Besthorpe towermill stood in Mill Lane and in later years was worked in conjunction with a steam mill that stood beside it. The mill tower was 6 storeys high and used 4 double shuttered sails, each with 8 bays of 3 shutters, struck by a rocking lever to power 3 pairs of French burr stones and a flour dresser. The towermill had patent sails and a boat shaped cap with a petticoat and an 6 bladed fantail.

The brake wheel was made of elm and oak reinforced with a flat oak frame to the front. The stone nuts and thus the stones were overdriven and taken out of mesh by screwing out a bearing block of quant. The horses were made of cast iron.

The towermill was was possibly built with clay lump. The only other towermills known to have been built of clay lump were Attleborough Station towermill and Carleton Rode towermill although the earlier postmill that stood beside the towermill had a clay lump roundhouse.

The three pairs of stones in the steam mill were driven by a 12hp high pressure expansive condensing engine.

Map 1846
Owner: Robert Lovett
Occupier: do

No. 59 House, Mill, Premises & Yard Pasture 0a. 3r. 14p. 4s. 8d.

Situations Vacant
WANTED, a respectable steady Youth as APPRENTICE to a Miller.

Apply to R. J. Lovett, Besthorpe Mill, Attleborough.
Norfolk News - 11th April 1857


To Parents & Guardians
WANTED, a steady respectable YOUTH, as an Apprentice to a MILLER.
Not under 16 years of age.

Apply to R.J. Lovett, Besthorpe Mills, Attleborough.
Norfolk News - 2nd March 1861

Situations Vacant
To Parents & Guardians
WANTED, a steady respectable Youth as an APPRENTICE to a MILLER.
Age about 16.

Apply to R.J. LOVETT, Besthorpe Mills, Attleboro’.
Norfolk News - 30th March 1861

To Journeymen Millers
WANTED, a steady active Married Man, one who thoroughly understands his Business. None need apply but who can be well recommended from his last employer.
Address, R.J. Lovett, Besthorpe, Attleborough
Norfolk News - 27th December 1862

Situations Vacant
TO MILLERS - Wanted, a steady single Man as UNDER MILLER & to drive the cart occasionally.

Apply to R.J. Lovett, Besthorpe Mills, Attleborough
Norfolk News - 31st August 1867

Situations Vacant
To Parents & Guardians
WANTED, a steady respectable Youth as an APPRENTICE to a MILLER, to be treated as one of the family, can attend market the last year. One of a Dissenter’s family preferred.
Apply R.J. Lovett, Besthorpe Mills, Attleboro’.

Norfolk News - 14th March 1868

c.1933 18th May 1935
18th May 1935

To Millers & others
FOR SALE with possession at Michaelmas or Christmas
Within a Mile of Attleborough Station & close to the Turnpike Road
All that desirable FREEHOLD PROPERTY situate at Besthorpe in a good Corn growing District comprising a fine Tower Windmill with six Floors, Patent Sails, driving three pairs of French Burr Stones; also a detached Steam Mill with a 12 h.p. high pressure expansive condensing Engine driving three pairs of French stones, together with all requisite Machinery, capital Storage & Miller’s Cottage.
Also a newly erected Red Brick & Slated Dwelling House, 3-stall Stable, Gig house, Lawn & Garden, Paddock & small pightle of Arable Land containing in all 2a.3r.7p.
The whole is Freehold & Land Tax redeemed.
An excellent Trade has been successfully carried on for about half a century by the present Proprietor & his Father & the Property is well worth attention either for occupation or investment.
Particulars of Messrs. Salter & Simpson, Offices Attleborough, or of Mr. R. J. Lovett on the premises.

Norfolk Chronicle & Norfolk News - 25th May & 1 June 1872

Besthorpe near Attleborough
Salter & Simpson are favoured with instructions from Mr. R.J. Lovett, who has disposed of his business, to Sell by Auction early in October, part of the neat & modern HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE, useful Bay Horse, 2 Mill Carts, 400 Corn Sacks & other Out door effects.
Norfolk News - 28th September 1872

Situations Vacant
Wanted, a Second Hand MILLER, one accustomed to Wind & Steam.
Good character required.
Apply George Greenacre, Besthorpe Mills, Attleborough.

Norfolk News - 26th October 1872

Situations Vacant
WANTED, a Married Man about thirty years of age as CARTER.
Wages 15s. per week. Cottage free. References required.
Apply Besthorpe Mills, Attleborough.

Norfolk News - 4th October 1873

Situations Vacant
WANTED, an experienced MILLER. Good wages, constant work to a trustworthy man, married preferred.
Apply George GREENACRE, Besthorpe Mills, Attleborough.

Norfolk News - 28th February 1874

Notice re
George GREENACRE deceased late of Worstead
Claims on estate to George GREENACRE of Besthorpe Mill, Besthorpe,
Miller …

Norfolk Chronicle - 24th August 1878

12th September 1934 Copy of 1934 photo by
12th September 1934
Copy of 1934 photo by Muriel Paquette

One Mile from Attleborough Railway station
CLOWES & NASH are favoured with directions from the Proprietor to Sell by Auction on Saturday April 3, 1897 at the Royal Hotel, Norwich at 3 for 4 o’c the well situated FREEHOLD MILLING and MERCANTILE PROPERTY known as Besthorpe Mills comprising a STEAM FLOUR MILL, BRICK TOWER WINDMILL, extensive Trade Premises, Excellent FAMILY RESIDENCE, FARM of about 20 Acres of highly productive Arable & Fine Old Pasture Land, with Premises & a Dwelling House near the above.
Particulars of the Auctioneers, Bank Chambers, Norwich or the Vendor’s Solicitors,
Messrs. Keith, Blake & Co.
The Chantry, Norwich.
Norfolk Chronicle - 13th, 20th & 27th March 1897

Besthorpe & Attleborough
One mile from Attleborough Railway Station
Substantially Erected Freehold Milling & Mercantile BUSINESS PREMISES known as Besthorpe Mills, with good FAMILY RESIDENCE, Valuable Farm of 19 Acres & Dwelling house.
Clowes & Nash are favoured with directions from the Proprietor, who is retiring from the Business at Michaelmas, to Sell by Auction on Thursday May 12 at the Royal Hotel, Attleborough at 4 for 5 o’c the above well situate ESTATE in the following Lots.
& close to the above a Brick Tower Windmill of 6 floors, driving three pairs of stones & Flour dresser – a Round Warehouse of 2 floors, spacious Mill Yard, extensive Trade Premises & Stabling, Excellent Farm Residence … Offices, Gardens, Orchard & Pastures containing altogether about 3 Acres.
Lot 2. Farm 19 Acres
The above 2 Lots are in the occupation of Mr. George Greenacre, the proprieter & will be first offered in One Lot.
Lot 3. Residence
Particulars at the Auctioneers’ offices, Bank Chambers, Norwich or of the Vendor’s Solicitors, Messrs. Keith, Blake& Co. The Chantry, Norwich.
Norfolk Chronicle - 30th April & 8th May 1898

Besthorpe Mills near Attleborough
2 Useful VAN HORSES …
Well built Miller’s Van, Mill Carts …
Trade Utensils, 460 Flour, Meal & Corn Sacks & Bags & other Effects
CLOWES & NASH are favoured with directions from the Trustees under a Deed of Assignment to sell by Auction on Thursday October 6 at 1 o’c without reserve, the above with other Effects throughout the Besthorpe Mills & Farm.
Catalogues may be obtained at the Mills or will be posted on application to the Auctioneers, Bank Chambers, Norwich.

Norfolk Chronicle - 24th September & 1st October 1898

Preliminary Notice
Besthorpe Mills, Attleborough
One mile from the Railway Station
This very valuable Freehold Property comprising the well-known STEAM & WIND MILLS with extensive Trade Premises, Capital Residence with ample Accommodation, excellent Gardens, Orchard & good Paddocks embracing in all about Three Acres, together with an exceptionally convenient Accommodation Holding of about 19 Acres of which 7 ½ Acres are fine Old Pastures, convenient Farm Premises, Yards etc.
Mr. Thos. H. Keith has received instructions to offer the above very desirable PROPERTY for Sale by Auction in Two Lots at the Royal Hotel, Norwich, in the month of July, unless previously disposed of by private contract.
Particulars of the Auctioneer, Offices, Winchester House, Prince of Wales Road, Norwich.
Vendor’s Solicitors
Messrs. Keith, Blake& Co.
The Chantry, Norwich.
Norfolk Chronicle - 7th July 1900

Besthorpe, Norfolk.
Within One Mile of Attleborough Station
Thomas H. Keith is instructed to sell by Auction at the Royal Hotel, Norwich on Saturday, 28 July 1900 at 3 for 4 o’c in the Afternoon, in Two Lots, unless previously disposed of, the Freehold STEAM & WIND MILLS known as Besthorpe Mills, fitted with 14 hp. Engine, 20 hp Galloway Boiler, Six Pairs of Stones & other requisite Machinery, Granaries, Stabling, Trade Premises, also a capital RESIDENCE adjoining the mill yard, containing … Garden, two Paddocks, the whole containing an area of about Three Acres, more or less.
Lot 2. Freehold Holding … 18a.3r.34p.
With suitable Farm Premises, the whole occupied by Mr. Boast, with possession at Michaelmas next.
Particulars of the Auctioneer, Winchester House, Prince of Wales Road, Norwich or of
Messrs. Keith, Blake& Co.
The Chantry, Norwich.
Norfolk Chronicle - 14th, 21st & 28th July 1900

Property Market
Mr. Thos. H. Keith offered at the Royal Hotel, Norwich the freehold steam & wind mills known as the Besthorpe Mills …
This was withdrawn at £440.
Norfolk Chronicle - 4th August 1900

7th November 1938
7th November 1938

I went to see Mrs Leman at Mill House, Mill Lane, Besthorpe. She is the widow of the miller there. She told me that there were 2 mills. The post mill to the east definitely had a clay lump shed round it. She was not sure that the Tower mill was lump.

The mill was said to be a landmark during the last war and was blown up by the Americans. Her husband did not object because there was a crack in it. She saw it blown up. It took several goes (confirmed by Clifford Eagling, School Cottage, Besthorpe). She said that the white American officers stood with the crowd on the road while the black servicemen placed the explosives and objected to the danger. "Black Americans did the dirty work". She has photographs. Six stories high. The windows were all above one another.

She told me to see Claud H. Thompson, Church House, Silver Street, Besthorpe, who is 90, who had owned the mill before her husband. He confirmed that the mill was of clay lump. The mills in Attleborough were at Tyrrell and Byfords Yard near the Station and on the South side of Hargham

Road. Mr Thompson said that he had helped make clay lumps and had ridden the horse round the treading bed. The last clay lumps he knew were made next door to Church House and were carried to Morley to build two houses by Mr Lusher (his younger brother Fred Lusher still lives in White Horse Lane). Prompted by my questions he described the process as follows:-

The clay was brought into the yard from the adjacent or nearby field in horse and tumbrels. The clay was laid out on the grass about 9" or more deep. It was covered with barley straw or chaff (he called it something else, which was the stuff that came out of the thresher and had long bits in it). Tough and thick wheat straw were not used. Dried spear grass was the best.

The clay was watered and trodden. The clay was put into a mould with a shovel and patted down with the shovel. One man did the moulding immediately next to the treading. Treading was done in "smaller lots". He could not remember how many were made in a day. The blocks were laid about 6" apart so that they could be turned which they were frequently. How long they were on the ground depended on the weather. They were stacked with spaces between, sometimes for over a year. The Workhouse at Besthorpe is of Clay Lump.
Dirk Bouwen - 12th January 1988

The towermill was blown up by the Americans c.1943 as they considered it to be a land mark for the Luftwaffe and the resulting rubble was used to help build New Buckenham airfield.

Mrs. Leman still lives at Mill House, but Mr. Leman died earlier this year.
A new house (The Mill, No. 38 Mill Lane) has been built by Mr. Leman’s son-in-law, David Gardiner, between Mill House and the site of the tower mill, steam/oil mill and the outbuildings. In 1981 Mr. Gardiner and his father discovered the foundations of the tower mill left when it was demolished. These have been repaired to the level of the surrounding lawn and form a brick circle the outside diameter of which is 23 ft. 8 ins. The tower wall at ground level is 2 feet thick giving a floor diameter of 19 ft. 8 ins.
Harry Apling - 2nd July 1985

I have been looking for information on Besthorpe for my father.  My father (now 80 and recently a widower) was  evacuated with the Leman family at Besthorpe Mill during the war and has the most wonderful memories of the family and the area.  We are going to arrange for a visit sometime in the spring and wondered if there is anyone we could contact who might be living at the house now.
Susan Economou - 13th February 2009

O.S. Map 1881-82
Towermill and steam mill - O.S. Map 1881-82
Courtesy of NLS map images

Pigot's 1830: Robert Lovett, miller, Bisthorpe

Greenwood's map 1834: 2 mills

White's 1836: Robert Lovett, corn miller

Whites 1845: Robert Lovett, miller

Tithe Award 1847: Owner & occupier: Robert Lovett

1853: Robert Lovett, miller

Whites 1854: Robert James Lovett, corn miller

1857: Robert James Lovett, miller

Census 1861: Robert James Lovett (34) b.Besthorpe, miller, employing 2 men
Hannah Ann Lovett (35)  b.Wymondham; Sarah Hook (16) b.Besthorpe, domestic servant
All living in Mill Road

Whites 1864: Robert James Lovett, corn miller

1872: Robert James Lovett, miller

May 1872: Mill advertised for sale

September 1872: Household furniture and ancilliary mill equipment of R.J. Lovett advertised for sale by auction

October 1872: George Greenacre, miller

1875: George Greenacre, miller

1878: George Greenacre died

Kelly's 1879: George Greenacre, miller, merchant & farmer, Besthorpe mills

Census 1881: George Greenacre (45) b.Repps, miller and farmer 55 acres, employing 2 men and 3 boys;
Abigail A. Greenacre (41) b.Norwich;
Edith Anna Greenacre (18)  Worstead;
Rosa N. Greenacre (16) b.Hingham;
Herbert E. Greenacre (13) b.Hingham, scholar;
Agnes A. Greenacre (10) b.Hingham, scholar.
All living at a Private House, Mill Road.
Thomas Youngman (48) b. Banningham, journeyman miller. Living at Mill Road Cottage
William Hilling (17) b.Wymondham, apprentice corn miller. Lodging with Robert Johnson

White's 1883: George Greenacre, miller & farmer

O.S. map 1884: Besthorpe Mills (Corn)

Census 1891: George Greenacre (55) b.Repps, miller
Abigail A. Greenacre (51)
Herbert E. Greenacre (22) b.Hingham, miller's son
Agnes A. Greenacre (19) b.Hingham
All living in Mill House, Mill Road

Kelly's 1892: George Greenacre, miller (steam & wind) & mer4chant & farmer, Besthorpe mills;
& at The Stores Attleborough

Kelly's 1896: George Greenacre, miller (steam & wind) & merchant & farmer, Besthorpe mills

April 1898: Mills advertised for sale by auction due to the retirement of George Greenacre

September 1898: Ancilliary mill items advertised for sale by auction

Kelly's 1900: Henry Arthur Boast, miller (steam & wind), corn, coal & coke merchant & farmer,
Besthorpe mills

July 1900: Mills advertised for sale by auction

Kelly's 1904: William Lester, miller, (wind & steam) & farmer

Kelly's 1912: William Lester, miller, (wind & steam)

Kelly's 1916: William Lester, miller, (wind & oil engine)

Kelly's 1922: William Lester, miller, (wind & oil engine)

Kelly's 1925: Hettie Lester, (Miss) miller, (wind & oil engine)

Kelly's 1929: Hettie Lester, (Miss) miller, (wind & oil engine)

25th August 1932: Towermill derelict with two double shuttered sails remaining

Kelly's 1933: Hettie Lester, (Miss) miller, (wind & oil engine)

1934: Mill derelict with only
2 sails remaining

Kelly's 1937: Francis Chester Leman, miller, pig & poultry foods & corn & flour merchant

1937: Tower with cap windshaft and gallery but no sails, stocks or fantail

1938: Tower with cap, petticoat, gallery and windshaft but no sails, stocks or fantail

c.1920: Claud H. Thompson

1940: Mr. Leman, miller - both mills out of action when taken over

c.1943: Towermill blown up by the Americans as they considered it to be a land mark for the Luftwaffe

c.1946: Oil mill burnt down having earlier replaced the steam mill

11th May 1977: Owner / occupier Francis Chester Leman. Pieces of French burr stone still in garden

1985: Francis Leman died

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