Aylsham Mill
River Bure


Drainage Mills (Windpumps)
Steam Mills


Aylsham watermill was rebuilt to a Georgian design, entirely of brick with a pantile roof in 1798 as shown on a stone plaque above one of its waterways. A stone in the gable of one of the old maltings refers to the date of 1771 and the builder, Robert Parmeter, who was possibly anticipating the 1773 Act of Parliament that authorised the construction of the Aylsham_Navigation. The mill was sometimes known as Millgate Mill as it lies just off the road of that name that lead from the town down to the river on the north side of Aylsham. A mill has almost certainly been on the site since Domesday or before. Unusually, the mill had three lucums, two over land and one over the millpool to make use of the wherries.

Norfolk Chronicle - 11th August 1810

1855 layout of the staithe
1855 layout of the staithe

Aylsham staithe 1928
Aylsham staithe 1928

November 4th

As an Opinion has lately prevailed that the MILLERS have always refused to grind Corn for the Poor or other Persons in small Quantities or if they did, that Abuses were made use of to damage the same; To remove such Prejudices for the future, we whose Names are hereunder subscribed, residing in the several Parishes mentioned with our Names, have engaged for the Time to come or until the Prices of Corn shall be very considerably reduced, to grind (at Threepence per Bushel) Corn in small Quantities for the Poor and other Persons in the speediest, best and most proper Manner and deliver the same without and Adulteration.
John Withers, Northwalsham
Robert Colls, Worstead
Wm. Pepper & Co. Buxton
Robert Parmeter, Aylsham
N.B. MEAL will be sold by us in small Quantities as cheap as the Prices of Corn, which we shall be oblig'd to give, will possibly admit of.
Norwich Mercury - 15th November 1766
N.B. The average price of wheat in 1766 was £2. 3s. 1d. per quarter.

In 1770 the miller Thomas Spurrell died and left a will in the Norwich Consistory Court. He describes the mills as "...all those water mills called Aylsham mills..." and he was obviously very well-off. Of particular interest concerning the mills was the appointment of his executors, one of whom was Thomas Harvey of Aylsham, Millwright while another was Joseph Ames of the mills in Hellesdon, Gentleman. The latter appointment implies considerable contact between Spurrell and Ames even though Hellesdon is not on the Aylsham Navigation although Oxnead is and Joseph Ames ran that mill at some point, certainly in 1779. The will was signed 26 March 1770 and Thomas Spurrell was buried in Aylsham 23 June 1770, these dates are consistent with Robert Parmeter taking over the mill in 1771.
Quentin Fontana - 26th October 2004

Receipt 13Mar1899

At some time in the second half of the 19th century, the block that runs along the south edge of the millpool was built, in two phases, replacing an older detached building. The millpool was also widened right up to its walls. This part of the premises was described in the 1914 sale catalogue as 'extensive granaries, with large Coal Store below and two Wheat Floors above, convenient for loading or unloading from the river or road'.

Over the centuries the whole area was moulded and developed with Millgate becoming a hub of industrial activity once the 11 mile long Aylsham_Navigation was opened on completion of the new canal basin excavated alongside the mill in October 1779. A channel was cut to the north of the mill and a staithe with warehousing was built to house the goods transported in and out by wherry. By 1854 wherries plied weekly between Aylsham and Yarmouth. At the height of the water transport years 26 wherries were serving Aylsham.

In 1880 the railway arrived. Aylsham North's M&GN station a few hundred yards away took over some of the traffic when it opened, as did the GER's Aylsham South station. Nearby pubs and inns such as The Anchor thrived for many generations.

The Aylsham Navigation

1773: Navigation authorised by an Act of Parliament

1774: Work started

1779: Navigation opened, running for 9½ miles with 5 locks, one at each of the mills
Aylsham, Burgh, Buxton, Oxnead, Coltishall

26th August 1912: The great flood effectively closed the Naviagation by destroying the locks

1974: Aylsham Canal Basin filled in

Aylsham lock 1928
Aylsham lock 1928

The disastrous flood of August 1912 destroyed many of the locks of the Aylsham_Navigation. These were never repaired as the commissioners had insufficient funds. Traffic to Aylsham was thus reduced to road and rail only. The wherry Zulu was on its way back from Aylsham to the coast when it was caught by the flood. After the destruction of the lock gates the Zulu had to be carried over the road at Buxton.

Millgate looking northwest August 1912 Millgate looking north August 1912
Millgate looking northwest August 1912
Millgate looking north August 1912

Auction & sale Maps of
Aylsham Mills & Staithe

c.1950 March 1970
March 1970

By 1864 the watermill had a competitor - a new steam mill built on the other side of the canal only a hundred yards away at the industrial hamlet of Dunkirk. These mills both worked independently for half a century until Barclay, Pallett and Co., having acquired the steam mill in 1907, bought the watermill in 1914 at the auction described on the link above.

At this time the watermill had two water wheels and the power they produced was used to turn five pairs of stones. However, the smaller wheel was removed in the mid 1950s and the remaining wheel then powered two meal-mixing machines, while several electrically driven high-speed hammer mills did the work of milling animal foodstuffs.

7th April 1977 c.1980
7th April 1977


Around 1960 a toe bearing on an upright shaft broke and was replaced with a ball and thrust bearing made by SKF. A pit wheel was recogged using beech, apple and hornbeam. Unfortunately, after only running for a short time, a wedge holding the upright shaft shifted causing the shaft to move out of line, this resulted in many of the cogs breaking off. They were never replaced - see pictures on the machinery link below.

Millpool locum 6th January 2003 November 2002
Millpool lucum 6th January 2003
The two road transport lucums November 2002

Barclay & Pallet was acquired by BOCM (British Oil & Cake Mills) in 1967. Aylsham mill was vacated in the same year, and a new provender mill (preparing animal feedstuffs) was built to replace the steam mills at Dunkirk. Thus, although the methods changed, the long history of corn milling on the banks of the Bure at Aylsham continued unbroken for perhaps a thousand years.

The canal basin was filled in in 1974.

The wherry Palmerston unloading 1902 24th November 2002
The wherry Palmerston unloading 1902
24th November 2002

In 1759 an Aylsham mason William Berry, built the single arch brick bridge over the Bure just above the mill that is still in use today, replacing the old wooden structure. Miraculously the bridge survived the 1912 flood as the river above it overflowed into the staithe.

New pelleting machinery in 1954
New pelleting machinery in 1954

New pelleting machinery was installed by Simon Barron in 1954 and is seen being operated by Harry Ashton, Billy Pooley and Jack Pegg.

A young man called Williams died in machinery aged 20. He was buried in Itteringham churchyard as he used to live in that village.

Tailrace 7th April 1977   The cut leading to the staithe November 2002
Tailrace 7th April 1977
The cut leading to the staithe November 2002

Watercolour by John Watson 1992
Watercolour by John Watson 1992

Nothing run of the mill about this gem
It is a fine Georgian watermill, a vital part of a north Norfolk town’s heritage - but its condition has taken a turn for the worse in recent years. In the final part of our Norfolk Heritage at Risk series, KEIRON PIM looks at Aylsham Mill, subject of a longstanding wrangle between developers and residents.
and the Mill is supposed to be the jewel in the crown of Aylsham - but at the moment it’s a very badly tarnished jewel.”
So says David Harrison, who sits on Aylsham town council and on Norfolk County Council. The Georgian watermill was at the heart of Aylsham’s economy in the 19th century: wherries would sail up the Bure to the mill to deposit goods for the townspeople and would collect flour to transport by water to Yarmouth. Its grounds also served as an amenity for local people to walk their dogs, feed the ducks, launch canoes, hold Brownie pack meetings or school art classes - and this lies at the heart of the conflict now surrounding the mill.
It stands in one of the market town’s most picturesque corners, where the river is flanked by weeping willows on one side and green space frequented by ducks and geese on the other. While the setting remains beautiful, the mill itself has been allowed to slip into a tatty condition and in the past few years its future has been up in the air owing to a dispute between would-be developers and the town’s residents. Lying discarded just inside the building is a faded “for sale” notice advertising luxury apartments.
In front of the watermill, just off Mill Row, lies a 30m-square patch of what was effectively a village green but is now overgrown and ridden with weeds. It is only viewable through a metal fence that has been erected by the developers, barring public access to what many residents believe to be common land; in 2005 a 700-name petition argued for it to be officially registered as such.
“The problem is that the owners have said ‘If we develop the ground floor that overlooks the green space, who would want to look out of the window if people keep walking past the front door?’,” says Geoff Gale, chairman of the Aylsham Local History Society.
Since the town council stepped in to try to secure “village green” status, the proposed development has ground to a halt but now an urgent works notice is being considered, meaning that the developers would have an ultimatum.
Mr Harrison said: “The district council has quite draconian powers if they want to use them. At the moment it’s a standoff. The point was that by doing that [erecting the fence] the owners brought the ownership of the land into the public domain. They claimed that they own the land, when there’s no evidence that they do. They have got a few months to get on with repairs. The roof is in a bad situation and if they don’t, the enforcement action will go ahead, I imagine.”
These problems have led to the mill being placed on Norfolk County Council’s Buildings at Risk Register. The grade II listed mill is ranked as a Category B, which means: “Immediate risk of further rapid deterioration or loss of fabric; solution agreed but not yet implemented”.
The plans are for several new flats, adding to an existing set of flats already inhabited at the back of the building. The new proposals have been submitted by Taverham-based Jonathan and Martine Spalding, who declined to comment when approached by the EDP.
Mr and Mrs Spalding own the mill through two companies - a dormant company called Aylsham Mill Residents Association and DJLM Developments, a property development business that they formed with another couple, who dropped out of the partnership in May of this year. In June 2005 the EDP reported on new attempts to broker a deal and at the time a spokesman for DJLM said:
“The village green would stop construction because of the effect on the rights of way. We would not renovate the building and invest a substantial amount of money in this grade II listed building.”
The Spaldings are due for a meeting with Broadland District Council this week as the council bids once again to get things moving.
Phil Courtier, the council’s head of development and conservation, said on Monday: “Broadland District Council is very keen to continue to work with the owners. We have a meeting scheduled for later in this week to try to get on with resolving this issue and move towards the aim of restoring the mill to its former glory.”
If and when that day arrives it will please plenty of people in Aylsham and others further afield with a passion for Norfolk’s historic mills. Jonathan Neville, who lives in the nearby village of Itteringham, runs the Norfolk Mills website, which documents the history of every wind and watermill in the county. He said: “Architecturally it’s a very nice building. The section that is over
the river still has some of the machinery in it.”
Mr Neville’s website includes an old interview, conducted by Aylsham historians Lynette Rust and Ron Peabody, with Cyril “Sam” Spinks, who was born in 1890 and worked at the mill for 55 years. When asked what the wherries would bring to the mill, he recalled they could carry: “Fifteen tons - anything, coal, kale, cake, corn, maize, anything of that sort, and bring groceries up here for the shops up town. Onions, great boxes of onions - all sorts.”
There has been a mill on the site since the Domesday Book, but the present building was constructed in 1798 under the ownership of Robert Parmeter. Mr. Neville’s website states that in 1804 Arthur Young, an author on agricultural topics, described Parmeter as “a considerable farmer also, and a very intelligent, sensible man”. By 1836 Parmeter’s son, Samuel, had taken over the business, also running a weekly wherry service to Norwich.
The 1851 census mentions Samuel Parmeter, 51, a miller, corn merchant and maltster, of Millgate, Aylsham. He was accompanied by seven journeyman millers, a journeyman millwright and a master miller and baker.
By 1854 Samuel was in partnership with a Mr Bullock and by 1864 the mill was owned by the Bullock Bros. It stayed in that family until 1914 when Stanley Bullock died and the mill was sold at
auction to Barclay & Pallett Ltd. The auction catalogue described: “An admirably situated water corn mill, with mill dam and mill pool (excluding boat house and site), flood gates and sluices, and conveniently situated on the River Bure, nearly adjoining the Midland & Great Northern Railway Station, and within one mile of the Great Eastern Railway Station. The Mill is substantially built with four floors, and worked by two water wheels... There are 19 large and small wheat bins, also flour room and counting house. There is a good supply of water and, except in very dry weather, the mill can be kept going night and day.”
By 1937 Barclay & Pallett were also listed in Kelly’s Directory as coal, coke, corn, flour and seed merchants. Mr. Pallett’s grandson, Ben Rust, became the last miller. He lived in the millhouse as a
child and still lives in Aylsham, now aged 87.
“I remember it as a very happy place,” he said. “I remember that the road was private and belonged to the householders on either side, but people could come and go to the river. There was a footpath to the staithe. As long as people behaved themselves they were allowed to have access to the river, and of course that is the issue at stake now.
“I’m afraid that the developers seem to have upset everybody and it’s a sad story. There is no reason at all why it shouldn’t work as it did before. People used to come down to walk their dogs or sit and do some sketching. That was the case up until the late 1960s, when we sold it. We sold to British Oil and Cake Mill, which was Unilever.”
Jim and Barbara Crampton bought Aylsham Mill in 1969 at an auction at Norwich’s Royal Hotel.
“It was kept up by the Cramptons,” says Mr Rust. “They did the development to the rear of the building, putting in the flats. During their ownership there was subsidence and the whole thing was piled, they had around 180 piles put in.”
Since the sale to the present owners little appears to have happened. Will this be the year that its future becomes resolved and it moves back towards being a living building? Mr Rust certainly hopes so.
“Something has to be done, there is no other option. It can’t stay as it is. There’s no reason why a solution can’t be found.”
Keiron Pim - Eastern Daily Press - 9th July 2008

Statement from Mr. & Mrs. Spalding -
owners of Aylsham watermill

Further to the Eastern Daily Press newspaper article of 9th July 2008, we feel we need to set the record straight.
We were not given a chance to give a comment to the newspaper and the article is inaccurate in many ways. Firstly the mill has been in a state of disrepair for years but no pressure was placed on the previous owner (who lived at the mill in Aylsham). The mill was placed on the at risk register in 2005 not recently as has been implied. NO plans have been submitted for flats nor will there be.
The land to the front of the mill has historically always been used by owners of the mill as access and this need remains today. The article states there is no evidence we own the land but the previous owner gave us sworn affidavits that it was in their use and ownership. There is no evidence to the contrary that the Mill does not own the land in question, and indeed is deemed to own to the centreline of the private road adjacent.
Therefore it was shocking to us, when we had barely purchased the mill, that Aylsham Town Council informed us that they would be trying to apply for the small grassed area in front of the mill to become a "village green". This ensued in two years of meetings and correspondence to explain why this application would blight that land and also the future of the mill. They refused to compromise and Councillor Harrison has refused to speak to us. If the mill is to be the "jewel in the crown of Aylsham" why are the Town Council so insistent on ignoring the future of the mill when it has been made clear that it could severely impact on our ability to renovate? Due to the statutory protection over village greens we will not be able to renovate nor maintain the mill. We may even be at risk from not being able to control the river and therefore issues related to flooding could ensue.
The following information is available directly from DEFRA and has been confirmed by our solicitors:
Direct from DEFRA (updated October 2007)
15. Two 19th century statutes protect registered greens from all kinds of damaging activities. Section 12 of the Inclosure Act 1857 and section 29 of the Commons Act 1876 make it an offence to damage or encroach upon a village green or to interrupt its use or enjoyment for recreation. Unlike the Acts which apply to common land, these two provisions do not allow for the landowner to regularise any of these activities by granting consent. The effect of these provisions is that works may not lawfully be undertaken on a village green, unless they are directly beneficial to recreational use, i.e. made with a view to the better enjoyment of the green.
Unfortunately some people were not happy we purchased the mill and we have been falsely accused in the Aylsham Post of obtaining the mill by underhand means! This is not the case but many prejudices about us remain. It is well known that village green applications are used as a tool to stop development and it seems those behind the application have no concern for the future of the mill at all.
The recent village green application actually had more objections than support and despite a quote that we " have upset everybody" this is not the case. In fact we have staunch support from a number of long standing Aylsham residents who have the same aim as we do - to see the restoration of a beautiful building that has a place in history.
23rd July 2008

18th April 2007
18th April 2007

31st May 2008
31st May 2008

A relative of mine was Joseph Hallmark Thirkettle, born 1838 I believe in Hempnall. I have him living in Millgate, Aylsham. and in the 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901 census he is a miller or miller's foreman. In the 1911 census he was living Millgate and described as a Miller in a Flour Mill aged about 73, he died in 1916. He is my 3 x grandfather, whose daughter, Fanny Hester Thirkettle married into the Wilkin's from Aldborough.
Richard Lake - 19th December 2008

It was as a young apprentice millwright age 16 that I first set foot inside a water mill which was based in Aylsham. It was owned by Barclay and Pallett and my firm F. Flowerdew & Son of Norwich had been called in to repair some of the machinery. I can still recall hearing the slap, slap of the water hitting the paddles oif the water wheel as it turned, the rumble of the gear wheels and the swising noise of the stones at work.
Peter Gowing, millwright, F. Flowerdew & Son, NIAS Journal - 5th December 2008

Aylsham Town Council applied to have land adjacent to the mill regisaterd as a Village Green. A hearing was held in November 2009 and the application was rejected on legal grounds. Such matters as disruption and nuisance to residents and health and safety of the public beside a deep, fast flowing river running under a mill were deemed legally irrelevant. Use this link to download a full copy of the Hearing Report.

Long-running Aylsham Watermill land dispute
to continue

A nine-year row over a the use of a green area in front of a former town mill looks set to continue after a planning decision was deferred for six months.

Earlier this year Aylsham Town Council put in an application to Broadland District Council for planning permission to change the use of the land at Mill Row, near Aylsham Watermill, for recreational activities.
But one of the mill owners, Martine Spalding, who bought the building in 2004 with her husband Jon, said the proposal could put the site's restoration in jeopardy.
Mrs Spalding said: "The land is essential to the mill. For the sake of that mill it needs restoration but it is being blighted by the town council for nine years. If the land was open to the public it would be a nightmare."
The owners put up six-foot high metal fencing around the land in May 2004 for health and safety reasons and because it was the only place to store materials. It has stayed up until last weekend when it was "temporarily removed" so the area could be cleared to help with the sale of a house near the grade II listed mill, according to Mrs Spalding.
Residents from the Mill Row area helped clear the green of brambles and saplings one of the participants, Susan Nicholls, said the grass would be mown imminently.
She now believed the land was now public, something Mrs Spalding disputes.
Ms Nicholls said the area was an "eyesore" before the clear up and people in the town were delighted the work had been done.
She added a win-win situation could be reached for both the town counil and the mill owners and it was important the owners retained access to the historic building.
Members of the Broadland District Council planning committee decided on Wednesday to defer a decision on the town council application because they wanted both parties to resolve the issues regarding the land usage and more formal plans about its proposed use.
Town clerk Mo Anderson-Dungar said earlier discussions with Mrs Spalding had "faulted" after members decided not to go ahead with an agreement to split the land in half for the mill owners and the council. That decision was made in private on July 11 during a full council meeting.
Mrs Anderson-Dungar said: "The town council has always believed it has acted in the interests of Aylsham. It needs to be resolved and we will take things forward. Local people have used the land for generations. It is a small piece of land but it is important for the town."
But Mrs Spalding said: "We were prepared to negotiate for the future of the mill. The town council need to step back."
Sophie Wyllie, Eastern Daily Press - 12 October 2013

Aylsham Town Councillors - Barry Lancaster, David Harrison and Annette Overton.- December 2014
Aylsham Town Councillors - Barry Lancaster, David Harrison and Annette Overton.- December 2014

“It has been 10 long years” - Decision made over land outside historic Aylsham watermill

Community leaders are celebrating a planning victory after calling for riverside land outside a historic mill to be made available for public use.

Aylsham Town Council had applied for permission to make the disputed land, outside the building on Mill Row, available for recreational use.
Broadland District Council refused the application, but the town council appealed to the Planning Inspectorate, which overturned Broadland’s decision this week.
But mill owner John Spalding said he was disappointed with the news, and claimed the town council had wasted taxpayers’ money in fighting the decision.
He said it was a shame that a listed building was sitting next to the land but, as a result of the decision, he would now be unable to do anything with it.
Mr Spalding, who bought the building 10 years ago, had planned to build a car park on the 0.2 hectare area for the mill, which has been partially converted into flats.
After hearing the news, David Harrison, Norfolk County Council deputy leader and Aylsham town councillor, said he was elated that a river he had played at as a child could be open for others to enjoy.
“It has been 10 long years,” he said. “I remember walking down there with my dog to feed the swans. It had been used since I was a child.”
Planning inspector David Spencer reported that evidence persuaded him the town council was committed to delivering an informal open site.
He said: “The site would also provide a rare opportunity for people to safely view the River Bure in Aylsham.”
He recognised that this planning consent would enable “delivery mechanisms” such as a Compulsory Purchase Order to be progressed.
A previous bid to get the site designated a village green failed at an inquiry in 2009, because of a technicality over the length of proven public usage.
Annette Overton, vicechairman of the town council, said the outcome of the appeal was a good decision for the local community.
Mr Harrison added that it was one step on the road to acquiring a Compulsory Purchase Order for the land, which has been at the centre of longrunning ownership disputes.
Sabah Meddings, Eastern Daily Press - Thursday 11th December 2014

Compromise agreed over long-running
Aylsham Water Mill saga

A long-running dispute ovber the use of land next to Aylsham Water Mill could soon be over after a compromise was reached.
An extraordinary meeting was held in the town on Monday, July 3 to discuss the latest twist in the saga.
It ended with mill owner Jon Spalding agreeing to negotiate with the town council and two residents over the public use of an access path to the River Bure on the land, measuring about 1metre wide.
He had previously insisted the land came with the mill when he bought it in 2004, and opposed its use by the public.
The council has been eager to give people a chance to access the river and clerk Sue Lake said the authority was hopeful that an agreement could be reached ahead of its full council meeting on July 13.
She said: "At present there is limited access to the river from Mill Row."
Mr Spalding, who is carrying out renovation work to the mill, did not wish to comment on the saga but confirmed that he was prepared to negotiate.
However, resident Judi Meredith, who is opposed to the council's plans, said the access path would be a "waste of taxpayers' money".
She said: "I think it's ludicrous to have an access path - very few people know about it, and hardly anyone goes up there. When you get to the end of the path there's just a view and then you come back."
Fellow resident David Warren, however, said it seemed a "sensible compromise" to allow visual access to the river, and allow Mr Spalding to complete his renovation work, at the same time.
Broadland District councillor for Aylsham, David Harrison said it was "good news" that negotiations were about to take place to end the saga.
For more than a decade the water mill has been at the centre of a battle between its owner and the town council over its use - with the argument divided between public access to the river and private ownership.
The saga appeared to be over in September 2015 when Broadland District Council turned down a request to obtain the land without permission.
The compulsory purchase order had been requested by the town council, which wanted the access path, and was doubtful over the land's ownership.
David Balee, Eastern Daily Press - 4th July 2017

The final home for sale in a converted Norfolk watermill once earmarked for demolition

It began as pension project but 14 years later, the renovation of Aylsham's watermill is finally complete and the third and last property is up for sale. Property editor Caroline Culot went to take a look at Wagtail, for sale for a guide price of £625,000.
The sale of this final property in the renovated and converted former watermill in Aylsham marks the end of 14 long years endured by owner, structural engineer Jon Spalding who purchased the mill building, in a state of disrepair in 2004 as a pension project. He never imagined its renovation and conversion into three homes would take so long. But with delays caused by everything from the housing crash to a long running dispute with Aylsham town council, which is now fully resolved, it has taken until now for the property to be finished.
But, boy, it really is something worth waiting for.
The huge former mill building, which dates to 1798, has been divided into three homes (two have sold) and the last to be finished, Wagtail, incorporates the original workings, much of which has been painstakingly rebuilt and now serves as a rather special feature and daily reminder of its history.
Much of the workings including the wheel, which could still turn but has been blocked off so it remains stationary, are presented behind glazed panels in the kitchen and quite remarkably, you can walk through, off the kitchen. and hear and see the water which still rushes beneath.
This home is a fantastic combination of tradition and modernity; you've got some beautiful old timbers and exposed brickwork along with many little nods to the mill's origin. For example, some of the original wood from the wheel has been strengthened and used as cupboard fronts and on the top floor for doors into storage in the eaves.
Another superb little touch is a pulley wheel encased behind glass which makes a novel feature, and adds light.
Mr Spalding has tirelessley worked with the local authority and heritage specialists to renovate the mill as authentically as possible; look for the beautiful leaded panes in windows with black aluminium surrounds and monkey tail latches, adding double glazing and its benefits yet looking almost identical to the black iron originals.
Yet, you've got a real feeling of luxury too; particularly with the kitchen where marbled granite worksurfaces adorn beautiful dark grey contemporary units, all bespoke. The same luxury can be found in the bathroom and en suites; the one leading off the master bedroom on the top, third floor, is absolutely beautiful with a shower enclosure boasting textured, light brown tiles which look like wood.
In another en suite, a shower enclosure has the tiniest of tiles with glass to add just the right sparkle and glamour.
The entire property is also versatile; currently you have a large kitchen, utility and a dining room/reading room/family room on the ground floor with a lounge on the first floor where the mill gearing is showcased and a study/bedroom four.
Views from the windows are just breathtaking, over the water from both sides. Another two bedrooms, one with a dressing room and a bathroom, is on the second floor with the master bedroom and en suite bathroom on the top floor. At the centre is the most beautiful oak staircase, an example of craftsmanship, winding gently round taking you to each of these floors.
I loved the statement bath tub fitted ingengiously into what would have been the lucum. I also loved the little balcony created off the master bedroom overlooking the water at the rear of the building but with just enough room for a table and two chairs. Up there, it's utterly private and so peaceful.
This is a triumph in so many ways; the resulting home is just beautiful but it represents much more than aesthetics. This was a chapter in one man's life which is just about closed. It was at times a struggle, at times required patience and determination, the willpower not to give up and thanks to all of this, Aylsham now has a very fine converted watermill which enhances the surrounding area.
Wagtail, Aylsham Watermill is for sale for with Arnolds Keys on 01263 738444.
Caroline Culot, Eastern Daily Press - 25th October 2018

O.S. Map 1885
O.S. Map 1885
Courtesy of NLS map images

O.S. Map 1905
O.S. Map 1905
Courtesy of NLS map images

O.S. Map 2005
O.S. Map 2005
Image reproduced under licence from Ordnance Survey

Domesday 1086: First written record of the mill

c.1190: The mill was apparently granted to the Abbot of Bury St Edmunds as part of Sexton's Manor and the tenants were obliged to bring their corn to be ground there

By 1370 the mill had reverted to the Crown and was let to a series of tenants

1648: Mill let to Captain Doughty @ £60 per annum. Valued at £723 6s. 8d.

25th March 1670 - 25th March 1671: (Lady Day) William Purdy

1671: William Throry

Michaelmas 1675 - Lady Day 1678: Bartholomew Willis

25th March 1678 - 1680: Robert Sexton

13th June 1682: Tithe suit Robert Fawsett vs. William Thory, Bartholomew Willis, William Purdy and Robert Sexton at Black Boys, Aylsham Marketplace

16th September 1683: Miles Baispoole of Aylsham, gent purchased the mill from Robert Doughty for £3750

1696 - 1699: William Smyth, tenant. Rent paid was £30 for two years and £40 for the third year. Smyth maintained that the mills were
very ruinous and out of repair and it would require an outlay of £100 to make them tenantable

1766: Robert Parmeter. miller

23rd June 1770: Thomas Spurrell (owner) buried in Aylsham

1771: Robert Parmeter owned and ran the mill

1798: Robert Parmeter rebuilt the mill and included a date plaque above one of the water channels

1804: Arthur Young an author on agricultural topics described Parmeter as: '
...a considerable farmer also, and a very intelligent, sensible man.'

1810: John Parmeter (son?) bankrupt

Pigot's 1830: R. Parmeter & Sons, millers (and corn and flour merchants) Millgate

By 1836: Robert Parmeter's son Samuel Parmeter had taken over the business and was also running a weekly wherry service to Norwich. White's of that year lists S&F Parmeter as running the business

Pigot's 1839: Samuel Parmeter, miller & maltster

Robson's 1839: Samuel Parmeter, Corn & Coal Merchant, Miller & Maltster & Treasurer to the Navigation

White's 1845: Samuel Parmeter, miller

1851 census: Samuel Parmeter (51) miller, corn merchant and maltster, Millgate
Thomas Bell (72), journeyman miller, Millgate
Isaac Blyth (60), journeyman miller, Millgate.
William Belward (35), journeyman maltster, Millgate
James Ayton (34), journeyman miller, Millgate.
Edward Hall (28), journeyman miller, Millgate
Arnold G. Glasspoole (25), journeyman miller, lodging with J. Johnson (34), Hungate
Robert Chamberlain (17), journeyman miller, son living with Robert Chamberlain (45) Millgate
? Pavey absent husband of Ann Pavey (49) miller's wife, Millgate
James Johnson (34) journeyman millwright, Hungate
James Davison (28) master miller and baker, Hungate

By 1854 Samuel Parmeter was in partnership with a gentleman called Bullock

White's 1864: Firm was owned by the Bullock Bros.

Samuel Parmeter died as a poor merchant pensioner in Morden College for Turkey Merchants, Woolwich, London

Kelly's 1883: Bullock Bros., millers

Kelly's 1892: Stanley Bullock, miller

Kelly's 1896: Stanley Bullock, miller

Kelly's 1900: Stanley Bullock, miller

Kelly's 1912: Stanley Bullock, miller

1914: Stanley Bullock died and the mill was sold at auction to Barclay & Pallett Ltd

Kelly's 1922: Barclay, Pallett & Co Ltd

Kelly's 1929: Barclay, Pallett & Co Ltd

Kelly's 1937: Barclay, Pallett & Co Ltd. Tel. Aylsham 275. Also coal, coke, corn, flour & seed merchants

1957: Mill using a series of electric hammer mills to grind animal feed

1957: Mill still using water power from the one remaining wheel to power two meal mixing machines

1967: BOCM (British Oil & Cake Mills) bought out Barclay & Pallet and vacated the mill.
The last miller was Ben Rust

1st March 1969: Barclay, Pallett & Co. merged with Tyrell & Byford Ltd.

25th July 1969: Aylsham Mill was auctioned by J. R. E. Draper & Co at the Royal Hotel in Norwich.
The particulars stated that the building floor area was 17,000 sq feet along with grounds of 4 acres

25th July 1969: The mill was sold by private contract to Jim & Barbara Crampton of Oxnead Mill

1969: Mill Grade II listed

2002: Much of the machinery still remaining

May 2003: Mill and 4.73 acres owned by Jonathan & Rachael Crampton (son & daughter of Jim & Barbara) and advertised for sale by Strutt & Parker for offers in the region of £695,000

2005: 4 flats in the granary section of the mill converted and sold on leasehold

2008: Mill section of building owned by Mr. & Mrs. Spalding with the hope of converting to domestic use

2009: Conversion of loft section to domestic use commenced

2010: Loft apartment put up for rental but was in fact sold

November 2009: Aylsham T. C.'s application to turn land next to the mill into a Village Green was rejected

December 2014: Broadland DC's decision overturned by Planning Inspectorate - land available for public use

October 2018: Last of 3 apartments for sale at guide price of £625,000

April 2022: 2 bed flat advertised for sale at a guide price of £280,000 - Sale details

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 19792745
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Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2003


Billy Pooley Jack Pegg Harry Ashton