Erpingham Mill
Scarrow Beck


Drainage Mills (Windpumps)
Steam Mills


Erpingham was one of the very places in the county to have both a watermill and a windmill on the same site. At the time of the photograph above, which was taken during the latter part of the 1800s, both appear to be in good condition and working. The watermill had probably recently been either newly painted or renovated. The watermill had a brick ground floor, white weatherboard upper floors and a Norfolk pantile roof.

Erpingham watermill was one of the smallest mills in the county, probably due to the lack of available water. The mill was built on a hand dug cut in Scarrow Beck and provided a four foot head of water for the wheel.

The mills were then owned by John Johnson and his family. At the turn of the century the site was sold to
George H. Witham and his son Edward. After Edward died in 1959 the site was again sold. It was reported on 17th July 1965 that the watermill was being used as a barn, however it was finally dramatically demolished later that year.

On 11th January 1837 Benjamin Johnson, millwright, of Erpingham paid Sarah Bedford, spinster, of Norwich and the Reverend Christopher Stannard of Great Snoring and Maria (née Bedford), his wife £400 in discharge of mortgage on the water mill and premises in Erpingham.

In June 1852 a valuation of a small water mill, three cottages, workshop, sheds, well and arable and pasture land (5 acres and 2 roods), property of John Johnson stated that £500 could be raised on the property and £400 fire insurance ought to be acquired.
On 19th June 1852 John Johnson, miller, of Erpingham and Harriet, his wife mortgaged the watermill and premises in Erpingham for £500 plus interest to Martha Hall and John Pilgrim of Norwich.

On 15th May 1862 John Pilgrim jnr of Norwich, son and executor of John Pilgrim, deceased 1857, assigned the £500 mortgage to William Warner Cooke, farmer, of St Faiths - John Johnson was still the miller.


The 16th July 1894 Sale Particulars of an auction in 4 lots by Messrs Bruce & Son at the Eagle Inn, Erpingham, included a copy contract of Lot 1, bought by George Harvey Witham, miller, of Cawston, for £600. Lot 1 consisted of a house in two tenements at Erpingham, with outbuildings, etc, a water mill and pieces of arable and pasture amounting to 9a. 6p. including Ives Meadow and pightles. The windmill on Lot 1 to be removed and sold by vendor.

Sale details - Monday 16th july 1894 Sale details - Monday 16th july 1894
Sale details - Monday 16th July 1894

Sale details - Monday 16th July 1894 Sale details - Monday 16th July 1894
Sale details - Monday 16th July 1894

The smockmill was indeed removed and sold separately by the vendor around the time of the 1894 auction as reported.

A Sale by Bruce & Son at the Eagle. A water corn mill, dwelling house, miller's cottage, stable outbuildings with 9 acres of meadow and arable land, freehold - bought by G. H. Witham of Cawston for £600.
Newspaper report - 20th July 1894

Although the auction was in July 1894, Robert Johnson, farmer of Erpingham (under will of John Johnson) had to pay off the mortgage, now £650, to William Warner Cooke, which he did in September 1894.

On 12 October 1894 Robert Johnson, butcher, of Erpingham sold a watermill, messuages, buildings and lands in Erpingham for £600 to George Harvey Witham, miller, of Cawston.

George Harvey Witham 1910
George Harvey Witham 1910

The Withams had a turbine installed and also used a Tattersall Midget roller mill that was installed c.1906 and was the first in England. It was also recorded as working in 1909.


Watercolour by H. Whaley c.1947
Watercolour by H. Whaley c.1947

I knew him well... Miller Witham, he was about as far round as he was up.
David Ducker - 18th November 2004

1957 now with a corrugated iron roof

In 1957 the mill was only being used occasionally, probably for animal feed. By this time it was probably diesel powered as the cut to the mill had been blocked and Scarrow Beck had been reverted to its original course.

It was reported on 17th July 1965 that the mill was being used as a barn and by then it had also become a play area for local children. In deference to their safety, the new owner, John Alston, concluded that it would be better for the mill to be demolished. Accordingly in the summer of 1965, the mill was filled with straw and then set alight.

April 1965 April 1965
April 1965
April 1965

The 1977 pictures can only pick out some of the foundations near the old watercourse that was on a specially dug cut that diverted Scarrow Beck to the mill. The beck has now reverted to its original course.

After the mill was demolished, Eric Pegg who lived at the mill house, rescued a stone from the ruins. The stone, which had the appearance of a tombstone, was simply inscribed J. Turner 1766 whereas his gravestone in Erpingham churchyard reads: John Turner who departed this life, Jan 14th. 1766...

1977 1977
Part of the old watercourse in 1977
Just foundations remain by 1977

O. S. Map 1885

O. S. Map 1885 showing the site of the watermill and the smockmill
Courtesy of NLS map images

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

White's 1836: Benjamin Johnson, millwright
White's 1845: John Johnson, millwright

Kelly's 1854: John Johnson, miller & millwright

14th January 1766: John Turner, miller, died

White's 1836: Thomas Cook, corn miller (Benjamin Johnson, millwright)

11th January 1837: Benjamin Johnson, millwright and owner, paid £400 to discharge the mortgage on the mill

Census 1841: Thomas Cook, miller; Eliza Cook (30); Elizabeth Cook (13); William Cook (77)

White's 1845: Thomas Cook, corn miller (John Johnson, millwright)

1854: Charles Hayham

Census 1851: John Johnson (42) miller & millwright
Harriet Johnson, miller's wife
Robert Johnson (17) millwright
George Johnson (17)
James Johnson (14) errand boy

19th June 1852: John Johnson and wife Harriet morgaged the mill and premises for £500

Kelly's 1854: John Johnson, miller & millwright

White's 1854: John Johnson, corn miller, millwright & parish clerk

Census 1861: John Johnson (52) b.Erpingham, miller & millwright
Harriet Johnson, b.Alby, miller's wife
James Johnson (24)
Thomas Youngman (30) b.Banningham, miller
? Youngman (27) b.Swanton, wife
2 children

White's 1864: John Johnson, corn miller & millwright

Census 1871: Dennis Gunn, miller (employee); Miles Austin, miller lodging with John Baker

Kelly's 1879: James Johnson, miller

Census 1881: James Johnson (44) b.Erpingham, miller
Eleanor Johnson (43) b.Thwaite
Charlotte Verian Johnson (10) b.North Walsham
Robert Henry Johnson Aggs (22), miller

White's 1883: James Johnson, miller & parish clerk

1883: Benjamin Johnson

1890: James Johnson died

Census 1891: John H. Parker (35) b. Bixley, miller (employee) lodging with William Pulham
William Pulham, mill manager

Alfred Warne (26) b. Hoxton, London, miller's apprentice

Kelly's 1892: Benjamin Johnson

Monday 16th July 1894: Mill bought from Johnson family by George Harvey Witham at auction

Kelly's 1896: George Harvey Witham, miller

Kelly's 1904: George Harvey Witham, miller

Kelly's 1908: George Harvey Witham, also Itteringham mill

1910: George Harvey Witham, miller

1911: It would appear that George Harvey Witham sol;d the mill to Edward Palmer Witham

Kelly's 1912: Edward Palmer Witham, also Ingworth mill

Kelly's 1916: Edward Palmer Witham

Kelly's 1922: Edward Palmer Witham, and oil

Kelly's 1937: Edward Palmer Witham

1957: Mill in occasional use for animal feed

22nd March 1965: Mill bought by local farmer, John Alston

c.August 1965: Mill demolished by fire

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 TG18903160
Top of Page
Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2004