River Glaven


Drainage Mills (Windpumps)
Steam Mills

29th April 1911
Boardman family visiting - 29th April 1911

Letheringsett watermill was mentioned in Domesday (Leringaseta). The latest structure was built in 1802 of brick with a black pantiled roof and consists of three identical gables with a lucum set on the centre one. The windows on both gable ends have been bricked in. The 600,000 gallon capacity millpond powers an iron wheel capable of driving 4 pairs of stones, two of which are still working.

The last remaining working watermill in Norfolk - 2023

March 1969 May 1969
March 1969
May 1969

The mill had a pit wheel and wallower both made with iron teeth. These did not wear as well as a wood against iron combination and were noisy in running. Eventually they became so worn that according to all Engineering Theory they could not drive. However they carried on running until the system was replaced by a Ruston Hornsby diesel engine in 1945.

An interesting job was done on the wheel while it was in use when the outside bearing became so badly worn that it scoured the axle. The axle was then supported on V blocks and the saddle from a lathe was secured to it so that when it revolved it remained true. A new bearing was cast by Hall's of Norwich and fitted by
F. Flowerdew & Son.

Unusually, Letheringsett's wheel was built with a dual irrigation system. It was designed to run as breastshot but could be changed to undershot if water levels fell in times of dry weather

Mill gear ratios

Pitwheel - 96 cogs
Wallower - 28 cogs
Pitwheel to wallower ratio - 3.4
Great spur wheel - 144 cogs
Stone nut - 24 cogs
Spur wheel to stone nut ratio - 6.0
Waterwheel to runner stone ratio - 20.6

John Priest, who bought the mill in 1744 and also built Letheringsett_postmill in 1754, was the son of Joseph Priest, miller of Sheringham_watermill and a successful property owner. John Priest, however, became bankrupt in 1756 due to his extravagent lifestyle and his properties were then sold off by his assignees.

Joseph Priest was a miller in the eighteenth century. He owned not only a windmill but also a watermill (Note: There was a watermill at Sheringham at least until 1791 in which year Mr. Bond was assessed at £15 to the poor rate) as well as other property all of which he left at his death, probably early in 1748 to his son Robert who died in May 1771. He made a number of money bequests to his wife and family and he must have been a very successful man. One of his sons was John and he was probably the John Priest who bought a mill at Letheringsett, but he was less fortunate; indeed he later became bankrupt. (Note: Details of this John Priest and his activities are to be found in Basil Cozens-Hardy's History of Letheringsett. For the suit of tithes brought against Joseph Priest see under list of Sheringham vicars (1741) in chapter V, or R. W. Ketton-Cremer's Country Neighbourhood, p.216, from which the account is taken)
History of Sheringham & Beeston Regis - Campbell A. Erroll - 1970

By William Chase from Norwich
On Tuesday 28th Day of September next between the Hours of Three & Six of the Clock in the Afternoon, at the Feathers in Holt, in the county of Norfolk.
The several ESTATES of JOHN PRIEST of Letheringsett in the said County, a Bankrupt.
Lot 1. A Dwelling House, Watermill & eleven Acres of Land in Letheringsett aforesaid, as also a Windmill thereto belonging, part Freehold, & part Copyhold. The Mills are new built & all in the Premises in good Repair. (The said Premises were in the Bankrupt's Occupation)
Lot 2. Dwelling House etc. in Letheringsett ... Brewing office ...
For further Particulars Enquire of Mr. Thomas Paul of Felbridge, Mr. Nicholas Downing of Holt or Mr. John Beeston of Langham, the Assignees to the Estate & Effects of the said Bankrupt, or to Mr. William Stuart Hawys, Attorney at Law in Fakenham.
Norwich Mercury - 18th September 1756

Postmill drawing - 15th April 2008
Postmill drawing - 15th April 2008

A faint drawing of Letheringsett_postmill was still just discernable on the internal east wall of the watermill in 2007.

Letheringsett. Wind grist mill erected about 1754 for John Priest a Sheringham miller, who bought the water-mill estate and brewery. In 1757 his bankruptcy trustees sold the estate to William Colls, a Quaker.
Philip Unwin - 1972

Bury & Norwich Post - 31st May 1783
Bury & Norwich Post - 31st May 1783

Briston, Norfolk, May 28, 1783.

The CREDITORS of Mr SOLOMAN COLLS, late of Letheringfett, after at Langham, and now Brifton, in the County of Norfolk, Miller, are requefted to meet at the Houfe of Elizabeth Shepherd, ufually called the Feathers Inn, in Holt, in the faid County, on Thurfday the 12th Day of June next, about Two o'Clock in the Afternoon of the faid Day, upon fpecial Affairs, and to bring their Securities with them. -- And such of the faid Creditors as have not heretofore delivered in their Accounts, are defired, previous to the above intended Meeting, to fend them to THOMAS MENDHAM.
Norfolk Chronicle also Bury & Norwich Post - 31st May 1783

Norfolk Chronicle - 3rd October 1789
Norfolk Chronicle - 3rd October 1789

Norwich Mercury - 1st December 1798
Norwich Mercury - 1st December 1798

A faint drawing of Letheringsett_postmill was still just discernable on the internal east wall of the watermill in 2007.

4th September 2004
4th September 2004

Working mill days remembered by Peter Gawing, Norwich
I came across Old Glory while browsing through a bookshop and saw the article on Letheringsett Mill (February issue). I am now retired after more than 50 years as a millwright, and found the article of tremendous interest as I was a young apprentice working for the Norwich firm of
E. Flowerdew & Son and we installed the Ruston & Hornsby engine featured.
In those days of limited road transport the engine was delivered to the nearby railway station and had to be transferred to a lorry and unloaded at the mill. There were no fork trucks then, and the unloading had to be done by pulley blocks, crowbars and rolls, and of course plenty of hard work and sweat.
I remember the flywheel being wheeled into the mill with several men at each side to keep it upright. At the same time as installing the engine we put in line shafting, pulleys and a Christy & Morris B7/2 hammer mill. The groundmeal was blown by the grinder fan into a cyclone, and the miller bagged off at the bottom.
The engine was installed because the pit wheel and wallower had been running out of alignment for years, and the teeth of the pit wheel had work to such an angle that they were in danger of breaking off.
This was a very unusual feature as this was the only mill I ever worked in where the pit wheel's teeth were of steel. They were usually morticed wheels with fitted wooden teeth which could be replaced (and I spent many hours re-cogging those wheels!). This made for much quieter running.
The grinder replaced the millstones (which were left in position) as being more efficient and it would have presented serious problems to get the engine to drive the stones - so the millstones were left to rest and all grinding was done by the engine.
Sadly most of the wind and water mills I visited are no longer working. Some stand derelict, and others have been turned into houses - indeed one water mill at Bacton Wood is used as holiday accommodation with all the machinery still in position (the river burst its banks, the water was lost and the mill was never repaired).
One mill at Burgh, near Aylsham, was used by the BBC for a television series. It hadn't been in use for years, and I had to re-cog the pit wheel so that it would work.
I must say that I find Old Glory very interesting, as I started work in the days of wind, water and steam power.
Old Glory No. 99 - May 1998

The waterwheel in March 1969
The waterwheel in March 1969

In the 19th century the mill dam was raised by 2 feet to increase the flow to the breastshot wheel system. Unfortunately this caused several fields belonging to local farmers to flood.

Loading in May 1969
Loading in May 1969

There was once a jetty on the upstream side of the mill, which leads to speculation that corn could have been brought by boat in from the coast before the road bridge was built.

Headrace March 1969
Headrace March 1969

An inscription by the weir reads: This water mark settled in the year 1765

Colls Family

The Colls family were Quakers and their Pedigree is entitled:
Colls of Burgh by Aylsham, Horstead & North Walsham.

Henry Colls of North Elmham married Elizabeth ? in 1628. When Henry died in 1641, his wife Elizabeth was the sole executor.

Henry & Elizabeth Colls had 3 children:
1) Mary Colls who married William Banbury

2) William Colls b. 1632 in North Elmham, husbandman; married Joanna Boyden. William Colls died in 1632 leaving his widow Joanna Colls.

3) Margaret Colls - still alive in 1640

William snr & Joanna Colls had 5 children:
a) Robert Colls b.North Elmham

b) William Colls jnr b.circa.1664 in North Elmham. William married Mary Boyden in 1691 at Burgh by Aylsham. William Colls jnr was described as of Itteringham & Burgh and also had property in Aldborough. William died at Aylsham and was buried at Burgh 1739-40. Mary Colls died in 1738.

c) Mary Colls, b.1667 in North Elmham and was aged 21 and unmarried in 1863.

d) Prudence Colls, b.1669 in North Elmham and was buried in 1738

e) Elizabeth Colls, b.1672 in North Elmham and was alive in 1673

William jnr & Mary Colls had two sons who were millers and mentioned in the will of William Colls jnr:
1) William Colls jnr. jnr. of Letheringsett who died in 1770, uncle of John Colls of Horstead and Robert of Briggate

2) Robert Colls of Itteringham who married Hannah Playford by licence at Itteringham on 31st March 1756

William Colls jnr. jnr. died in 1770 and left the mill to his son William jnr. jnr. jnr. who died in 1772. His brother Solomon (a minor) inherited the mill but never worked it, instead becoming a schoolteacher before going bankrupt in 1783.

Toybox lid with scrapbook items New mill regulations June 1756 found on toybox lid
Toybox lid with scrapbook items 15th April 2008
New mill regulations of June 1756 found on toybox lid

Tailrace 4th February 1983 20th September 2003
Tailrace 4th February 1983
20th September 2003

5th January 1786: Breach in river bank flooded a meadow owned by Burrell, parson at Little Thornage

8th January 1786:
Mr Rouse let the water into T. Lound's meadow. A great deal of rain in the night. - Mary Hardy's diary

9th January 1786: Burrell refused to let Rouse go on land

16th January 1786: Tenant Lound brought letter to Hardy from Rouse begging to be allowed to make up bank

17th January 1786: Lound showed notice to Hardy's re not allowed Rouse to go on land

20th January 1786: Mr. Rouse threatened Mr. Burrell to make up the Bank in spite
of him. Sent King to Mr. Burrell and Lound to ensnare them in their words.
Mr. B. sent a man to watch all night at the Bank to prevent their making up
the Bank.
- Mary Hardy's diary

26th January 1786: Mr. Rouse attempted to make up the Bank. Mr. John Burrell
Junr. prevented them. He drank tea and supt here.
- Mary Hardy's diary

2nd April 1786:
I went to Mr. Burrell's after tea. He died abt. 6 o'clock in the even, aged 52.
- Mary Hardy's diary

3rd April 1786:
Mr. Edmund Beck, bricklayer began diging a vault in the chancell for Mr. Burrell.
- Mary Hardy's diary

5th April 1786:
A very cold foggy day. Bricklayers at work in church, removed Mrs. Burrell out of old and into new vault. - Mary Hardy's diary

5th April 1786: Poor Mr. Burrell was buried even 5. - Mary Hardy's diary

Sunday 20th April 1786: Rouse filled in bank during the night. Burrell jnr opened it again

Sunday 30th April 1786:
Mr. Rouse caused the breach in Mr. Burrell's bank to be filled up in the night or very early this morning. Mr. Burrell had it opened again. - Mary Hardy's diary

Saturday 6th May 1786: Rouse served Writs on Mr. Burrell our Wm. and severall persons in town on acct. of Mr. Burrell opening the cut that he had stopd up in meadow. - Mary Hardy's diary

Monday 8th May 1786:
Mr. Hardy and Mr. Burrell went to Dereham m 6 in Mr. Sheppard's
Postchaise to speak to Lawyer Crisp [John Crisp] concerning the suit with Rouse.
- Mary Hardy's diary

Friday 12th May:
J. Burrell drank tea at Rouse's came to an agreement for an accomidation about the cut. - Mary Hardy's diary

Monday 12th June:
Jere More and M. depthening the river. - Mary Hardy's diary

6th October 1786: Recd a supenea to appear at Norwich in a Trial between J. Burrell and Richd. Rouse. It was given in favour of Rouse with £ 90 damages.

19th October 1787 "Mr. Rouse sent the Bailiffs to Mr. Burrell. It was made up." Probably because the damages and costs awarded at the Assize had not been paid

Mr. Rouse set to work his new mill, nearly twice the building of the old mill or perhaps fully so and calculated for more pairs of stones. The gates higher or resting on a higher sill than those of the old mill (according to the testimony of Thomas Dunn and others about 6 inches...)
Letheringsett Parish Register - Revd. Burrell, Michaelmas 1802

When Richard Rouse died in 1816 his will instructed his executors to run and then sell the mill for the benefit of his widow and daughters. His son, Zebulon who was also a miller and corn merchant, relinquished all claim on his father's estate in 1826. Zebulon had been sent to prison in 1801 for debt and no doubt was not in his father's good books. "Uncle" William Hardy took over the estate in 1797 and bought the mill for the sum, including subsequent alterations, of £5,000. He died in 1842, so the alterations he referred to must have been made before then. It is not easy to deduce what those alterations might have been, for there seem to have been a number of changes since then. The mill still remains in "Uncle" Hardy's family today.
Letheringsett Watermill - official booklet on sale at the mill

T. Bolding on wall facing mill dam W. Girling 1856 on wall facing mill dam
T. Bolding on wall facing mill dam
W. Girling 1856 on wall facing mill dam

To be let. At Michaelmas next
An excellent WATER CORN MILL, situate at Letheringsett, driving 4 pairs of stones with very complete machinery and in good condition, together with capital Dwelling House, Cottage and
80 a. of first rate Arable and Meadow Land.
Apply to Mr. Cozens Hardy, Letheringsett, near Holt.
Norfolk Chronicle - 29th May 1858

Edward & Edith Cracknell c.1904
Edward & Edith Cracknell c.1904

Letheringsett Estate Trustees commenced a program of major repairs and renovations to the mill and machinery in 1982. David Mayes of the Estate provided general liason, using the advice of millwright Peter Warwick BSc, DFH.
The building and bank restoration work was carried out by Patrick Matthews & Sons of Holt, while restoration of the waterwheel, pitwheel, sluices, weedgrids and guards were carried out by Richard Matthews.

Bank reconstruction below the mill - 1982
Bank reconstruction below the mill - 1982

1982 David May removing the pitwheel - 1983
Removal of worn wheel buckets - 1983
Lft to rt - Richard Matthews, John Matthews (at back) Andrew Doy, Robert Matthews
David May removing the pitwheel - 1983

Each of the wheel buckets was 8 feet wide and needed two men to lift them. Of the 32 buckets, 10 were replaced and 22 were repaired. The cast iron pitwheel was cut into segments before being removed for repairs.

New buckets installed with elbow oak wedges bolted to the wheel - 1983

In 1984 the millwright, Peter Warwick converted the mill from diesel power back to water power for the first time in 40 years for the Cozens-Hardy estate.

According to Basil Cozens-Hardy - there are or have been 3 water wheels, 11 sluices, 1 turbine,
5 hydraulic rams, 2 fountains, 5 cascades, 3 piped or culvert siphons under roads, a reservoir, an artificial lake and 6 bridges.

The two working tuns 20th September 2003
The two working tuns 20th September 2003

The right hand tun in current use contains a pair of millstone grit composite stones and the left hand tun has a pair of 220 year old French burr stones. The lifting gear to raise the runner stones for dressing can be seen to the left. - 2003

A horizontal turbine was also used on the Cozens-Hardy Estate on the opposite side of the road to the north.

Ruston & Hornsby Ruston & Hornsby
Ruston & Hornsby Class HR single cylinder horizontal diesel engine
20th September 2003

Mike Thurlow and the newly restored grain cleaner
Mike Thurlow and the newly restored grain cleaner
11th October 2003

4th September 2004
4th September 2004

Mike Thurlow began restoring the mill further in 1987.

The hurricane of October 1987 provided 200 oaks that were used to restore 2,000 feet of beams and 10,500 feet of flooring. The roof was renewed and the wheel was realigned (a major project). In 1990 the mill was opened to visitors and the 2½ tonnes of stone ground wholewheat flour produced every week sold on to local businesses and visitors.

All restoration had to be privately funded as no grants were available.

Retirement brings little rest for this miller

For pensioner Mr. Arthur Rayner, of Holt, retirement has brought little respite from his work as a miller.
After 50 years in the trade, first at Glandford for three years and then at Letheringsett Mill, Arthur, as he is known by employers and customers alike, might have been expected to put his feet up.
But retirement simply means he has to cram a week's work into a couple of days.
Milling, grinding, rolling oats, maintaining the machinery, keeping an eye on water levels, bagging up feedstuffs, selling various products to customers, humping one hundredweight sacks up and down stairs - these are only a few of the tasks Arthur includes in his daily routine.
Arthur went to work as an apprentice flour miller at Glandford_
Mill in July 1924, seven months after his 14th birthday.
Both mills were then owned by the Cracknell family, but after the early death of Mr. Cracknell, Glandford was was sold and Arthur moved to the mill at Letheringsett.
Mr. T. G. M. Boast managed the mill there for M
s. Cracknell for several years, eventually taking over on his own account until his retirement three years ago, when it was taken over by Aminovit, an animal feedstuffs firm whose co-directors are Mr. J. E. Sheen and Mr. E. S. M. Starling.
During his 50 years of milling, Arthur, who is now a provender-miller, has seen many changes at Letheringsett. The original water-driven machinery is still contained within the 200-year-old mill, although the drive shafts which work the various belts and rollers used today are run by a diesel engine.

"The diesel engine was installed in 1940," recalls Arthur.
When he started work 14 men were working at Glandford and Letheringsett. Now Arthur is the only one left. Until a year ago the mill was used to manufacture animal feedstuffs. Now it is mainly used as a warehouse selling the feed mad by other large manufacturers.
What milling work is done there now, all by Arthur, is chiefly grinding corn brought in and collected by local farmers.
"Pries have changed tremendously since I started work," said Arthur. A stone of maize used to cost 10d., now it would cost 62 or 63 new pence. The barley used to be bagged in coombs when I started, now it is all half hundredweight sacks."
In the twenties part of his duties included dressing the stones of the water wheel. Today he has to concern himself with engine bearings and oil levels.
"There isn't much place for these small mills nowadays. The big combines have taken most of the trade. Still, I manage to keep busy," said Arthur.
Eastern Daily Press - 1974

Restoration is finished

When Mike Thurlow was invited to "take on" the almost derelict Letheringsett watermill he knew absolutely nothing about milling.
Now he is regarded as one of the finest millers in the country - and the mill he has restored so enthusiastically among the finest of its kind.
Mr Thurlow arrived in the North Norfolk village near Holt with a 20-year naval career behind him, a spell as a lorry driver and a stint as rescue officer with the Norfolk Broads Yacht Club.
"I knew nothing. I am self-taught, getting everything out of books. And I made a few mistakes on the way. But it has been a pleasure doing this, it really has," he said.
He began restoration of the mill, which had stood idle for 40 years, in 1982 and this weekend celebrates the last of its four floors to the public.
And with tens of thousands of visitors flocking to the mill each year to see a preserved part of working farm history, numerous tourist awards festoon the walls.
The mill and it products are regarded as Britain's best in the Bread Book, published by Linda Collister and Anthony Blake, and by Henrietta Green's Food Lovers' Guide to Britain.
Mr Thurlow revealed he is having problems keeping up with the demand for his flour - the pre-war species Alexandra - all of which he obtains from nearby Stiffkey Estate.
"Within a 45-mile radius we look after six bakeries, three health food stores, three delicatessens, a farm teashop and 14 general stores," he said.
Further afield there are three restaurant chains in London and delicatessens at Tower Bridge and Richmond to supply. And he is receiving orders for his goods from a French bakery.
This weekend visitors can see for the first time a 1954 Penny and Porter "Winnograder" cleaner working away. It was donated by Henham Hall, Essex, and means the water powered mill is now self-sufficient in preparing, cleaning and milling. "Before the machine was installed wheat would be cleaned elsewhere and that could add £50 to a tonne," said Mr Thurlow.
David Blyth, Eastern Daily Press - 28th May 1994

Pitwheel and wallower 11th October 2003 Wallower with the auxiliary drive above 11th October 2003
Pitwheel and wallower 11th October 2003
Wallower with the auxiliary drive above 11th October 2003

Michael and Marian Thurlow had no milling experience when they took on the lease. Michael spent almost all his working life in the Royal Navy as a radar operator and travelled the world 7 times, before being invalided out in 1981. He had to learn all about milling from scratch by reading the few books on milling available and visiting other mills that are still working. Needless to say he has learnt he new trade mostly the hard way - by trial and error! Today the restoration continues with Michael carrying out as many jobs as he can, with professional assistance being provided by Nibbs Rawlings and George Rudd.
Letheringsett Watermill - official booklet on sale at the mill in 2014

20th September 2003 11th October 2003
20th September 2003
11th October 2003

6th October 2007
Mill bypass in full flow when mill not in operation 6th October 2007

Miller Mike Thurlow, who rescued the building about 17 years ago, has built up a thriving trade in his traditional flour. Today, he supplies his special brand of wheat flour half-way across the world with several tonnes despatched to our Embassy in Moscow, two tonnes to Japan for the health food market and almost 800kg to Hong Kong. It has also been possible to export flour to the United States.

Five years ago, he installed another set of stones to double the capacity at the watermill. He has shown that there is a real demand for a quality local product – made and milled from wheat grown in Norfolk. Today, he mills one of the oldest wheat varieties known – spelt wheat. It was known to the Egyptians some 9000 years ago and today, seed from this ancient variety is grown on a farm in the heart of Norfolk for milling at Letheringsett.

The flour is sold to eight bakers, 37 shops, seven hotels and bed and breakfasts around the region. Although the yield is much lower than the conventional modern varieties, at about 1.75 tonnes an acre, it is ideal for people unable to eat normal flour, including coeliacs. Farmer David Hill at Bradenham, near Dereham, grows the variety for milling by Mr Thurlow, and some 200 tonnes of wheat will be harvested this year. It produces a very fine grade of flour - perfect for baking quality bread and some cakes.

“We can hardly keep pace with the demand. I would like to install a third set of stones to produce more flour,” Mike Thurlow said.
Eastern Daily Press - 9th May 2003

On 6th October 2007, the grain floor and bin floor were officially opened to the public by North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb. The newly opened floors being designated as exhibition and educational areas with photographic displays, museum artifacts and video streams.

Open Day 6th October 2007 Open Day 6th October 2007
Open Day 6th October 2007
Norman Lamb MP talking to mill owner Mike Thurlow

Open Day 6th October 2007
Open Day 6th October 2007
Norman Lamb MP standing talking to
George and Hazel Jeffries
Bridget Neville in the foreground

New chapter for old mill as it opens doors to public

It is the last water powered flour mill to operate in Norfolk and this weekend another milestone was marked in its long and illustrious history.
After more than 20 years of hard grind a nd a five-year saga that nearly saw Letheringsett Mill close, miller, Mike Thurlow, was thrilled to finally be able to open the top two floors of the 200 year old building to the public.
It now features a classroom for school parties to use and an archive where visitors can trace the mill's rich history.
Mr Thurlow said, "We never thought we would get here. Five years ago the fire brigade came in and threatened to shut us down because we did not have a fire escape in the building.
"When we submitted plans for a fire escape on the back of the building English Heritage kicked it out and refused to allow us planning consent to do anything to the building.
"We had to fight to gain permission to fire proof the main staircase which means we can stay open to the public, continue running and open up the other two floors."
The improvement work necessary cost Mr Thurlow £12,500, all of which he had to pay out of his own pocket, but, as he points out, the mill is a labour of love.
A mill has stood on the site since the middle ages and the present mill was built in 1786.
"In 1987 the mill was possibly going to be lost because there was no one to take it on," said Mr Thurlow.
"My wife and I found it by mistake and fell in love with the building. We decided that we would like to give it a try to make a viable business out of it, and now we are milling eight tonnes of flour a week."
North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb, who helped Mr Thurlow in his fight to keep the mill open cut the ribbon to officially open the mill's new facilities.
He was presented with an honorary membership of the Friends of Letheringsett Mill for all, his help.

Mike Thurlow - Norman Lamb
MP Norman Lamb opens the new part of the mill pictured with its owner Mike Thurlow

He said: " There was a bit of an intractable problem but here we are five years later and it is tremendous that it is finally resolved.
And the future is bright for the water mill after Mr. Thurlow was officially named the nation's Local Food Hero in a competition run by UKTV Food.
He picked up £40,000 in prize money which paid for improvements and had enabled him to order a new set of grindstones.
Eastern Daily Press - Monday 8th October 2007

Booming demand for miller Mike

Award winning miller Mike Thurlow has seen demand for his stoneground flour soar as bread prices have surged.
He is now producing three-quarters of a tonne of locally-grown flour each day at Letheringsett Mill, near Holt, from milling varieties of wheat grown within a 20-mile radius.
"Demand is booming. We can hardly keep pace with the orders." said Mr. Thurlow, who has been running the water-powered mill by the River Glaven for 21 years.
He now sells between seven and eight tonnes of whet, which is made into 14 grades including organic and conventional flour, each week.
The cost of his wheat has risen over the past year from £175 to £285 per tonne as quality has remained in relatively short supply.
"I don't think we're going to see an end to this," he added.
He sells a 1.5kg bag of conventional wholemeal flour for £1.85 and stoneground for £1.65.
His organic range costs £2.10 and the wholemeal for £2.05 per bag.
"Consumers are turning back to our traditional flour which is regarded as among the best in the country." said Mr. Thurlow.
Eastern Daily Press - 28th February 2008

Mill staff and new stones 15th April 2008 New stones 15th April 2008
Mill staff and new stones 15th April 2008
l to r: Jackie Thompson, Carol English, Peggy Jarvis,
Robert Wilson, Paul Booker, Mike Thurlow
New stones 15th April 2008

Lifting to the stone floor 15th April 2008 Stone floor 15th April 2008
Lifting to the stone floor 15th April 2008
Stone floor 15th April 2008

New millstones were delivered yesterday to the last working waterpowered flour mill in Norfolk. Letheringsett Watermill, near Holt, received a pristine pair of grindstones from Holland after waiting 14 months for them to be made.
The mill’s other two grinding stones came from derelict windmills and the last were added 10 years ago after they were found in a burnt-out mill.
But with a growing demand for Letheringsett flour, miller Mike Thurlow realised that a third set of stones was needed and as windmill cast-offs are designed “upside-down” making them less efficient, he decided to order a brand new set.
The new addition, which came with a hefty price tag, were bought thanks to part of a £40,000 prize scooped by Mr Thurlow after he won the Local Food Hero title in a UKTV Food competition last year.
As well as the £3,000 new millstones, Mr Thurlow was able to open the top two floors of the 200- year-old building for school parties.
Mr. Thurlow - who also won an outstanding achievement award at the EDP Norfolk Food Awards in 2007 - said: “It’s wonderful. It is something that we’ve been working towards for years. We’ve been waiting for this for so long. Demand for our flour has been growing and growing for years. It is brilliant that we’ve got this far.”
It was certainly no run-of-the-mill task getting the new stones into the second-floor room.
Mr. Thurlow said that in days past, millers used to set aside three days for the job as they had a pulley to hoist them up the side of the building before swinging the weight into the upstairs room. Yesterday it took 1½ hours with a crane as the stones were lifted in and rolled along the floor.
The current watermill was built about 1802, but it is thought that a watermill has been on that site since the Middle Ages.
Mr. Thurlow and his wife, Marion, fell in love with the mill and decided to take it on - fearing that nobody else would - in 1987.

Annabelle Dickson, Eastern Daily Press - 16th April 2008

7th March 2009 25th March 2009
Miller's clock prior to restoration 7th March 2009
Clockmaker Kristian Buller & Mike Thurlow - 25th March 2009

In 2009, Mike Thurlow acquired the clock that used to hang in the mill house. At that time the clock did not work, had no glass and was in need of full restoration. Clockmaker Kristian Buller of Frettenham, restored the clock and returned it to the mill on 25th March 2009.

And then, of course at Letheringsett, we did put the diesel engine in there because the cogs had got so bad.
Peter Gowing, millwright, F. Flowerdew & Son,
interviewed by Janet Few for NIAS Journal - 5th December 2008

Home-baking boom during coronavirus lockdown
sparks huge demand for bread flour
A revived interest in home bread-making during the cornavirus lockdown has helped spark a huge upsurge in demand at Norfolk's only flour-producing watermill.
Michell Thurlow
Michell Thurlow helping the grain through the hopper which feeds the mill stones

The team at Letheringsett Watermill near Holt has carried out a months’ work in two days in a bid to satisfy orders from farm shops, delicatessens and domestic bakers – some of which are trying their hand at bread-making for the first time while confined to their homes.

Letheringsett watermill
Letheringsett watermill is the only working watermill in Norfolk

Owner and manager Michelle Thurlow, who inherited the restored mill from her parents and runs it despite her allergy to flour, has been milling up to 12 hours a day to clear the backlog.
“Normally two tonnes of wheat would last four weeks, but we had 2.8 tonnes delivered last Monday and we had milled that by Wednesday,” she said.
“A lot of our trade customers are double-buying and I have had so many emails either from home-bakers saying they have run out of flour, or from people starting home-baking because they are self-isolating.

Michelle Thurlow
Michelle Thurlow operating the main sluice gate handle

“It means people are getting used to our flour and hopefully they will come back and continue to buy our flour once this is all over. You cannot beat home-made bread, so I think a lot of people will carry on baking after this.
“We cannot get yeast anywhere at the moment, but you can still make levain bread, or soda bread or sour-dough.”
The mill’s shop was temporarily closed while its stocks of flour was replenished, but it is hoped that the shop will re-open on Friday and online orders will continue again later this week when the backlog is cleared.
“We will continue running and continue to produce flour, people just need to bear with us a bit,” she said.

Chris Hill, Eastern Daily Press - 24th March 2020

Daughter hopes to develop Norfolk's only
working water mill
Two decades after its restoration, Norfolk's only working water mill has  'floured' into a thriving business.
And now Michelle Thurlow - who runs the 220-year-old Letheringsett Watermill near Holt - wants to take things further and put it more firmly on the map as a visitor destination.
Miss Thurlow, 35, said: "I'm trying to make it more of a venue where people can come.
"I'd like to have a bakery and a tea room and I'd love a massive play area in the back paddock. I've had a feasibility study done, it's just a matter of finding the funding to do it."
Visitors can already tour the different floors of the mill, buy fresh produce from the farm shop, a Fryer's Original Pies stall, and an antiques shop which has just opened on the site. 
Michell Thurlow at Letheringsett Water Mill
Michell Thurlow at Letheringsett Water Mill

Letheringsett is one of just 24 working water mills in the UK, harnessing the power of the River Glaven to produce 4-5 tonnes of flour a week in the way it has been done for hundreds of years.
Miss Thurlow's dad, Michael, took on the mill in 1987 and had it up and running a couple of years later.
Miss Thurlow was a police officer for nine years and left the force to run the mill after her dad died in 2013.
Miss Thurlow said her dad travelled around the world with the Royal Navy and had seen heritage being lost everywhere, so wanted to dedicate his life to saving part of the UK's heritage when he left the service.
She said: "This was his world. He built it up and learned all his milling knowledge from books, and I learned my milling knowledge by growing up here."

Michelle Thurlow and team
Michelle Thurlow at Letheringsett Water Mill
She is pictured with her team, Miller Vic Gerrard and Mill Assistant Jason James
Credit: Sonya Duncan
Miss Thurlow said demand for flour was at its strongest during the first lockdown thanks to the popularity of home baking, and business was steadily growing.
She said: "We went from milling 4-5 tonnes every four weeks to 6-7 tonnes a week of flour.
"We had some quiet periods through Covid where we did struggle, but now people are coming on holidays again and doing visits."
There have been some setbacks - recently a part of a huge milling stone broke, which Miss Thurlow said would cost thousands of pounds to fix.
Letheringsett Farm Shop
Inside the farm shop at Letheringsett Water Mill. Credit: Sonya Duncan

Pieces from the past: Antiques shop launches

One of the newest additions to the Letheringsett Mill grounds could be described as an 'Aladdin's cave' of treasures.
Mill Antiques and Brocantes has recently opened in a converted stable building on the site by Malcolm Mellor and 30-year veteran of the antiques business, John Overland.
Inside, traditional Norfolk chairs sit cheek by jowl with flamboyant Asian furniture, rugs and ornate mirrors. Mr Mellor, who is semi-retired, said: "I've always had an interest in antiques and collecting them, and the opportunity arose to move into this converted barn

"There's everything from a chest which is going for £3,500, everyday collectables like pieces of coloured glass for £10, and everything in between.
"It's a totally eclectic mix of items, many things you might never have realised you wanted until you came in here and said 'Oh, look at that'.
Mr Mellor said he acquired most of the items in the shop by "private sale or private negotiation".

Stuart Anderson, North Norfolk News - 19th June 2021

Letheringsett cutaway
Letheringsett watermill's internal layout drawn by Barré Funnell

Letheringsett gearing
Letheringsett's water and diesel gearing drawn by Barré Funnell

O. S. Map 1886
O. S. Map 1886
Courtesy of NLS map images

O.S. Map 1886
O.S. Map 1886
Courtesy of NLS map images

Letheringsett Watermill
will be open and working
throughout the year -
its own website for times etc.
Contact tel. 01263 713153

1791: Thomas Youngman, millwright, Letheringsett

1839: Thomas Youngman, millwright, Letheringsett

Domesday: Walter Gifford (Domesday records pairs of millstones not mills)

1383: Thomas de Saxlingham

1384: Thomas de Saxlingham died whilst selling 30 acres of arable land, 8½ acres of pasture and a watermill to John de Keyly and William de Gatel. An order from Westminster was then required to complete.

1550: John Brytwiss - miller

1660: Vincent Buckingham - miller

1714: Thomas Bately, miller

1720: John Brereton owned the mill, the house (later Letheringsett Hall) and the brewery

1743-1744: Mill burnt down

John Priest son of Joseph Priest who owned Sheringham_paper_mill bought from John Brereton, brewer: Deeds of 6th February 1744, state All those ruins of all that water-mill with the houses ... lately destroyed by fire.

September 1751: William Colls brother, Robert Colls leased Itteringham mill

c.1754: Probable time that the mill location was moved approx. 200 yards downstream

John Priest mortgaged the mill "All that now rebuilt water-mill."

1756: John Priest (educated at Free School, Holt) bankrupt due to extravagance

1756: William Colls, merchant of Letheringsett bought mill estate from John Priest after his bankruptcy

1765: Water level agreed with Nicholas Kendall & John Burrell, riparian owners upstream as flood protection.
Extant ston on the site inscribed:
This water mark setled in the year 1765

1770: William Colls died and his son William inherited the mill

1772: William Colls jnr. died; Solomon Colls (brother and minor) inherited

1777: Solomon Colls (schoolmaster) let mill to Richard Rouse

1783: Solomon Colls bankrupt

c.1785: Richard Rouse living in Riverside Farm

1786: Major flood that was cause of a dispute between Richard Rouse and Revd. John Burrell - see above

1790: Robert Colls (cousin of Solomon) sold mill to Richard Rouse and mill farm to Henry Butler

Faden's map 1797: Mill

1798: Zebulon Rouse, mill proprietor, London, rebuilt the mill

December 1798: Mill advertised to be let

2nd March 1800: Anne Thompson buried, widow of the late William Gunton Thompson of Walsingham, Letheringsett miller

1802: Mill burnt down

1802: Richard Rouse rebuilt the mill after it had changed hands twice more and burnt down yet again

1802: Richard Rouse installed new stones and began working the mill at Michaelmas

11th October 1805: Richard Rouse left Glandford and moved into newly built mill house

1816: Richard Rouse, owner, retired to Brinton and mill being worked by son, Peter Rouse

1816: Richard Rouse died aged 80-84

1826: Richard Rouse's widow Mary Ann (née Fitt) owner, died. Mill being worked by son Peter Rouse

1826: Richard Rouse's

1826: Mill bought by "Uncle" William Hardy of Letheringsett Hall (great great great uncle of Hon. Beryl Cozen-Hardy and brother of Mary Ann who married a Cozens) who eventually spent over £5,000 updating machinery

Pigot's 1830: William Cooke, miller, Letheringsett

1830: Peter Rouse died aged 58

1842: William Hardy died

White's 1836: Isaac Everett

Census 1851: William Girling (35) journeyman miller

White's 1864: William Howes

Kelly's 1883: Henry Fountain Howes & William Howes

Kelly's 1892: William Howes

Kelly's 1896: Robert Elias Scott

Kelly's 1912: Robert Elias Scott

Kelly's 1922: Sydney Stephen Burroughes, also Holt tower mill

1924: Edward Cracknell, miller

Kelly's 1925: Edward Cracknell, miller

Kelly's 1929: Kenneth Cracknell, miller

1933: Mrs. E. A. Cracknell

Kelly's 1937: Mrs. E. A. Cracknell

1940: Ruston & Hornsby diesel engine installed because "... the cogs had got so bad."

1960: T.G.M. Boast. Mill broken into and safe containing little money but historical documents stolen

Yates 1966: T. Boast, The Mill, Letheringsett. Ph. 3237

Tel. directory 1970: T.G.M. Boast, grist & provender miller

1972: Aminovit Ltd, animal feed specialists

1973: Animal feed milling ceased

1982: Millwright, Peter Warwick began restoration assisted by David Mayes and Matthews Builders

1984: Water power reinstated

1987: Mike and Marion Thurlow - Mike Thurlow, miller

1987: Mill opened to the public

30th September 1987: Mill designated with a Grade ll listing

2003: Mill one of North Norfolk's top tourist attractions

6th October 2007: Top two floors opened to public as educational centre by Norman Lamb MP

15th April 2008: Pair of new stones delivered from Holland at a cost of £3,000.00

20th June 2013: Mike Thurlow died

2014: Mill being run by Thurlow family

23rd August 2015: Marion Thurlow died

September 2015: Mill being run by Michelle Thurlow

March 2020: Milling increases from 2 tns wheat per month to 2.8 tns in 3 days due to Coronavirus pandemic

2nd October 2023: Mill flooded at night for the first time since 26th August 1912 - 2 inches of rain in an hour

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 07836 675369 or

Nat Grid Ref TG 06213870
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Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2003