Drainage Mills (Windpumps)
Steam Mills

Fersfield mill was an open trestle postmill that stood at Fersfield Street that later became known as Wilney Green. In 1812 the mill was using one pair of stones but a second pair had been added by 1844 and a flour dresser was also in use. A bake office was also run on the premises.

To Millers etc.
Windmill with immediate Possession, & other Property.
To be Sold by Auction By John Blomfield On Friday 12 June 1812
At the Chequers Inn, Bressingham near Diss, at 11 o’c
Lot 1. A Capital POST WINDMILL, one pair of stones with going gears complete & now in full trade situate in Fersfield, late in the occupation of the proprietor, Mr. George Kent, deceased.
Possession may be had immediately.
Apply to Messrs. Taylor & Browne, Solrs. Diss, Norfolk, Mr. Kent of Bressingham or of the Auctioneer, Billingford Hall, Norfolk.

Norfolk News - 6th June 1812

Extracted from the 1812
Administration of George Kent, miller of Fersfield

Effects under £700.00 Dated Sept 4, 1812.
Know all men by these presents, that We, Martha Kent of the parish of Fersfield, widow, John Kent, of the parish of Diss, Co. Nfk, Gentleman, and James Cracknell of the parish of Diss, Nfk. Servant, are bolden and firmly bound to administer etc for Martha Kent, widow and relict of George Kent late of Fersfield, aforesaid deceased, intestate.
All administrators signed.
Separately Martha Kent, the widow, signed for an oath verifying she would correctly administer all goods, rights, chattels, and credits of her late husband. Dated July 31, 1813.

Extracted from the 1841
Will of John Buckenham, farmer of North Lopham

John Buckenham appoints my son in law George Wharton of North Lopham, farmer, and my grandson William Wharton of Cressingham, farmer, and my grandson William Buckenham, of Fersfield, in the said County, miller as executors.
I give and devise unto my grandson William Buckenham, all that Post round Mill, dwelling house and outbuildings and late thereto belonging in Fersfield, aforesaid and now in his occupation - Also to have 14 acres of land etc…………….

The will was written on 12th September 1840 and proved on 13th November, 1841. Effects under £450.00
John Buckenham died on 16th April 1841.

Windmill, House, Land & Premises at FERSFIELD
To be Sold by Auction by W.W. Elliott at the White Horse Inn in South Lopham on Thursday 11 January 1844 at 5 o’c
Lot 1. All that newly erected & convenient Messuage with brick front & slated, Baking office, Granary, Stable, Carriage Lodges & other useful Outbuildings. Post Windmill working 2 pair of Stones, Flour Dressing Machine & every requisite for carrying on business, neat Garden & Mill Yard.
Apply to Mr. T.J. Humphrey or Mr. Calver, Solr. Kenninghall or to the Auctioneer, Thelton, Norfolk.

Norfolk Chronicle - 6th January 1844

To be Let
The FERSFIELD MILL with a good Business, modern Brick & Slated Miller’s Residence, with Baking Office, Granary, stables etc. with or without a Small Farm with Farm House, Barn, Stables etc.
Apply to Mr. Calver, Solr. Kenninghall or the Owner, Dr. Wharton, Norwich.

Norfolk News - 14th September 1844

Extracted from the 1851
Will of William Walter Wharton, miller of Fersfield

The Last will and Testament of William Walter Wharton, of Fersfield, miller written on April 21, 1851, named executors as his brother Seeward Wharton of Kenninghall, Farmer, and John Wharton of South Lopham, Farmer.
To bargain, sell, dispose of all closes, inclosures of land with the cottages, barns, outbuildings etc… thereto situate, and lying in Fersfield, aforesaid containing together 11 acres or thereabouts (which I purchased of the executors of the late William Buckenham), either together or in parcels and either by public auction or private contract - money to be placed in trust.
I devise and bequeath to the said Leonard Wharton and John Wharton, their heirs and executors and administrators all that messuage or dwelling house in which I now reside. And also all that my windmill near together with outbuildings, yard, gardens and appertenances, going gears… whatsoever belonging etc…..
Immediately after the decease of my dear wife Mary Ann Wharton, then the trust monies are to be shared out.
The will was written on 12th September 1840 and proved at Blo Norton on 14th August, 1851 with probate on 11th November 1851. William Walter Wharton died on 9th June 1851.

Fersfield, Norfolk
To be Let with Possession at Michaelmas next
A CAPITAL POST MILL with two Pairs of French Stones & Going Gears complete with Genteel Residence, Bake office, stables, Piggeries, together with a Double Cottage & 10 ½ Acres of Superior ARABLE LAND, Barn, Stable etc. now in the occupation of Mr. Henry Sare.
For further particulars apply to W.R. Cooke, Auctioneer, Botesdale or to Mr. I. Wharton, Farmer, Rickinghall, Suffolk.

Norfolk News - 5th September 1863

Fersfield. Steam Boiler Explosion. Two men killed.
A lamentable & fatal accident took place in this village on Saturday last about four o’clock which has cast a deep gloom over the whole place. The sad event occurred upon the premises of Mr. Henry Sayer, miller. Adjoining the windmill is a building in which were fitted up a pair of stones with all necessary gear for grinding corn and which was worked by means of a steam engine. Mr. Sayer & his man John Boggis had been attending the engine most of the day & all had gone well until about four o’clock when without any previous warning the end of the boiler was completed forced out scattering death & destruction all round …

Summary of rest:
Boggis killed. Sayer had left leg broken & was severely scalded over the greater part of his body, dying about an hour later.
Verdict at inquest:- Accidental death caused by the explosion of the smoke box.

Norfolk News - 18th November 1871

The BOGGIS killed in the explosion was my great great grandfather.  His first name was John. Maggie Tomlinson née Boggis - 6th May 2009

In the 1870s, Robert Hawes' brother William ran Victoria Road towermill in Diss.

O.S. Map 1888
O.S. Map 1888
Image produced from the www.old-maps.co.uk service with permission of Landmark Information Group Ltd. and Ordnance Survey

Fersfield Mill stood at Wilney Green, about half way between the village & South Lopham, on a site which is now an orchard. It was an open trestle post mill used at one time by Henry Sayer & latterly by Robert Hawes, whose brother, William, had the tower mill at Diss. It was working in 1875, but stopped not long afterwards. The mill house still stands.
The Miller - 17th November 1947

c.1812: George Kent, miller, died

June 1812: Mill advertised for sale by auction

Bryant's map 1826: Windmill

Greenwood's map 1834: Windmill

16th April 1841: John Buckenham, owner, died (grandfather of William Buckenham)

Census 1841:
William Buckenham (25) miller
Ruth Elmore (40)
Thomas Buckenham (15) miller's apprentice
Elizabeth Fenn  (55) independent
William Steggale (5)

4 doors further on:
Thomas Billham (30) foreman miller
Martha Billham (30)
John Billham (5)
Elizabeth Billham (3)
Thomas Billham (1)

1843: William Buckenham, miller died

January 1844: Mill advertised for sale by auction

September 1844: Mill advertised to be let by owner Dr. Wharton of Norwich

Census 1851:

Walter W. Wharton (36) b.South Lopham, miller & farmer
Mary Ann Wharton (37) b.North Lopham
Frederic Wharton (4) b.South Lopham
Emma J. Wharton (1) b.Fersfield
Robert Soar (Sare?) (18) b. South Lopham, miller's apprentice
Harriett Holden (14) b.Blo Norton, servant
Emely Womack (8) b.North Lopham, wheelwrights daughter (neice)
Address: Wilney Green

9th June 1851: William Walter Wharton, miller, died

1853: Henry Sayer, miller

Census 1861:

Henry Sayer (36) b.Snetterton, miller
Mary Ann Sayer (36) b.Stanton, Suffolk.
Charles (?) Whiteham (19) b. ?, Suffolk, apprentice
Ellen Ann Emms (12) b.South Lopham, house servant
Address: Mill House

September 1863: Mill advertised to be let

White's 1864: Henry Sayer, corn miller

Census 1871:

Henry Sare (44) b.Snetterton, miller & farmer
Mary Ann Sare (44) b.Stanton, Suffolk
Annamaria Brook b.Hopton, scholar (neice)
John Deverell (19) b.South Lopham,  printer ? miller's apprentice
Address: Mill House

Saturday 11th November 1871: Steam Boiler exploded killing Henry Sayer and John Boggis

1872: Robert Hawes, miller

Kelly's 1879: Robert Hawes, miller & farmer

White's 1883: George Hawes, miller & farmer; h. Bressingham

O. S. map 1884: Windmill

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 TM05858180
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Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2006