Gt. Ryburgh Southmylle Mill
River Wensum


Drainage Mills (Windpumps)
Steam Mills

Great Ryburgh Southmylle Mill stood to the west of the site of the later mill and when it was eventually dismantled, possibly in the 1700s, the mill house was built directly over it and the arches of the two waterways were still visible in the cellars.

It is not clear when Southmylle ceased working and the new and larger mill was built.

Southmylle was listed in Domesday, when the mill, which is specifically mentioned, formed part of the Lordship of Reienburgh and belonged to Peter de Valoins and was held by Radulfus Facto.

Before the Norman Conquest Gt. Ryburgh Mill belonged to Guerth (Gurth) brother of King Harold. Binham Priory was founded by de Valoins in about 1120 and Ralph Facto probably then granted the tithes of the mill to the new priory. From Facto the mill passed to the Monpinzun family and in 1434 it passed from Thomas de la Grene to the Prior of Walsingham.

Mill House c.1910 c.1925
Mill House c.1910
Mill House c.1925 with the later mill to the right

On the Dissolution it passed to Henry VIII, who, on March 10th 1539 granted it to Dr. William Buttes. At the same time Dr. Buttes was granted a pasture called Sennowe and also the avowson. He was a well known physician and one of the founders of the College of Physicians and was even introduced by Shakespeare in King Henry VIII. Via his grand daughter Anne it passed to the Bacon family when she married Nicholas Bacon, eldest son and heir of the great Lord Keeper.

Dr William Buttes had 3 sons, Sir William of Thornage a prominent Parliamentarian, Thomas of Ryburgh and Edward who got the Suffolk estate at Barrow. All 3 boys were married to 3 daughters of the late Sir Henry Bures who just happened to be Dr Buttes' wards!  Edward Buttes' and Anne Bures' daughter, Anne Buttes,  was the only Buttes offspring and hence the family fortunes ended up with the Bacon dynasty.
Peter Trent - 17th September 2019

The same Thomas Buttes hathe boughte of one Thomas  Browne of Greate Ryburgh aforesayde Tanner One ffre  messuage called mylles with a ffre yarde therto adjoyninge - called Newested yarde lyenge nexte the Southmylle in Greate Ryburgh. The dede beareth date the viith daye of September in the tenthe yere of the Raigne of our sayde Sovraigne Ladye - Quene Elizabeth - whiche sayde ffre messuage called mylles  payed yerelye in ffre rente to the Mannor aforesayd  xx d and  the sayde yarde called Newested yarde payed yerelye in ffre  rente to the sayde mannor xiii s iiij d
Re. valuation of 1578 was made in connection with the agreement Thomas Buttes made with Sir Nicholas Bacon, Lord Keeper of the Greate Seale of England regarding the marriage  of his son Nicholas Bacon of Redgrave to Buttes' niece, Anne Buttes.

Thomas Buttes leased the mill to John Warner, who turned out to be a busie, troblesome, quarreling and such a disordered man that in the first year of Queen Mary he discharged him of his lease to the intent that he would rid the town of him, and since that time the said John Warner has continued in Bittering.

In 1579 it was leased to Simon Mussett, together with the Mill House called 'Southemylle', with all the going gear, one messuage called 'Millies' near the mill, one yard called 'Newsteade Yard' and one parcel of morishe (marsh) land to the east of the mill, for seven years at a yearly rent of £13 6s 8d. The Lessor was bound to grind at the mill. The lessee left an overstone and one netherstone of certain sizes and agreed not to fish in any part of the dam, river or stream that runs to the mill, except that he may take eels and other fish at the 'Owteloades' of the mill or millwheel with shakenets, with a proportion of the eels and fish being given to the lessor.

The mill continued in the Bacon family until the year 1760, when on the death of Mary Bacon who was a spinster, it passed to her nephew Thomas Wodehouse, the youngest son of Sir Armine Wodehouse. In about 1800 the property passed to the Boycott family.

Mill House and Mill c.1932
Mill House and Mill c.1932

This is largely heresay and speculation on my part.
To the left centre of Ryburgh are the premises which were as I knew them 70+ years ago, as the glebe and consisted of a cattle yard and premises. Also the spot, where my father told me that there was once a windmill (postmill) but no one that I have spoken to has even heard of it. Turning eastwards to the Gt Ryburgh watermill where the mill chimney was felled in 1925, there is a valley which I have wondered about for many years, which I think is answered by Mr. Hayward's statement, that there is evidence of a water mill in the cellar of the Mill House and would have been the outfall from that mill.

H. Dawson - 3rd July 2005

In 1977, Mr. Hayward said that in Elizabethan times it was reputed that the river went under the house where two arches are present. This was confirmed In 1958 when Frank Larkman wrote that there are actually the sites of two water mills standing side by side at Great Ryburgh. Of the earlier of the two mills only the waterways remain but the ground floor of the second mill still stands.

O. S. Map 1885

O. S. Map 1885
Southmylle was on site that later became the Mill House - directly to the left of the Corn Mill
Courtesy of NLS map images

The above map clearly shows the watercourse after it left Southmylle, running east to join the artificial watercourse draining the new mill. This waterourse was eventually filled in to make way for new buildings.

O. S. Map 1885

O. S. Map 1885
Courtesy of NLS map images

The above map shows the parish boundary that undoubtedly followed the original river course. A new, wide channel was dug running due south and the river then diverted to the west to provide sufficient water volume and fall to power the mill. Two straight channels were also dug below the mill. The southern channel took water from the mill race back to the River Wensum and the northern channel was the bypass, used to control the river level above the mill, especially in times of flood.

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

1065: Guerth (Gurth) brother of King Harold

1068: Radulfus Facto

1434: Mill passed from Thomas de la Grene to the Prior of Walsingham

10th March 1539: Henry VIII, having gained the mill on the Dissolution, granted it to Dr. Thomas Buttes

1545: Thomas Buttes leased mill to John Warner, miller

1553: John Warner discharged from his lease

1578: Southmylle listed in estate valuation of Thomas Buttes

1579: Mill leased to Simon Mussett

1600s: Bacon family

1964: Property bought by Mr. D. Hayward

2003: Mill House used as old peoples' residential home

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 TF 96352696
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