Ely Road


Drainage Mills (Windpumps)
Steam Mills


Hilgay Ely Road smockmill was probably built in the late 1700s and continued working until it was replaced by another smockmill on the same site c.1873. The mill ran two pairs of French burr stones and a dressing machine. The newer mill was a black 8 sided mill that had one pair of patent sails and one pair of common sails that unusually, rotated clockwise. The Ogee cap held an 8 bladed fan and was topped by a ball finial. The sails powered two pairs of 4ft 6ins left handed French burr stones and a dressing machine.

The pair of patent sails were fitted after the mill was struck by lightning and caught fire, destroying one pair of common sails.
The mill stood on a small mound and was connected to a granary in the basement via a tunnel.

Sole Executor:- Son, Philip Bovell
To son, Philip:-
All that Messuage or Tenement, Land & Windmill now in my own use & occupation with the Appurtenances, upon condition that he resides therein, but not otherwise & subject to the payment of one clear annuity of Rent Charge of Ten Pounds per annum for & during the Term of Natural Life of my Wife Ann ...

Will of Philip Bovell - 2nd June 1783 - proved at Norwich on 9th February 1787

Capital Freehold SMOCK WINDMILL etc. at Hilgay, Norfolk
With Immediate Possession
To be Sold by Auction By Messrs. Curle & Son At the Bell Inn, Hilgay On Thursday 8 September 1825 between the hours of 3 & 5 o'c.
Lot 1. A Capital Freehold SMOCK WIND-MILL situate at Hilgay in the county of Norfolk, containing two pair of excellent French stones, regulators, centre irons, dressing machine, going gears & tackle complete, together with an excellent Dwelling house, stable, garden, orchard & mill yard containing together about one acre, in the occupation of Mr. John Bovell.
The whole of the Premises are in excellent condition having lately undergone a thorough repair & ar eparticularly adapted for carrying on trade to avery considerable extent, being situate close tothe road side & contiguous to the rivers Ouse & Wissey.
Further particulars may be had on application (if by letter post paid) to Messrs. Clarkson, Solrs. Essex Street, Strand, London, Mr. Micklefield, Solr. Stoke Ferry, Mr. John Bovell, Hilgay, Norfolk who will shew the Premises or the Auctioneer, Middleton, near Lynn.

Norfolk Chronicle - 27th August & 3rd September 1825

On Friday, the 28th day of April instant
At the Bell Inn in Hilgay in Norfolk
Subject to such Conditions as will be then and there produced.
A Capital Freehold SMOCK WIND-MILL situate at Hilgay in the county of Norfolk, containing two pair of excellent French stones with tackle & going gears to the same belonging, together with a convenient dwelling house, stable and other outhouses in good conditoion with garden, orchard and mill-yard, containing together about one acre, late in the occupattion of John Bovell.
And also a neat Copyhold Cottage standing in the said mill yard in good repair, with a garden to the same belonging.
And also a Copyhold Messuage, shop, outhouses, garden and premises to the same belonging, situate in the street of Hilgay aforesaid, in the centre of the town, late in the occupation of Mrs. Rose Bovell.
And also about 22 Acres of Freehold Meadow and Pasture Land, situate in Hilgay aforesaid.
The above will be divided into lots for the convenience of purchasers. Particulars of which may be had upon application to Mr. Micklefield, Solicitor, Stoke Ferry, Norfolk, at the place of Sale, and of the Auctioneer, at Feltwell, in Norfolk.
Mr. William Scott, of Hilgay aforesaid will shew the Premises.

Norfolk Chronicle - 15th & 22nd April 1826
In Chancery. Parfrey v. Hitchings & another
To Millers & Others
HILGAY, Norfolk
To be Sold by Auction (Under the Order of his Honor the Vice Chancellor, Sir John Wickens) by
Casebow & Son
On Friday June 13, 1873 at 4 o'c in the afternoon, at the Castle Hotel in Downham Market.
All those two several MORTGAGE DEEDS of £480 & £120 respectively, charged on the undermentioned
Comprising all that MESSUAGE with excellent Garden, Orchard, piece of PASTURE LAND, Outbuildings & the newly erected WIND-MILL containing two pairs of French grinding Stones & the customary going gear, holden for the several terms of 1000 years from the 21st day of June 1827, or 500 years from the 4th day of June 1756 or one of such terms, also that other COTTAGE & Garden held of the Manor of Wood Hall in Hilgay, as the same lies together & adjoining, situate in the Pits in Hilgay aforesaid, abutting on the Turnpike Road west, premises of Mr. Ambrose north, upon Church land east & upon land of E. Peel Esq. south.
Apply to J. B. Murrough, Esq. Solr. 11 St James's Street, Bedford Row, London, H. B. B. Mason, Esq. Solr. Wereham, Stoke Ferry or the Auctioneers, Downham Market.

Lynn Advertiser - 31st May & 7th June 1873

HILGAY near Downham Market
To Let, a Tower Mill working two pair of French Stones and a good trade to be done, situated by the side of the main road & two minutes walk from the town. Stable, cartshed and piggeries adjoining.
Possession at Michaelmas next.
For rent etc. apply to Cook Morfoot, Cattle Dealer, Hilgay.
Lynn Advertiser - 21st July 1877

Ink drawing by Reginald Brown c.1910
Ink drawing by Reginald Brown c.1910

HILGAY, Norfolk
Messrs. Cruso & Hawkins
Are favoured with instructions to Sell by Auction on Friday 3 June 1881 at the Crown Hotel, Downham Market at 3 for 4 o'c
Lot 1. Dwelling House ...
Lot 2. All that excellent WINDMILL & fittings comprising two pairs of 4½ ft. French burr stones, sack lift, scales & beam, running gear, bolting machine etc.
& COTTAGE with excellent Garden & piece of capital Pasture Land containing altogether 3r. 5p. abutting west upon the high road to Ely, south upon the property of E. Peel Esq. east upon the Church Lane & north upon Lot 1.
Part of Lot 1 is held for the residue of a term of 1000 years from the year 1827 & the Cottage & part of the Garden attached are Copyhold of the Manor of Woodhall in Hilgay, the residue is Freehold.
Apply to the Auctioneers, Estate Offices, Kings Lynn & Downham Market or to
Jno. J. Nunn, Solr.
Downham Market
Lynn Advertiser - 21st & 28th May 1881

James Poll deceased
All persons having any claim or demand upon the estate of Mr. James Poll, late of Hilgay, retired miller & baker, who died on the 24th ultimo ... to send particualrs to us.
Copeman & Mellor,
Solrs. to the Executors
Downham Market June 4, 1889
Lynn Advertiser - 8th June 1889

John Whittome's gravestone - 2020
John Whittome's gravestone - 2020

John Whittome died in 1891 and was buried in Hilgay churchyard, to the south of the church. The distinctive headstone bears the carving of a large tower windmill with a stage, probably Denver and was inscribed:
In loving memory of
John Whittome
died May 10th 1891
aged 74 years
also of
Elizabeth his wife
died March 31st 1894
aged 76 years
God is love

The Whittome family also ran Hilgay postmill for several generations.

Frederick Edward Whittome was living in Kings Lynn in 1972, when he contacted Harry Apling. He wrote that he had been born at Lime Tree House, which was built c.1900 and stood just to the north of the mill. Frederick Edward was the son of Frederick Whittome who died in 1966 at the age of 91, and the grandson of George Whittome. George owned the mill and lived nearby in Holt's Lane until he died in 1914. The mill ceased working c. 1913 and was demolished soon afterwards. A Mr. Tuddenham was mill foreman and the stone dresser and another of the employees was a Mr. Thurlow. The pair of patent sails were fitted after the mill was struck by lightning and caught fire, destroying one pair of common sails. The mill stood on a small mound and was connected to a granary in the basement via a tunnel.

Frederick Edward Whittome wrote to Philip Unwin on 9th February 1973 and described how he saw the mill demolished in 1913. He reported that it was turned over by jacking up one side and it went over with a crash and in a great cloud of dust.

My wife Anne Johnston's uncle George Frederick Arthur Tuddenham  (1908-1998) described the mill, and  visiting there at times - his father was a George Barnabas Tuddenham (1885-1960) who was a Metropolitan policeman when George Jr. visited his grandparents at  the mill.
The grandfather who was at the mill was Arthur John Tuddenham  (1862-1921) along with his wife Charlotte Elizabeth Gorrad. Arthur  Tuddenham was born in Whitwell, Norfolk, and died in the area of Downham Market. In the 1891 Census he was still in Whitwell, living  at Bilhams Hill, and was listed as a miller at that time. His wife  Charlotte was originally from Shimpling Parish, but they were married  in Whitwell Parish Church 26 Sep. 1884.
George remembered going to and from Downham Market, but he talked  about this to me circa 1993, so unfortunately the details are not clear.
Around 1913 George Barnabas Tuddenham took his family off to Ontario in Canada, settling around Strathroy. They eventually came to New  Brunswick, and at one point returned to the UK. But George Frederick Tuddenham came back to Canada to marry my wife's aunt.
No real details on the mill, I am afraid - but it does put a definite "person" to the Tuddenham mentioned in 1912.
The Tuddenham family here has extensive land holdings, principally of blueberry lands - I am talking about several square kilometres... 
They also have the most successful waste transport business in the  area, as well as a cottage winery business, and several other businesses.
Tom Moffatt, New Brunswick, Canada - 20th November 2009

O. S. Map 1886

O. S. Map 1886
Courtesy of NLS map images

It has not been possible to accurately place all individual millers with a respective mill in Hilgay. It is also possible that in some instances two millers shared a mill.

White's 1845: John Scott, millwright

Whites 1864: John Whittombe, millwright & c.
White's 1864: Mary Ann Whitten, baker

1875: Charles Hooton, miller

Kelly's 1912: George Whittombe, wheelwright

1783: Philip Bovell snr, miller

Faden's map 1797: Windmill

1825: John Bovell, miller

August 1825: Mill advertised for sale by auction

Bryant's map 1826: Windmill

April 1826: Mill advertised for sale by auction

White's 1836: William Day, miller & baker

White's 1845: William Day, miller & baker

1846: William Day, miller

1850: George Hobson, miller

White's 1854: George Hobson, corn miller

1863: James Poll, miller

White's 1864: George Hobson, corn miller
White's 1864: James Poll, miller & baker

1865: George Hobson, miller

  c.1873: A new mill built to replace an earlier smockmill on the same site

May 1873: Mill advertised for sale by auction

July 1877: Mill advertised to let

May 1881: Mill advertised for sale by auction

White's 1883: John Whittome, corn miller, wheelwright, engineer, millwright, iron and brass founder and smith

O. S. map 1886: Windmill (Corn)

1889: John Poll, retired miller & baker, died

O. S. map 1891: Windmill (Corn)

10th May 1891: John Whittome died aged 74 (wife Elizabeth died 31st March 1894 aged 76)

Kelly's 1896: George Whittome, engineer, millwright, machinist, smith & miller (wind & steam)

Kelly's 1900: George Whittome, engineer, millwright, machinist, smith & miller (wind & steam)

Kelly's 1904: George Whittome, engineer, millwright, machinist, smith & miller (wind & steam)

Kelly's 1908: George Whittome, wheelright, engineer, millwright, machinist, smith & miller (steam & water)

c.1912: Mr. Tuddenham, mill foreman & stone dresser; Mr. Thurlow, employee

c.1913: Mill demolished

1914: George Whittome died

1972: David Daney living in a bungalow named Dantur on the site of the mill

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 TL62109795
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Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2007