St Benets Level
drainage towermill
River Thurne

c.1965 painting by Arthur Pank
c.1965 painting by Arthur Pank

St Benet's Level drainage mill stood on Horning marshes on the opposite side of the River Thurne to the well known white Thurne drainage mill. The mill was originally built c.1775 with common sails and was manually turned to wind by a tailpole. The mill tower was built of red brick with the batter changing to a cylindrical shape for the top section as the tower had some 10 feet added to it c.1898.

During the latter half of the 1800s an American style steel framed mill, some 40 ft. high was erected within the tower space. This structure was blown down in the 1890s and the date is recorded on the inside of the mill door.
Daniel England, the Ludham millwright was commissioned to reinstate the mill to the traditional style c.1898 and he installed double sided patent sails on a cast iron windshaft, a Norfolk boat shaped cap with a petticoat, gallery, a 10 bladed fantail and a Y wheel. The new turbine was designed to lift water in a 12 feet well up into the River Thurne via oak sluice gates.

England's plate 1st November 2006
England's plate 1st November 2006

May 1986
May 1986

For many years the mill stood with just its stocks and no sails. A band of cement was rendered around the top of the tower.

Czech Republic mill with St Benet's Level 1895
Czech Republic mill with
annular sail by Daniel Halladay
St Benet's Level 1895

At some date around 1900, for a brief period (it was reported in an issue of "The Miller") the cap and sails were removed and replaced with a flat roof carrying a pylon with a 30ft diameter annular sail made by the American Daniel Halladay - this seems to have been blown off or otherwise damaged after a short period of time. This seems to be quite well-known locally (Bob Morse, Richard Seago and Vincent Pargeter all independently confirmed that they had heard this, without knowing of the article in The Miller) but photographs of it in this state have not come to light.
Gareth Hughes, Conservation Officer, Broadland DC - 5th November 2007

July 1989
July 1989

When restored the mill had 4 patent sails without shutters and a fantail. The cap appears to be turned via a tailpole

2nd August 2003 29th June 2006
2nd August 2003
29th June 2006

11th May 2008
11th May 2008

c.1775: Mill built

1973: Mill restored by Lennard & Lawn, millwrights

1980s: Mill owned by Norwich Union; additional restoration work carried out by Richard Seago, millwright

1990s: Additional restoration work carried out by Richard Seago, millwright

2007: Mill owned by Crown Estates

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 TG399156
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Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2007