Belle Vue


Drainage Mills (Windpumps)
Steam Mills


Briningham smockmill was built by Sir Jacob Astley, 1st Baronet, of Melton Constable Hall in 1721 and a tablet over what was the east door that later became a window bears the inscription IA 1721. The mill did not work for long and Sir Edward Astley, the 4th Baronet replaced the 2 storey wooden tower with a cylindrical 3 storey brick tower at some time between 1771 and 1780. This new tower was built over the existing 3 storey brick octagonal base and was castellated with conical cupola roof to a height of around 50 feet. The base is the only one of its type in the county and is also the oldest base in the county.

3 storey octagonal brick base.
At ground level each side 10ft. giving external diameter, wall to wall, about 24 ft.
Walls are staggered in four sections, the three lower ones being vertical, heights of 7ft. 6 ins. & 7ft. & the fourth sloping inwards slightly, 9ft. high, about 29 feet in all.
This is surmounted by a cylindrical 3 storey brick tower, residential only, about 21 feet high, set in slightly from the centres of the walls, corners of which were chamfered towards the tower. (Query original or recent)
As remaining, tower about 50ft. high.
Doorwayto west, double doors.
Original dorway to east converted to window.
Original wiondows on 1st floor:- east, still open, south & west bricked up.
Doors & original windows have brick arches; later windows all squared.
Tablet over east door (now large window)
Jacob ASTLEY, 1st Baronet)
Harry Apling - 1975

The windmill was the first recorded windmill in Norfolk to ever be converted to residential use and became a residential folly known as Belle Vue Tower.

... Melton ... Sir Edward Ashley at this place has a large park ... From a windmill near the park is a prodigious view of a rich woodland country, fully intemixed with cornfields & wanting nothing but a river to be complete.
Arthur Young, The Farmer's Tour through the East of England - 1771

Melton Constable
The tower, now called Belle-view was originally a windmill; it is commodiously fitted up; the apartments and furniture elegant & the look out at the top affords a prospect of sea & land twenty five miles each way.

Armstrong, History & Antiquities of the County of Norfolk - 1781

The view from Edgefield_windmill & Melton BELLE VIEW is incomparably picturesque & extensive.
Armstrong - 1781

On the north side of the parish is a tower called Belle Vue, belonging to Lord Hastings, and commanding extensive views.
White's Directory - 1845

On the north side of the parish is a tower about 60 feet high, called Belle Vue, as it commands extensive prospects.  It is the property of Lord Hastings, and is occupied by his gamekeeper.
White's Directory - 1883

12th October 1941
Lord Hastings on Home Guard duty in front of mill with unknown Sgt. Major
12th October 1941

12th October 1941
Detail on back of above photo - 12th October 1941
N.B. Spanish Armada approached England in 1588 - JJN

Briningham smockmill was the highest windmill in Norfolk and enjoyed remarkable views of some 25 miles across rural North Norfolk. It stood on ground over 300 feet above sea level and was slightly higher than
Upper Sheringham postmill.

The mill was in Mill Lane and was situated above the site of two postmills that were further down the same lane.


Having become derelict of the course of time the tower was being renovated by Paul Wellard of South Creake when he left. The mill was then put up for sale in 1980.

Chartered Surveyors and Estate Agents
8 Oak Street, Fakenham.
Unique property in complete seclusion with 9 acres woodland. 6-storey tower building with modern addition comprising hall, laundry room, lounge/dining room, kitchen, cloakroom, bedroom, Requiring completion of conversion and modernisation. Garage £65,000
Eastern Daily Press - 12th July 1980

Work incomplete, seems to have stopped some time ago. Inside walls of rooms in round tower have been made octagonal in plan to match smock mill base.
Water tanks in new top floor look-out.
Access to property very bad after recent rainy weather.
Harry Apling - 8th May 1981

To Whom it may Concern

I, BENITA HIDE, of Belle Vue Tower, Briningham near Melton Constable, Norfolk, having during the past six months carried on the trade or calling of Shopkeeper hereby give you notice that it is my intention to apply at the Transfer Session for the said Licensing District to be held at the Court House, Holt Road, Cromer, on Thursday, December 5th next, at 10.30a.m., for the grant to me of a Justices' Licence authorising me to sell by retail intoxicating liquor of all descriptions for consumption off the premises situate at 35, Market Place, Holt, Norfolk, and known by the sign of "The Holt Cheese Shop & Delicatessen" of which premises Mr. Clive Buckle is the owner.
Dated this 11th day of November, 1985.
NORTON PESKETT & FORWARD, Solicitors & Agents for the Applicant).
148, London Road North, Lowestoft, Suffolk.
Eastern Daily Press - 16th November 1985

21st May 1980 6th February 2005
21st May 1980
6th February 2005

For Sale
Offers in excess of £200,000.
Has been listed Grade 2 as being of outstanding architectural or historical interest and as such is described as a Smock Mill.
Eastern Daily Press - 29th May 1987

SAVILLS Upper King St., Norwich
Elizabethan "Standing" or Folly with 18th century additions, beautifully converted into a family House with outstandiong views and about 9 acres.
Excess of £200,000
Eastern Daily Press - 4th September 1987

BRININGHAM £200,000.
Unique and historic original Smock Mill standing in splendid isolation with 9 acres of woodland. Six-storey mill tower giving panoramic views. Joint sole agents with Messrs. Savills.
Eastern Daily Press - 25th September 1987
Advert overprinted SALE AGREED

Mill advertised again in the EDP by John Marsh on 24th October 1987, indicating that the previous SALE AGREED had fallen through.

6th February 2005
6th February 2005

Briningham mill (as it’s called on your website) - in the family we call it the tower (my Dad’s tower) he bought it in the very late 70’s and yes started the design In a octagonal plan as stated, Bonita was his girl friend at the time and one day Paul just left and left her the tower.
We have many before and after photos at my dads house of the (mill).
Paul Wellard is the designer and Architect who did the renovations in the 70’s !!!
And then just left for a new project, and life.
Wanda Wellard - 24th August 2021

O. S. Map 1885

O. S. Map 1885
Bellevue lower centre; Postmills to the northeast
Courtesy of NLS map images

1721: Mill built and became the highest mill in Norfolk

1771-1780: Mill ceased to work and was converted from a wooden smockmill to a brick tower residence

Faden's map 1797: Belle View

Bryant's map 1826: Belle View

1975: Mill derelict but under restoration by Paul Wellard of South Creake

Telephone Directory 1980: Wellard, P. Belle Vue Tower, Mill Lane, Briston. Melton Constable 328

1980: Mill renovated by Paul Wellard of South Creake

1985: Benita Hide

1987: Mill advertised for sale

2005: Mill known as Belle Vue and retained as a private residence

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 TG03423348
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Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2006