Drainage Mills (Windpumps)
Steam Mills

3rd October 2005
Mill site 3rd October 2005

Cawston smockmill stood at Hill Farm just to the east of the Heydon Road. The mill was self winding and in 1831 was using one pair of patent sails to power two pairs of French Burr stones, a flour mill and jumper. However, by 1869, the mill was using 2 pairs of sails and was also driving a small set of Peak stones.
A horse mill was also operated from the premises in the 1820s.

Brettingham Robins, baker of Cawston, owned the mill in 1782 and on 20th November that year he made a will bequeathing to his children my Windmill that standeth upon Cawston Heath or Warren.

Will dated 14 May 1808.
Brother Joseph Robins
Friend John Shalders, Norwich, Grocer
All property including Windmill to be offered to Joseph Robins at independent valuation, proceeds to be distributed.
If refused, all to be sold & proceeds distributed.

12th May 1810: Will proved at Norwich

Wanted within one month from the date hereof, a single man, one that can be well recommended as an experienced, sober, steady & active miller may meet with constant employ by applying personally to Joseph Robins at his baking office at Cawston.
N.B. No business will be required on Sunday & none need apply whose character will not bear the strictest investigation.
Norfolk Chronicle - 23rd June 1810

To Millers & Millwrights
To be Sold.
A pair of French Burr Stones 4 ft. 6 ins. diameter.
to Joseph Robins at the Baking Office, Cawston
, any day of the week except Sundays.
Norfolk Chronicle - 12th January 1811

To Millers & Bakers.
To be Let. For a Term of Years with possession at Michaelmas next.
An Old Established BAKING OFFICE & WINDMILL with Dwelling house, Granary, Stables, Horse Mill, two acres of Arable Land & every convenience for carrying on the business of Miller & Baker with advantage & profit, situate in Cawston, in the occupation of Mr. Joseph Robins, the proprietor, who intends retiring from business.

Application to be made to him (if by letter post paid) or personally on Mondays & Thursdays only.

Norfolk Chronicle - 9th May 1829

To Millers & Bakers.
To be Sold by Auction by J. S. Woolmer on Thursday 14 April 1831 at the Woodrow Inn, Cawston at 5 o'c.
A Capital Wood Smock Self Winding WINDMILL with two spring patent sails, driving two pair of French Stones with Flour Mill & Jumper & every requisite for carrying on the trade in the most efficient manner - together with 2 acres of Arable Land in the highest state of cultivation, situate in the populous parish of Cawston, Norfolk. All Freehold. At the same time will be LET by AUCTION an excellent Baking Office & 4 acres of Arable Land (in the same parish) now in full trade. The present proprietor & occupier of the above is declining trade & will give possession at Michaelmas next or sooner if agreed upon.
Particulars of the Auctioneer, Reepham.
Norfolk Chronicle - 2nd & 9th April 1831

Valuable MILL & old established BAKING OFFICE In the populous village of Cawston, Norfolk

To be Sold by Auction by S. Adams at the Black Boys, Aylsham on Thursday 26 November 1835 at 5 o’c

Lot 1. Two Capital pieces of Freehold Arable Land …

Lot 2. A capital Freehold Smock Self Winding Windmill with patent sails & 2 acres of excellent Arable Land situate in Cawston aforesaid near the Town & on an eminence adjoining the Heydon Road. There is no other windmill nearer than Felthorpe or Aylsham.

Lot 5. Two Freehold Brick built Dwelling houses & a long established Baking Office with flour chamber, granary, barns, stables & other requisite buildings & yards & gardens containing about half an acre in Cawston Street, now in the occupation of the Proprietor, Mr. Joseph Robins.

Apply to Mr. Alfred Barnard, Solr. Norwich or the Auctioneer, Foulsham, Norfolk.
Norfolk Chronicle - 23rd November 1835

A WOOD TOWER WINDMILL, with four Patent Sails, winds itself, driving two pairs of French Burr Stones, good as new, one pair of small Peak Stones, Flour Mill, Spur Wheel & Nuts in good going order. The owner is retiring from business.

For particulars apply to James Winterbourn, Millwright, Aylsham.
Norfolk News - 30th January 1869

Cawston. Alarming Fire.
On Saturday (i.e. 22nd) about 10 pm. the inhabitants of the quiet little town of Cawston were alarmed by a fire which broke out in a tower windmill belonging to Mr. Samuel Pye. The upper portion of the tower being composed of wood & tar, was quickly one mass of flames, which were seen at a distance of twelve miles. Hundreds of willing hands were there to render assistance, but there being no supply of water near, nothing could be done to save the mill. Such was the nature of the fire, that had an engine with a good supply of water been there, it would have availed nothing owing to the materials being of such an inflammable nature. The mill was quickly a mass of ruins. Twelve sacks of flour & five sacks of meal etc. were completely destroyed. Overheating is assigned as the origin of the fire. We understand that the property is insured in the Norwich Union Office.
Norfolk News - 29th May 1875

Cawston, Norfolk
Messrs. Spelman have received instructions to Sell by Auction on Saturday September 15, 1877 at 12 for 1 o’c At the Norfolk Hotel, Norwich, the FREEHOLD DWELLING HOUSE, Garden, Mill Walls, Barn, Stable, Garden & LAND containing 1a.2r.3p. occupied by Mr. S. Pye.
Possession on completion of the purchase.
Particulars of Messrs. Gedge, Kirby & Millett, Solrs. 1 Old Palace Yard, Westminster, London & of Messrs. Spelman, Norwich & Yarmouth.

Norfolk Chronicle - 8th September 1877

O.S. Map 1885
O.S. Map 1885 - the smock mill stood at Hill Farm
Courtesy of NLS map images

Mrs. Mary Ann Pye was still listed as baker in Kelly's Directory of 1900 and James Pye was listed as farmer & baker.

1782: Brettingham Robins, miller and baker

1808: William Robins, miller

c.1809: William Robins, miller died

Index of Wills 1810: William Robins

1810: Joseph Robins, miller & baker

Bryant's map 1826: Mill

1829: Joseph Robins, miller

May 1829: Mill advertised to be let

Pigot's 1830: Joseph Robins, miller, Cawston

April 1831: Mill advertised to be sold by auction

1833: Joseph Robins, miller

November 1833: Mill advertised to be sold by auction

White's 1836: Samuel Pye, corn miller; Joseph Robins, baker & flour dealer

O.S. Map 1838: Mill

White's 1845: Samuel Pye, miller

Census 1851: Samuel  Pye (44) b.Lammas, master miller and baker employ 1 man & 1 labourer
Maria  Pye (43) b.Edgefield
Samuel  Pye (18) b.Cawston, miller
Horace A. Pye (14) b.Cawston, baker
Ann Maria Pye (12) b.Cawston
Frederic A. Pye (11) b.Cawston, scholar
Emma E. Pye (9) b.Cawton, scholar
Sophia E. Pye (7) b.Cawston, scholar
Thomas M. Pye (5) b.Cawston
Walter W. Pye (4) b.Cawston
Frances M. Pye (1) b.Cawston
Charles Spencer (35) b.Cambridge, lodger - Curate of Cawston
Address: Heydon Road, Cawston

Census 1851: Thomas Bowen (26) b.Norwich, miller (possibly employee) living in Chapel Street

White's 1854: Samuel Pye, corn miller & baker

White's 1864: Samuel  Pye snr, corn miller
Mary Ann Pye, baker

January 1869: Mill advertised to be sold by auction

Saturday 22nd May 1875: Mill burnt down

September 1877: Mill property advertised for sale by auction

2nd October 1970: Mrs. Jones of Hill House had not heard of the mill

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 TG13302425
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Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2004