Sheringham Mill
Beeston Beck


Sheringham watermill was mainly known as a papermill that operated from c.1750 - c.1865, although it started life as a corn mill. A notice in the Norfolk Chronicle on 30th August 1781 refers to a mill with an overshot wheel. In the early 1860s the owner, Mr. Critoph approached the Norwich millwright company of Thomas Smithdale with a view to convert the papermill to a corn mill. It is not known if this conversion actually took place. This was one of the few mills in Norfolk with an overshot wheel, which seems quite remarkable when considering the surrounding, mainly flat terrain. The fact that the mill was only supplied by a small beck meant that a substantial dam was constructed above the mill to provide the necessary head of water to power the overshot wheel.

The mill would have been quite small, as in its proposed corn milling days of the 1860s, the designs only allowed for the refurbished mill to drive two pairs of small stones, one 3' 6" and the other 3' 8".

Tithe map 1838 Tithe map 1838
Tithe map of 1838 showing the mill dam with the position of the overshot mill top left of the ponds

The mill was situated in Paper Mill Road, however the name was later changed to Mill Road and then in 1901 it was changed once more to Beeston Road.

1390 William Frere
Patron: John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster and King of Castile

John Drew, parson of Harpley, William Frere, parson of South Repps and Ralph Pykard, grant to William Marriott and Joan his wife the manor of East Beckham, (etc.) late of Sir Roger de Beckham, with land in East Beckham, West Beckham, Sheringham, Runton, Beeston, Schipeden, Felbrigg, Aylmerton, Sustead and Gresham and a water mill in Sheringham late of Adam Brown.
History of an East Anglian Soke - Christobel Hoare - 1918

The date 1390 is an attempt to place William Frere is the sequence of rectors of South Repps. The patron was who presented him to the living. The grant details in the remarks column are mentioned to show when he was active (ie mentioned in a document). The date 1390 was probably when Frere was presented to S Repps.
The grant itself was dated 1415 and the manor of East Beckham was a cause celebre in the Paston family story.
Richmond says it was sold by William Winter's trustees to his brother John Winter along with all the East Beckham manor lands that Roger de Beckham had held, in April 1409 and from John Winter (by his trustees as named in the grant) to the Marriott's in 1415. Marriott was a fisherman (of local standing) and drowned at sea. The manor was bought by Judge William Paston in 1442 and later went to the Windhams.
William Winter had bought the manor from Roger de Beckham in 1379 and he also bought a tenement from Adam Brown (Brown's tenement) which seems to have been the watermill and which was leased out for 7s.

Maqggie Vaughan-Lewis - 22nd January 2020

Joseph Priest was miller during the early 1700s. He owned the watermill and the nearby Upper_Sheringham_postmill as well as other property all of which he left to his son Robert when he died, probably in 1748. He also made a number of money bequests to his wife and family and must have been a very successful man. Robert Priest died in May 1771. One of Joseph's other sons was John and he was probably the John Priest, who bought Letheringsett-watermill and built Letheringsett_postmill. John Priest, was less fortunate than his father, as he later became bankrupt due to his extravagant lifestyle..

Joseph Priest was a miller in the eighteenth century. He owned not only a windmill but also a watermill (Note: There was a watermill at Sheringham at least until 1791 in which year Mr. Bond was assessed at £15 to the poor rate) as well as other property all of which he left at his death, probably early in 1748 to his son Robert who died in May 1771. He made a number of money bequests to his wife and family and he must have been a very successful man. One of his sons was John and he was probably the John Priest who bought a mill at Letheringsett, but he was less fortunate; indeed he later became bankrupt. (Note: Details of this John Priest and his activities are to be found in Basil Cozens-Hardy's History of Letheringsett. For the suit of tithes brought against Joseph Priest see under list of Sheringham vicars (1741) in chapter V, or R. W. Ketton-Cremer's Country Neighbourhood, p.216, from which the account is taken)
History of Sheringham & Beeston Regis - Campbell A. Erroll - 1970

re. Vicars of Upper Sheringham:-
1741 ... Rice occurs. He commenced a suit against Joseph Priest the miller for tithes, although Priest said that he never paid any. The Rev. Patrick St. Clair interested himself on behalf of Priest and Mr. Rice agreed that the matter should be settled by Mr. St. Clair and another clergyman.
History of Sheringham & Beeston Regis - Campbell A. Erroll - 1970

Joseph Priest grave West Beckham
Joseph Priest's grave at West Beckham - died 22nd November 1747


To be Sold by Auction, On Saturday the 15th of September, between the Hours of three and five in the Afternoon, at the Sign of the Feathers in Holt. An Overshot Water-Mill, the Works entirely new and upon an improved Plan, now in full Trade, in the Occupation of Mr Clarke Miller, of Lower Sherringham, the Owner, who leaves it for no other Reason than that of taking larger Business; also a good House, two small Pightles of Land adjoining to the Mill, very contiguous to an extensive Common; not less than a Hundred Pounds has been laid out upon the Premisses this Summer, and though the Mill is not perfectly finished, the Owner will either compleat it, or allow for it in the Purchase Money. The household furniture, Carts, Horses, etc may be had with the above, if required. All Persons having any Demands upon the above Mr Clarke Miller, are forthwith desired to send in their Accounts; and such Persons as stand indebted to him are requested to discharge the same within fourteen Days from the Date hereof, or they will be sued without further Notice.
N.B. The above Premisses, if sold by private Contract, (of which timely Notice will be given in this Paper) may be entered upon immediately. For further Particulars enquire of Mr John Miller, of Burgh Mills, or the Owner, at Sherringham.

Norfolk Chronicle - 30th August 1781

The Creditors of Clarke MILLER, of Sherringham, in the County of Norfolk, Miller, a Bankrupt, are requested to meet at the King's Arms in Cromer, on Tuesday the twenty-third Day of December, instant, at Eleven o'Clock in the Forenoon, to inspect his Affairs, in order to the superseding the Commission issued against him; for which Purpose they are desired to bring with them an Account of the Debts due to them from the said Bankrupt.  
Whereas a Commission of Bankrupt is awarded and issued forth against Clarke MILLER, of Sheringham, in the County of Norfolk, Miller, he being declared Bankrupt, is hereby required to surrender himself to the Commissioners in the said Commission named, or the major Part of them, on the 26th Day of this instant Month of December, and on the 3d and 21st Days of January next, at Three of the Clock in the Afternoon on each of the said Days, at the House of John SHIRLEY, being the King's Head, in the Parish of Saint Saviour, in the City of Norwich, and make a full Discovery and Disclosure of his Estate and Effects, when and where the Creditors are to come prepared to prove their Debts; at the second Sitting to choose Assignees; and at the last Sitting the said Bankrupt is required to finish his Examination, and the Creditors are to assent to, or dissent from the Allowance of his Certificate. All Persons indebted to the said Bankrupt, or who have any of his Effects, are not to pay or deliver the same but to whom the Commissioners shall appoint, but give Notice to John HOWSE, Attorney at Law at North Walsham, in the said County.  
Norfolk Chronicle - 20th December 1783

Notice re: Sheringham Water Mill
...Clarke, Miller, bankrupt.
Norfolk Chronicle - 24th April 1784

It would appear that the mill remained unsold as Clarke Miller was bankrupt by 1784. The mill had not yet been converted to a paper mill.

To be SOLD

ALL that MESSUAGE, with the WATER-CORN-MILL and going Geers, and about two Acres of Land, with the Appurtenances, in Sheringham, late in the Occupation of Mr. Clarke Miller, the Owner.
For Particulars inquire of Mr. Shephard, of North Repps, or Mr. Burcham, of Cockthorpe, the Affignees of the Eftate and Effects of the faid Clarke Miller, or of Mr. Howfe, North Walsham.
All Perfons indebted to the faid Clarke Miller, at the Time he became a Bankrupt, are defired forthwith to pay their Debts to Mr. William Cooke, at the Mill, who is authorized to receive the fame, or they will be fued without any further Notice.
Norfolk Chronicle - 5th June 1784

A Rate made by Henry Pegg & John Pegg Overseers of the Poor of the Parish of Sheringham for the relief of the said Poor from April 17 to July 17, being 14 weeks at 2/3 on the Pound. 1808.

Widow Critoph
Water Mill

Town Book for Sheringham - 1808


Samuel Critph at Sheringham Water Mill
Norfolk Chronicle - 14th June 1823

To be Sold or Let
All those PAPER MILLS at Sheringham...
Also a small TOWER CORN WINDMILL situate at Salthouse...
Apply to Mr. Ransom, Solicitor, Holt.

Norfolk Chronicle - 11th January 1840

In 1863 there was a proposal to convert the paper mill into a corn mill:
St. Ann's Iron Works,
King Street, Norwich, 18 July 1863.

Mr. Critoph,
Dear Sir, Having duly considered the matter respecting the converting your Mill at Sheringham from Paper to a Flour Mill. In the first place I find your new Pit Wheel will not be sufficiently large to get the proper speed for driving Mill Stones, it will therefore require a New Cast Iron Pit Wheel of not less than 12ft. Diameter, one New Cast Iron Wallower to gear with the New Pit Wheel. I am therefore willing to supply all the undermentioned Articles for the Working of 2 Pairs of Stones, Flour Mill, sifter and Sack Tackle viz.
New Cast Iron Pit Wheel and Wallower, 2 Pairs Cast Iron counter Wheels, Gear'd, pitched and trimmed, one 6" Counter Shaft, with Plumr. Blocks, Brasses and Bolts complete. One Cast Iron Foundation plate and bolts for end of counter shaft. One 4ft. Drum, One 3ft. Drum, Two 2ft. Drums, Turned and bored, for driving Flour Mill, sifter and Sack Tackle, One Pair of 3ft. 6" Peak Stones, fitted with Vats and Hoppers. Two Stone Spindles, Stone Box's and Brasses, turned and fitted complete. Four Cast Iron Columns, Two Bridge Trees, fitted with Bridgen Pots and Brasses. One New Flour Mill, One New Sifter, New Sack Tackle complete. Wrought Iron Shaft for driving Sack Tackle, Sifter, &c. with Cast Iron Brackets & Bolts, all the New Leather Straps for driving Flour Mill, Sack Tackle &c. with mens time at Mill. All the above Work to be delivered, fixed and put to Work for the sum of one hundred and ninety five pounds.
£195. -. -.
Waiting your reply,
I have the honor to be,
Dear Sir,
Your Obt. Servt,
Thos. Smithdale.

N.B. As I consider the repairing of the Water Wheel is a carpenters job I think that it would be advisable for you to get your Carpenter to do it and we should be willing to give him any instruction while we are fixg. the work in the Mill.

Mr. Critoph obviously considered that French buhr stones would be preferable to Derby Peak stones and that the water wheel was either not worth repairing or was not powerful enough...
St. Ann's Iron Works,
King Street, Norwich, 11 Mar. 1864.

Mr. Critoph,
Dear Sir,
Having duly considered the matter relative to the Water Wheel and mill gearing for driving two pairs of stones in your mill at Sheringham viz
To take out the old Water Wheel and refix a new one with cast Iron Rings of Metal not less than one foot deep to form the Bucket sides with New Wood Buckets and new arms to the wheel and all wrt. Iron Bolts for the same. One new Cast Iron Pit Wheel and Wallower. Two New Counter Wheels and Stone nuts geared, pitched and trimmed. One 6" Counter Shaft with plumr. Blocks, Brasses and Bolts, turned, bored and fitted. Cast Iron foundation plate and Bolts for End of counter shaft. 4 Cast Iron Drum Riggers, Cast, turned and bored, for driving flour mill, Sifter and sack Tackle. Two pair of French Burr Stones, 3ft. 8" and 3ft. 6" diameter, fitted with Vats and hopper. Two stone spindles. Two stone Boxes and two Box's and two Damsels, turned and fitted complete. 4 Cast Iron Columns, 2 Bridge Trees & Bridgin Pots, fitted with Brasses. One New Flour Mill, sifter and sack Tackle. Wrought Iron Shaft and Plumr. Blocks, fitted with Brasses and Bolts. 2 Cast Iron Brackets and Bolts, 4 New Leather Bands. All the above to be made of first-rate materials, delivered and fixed at Sheringham including Carting with mens time for the sum of two hundred and fifty pounds.
£250. -. -.
Waiting your reply,
I am, Dear Sir,
Your Obt. Servt,
Thos. Smithdale.

In 1883 William Critoph was working Yaxham_towermill and Mattishall_Mill_Road_towermill and he was a descendent of Robert Critoph of Gresham who in turn was probably related to the Critoph milling family of Sheringham and Upper Sheringham.

The beck to the rear of the buildings - January 2003
The beck to the rear of the buildings - January 2003

25th January 2003 25th January 2003
Beeston Road (Paper Mill Road) 25th January 2003
White painted house just up from the junction bore the plaque.

The plaque on the building said to occupy the site
The plaque on the building said to occupy the site
January 2003

The Sheringham Preservation Society's plaque was originally on the wrong building and should actually have be further down the road to coincide with the position of the mill at the foot of the ponds forming the mill dam.
After a considerable amount of correspondence from interested parties, the Society later moved the plaque to a house at the correct location further down the road.

Tithe map of 1838 Tithe map of 1838
Tithe map of 1838
Lower arrow shows mill site according to Sheringham Preservation Society in 2003.
Upper arrow shows likely site of mill according to map evidence
Blue marker between the ponds shows present day road - The Avenue

The plaque on a cottage in Beeston Road
The plaque on a cottage in Beeston Road
January 2016

November 2014 November 2014
The plaque having been moved onto the building likely to be occupying the mill site
- November 2014

Sheringham papermill site
Sheringham papermill site, Watermill House - 16th November 2014

Critoph family tree
Mills include:- Gresham watermill & windmill, Gt Dunham, Mattishall, Sheringham, Swanton Morley, Upper Sheringham, Yaxham postmill, smockmill & towermill

The Parish Boundary shown on the map below runs along the original course of Beeston Beck. The Beck fed the two ponds above the mill and when milling ceased and the ponds were filled in, the Beck was rerouted to the west, where it currently runs.

O. S. Map 1885

O. S. Map 1885
Mill site shown in red
Courtesy of NLS map images

1379: William Winter bought the manor from Roger de Beckham

1379: William Winter bought a tenament including the mill from Adam Brown - mill leased out for 7s.

April 1409: Mill sold by William Winter's trustees to brother John Winter along with East Beckham manor lands

1415: Mill sold by John Winter's trustees to William & Joan Marriott family

1442: Manor bought by William Paston, before later going to the Windham family

Watermill and 20p. and 2a. 1r., all copyhold of Manor of Sheringham Morley Hall

1719: Joseph Priest, also a windmill

22nd November 1747: Joseph Priest died leaving the mill to son Robert.

1747: Joseph Priest's will proived

N. Erpingham Hundred, Militia Ballot Lists 18th May 1765: Robt. Prist (34), miller; Adam Carrison (20) (assume Kerrison), miller; Richard Jacksin (35), miller; Richard Sidney (42), miller

May 1771: Robert Priest died aged 40

1781: Clarke Miller

24th April 1784: Clarke Miller, miller, bankrupt

June 1784: Mill advertised for sale after Clarke Miller had left

c.1789: John Critoph, miller took Robert Leman on as apprentice

1791: Mr. Bond assessed at £15 to the poor rate

Faden's map 1797: Mill

Sheringham Town Book 1808: Widow Critoph, watermill

Will proved 1814: John Critoph, miller of Sheringham

Norfolk Chronicle 14th June 1823: Notice re. Water Corn Mill, Samuel Critoph

1826: Lewis Betts - married to Mary Ann Ling and had 3 children between 1826 - 1829

1832: Charles Townshend - married to Sarah Betts (sister of Lewis?)
John England - married Elizabeth Hogg in 1832 and had 2 children. John died in 1836 aged 30

London Gazette 26th June 1829:
James Betts (Bungay_mill) and Lewis Betts (also of Upper and Lower Sheringham) papermakers and stationers, bankrupt

White's 1836: Joseph Nightingale, paper manufacturer also landlord of the Crown Inn

O.S. map 1838: Paper mill

Tithe map survey 1838: Samuel Critoph (b.1783) owner, also windmiller at Upper_Sheringham and possibly owner of Salthouse smockmill

1841: Joseph Nightingale died aged 57

1841: John Skipper employing Charles Clarke aged 20 and Robert Jackson aged 65

Census 1841: John Skipper (45) paper maker
Sarah Skipper (45)
Martin Skipper (20)
Harriot Skipper (15)
George Skipper (13)
Laura Skipper (1 month)

1842: John Skipper died

1842: Sarah Jackson (widow)

White's 1845: Sarah Skipper, paper manufacturer (Upper Sherringham)

Census 1851: Sarah Skipper (59) b.Thwaite, widow, paper maker employing 2 journeymen
George Skipper (23) b.Halstead, Essex, son, unmarried, blind
Charles Clarke (33) b.Taverham (son in law) married, paper maker and Zedekiah Clarke
Ann Clarke (34) b.Bungay, Suffolk (married to Charles Clarke)
William Clarke (12) b.Taverham,  grandson
John Clarke (9) b.Sheringham, grandson
Caroline Clarke (5) b.Sheringham, granddaughter

Census 1851: Zedekiah Clarke (24) b.Taverham, paper maker - lodging with John Hanney

Census 1851: John Ward (25) b.Broughing, Herts, master miller employing 1 man
Samuel Cooper (16) b.Gresham, employed in the mill
Mary A. Ward (40) b.Holt (aunt) housekeeper

1852: Sarah Jackson (widow), Charles Clarke & Zedekiah Clarke aged 25, married Maria Sunman Kerrison

Kelly's 1854: On the banks of the rivulet is a small paper mill. Sarah Skipper (Mrs.) paper maker
White's 1854: Sarah Skipper, paper manufacturer

1861: Charles Clarke

Census 1861: Charles Clarke (43) b.Taverham, master paper maker + 2 journeymen
Ann Clarke (44) b.Bungay, Suffolk
William Clarke (23) b.Taverham
John Clarke (19) b.Sheringham
Caroline Clarke (15) b.Sheringham
Sarah Skipper (69) b.Halstead, Essex (mother in law)
George Skipper (33) b.Taverham, papermaker (blind, deaf & dumb)
Address: Mill House, Paper Mill Road, Lower Sheringham

1862: Charles Clarke, William Clarke (son?) married Amelia

July 1863: Mr. Critoph considered converting the papermill to a corn mill with two pairs of stones

1860s: Production ceased

Register of voters 1874: John Robert Critoph -
Freehold paper-mill cottage & land near the Methodist Chapel

2014: Wall plaque records the site of the mill's original location

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 TG 16074327
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Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2004