Earsham Mill
River Waveney


Drainage Mills (Windpumps)
Steam Mills


Earsham Mill dates from Saxon times and adjoins ancient earthworks. It was a brick built mill with a pantile roof. Along with Ditchingham and Ellingham, it was one of the only three Norfolk watermills on the Waveney.

The mill was rebuilt by R. H. Clarke on the existing site in 1862. It was fitted with 12 pairs of stones powered by a waterwheel and a steam engine. A roller plant manufactured by Whitman & Binyon was installed in 1893. At this time, flour from Earsham was being sent to Newcastle by water transport.

From the time it was granted to the Norfolk family, along with the half hundred, from the crown, it paffed with Forncet manor, the duke of Norfolk being lord of the manor and hundred, and owner of the park here, which is now difparked, though in the 35th of Edward I it was well ftocked, and belonged to the lodge, or manor-houfe, which had 286 acres in demefne, fixteen acres of meadow, and the halls dykes, or fifthery, a water-mill, and many woods and fens; all of which were kept for the ufe of the family of Roger Bigot, then lord, who chiefly refided at his adjacent caftle of Bungay, in Suffolk.
Blomefield's History of Norfolk - ref. year of 1307

28th November 1807
Norfolk Chronicle - 28th November 1807

Thomas Clarke, miller in 1793
Thomas Clarke, miller in 1793

Norfolk Chronicle - 23rd April 1836
Norfolk Chronicle - 23rd April 1836

Earsham roller mills in 1893
Earsham roller mills in 1893

Thomas Clarke, miller in 1893
Thomas Clarke, miller in 1893

c.1824 Thomas Clarke made a will in which he made mention of his wife Ann and also stated that a further 30 years of his 60 year lease from the Duke of Norfolk was still yet to run. This means the lease was granted c.1784 and was possibly taken out by Thomas' father, Wiliam Clarke. Thomas Clarke died in 1834.

It would appear that sometime between 1845 and 1860 Richard and Charlotte Narburgh left for the USA, without their children. A Richard and Charlotte Narburgh show up in the Illinois census of 1860 and as their ages tie in it seems probable that it was the same couple. However, they presumably returned to England as they do not appear in any later surveys.

...I have definite evidence concerning their son Thomas (my great grandfather) who incidentally started a racing paper called the "Pink - un" which later became the "Sporting Life" that still survives. Thomas lived to age 90, and I can remember being taken to his home in Elstree to meet him when I was 5. I am now 81, and a US citizen, having emigrated here 40 years ago.
John Narburgh - 26th August 2004

To be let by Tender
for 4 or 6 years from Christmas next
Situate within One Mile of the Town of Bungay
The Mill will be Let with the Water-wheel, Pit wheels, three pairs of Stones, Flour mill and all the going gears and machinery as now in the mill, with Dwelling House, Stables, Granaries and Outbuildings and with 8 acres excellant Meadow Land including Garden and Yards.
Tenders sealed up to be delivered at the office of William HARTCUP Esq. Solicitor, Bungay on or before Thursday 20th instant, who will give further information.
The proprietor will not be bound to take the highest offer or accept any of the tenders.
Dated December 4, 1855

Norfolk Chronicle - 8th December 1855

Thomas Jeckyll , Architect and Designer, 1827-81

Jeckyll built a water mill and connecting cottage at Earsham for the Duke of Norfolk ....1862 ..... The contractors James Maxim Smith and Lewis Bull won the tender for this commission on an estimate of £1,069 with an additional £454.1.5 for the necessary machinery. The three-story mill composed of brick and cement had a small, attached four-bedroom house. The mill still stands today but in a poor condition, and the cottage has been demolished.
Susan Weber Soros & Catherine Arbuthnott - Yale University Press 2003


The steam engine house is to the left of the mill on the above photo but there is also an auxiliary drive belt attached to a pulley on the right hand side of the mill and is obviously being powered by some sort of engine hidden from view.


James Thurston was miller in the mid 1850s. He was born c.1802-05 in South Elmham and married Sarah Fairhead. They had some 15 children, one of whom was possibly George Thurston who was a miller's apprentice in 1841 living in South Elmham, before moving to Mundham by 1861.


Pippa Miller's copy of an old photograph 1923
Pippa Miller's copy of an old photograph 1923

Situations Vacant
To Millers
Wanted, a man of good character to work a Tower Mill.
Apply to R.H. Clarke, Earsham near Bungay.
Norfolk News - 28th January 1865

Earsham Mills,
Bungay, Mar 9/65.

Mr. Smithdale,
Pray what is your price for a good substantial ten horse power horizontal engine with heating apparatus & a 12 horse boiler, price on rail or into craft at Norwich.
Yours Respectfully,
R. H. Clarke.
King Street, Norwich,
March 10th 1865.

Mr. R. H. Clarke,
Dear Sir,
In reply to yours of the 9th to hand this morning I beg to say that I can supply you with a First Class 10 Horse Horizontal Steam Engine made from the same patterns as the one I fixed at Wainford Mills with 12 Horse Cornish Boiler 14ft long, 4ft. 6in. dia with Heating Apprts and all fixings complete, put to work exclusive of Brickwork for the sum of Two Hundred and thirty five pounds.
Awaiting your reply,
I remain, Dear Sir,
Yours respy,
£245. 0. 0. pro T. S., T. S. jr.
P.S. If you would name any day next week I would take the liberty of driving over to see you in reference to the above.

Following his inspection of Earsham mill, Thomas Smithdale sent in his tender for the work required to work the mill by steam power as well as water:
St. Ann's Iron Works,
King Street,
April 4th 1865.

To Mr. Clarke,
The following is a list of articles required for driving 4 pairs of Stones in your Mills by Steam Power, Viz
18 feet of 3¼ inch thick Wrought Iron Bright Shafting (or thereabouts), 4 Wrought Iron Crotch Spindles, turned & fitted with Damsels attached.
4 New Maces.
4 2½ In. Plumb blocks fitted with Brasses & Bolts.
3 3¼ in. do. do. do.
3 Cast Iron Brackets for carrying Counter Shaft.
6 Bolts & 6 Wall Plates for Do.
1 4ft. Drum, turned & Bored.
4 3ft. 4in. Do. Do. Do.
4 2ft. 6in Do. Do. Do.
2 Cast Iron Brays for carrying Top End of crotch Spindles.
8 Bolts, Nuts & Plates for Do. with Men's Time fitting and fixing the same in your Mill for the sum of Seventy Two pounds, ten shillings and sixpence.

£72.10. 6. The Whole of the above shall be made of the best materials & sound workmanship and put to work.
Awaiting your reply,
I remain,
Dr. Sir,
Yours Respy,
Thos Smithdale.

Situations Vacant
To Millers
WANTED, an experienced Man as SPOUTMAN.
Apply to R. H. Clarke, Earsham Mills, Bungay
Norfolk News - 9th September 1871

EDP 14Jul1890
Eastern Daily Press - 14th July 1890

Charles Marston purchased the mill in 1900.

He was born in Bungay_Mill House in 1882 and apparently grew up learning every branch of his business as if it was his hobby. He also owned a 3 sack plant at Harleston and the watermill at Bungay, which for a short period was used as a roller mill. However, the mill burnt down in 1902 but by 1923 it was being used as a grist mill.

The plant was remodelled in 1904 and thereafter ran 24 hours per day. It's capacity by now was 3½ sacks per hour. Power for the new plant was supplied by a turbine and coal gas.

The Miller Challenge Cup 1923

British Wheat Flour

Class A 1st Prize - Charles Marston of Bungay
Class C 1st Prize - Charles Marston of Bungay

June 1967 September 1968
June 1967
September 1968

April 1969 April 1969
April 1969
April 1969

October 1969
October 1969


Modernisation of the 200-year-old Earsham Mill for use as a feed mill meant that to get heavy equipment into the the building yesterday part of the roof had to be removed.
A 100 ft. crane was used to lift pressing, feeding, cooling and sifting plants into the mill and today the 8 ft. square hole in the roof will be re-covered with asbestos sheeting.
The mill is owned by Brooks Savill Ltd., agricultural merchants, and the company are also building a 5000 sq. ft. warehouse alongside the mill.
The mill, which was converted from flour to feed in 1962, is 45 ft. high and is used to make cattle, pig and poultry feeds.
The heaviest machine lifted yesterday was a two-ton gearbox to drive the pressing plant and to accommodate all the machinery, holes were cut in the three top floorsof the four-storey building.

Eastern Daily Press - 14th November 1974

Eastern Daily Press - 24th July 1975
Eastern Daily Press - 24th July 1975

Sale notice Sept 1982
Norwich Mercury - 10th September 1982

RHM plaque 5th January 1984
RHM plaque 5th January 1984

Mill dam 5th January 1984
Mill dam 5th January 1984

Mill Foreman Don Tilney's retirement meal

Mill Foreman Don Tilney's retirement meal - Saturday 26th July 1971
Don Tilney is to the left of the window and wife Elsie beside him.
Frank Cannell, (mill manager from 1975) turning to face camera on the left with his wife Margaret in a sleeveless dress to his left.

Mill Foreman Don Tilney's retirement

Mill Foreman Don Tilney's retirement - presentation to his wife Nellie
Saturday 26th July 1971

Mill Foreman Don Tilney's retirement - newspaper report

Mill Foreman Don Tilney's retirement - newspaper report
July 1971

Could you redevelop this £250,000 historic mill?

A former water mill dating to Saxon times is to go under the hammer for a guide of £250,000 in need of redevelopment.
Earsham Mill, which was rebuilt in 1902 but which had a £250,000 refit in 1975, offers 36,500 square feet of industrial and retail space with development or investment potential. It is up for auction on Wednesday.
Ancillary buildings were also built on the site and in 1962 it changed from being a flour mill to creating animal feed and most recently it traded as a builders merchant.
Robert Hurst, auction manager at Auction House, said: "The premises are now vacant and in need of updating and general repair. Potential exists for a wide range of other uses (subject to planning), which may include light industrial, leisure, residential or mixed use."
The site, which has a long road frontage, extends to four acres and includes areas of hard standing, parking and river frontage along with the former mill building, a traditional brick built barn and a workshop.
The main building has accommodation over four levels and comprises a former ground floor retail area with offices. Further offices and storage space is available on the upper floors.
The mill has a long history which saw it trebling its capacity to 1000 tons a week in 1975 following its investment and in 1982 it was put up for sale for offers in excess of £100,000.
The Auction House sale takes place on Wednesday at Dunston Hall Hotel in Norwich at 11am.

Eastern Daily Press - 8th April 2019

Why this man bought a derelict Norfolk mill at auction for £380,000

The business owner who bought a dilapidated old mill for £130,000 over the £250,000 guide price said: "I've never bid at an auction before.'
Iain Gwynn, who runs Draganfly Motorcycles in Bungay, selling parts for vintage motorbikes, went along to the auction in Norwich last month - and came away as the owner of Earsham Mill. He'd gone along to the sale with his parents with the intention of buying the property, for sale for a guide price of £250,000 but got involved in a bidding war which saw the hammer come down £130,000 later.
"The auction was incredible, I felt like a 12-year-old boy, my dad said; 'don't be the first person to start bidding.' Half way through the bididng, he said to me, 'now start' but I'd already started. My heart was pounding and my legs were like jelly and after I bought it, people were coming up to me to say congratulations."
Iain, 36, has big plans for the large property which offers 36,500 sqft of industrial and retail space. He's initially going to offer up some of the more modern warehouse space which is intact for businesses to use as storage while doing up the main Victorian building with the view to relocate his motorbike business there. Such is the state of the former mill, which was rebuilt in 1902, that he thinks it's going to take him at least a year to 18 months to get it ship-shape.
"Already a children's fitness charity has come and looked at some of the space and is interested in running a boxing club. The work needed ranges from some areas which just need a coat of paint to others where you can look up and see through to the sky."
Earsham 2019
Auction house photo
He reckons there are around 20 business units available and isn't fazed on the project. In fact the family own Blows Self Storage, situated behind Draganfly, so have knowledge in this business.
"My sister Lauren and I grew up in a converted barn, my parents renovated a farm in the 1970s and our business is in an old maltings so we know about working with old buildings."
Iain recently took over the motorbike business, started by his dad Roger Gwynn, 65, in 1976 in London, which relocated to Bungay in 1984. But he's now got Roger out of retirement hoping to get some help on the relocation project. "Draganfly is in the middle of Bungay and there just isn't any space to expand. We've grown the business over the years and vintage motorbikes are hugely in demand, they're very in vogue and we supply all the spare parts for them."
Earsham Mill has a long history which saw it trebling its capacity to 1000 tons a week in 1975 following its investment and in 1982 it was put up for sale for offers in excess of £100,000. Ancillary buildings were also built on the site and in 1962 it changed from being a flour mill to creating animal feed and most recently it traded as a builders merchant.
The Auction House sale took place at Dunston Hall Hotel last month.

Eastern Daily Press - 29th May 2019

On seeing that Earsham Mill had recently been sold, my Mum googled Earsham Mill and came across your web page.  My father is Frank Cannell, who became mill manager in 1975 and both him and my Mum are on the photo of Don Tilney's retirement dinner. My Mum is the lady in the dark sleeveless dress, with my Dad sitting to her right.
My Dad started work at Earsham Mill in1941, as an apprentice flour miller. It was here that he met my Mum, Margaret Witham and when they got married in 1953, they lived in the Mill House in Bungay, where Charles Candace Marston was born.
My Dad worked at the Haverhill animal feed mill for a while, but returned to Earsham Mill in 1969 and worked there until the mill closed in 1982. 
I know both my parents had very fond memories of the mill and my Dad would often mention Charlie Marston.  It was quite fitting that when my Dad died in 2017, he was buried at Earsham church overlooking the old mill.
My Grandad Edward Witham also worked at the mill.

Rosemary Boast - 25th June 2019

O. S. Map 1903

O. S. Map 1903
Courtesy of NLS map images

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

Domesday Book 1085: Watermill

1307: Watermill kept for the use of the family of Robert Bigot of Bungay Castle

Mill & enclosure conveyed by Thomas Howard, William Masse & John Baxster to William Ivys & wife, John Goode, John Jaye & John Ketyll

1502: Mill conveyed to Alan Catys and wife, Henry Colman, John Goodewyn and John Mansheppe

1793: Thomas Clarke, son of Hoxne miller William Clarke, took over at the age of 24

November 1807: Mill advertised for sale by auction

1809: Anthony Cole, wife Sarah left bequest in a will

1813 - 1827: Thomas Clark, miller (accounts held at Norfolk Record Office)

Bryant's map 1826: Mill

1827 - 1838: Richard Narborough jnr, miller (accounts held at Norfolk Record Office)

1834: Thomas Clarke died

White's 1836: Richard Narburgh, corn miller

April 1836: Mill advertised for sale by auction

Census 1841: Richard Narburgh snr, (80); Richard Narburgh jnr, (36); Charlotte Narburgh
Burtin Narburgh (10); Thomas Narburgh (5)

White's 1845: Richard Narburgh jnr, corn miller

1846: Richard Narburgh jnr, miller

White's 1854: James Thurston, corn miller

1856: James Thurston, miller

Mill rebuilt by James Maxim Smith & Lewis Bull for the 17th Duke of Norfolk to Thomas Jeckyll's design for a total of £1,523 1s 5d

White's 1864: Robert Harvey Clarke

Kelly's 1883: Thomas Clarke

Kelly's 1896: Thomas Clarke

Kelly's 1900: Robert Harvey Clarke. Also Waveney Steam Roller Mills, Southtown, Gt Yarmouth

Kelly's 1904: Charles Marston

1919: Charles Marston died and his son Charles Candace Marston b.1882, Bungay, took over

1920: Charles Marston, miller, Bungay and Earsham roller mills

Kelly's 1937: Charles Marston

1962: Mill converted from flour production to animal feed production

June 1971: Mill foreman, Don Tilney, retired

1975: Mill owned by Brooks Savill, part of R.H.M.

23rd July 1975: Mill reopened after £250,000 refit with capacity trebled to 1,000 tons per week

1975: Frank E. Cannell, appointed mill manager

March 1977: Rank, Hovis & McDougall (RHM)

1982: Mill closed

September 1982: Mill advertised for sale along with 4 acre site for offers in excess of £100,000

10th April 2019: Mill sold by auction at Dunston Hall for £380,000

April 2019: Iain Gwynn, Dragon Motorcycles

2020: Business units within the mill being advertised for hire

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

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Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2004