Bolwick Mill
The Mermaid


Drainage Mills (Windpumps)
Steam Mills

c.1900 painting by Mrs. Melicent Wathen
c.1900 painting by Mrs. Melicent Wathen

Bolwick watermill was an estate mill originally belonging to Bolwick Hall. The Hall appears in Domesday and was given by King John to Hugh de Boves who then passed it to Henry de Bolevic, from whom it took its name. By 1872 the Hall had only changed hands eleven times. Original Saxon walls still exist in the centre part and traces of Tudor and other architectures can be seen. The present exterior was added c.1800. The gardens were originally laid out by Humphrey Repton.

Bolwick mill and the Hall were actually always in the parish of Aylsham despite being so close to Marsham.

Doubtless several mills were on the site before the final structure was built in 1812 and renovated in 1889. The mill was set below the level of a dam in the Mermaid that formed Bolwick Lake. The volume of water produced by the Mermaid was not great, so the maximum available drop was required to run the mill whilst conserving water.
Thus Bolwick Mill had one of the largest diameter waterwheels in Norfolk, which at 28 feet, was only exceeded by the 30 foot wheel at Thurning. The building was of brick with a pantile roof and was joined to a barn under the same roof. By 1910, for some reason, the lucum had been removed. The mill stopped working between the wars and the machinery was removed in the 1920s but the building survived until 1965 when it was demolished. However, the barn remained and was converted to become one of the first Racquet Courts in the country. The mill powered two sets of French burr stones and one of the stones now serves as a doorstep to an estate cottage.

Painted by Bob Melton onto a postcard mailed on c.1920
Painted by Bob Melton onto a postcard mailed on
15th March 1907 when he was aged 10
c.1920 the lucum has gone. Robert Melton stands on the first floor and his father, Edward near the open door on the gable end

Note 2. A Right of Way.
The following memorandum is written on the spare pages at the end of the First Book. The Way now remains as a Footpath only.

" In perpetuam Rei Memoriam," Know all men by these presents that we whose names are here underwritten, being ancient Inhabitants of Marsham, the first of which did at the Court in the former yeare 1698 give in his evidence and testimony to the Steward Colonell Justice John Ayd Esquire openly in the presence of all the Tenants and Inhabitants, and the rest of us which were ready to give in our evidence and testimony at the last Court October the 18th 1699 but prevented by the open acknowledgments of the proprietors of the lands through which the aforesaid way lieth, & which we are ready to depose most solemnly upon oath whenever we shall be required, before any Judge or Magistrate or Master of Chancery, that we have known this drift way to & from the old Parsonage as before mentioned for above fiftie years and never knew or heard anything to the contrary, but that it hath been time out of mind successively from age to age & from generation to generation : witnesse our hands this 27th day of December 1699.”

This introduction is followed by several statements and the relevant one for the mill is:-

“ALICE ALLEN (her + marke) being now threescore & one years of age borne at Balwick M'll her father Oliver Smith, miller & wheelwright there , to which mill the inhabitants of the western part of Hevingham came for the time aforesaid § continually, out of Hevingham lane into the short leading lane into Parker's now Charles Bustinge's Pightle & so into & through the Whites and so into the camping land, in which† where {sic) she lived till she was 22 yeares old & passin' frequently that way hath seen passengers going & coming on horseback with theire corne & meale to & from her fathers mill that once was, & hath frequently seen M.ter Otes his Cart carrying when they had occasion to carry & bringing theire firing fuel, as wood, broome, furse, brakes, through that way.

§ Viz: from the feast of All Saints to the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
† She lived with her mother in her first husband Dowsinge's house where Rich: Otes now liveth.

The parish register of Marsham, Norfolk from 1538 to 1836

Transfer of Business in the Milling & Corn Trades.
The Executors of the late George SHREEVE beg to inform the Public that the Business for many years conducted on their behalf by Mr. Thomas SHREEVE, as Manager at Marsham & Aylsham, will on and after the 5th day of April instant, be carried only the said Thomas SHREEVE on his own account, as Proprietor, for whom they solicit a continuance of the support so generously accorded to them during the past 21 years.
Dated this 2nd April 1880.
(Aylsham Steam & Water Mills)
Norfolk Chronicle - 3rd & 10th April 1880

Edward Melton outside Bolwick Mill House c.1910   c.1964 just prior to demolition
Edward Melton outside Bolwick Mill House c.1910
c.1964 just prior to demolition

William Stackwood snr and his family moved from Horsham St Faith c.1876 where he had been running Horsham St Faith's smockmill. By 1891 William Stackwood snr had moved to Dilham watermill, while his son William Stackwood jnr remained at Bolwick mill for a time before moving on.
William Stackwood jnr had married Emily Burrell Wiseman in Smallburgh in the 1st quarter of 1885 and their son Victor Stackwood was born in Mellis, Suffolk in the 4th quarter of 1898. By 1901 William jnr was working as a flour miller in Hertford.

Whenever the mill started, it emptied the pond fairly fast and upset Mrs. Buxton.
(who lived in the hall)

Aubrey Melton

The mill dam lake c.1970
The mill dam lake c.1970

I think we were lucky at Bolwick to carry on life as it always had been until old Mrs Buxton - my Grandmother - died in 1931. The lake had silted up owing to the closure of the Water Mill, which was run by Mr. Melton, the father of Bob Melton, who moved to the Mill House near Marsham Hall. The Bolwick Mill had, I believe, the largest waterwheel in Norfolk and it was a joy to watch it working. The whole building used to shake as the water rushed through and the wheel turned in its rather stately way.
The loss of the regular flow of water, which washed away the mud at the bottom of the lake, meant that the lake silted up; and in the winter of 1926-1927 the pond was - in a Norfolk expression - "feyed out." All the water was let out by the sluice gate but the stream was kept running through all the time. About 100 trout were caught and turned into the stream higher up and perhaps as many went downstream. Tom Watts of Buxton, with about eight men dug out the whole lake with barrows and boards, putting the mud all over the land around the lake. It took about five months and cost £382. We did not do anything above the bridge to the boathouse but formed a winding stream through the silted mud, driving in Douglas Pine poles from a tree in the garden. The lake was left with a firm hard bottom throughout. The Mill, having been closed down, we bricked up the entrance into it. It took 37 hours for the lake to fill again to the top of the sluice where there is a 29 inch outlet. The average water flow is three and a half inches over the top board and the flow is reckoned at 465 gallons per minute. There should therefore be over a million gallons of water in the lake.
Revd. Mark Wathen

Postcard posted 10th May 1909   Purchase order dated 17th July 1907
Postcard posted 10th May 1909
Purchase order dated 17th July 1907

It would appear that Thomas Shreeve (1833 -1909) went on to run the much larger Buxton_Mill and was there by at least 1890. Thomas' nephew Charles Robert Shreeve (1854-1932) took over at Bolwick and Marsham_postmill and was possibly still there when his farming business became insolvent in 1897.

Additional History of the Shreeve family of Marsham

In its final days, the mill was run by three generations of the Melton family. Originally by Edward Melton followed by his son Robert Thomas Melton and then his son Aubrey Melton whose son Robert still farms in Marsham today (2002).

Robert Thomas Melton milled at Marsham_postmill and when it was demolished c.1900, he moved to Bolwick Mill. When that ceased, he moved back to the windmill site and ran a steam engine with a single pair of stones.

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

My father was William Case and through ill health he sold his farm in Oxnead and became farm manager for Mr Wathen and Mr Birkbeck at Bolwick. At that time the estate was owned by Mark Wathen and his wife Rosemary with their three/four children Roderick, Primula, Erica and ? another boy I think. My mother remained in correspondence and visited them whilst they were first in Talisker and then returned to the Toll Cottage at Bolwick.
My father managed the Bolwick estate from about 1961 until his death in 1969 and we lived in the farmhouse on the estate. He was responsible for the flock of black sheep that flourished there and whose off spring became the founder stock of the, now famous, Black Sheep Co. in Ingworth. However mainly the farm ran a dairy herd and grew the normal arable crops for the time. Our cowman was Nobby Clarke and our tractor driver was William Hilton. At Christmas we raised turkeys and they were kept at the back of the mill. The largest was always sent by rail to London for the directors of Barclays Bank to feast upon at their Christmas lunch!
I remember playing squash in what we thought of as the mill and boating on the lake together with a small dammed pond on the overflow side where we had great fun. It was here that at the bottom of the drop that we dragged a flat bottom punt into the tunnel and by releasing the water from the lake shot out in the boat into the ‘swimming pool’ at the other end of the tunnel. Great fun! Cold however always! I remember the whole estate in detail as we roamed incessantly as children!
Wendy Levy - 28th January 2006

Mill site 1st May 2005 Wheelpit brickwork 1st May 2005
Mill site 1st May 2005
Wheelpit brickwork 1st May 2005

Mill renovation date plaque 1st May 2005 Wheelrace inlet brickwork 1st May 2005
Mill renovation date plaque 1st May 2005
Wheelrace inlet brickwork 1st May 2005

I was a Marsham lad born in the early 60's and have memories of fishing in the lake at Bolwick Hall.
Me and a friend 'Neal Emms' were invited to fish the lake (pond as Mark Wathen called it). Probably to keep us off the streets, but I will always remember Mark Wathen saying, "I'll Give you a Bob a Knob if you catch out the Roach and Rudd and throw Back the Trout."
Being paid to Fish !!!!
What more could a ten year old want? Needless to say we fished the lake (pond) many times and also enjoyed meeting with Mark Wathen's Mother, his son Roderick and Grandchildren too, I recall many memories of the Pond and fishing it, the Sluice gate, the boat house the Badminton court and many other aspects of such a wonderful time spent at the Hall. especially having seen the information you have posted
It saddens me though I have no pictures, only memories.

Chris Crane - 9th January 2008

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

1849: George Shreeve (journeyman miller at a Marsham mill) married Matilda Bartram

Census 1851:
George Shreeve (24) b.Marsham, journeyman miller
Matilda Shreeve (22) b.Buxton
George H Shreeve (1) b.Marsham

1859: George Shreeve died aged 33 - wife Matilda then co-habited with brother Thomas Shreeve

1638: Oliver Smith, miller & wheelwright at Balwick Mill

1812: Final mill structure built

Bryant's map 1826: Balwick Mill

White's 1836: William Elvin

White's 1845: William Elvin

White's 1864: Thomas Shreeve, corn miller,
Bolwick Mill

Kelly's 1875: Thomas Shreeve, miller & coal merchant, also Aylsham & Burgh staithes

Post Office directory 1875: Thomas Shreeve & at Aylsham and Burgh Staithes

Kelly's 1879:
Thomas Shreeve, farmer, miller & coal & cake & manure merchant, Bolwick mill; & at Aylsham & Burgh Staithes

Census 1881: William Stackwood snr b.Carbrooke, journeyman miller
Jemima Stackwood b.Horsham St Faith's
John Stackwood b.Carbrooke, agricultural labourer
William Stackwood jnr b.Great Ellingham, journeyman miller
Charles Stackwood b.Horsham St Faith's
Jesse Stackwood (9) b.Horsham St Faith's
Ellen (8) b.Horsham St Faith's
Maggie Stackwood (5) b.Aylsham
Clara Stackwood (4) b.Aylsham
Beatrice Stackwood (2) b.Aylsham
Sydney Stackwood (1) b.Aylsham
Mary Rayner (43) domestic servant (Jemima Stackwood's unmarried sister

White's 1883: Charles Robert Shreeve, miller & farmer - also at Marsham postmill

1888: Edward George Melton, miller

1889: Mill renovated

Census 1891: William Stackwood jnr (28) b.Great Ellingham, journeyman miller
Emily Stackwood (29) b.Dilham
Flora J. Stackwood (4) b.Aysham
Thomas W. Stackwood (2) b.Aylsham
Horace S. Medler (17) b.Ringland, lodger, journeyman miller
Address: Bolwick Mill House

1897: Farming business of Charles Robert Shreeve became insolvent

Kelly's 1900: Edward George Melton, miller (water) Bolwick mill (Aylsham parish)

Kelly's 1904: Edward George Melton, miller (water), corn & flour & pollard merchant, Bolwick mill (Aylsham p)

Kelly's 1908: Edward George Melton, miller (water), corn & flour & pollard merchant, Bolwick mill (Aylsham p)

Kelly's 1912: Edward George Melton, miller (water), Bolwick mill (Aylsham parish)

Kelly's 1912: Edward George Melton, miller (water), Bolwick mill (Aylsham parish)

Kelly's 1922: Edward George Melton, miller (water), Bolwick mill (Aylsham parish)

Kelly's 1925: Robert J. Melton, miller, corn, flour & pollard merchant, & fruit grower, Mill house

c.1925: Milling ceased and the machinery removed to be sold for scrap

Kelly's 1929:
Robert Thomas Melton, miller, corn, flour & pollard merchant, & fruit grower, Mill house & grocer, Norwich road

Kelly's 1933: Robert Thomas Melton, miller, corn, flour & pollard merchant, & fruit grower, Mill house

Kelly's 1937:
Robert Thomas Melton, farmer, miller, corn, flour & pollard merchant, & fruit grower, Mill house. Buxton 46

1957: Mill lying derelict, without tiles and with rotting roof and floor timbers

1965: Mill demolished

1978: Bolwick Hall sold to Hazlerigg family

2003: Bolwick Hall sold

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 TG2010 2439
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