Ditchingham Mill
River Waveney


The mill site May 1969

The mill site May 1969

Ditchingham watermill was known to many as Rider Haggard's Mill. Although a mill on this site was documented as far back as 1240, the last structure disappeared c.1850. The story goes that part of the waterwheel was found near to where the mill used to be and was made into "something" for Lilias Rider Haggard. Along with Earsham and Ellingham it was one of the only three Norfolk watermills on the Waveney.

Back in the 1960s it was documented that the
Oak timbered plates that supported the mill wheel still remain in the bank.

Baldry brought down to me a slab of oak which he is going to make into a stool. He had taken it out of the river bank by the old mill-race.  There has been a mill on the spot for centuries, but the earliest mention I have found is in the Parliament Rolls as follows:

"William de Pirnhow in the 24th of Henry III released to Roger, Earl of Norfolk his right of fishery from the Mill of Cliff to the bridge of Bungay, and the Earl granted him a fishery from Bungay bridge to the Earl's Vineyard."
This would have been about the year 1250, and the mill was destroyed by fire about 1780 and never re-built. The plank formed the bed-plate of the mill wheel, and must have been under water for hundreds of years. There was some erosion of the wood on the surface, but when planed off it proved to be perfectly sound, completely black oak, as hard as iron.
Norfolk Notebook - Alan Sutton, 1946

Drawing by Dr. Katharine Heanley c.1932

Drawing by
Dr. Katharine Heanley c.1932

Millstream and bypass May 1969

Millstream and bypass May 1969

Mill sale advert

Norfolk Chronicle - 27th June 1778

Situation for a watermill - to be sold - a piece of meadow - whereon a watermill stood which was lately burnt down. There is a good stream and it is a very desirable situation to erect another mill upon, as the river is navigable thence to Yarmouth.
Ipswich Journal - 13th July 1778

Mill auction advert

Norfolk Chronicle - 6th March 1784

Another story goes...
An old miller called Lock was grinding grist for the farmers around. His poor old pony could scarcely pull a coombe of corn, so this strong man humped one sack and helped push the cart up the hills. He was a very honest man and his share was peck for a coombe.

George Baldry's Mill Cottage by Pippa Miller

George Baldry's Mill Cottage by Pippa Miller

George Baldry once lived in the mill cottage and it was possibly he that found the section of waterwheel mentioned above. His grandfather took over the mill cottage tenancy in the early 19th century. His son, George's father, took over the cottage in 1869.

George Baldry in his workshop

George Baldry in his workshop

I was interested to read your piece on Ditchingham Mill. My father's  family, James Basey-Fisher et. al., tenanted Home farm in Ditchingham from the Rider Haggards (or Cheneys as they were then named) from the 1940's through till the 1980's. Also, coincidentally, my grandfather, Wallace Skinner was born at Home Farm in 1887.
My father often met George Baldry at Mill house in his workshop where he was supposedly trying to develop a perpetual motion machine. I bought a copy of 'Rabbit skin cap' , by Lilias Rider Haggard, in the 1980's.
Mark Basey-Fisher - 2nd February 2017

Quodlings Delight album cover

Quodlings Delight album cover
Album cover by Quodling's Delight - 1976
Left to right : Tony Scheuregger, Judith Havens, Ian Terry
on the bridge near the mill site

I have just come across a photograph of a bridge at Ditchingham Mill on your Norfolk Mills website.
For some time I had been searching around Ditchingham and Outney for the whereabouts of a bridge where a photograph was taken some years ago for the cover of a record. I can see that this is the place I was seeking.
In the mid 1970s I was one of a band providing music for the banquets at the Three Tuns in Bungay. We decided to record an album of the music that we played there. It was called Among the Leaves so Green so we wanted a picture to reflect the title.
The photographer, Richard Barnes, (also now an established architectural historian and author) knew the ideal place, a bridge with over-hanging willows; and so we posed there with our instruments. It was an idyllic setting and I wondered if the bridge was still standing.

Judith Havens - 3rd November 2021

Following my recent correspondence to you about this iron bridge which appeared on your Ditchingham Watermill webpage, I set out to find out what had happened to the structure. Unhappily this was the result of my search :-

The pieces lie between trees not far from a fragment of a concrete structure, possibly part of the bridge's anchorpoint, which is on the riverbank upstream from this bridge :-

It is a pity that the bridge, which had long been an iconic image in sources relating the history of Ditchingham Watermill, should have met such an ignominious end. Its demise seems not to have been recorded, so many people mistakenly believe that this bridge constructed in 1922 by Rumsby is the Watermill bridge aka "Baldry's Bridge" :-

A nearby notice shows a drawing of the Watermill bridge, yet describes Rumsby's Bridge, adding to the confusion :-

I would be very interested to hear if anyone knows the date of the demolition of the bridge, and whether there were any efforts made to save it either by local bodies or by Historic England.
Judith Havens - 1st January 2022

1240: Watermill recorded on the site

Index of Wills 1705: Francis Barnes, miller (possibly windmiller)

Index of Wills 1718: John Beaumont, miller (possibly windmiller)

c.1778: Mill burnt down

June 1778: Mill land advertised for sale

1781: Mill rebuilt

March 1784: Mill advertised for sale by auction due to bankruptcy of new owners

1784: Mill demolished by new owners - holders of Outney Common grazing rights

Bryant's map 1826: Mill house

1869: George Baldry aged 4 and his parents moved to Mill House

1955: George Baldry, Mill House, aged 89

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 TM33409180 (Mill House)
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Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2003