. diameter, oak upright shaft with 9 ft. spur-wheel and gearing, two 70 ft. Memel timber stocks, four 40 ft. clamps and five pairs of 4 ft. 4 in. French stones with governors.
The mill was not big enough to run five pairs of stones, so it is certain that at least one set of stones were spares.


Wighton, Jan. 16, 1786
Whereas some Person or Persons in the night time of Friday last broke open and entered a WIND-MILL situate in Wighton aforesaid, belonging to Mr. Robert BEESTON and stole thereout about eight or nine Bushels of WHEAT MEAL:
Notice is hereby given that if any Person will give Information to the said Robert BEESTON of the Person or Persons who was or were concerned in stealing the said Wheat Meal, so as he or they may be thereof convicted, shall receive FIVE GUINEAS Reward from the said Robert BEESTON.

Norfolk Chronicle - Saturday, 28th January 1786

A ROBBERY AT LANGHAM, NORFOLK
Whereas some Person or Persons in the night time of Saturday last broke open and entered into a FLOUR HOUSE, situate at LANGHAM aforesaid (belonging to Mr. Robert BEESTON of WIGHTON) and stole thereout about six Bushells of COARSE FLOUR; Notice is hereby given that if any Person will give Information to Mr. Benjamin KITTMER of Walsingham of the Person or Persons who was or were concerned in stealing the said Flour, so as he or they may be thereof convicted, shall receive THREE GUINEAS Reward from the said MR. KITTMER to be paid in pursuance of certain Articles of Association entered into for the prosecuting and bringing to Justice all such Persons as shall commit any Robbery upon the Person or Property of any Member thereof.

June 13, 1786 Benjamin KITTMER
Treasurer of the said Association
Norfolk Chronicle - 17th June 1786

Faden's map 1797
Faden's map 1797

Faden's map of 1797 also shows a New W. Mill to the southwest of the watermill. This was the towermill that had been built a few years earlier, as it was burgled on Friday 13th January 1786, when some nine bushels of wheat meal were stolen, causing Robert Beeston to offer a reward of five guineas.


Thomas Priest, who died and was then buried on 9th September 1793, had a daughter, Judith Ladle, born out of wedlock to Mary Ladle and she was baptised on 16th May 1784. Both Wighton watermill and windmill were taken over by Robert Beeston upon the death of Thomas Priest and Robert continued to take care of Judith Ladle, who was 9 years old at the death of her father. It was later mentioned in the will of Samuel Priest, miller at Newton_by_Castle_Acre_watermill, that one of his executors, Robert Beeston was keeping the mill at Wighton along with Judith Ladle.


Notice to Debtors and Creditors of
Robert Beeston late of Wighton, Miller, deceased ...

Norfolk Chronicle - 27th April 1805

Williams, millwright repairing windmill at Wighton belonging to Beeston Wright killed when change of wind started fantail and threw him to the ground.
Essex Herald - 25th May 1819

A very melancholy accident occurred at Wighton, near Wells, last Tuesday morning. As an elderly man by the name of Williams, a millwright of Wighton, was employed in repairing a windmill belonging to Mr. Beeston Wright, a sudden change of wind took place unperceived by him, when the small sails at the back of the mill being suddenly put in motion, precipitated him from a very great height to the ground. He was immediately taken up and carried home, but died in a few minutes.
Norfolk Chronicle - Saturday 22nd May 1819

Foundation stone - T.W.C. 1826 - 24th March 2004
Foundation stone - T.W.C. 1826 - 24th March 2004

It would appear that the mill was rebuilt by Lord Coke in 1826 as the foundation stone has been preserved and is still in the village


THE HURRICANE OF SUNDAY
WELLS
The sails of Mr. P. Hudson's mill at WIGHTON were almost completely shattered.

Dereham & Fakenham Times - 30th March 1895

The sails of Mr. P. Hudson's mill at Wighton were almost completely shattered.
Lynn Advertiser - 30th March 1895

To Millers, Machinists and others
WIGHTON
GEO. S. ANDREWS
Is favoured with instructions from Mr. Peter Hudson to Sell by Auction on Wednesday 3 July 1895, all the
MACHINERY & FIXTURES
From the Wighton Windmill

Comprising wind shaft about 18 feet, head wheel 10 ft. 2 in. diameter, with grip in good order, oak upright shaft with 9 ft. spur-wheel and gearing, 2 Memel timber stocks 70 ft. long, 4 clamps 40 ft. long and other portions of sails and vanes, etc., iron blocks, chains and ropes, 5 pairs 4 ft. 4 in. French stones with governors, shafting, spindles etc. as geared, about 2 doz. mill bills, mahogany flooring staff and slate tester, lot of wrenches, several step ladders, quantity of sacks and bags, several sets of scales and weights, capital kneehole office desk with drawers, flour scales, various tools, bushel measures, grindstone, quantity of iron bolts, nuts, screws and fittings, lot of firewood, old iron etc.
N.B. The windshaft, head wheel and upright shaft will be sold as fixed in the mill. The other lots will be arranged in order near the mill, which adjoins main road.

Lynn Advertiser - 22nd & 29th June 1895

The machinery and all fixtures and fittings were sold by auction on Wednesday 3rd July 1895. By 1933 the towermill was derelict and during a storm that year tower was struck by lightning. The ensuing fire destroyed the remains of the cap and floors. The Home Guard blew up the remaining shell as an explosives exercise during the second world war.


Mrs. Sybil Smith related to Harry Apling that the mill was last worked by a Mr. Buck.
... and on Sunday afternoon about the 1900s the Miller went out left the Sails locked a gale Blew up and broke all the Sails off this Mill too and of course was never mended again ... about 1930 the Mill was struck by lightning and the dome and floors were all burnt out by the fire which followed but the Shell stood and during the last War Soldiers came and blew the Mill up it was rumored it was a Land Mark for the War planes as we did have some Bombs dropped on our land ...
Sybil Smith (b. c.1896) Mill Farm, Wighton - c. 1984

The foundations of the mill were seen by N. Bray of the Norfolk Archaeology Unit in 1957.


O. S. Map 1885

O. S. Map 1885
Courtesy of NLS map images


OS map 2004
O.S. Map 2004
Image reproduced under licence from Ordnance Survey

White's 1864: George Everitt, merchant ( James Everitt & Co.)
White's 1864: Robert Powell, victualler, Gibralter
White's 1864: Charles Powell, farmer

Kelly's 1879: Charles Powell, farmer, Wheycurd & Copy's Green farm

White's 1883: Charles Powell, farmer, Whey Curd farm

White's 1890: Charles Powell, farmer, Whey Curd farm

Kelly's 1892: Charles Powell, farmer, Wheycurd & Copy's Green farms

Kelly's 1896: Charles Powell, farmer, Wheycurd & Copy's Green farm

Kelly's 1896: Peter Hudson, farmer


1785: Robert Beeston, miller

Friday 13th January 1786: Mill burgled, causing miller Robert Beeston to offer a reward of five guineas


Faden's map 1797: Windmill

1797: Robert Beeston also at Wighton watermill

Wighton poll book 1802: Robert Beeston, miller

1805: Robert Beeston died

1819: Beeston Wright, miller & watermill

Tuesday 18th May 1819: Millwright ? Williams killed when the fantail started unexpectedly

1824: Walter Thurtell leased Mill Farm, along with Wighton watermill and windmill from the Holkham Estate for 19 yrs at £225 p.a.

Bryant's map 1826: Windmill

1826: Mill rebuilt by Lord Coke

Pigot's 1830: Walter Thurtell, miller(1830 - 1850)

White's 1836: Walter Thurtell, miller & maltster


O.S. map 1838: Windmill

1839: Walter Thurtell, miller & watermill

1840: Walter Thurtell, miller & watermill

Census 1841: Francis Drake (45) journeyman miller
Elizabeth Drake (45)
Elizabeth Drake (17); Sarah Drake (11); Maria Drake (7);

William Lane (40) journeyman miller
Mary Lane (40), wife
Susan Lane (80), mother; all born i
n Norfolk

Robert Temple (24) miller, living with parents
James Temple, agricultural labourer
Sarah Temple b.Norfolk

Robert Thurston (35) miller
Sarah Thurston (35)
Mary Thurston (9); Elizabeth Thurston (7); Sarah Thurston (3), all born in Norfolk
Address: Church Lane

White's 1845: Walter Thurtell, corn miller

1846: Walter Thurtell, miller & watermill

1850: Walter Thurtell, maltster and merchant & watermill

1853: James Everett, miller & watermill

1854: James Everett & Co., millers; Robert Powell, foreman miller

1858: James Everett, miller & watermill

1860: George Everitt, miller - working for James Everitt & Co. & watermill

Census 1861: George Everitt (24) b.Quarles, (of James Everitt & Co) miller and farmer of 160 acres, employing 5 millers, 7 labourers & 1 boy
Harriet Seaman (28) b.Gt. Dunham
Elizabeth Nicholls, b.Gt. Dunham, cook

John Barker (25) b.Shipdham, journeyman miller
Mary Barker (23) b.Wighton, wife and dressmaker
Address: Hungate Street

Robert Grief (55) b.Stradsett, journeyman miller
Charlotte Grief (40) b.Litcham
Elizabeth Grief (12) b.Litcham
Alfred Grief (5) b.Siderstrand
Address: Hungate Street

James Buck (44) b.Gt. Ellingham, journeyman miller
Maria Buck (43)
Sarah Buck (12)
b.Gt. Ellingham
Frances Buck (11) b.Gt. Ellingham
James Buck (7) b.Gt. Ellingham
Maria Buck (4) b.Holt

Robert Thurstone (57) journeyman miller
Sarah Thurston (55) dressmaker

1863: James Everett, miller & watermill

White's 1864: James Everett and Co. corn millers, merchants & maltsters
- & Wells

1865: James Everett, miller & watermill

1868: Thomas G. Hudson, miller & farmer

1872: Peter Hudson, miller

1875: Peter Hudson, miller

1878: Peter Hudson, miller

Kelly's 1879: Peter Hudson, farmer & miller

White's 1883: Peter Hudson, farmer & miller

1888: Peter Hudson, miller

White's 1890: Peter Hudson, farmer & miller

Kelly's 1892: Peter Hudson, farmer & miller (wind)

1895: Peter Hudson, miller; Mr. Buck, employee miller

Sunday 24th March 1895: Severe gale almost completely shattered the sails and the mill never worked again

June 1895: Mill machinery & fixtures advertised for sale by auction

O.S. map 1886: Windmill

Photo 15th August 1932: Mill tower derelict, stage, ogee cap and finial still in situ but no sails or fantail

1933: Mill derelict and struck by lightning; the ensuing fire destroyed the remains of the cap and floors

Karl Wood painting 1934: Mill tower empty shell with only the stage bearers surviving the fire

c.1942: Mill tower blown up by the Home Guard as an explosives exercise

O.S. map 1946: Windmill

1970: Site owned by John Temple of New Farm, Wells

c.1985: Brick foundations only

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 TF93953936
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Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2004