Cawston Sygate
White towermill


Drainage Mills (Windpumps)
Steam Mills

Mills working c.1905
Mills working c.1905
White mill on the left

Two brick towermills were both built in the same mill yard at Cawston Sygate in 1853 by farmer, merchant and auctioneer, John Shepheard Hickling. The White mill was slightly larger than the Black_mill and was so called because it had a white painted cap. The mill house bears a datestone J.S.H. 1853. At one point the Black_Mill was grinding wheat to flour, which was then dressed in the White Mill. In later years, the Black_mill was run as a sawmill and the White Mill produced animal feed.

Sygate mills 1923 c.1925
White Mill in the foreground 1923
White Mill in the foreground c.1925

The 5 storey mill was powered by 4 double shuttered sails. One pair has 8 bays of 3 shutters and the other pair had 7 bays of 3 shutters, the innermost section having 1 bay of 4 shutters. The white boat shaped cap with a petticoat, held a gallery and a 6 bladed fantail. A stage was set around the first floor.

Rex Wailes described the mill as derelict in 1923. He also mentioned that the mill had a:
Shot curb with an independent ring of rollers between cap & curb.

Michaelmas Sales by J. S. Hickling
Wednesday September 27 at the Lamb Inn, Cawston at 5 p.m.

Two Brick Tower WINDMILLS, Miller's House, two Cottages, Granary, Engine house, Stable and Gardens, containung altogether One acre.
Freehold. Rental £40 per annum.
Wm. Forster, Esq., Vendor's Solicitor

Norfolk Chronicle - 16th September 1893

The White mill was run by John Shepheard Hickling as a cornmill until around 1879. Two tenants William Handcock 1880-1890 and Alexander Wells in 1892, ran the mill until John Hickling put both mills up for auction in 1893.

John Shepheard Hickling was buried in Cawston chuchyard.

In 1881 Lewis Yallop's daughter, Laura aged 19 was living with her parents at Southgate. It appears that soon after this she married into the Pyke family but by 1883 she was a widow - Laura Pike. In June 1883 Laura married Edward Slipper in Sheringham, giving her father's occupation as miller in Cawston.
Edward Slipper was the grandson of Matthew Slipper (b.Itteringham) who was journeyman miller at
Upper_Sheringham_postmill in 1841.

William Stackwood snr moved from Dilham to Cawston in the late 1890s. He had been running the two Sygate mills whilst also running Dilham_watermill where he had been living. His son Sydney Stackwood remained behind and carried on the business in Dilham.
William Stackwood probably converted the Black_mill to a cornmill c.1895 and ran both mills until his sons Charles and Bamber took over c.1912 and continued milling on the site until 1929. However, steam power was being used in the latter stages of production and the Black mill only had one pair of sails by 1923.

In 1923 Philip Unwin photographed the mills and recorded that both were derelict.

Stgate Mill Cottages 1924
Bamber & Rosie Stackwood, Mrs Nora Purdy & Mrs Stackwood outside Mill Cottages in 1924

Sygate towermills c.1935 Towermills c.1938
White Mill on the right c.1935
Mills and cottages c.1938

White Mill on the right c.1945

... Attlebridge airfield. When missions began 466th crews tried to spin the sails of a windmill in the vicinity with their B-24s prop wash and bets were placed on who could fly the nearest to its sails.
Fields of Little America - Martion Bowman, 1977
It is not known if a Cawston towermill was the mill in question but it was a strong possibility.

In 1955 the Black Mill was demolished for rubble to pave a roadway and the White Mill would have suffered the same fate if the winch rope had not broken.

White Mill 26th May 1970 c.1970 c.1970
26th May 1970
CAWSTON sign probably came from
Cawston station signalbox

20th April 1984 20th April 1984
20th April 1984

c.1990 1990

During the 1970s the new owner of the property and cottages, converted nos. 1 & 2 into one cottage and sold no. 3.

30th May 2005 c.2010
30th May 2005

Sygate Mill is a skilful conversion of a former grain mill, peacefully situated on the outskirts of Cawston village in North Norfolk. The stylish interior is brimming with character features including exposed brickwork, beams and a first-floor decked balcony which offers lovely countryside views.
A late cancellation means you can have a week in a Norfolk windmill for just £266 - that's a saving of £75! Price applies for the week commencing February 27 and this four-star VisitBritain-graded property sleeps six people in three bedrooms.
UK Travel Offers website - February 2010

O.S. Map 1885
6" O.S. Map 1885 - white mill just to the southeast of the black mill (not to scale)
Courtesy of NLS map images

O.S. Map 1885
25" O.S. Map 1885 - white mill just to the southeast of the black mill (not to scale)
Courtesy of NLS map images

1853: Mill built along with the Black mill by John Shepheard Hickling

White's 1854: John Hickling, corn miller

1853-c.1879: John Shepheard Hickling

White's 1864: John Shepheard Hickling, land agent, auctioneer, valuer, corn miller & merchant

Kelly's 1879: John Shepheard Hickling, miller, corn merchant & farmer; & at Brandestone, Haveringland & Sall

Census 1881: Lewis Yallop (42) b.Rockland, corn miller
living with wife and daughter Laura (19) at Southgate

1883: Lewis Yallop

O.S. map 1885: Windmill

1888-1890: William Handcock, tenant

1892: Alexander Wells, tenant

Kelly's 1892: Alexander Wells, miller (wind) & c. Southgate

September 1893: Mills advertised for sale by auction

Kelly's 1896: William Stackwood, miller (wind), Southgate

Kelly's 1900: William Stackwood, miller (wind & steam) & coal merchant, Southgate

Kelly's 1904: William Stackwood, miller (wind & steam) & coal merchant, Southgate

Kelly's 1912: William Stackwood, miller (wind), Southgate

1896-1912: William Stackwood, coal merchant

1916-1929: Charles & Bamber Stackwood trading as Stackwood Bros.

Kelly's 1916: Stackwood Brothers, millers (wind), Southgate

Kelly's 1922: Stackwood Brothers, millers (wind), Southgate

Kelly's 1925: Stackwood Brothers, millers (wind), Southgate

1928: Mill ceased working

Kelly's 1929: Stackwood Bros. millers (steam), Southgate

Kelly's 1933: Stackwood Bros. millers (steam), Southgate

Kelly's 1937: Stackwood Bros. millers (steam), Southgate

1937: Tower capped with all 4 sails remaining but fantail missing

1954: Sails removed

March 1967: Bamber Stackwood died

1970: Property owned by Mrs. Louisa Purdy, daughter of William Stackwood

1984: 3 storey 25' empty tower

1990: Mill tower derelict

2003: Alan Lees

2003: Mill converted to holiday accommodation use

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 13572460
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Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2004