Garboldisham postmill


Drainage Mills (Windpumps)
Steam Mills


Garboldisham post mill was probably erected in the late 1700s and a piece of the original woodwork bears the inscription WR 1780. It is known that there were millers in the village in the 1500s and later in 1739, one Ishmael Pizzey bequeathed his windmill to his wife Penelope.

The mill was modernised c.1830, when the original common sails were exchanged for 4 double shutttered patent sails, each with 8 bays of 6 shutters that were struck by rack and pinion. The 8 bladed fantail was mounted on a carriage attached to the stairway. The mill then had 2 pairs of underdriven French burr stones in the head of the buck. The brick roundhouse was 1½ storeys high, the upper window was horizontally barred and its roof was plastered. There was a single door and the walls were tarred to a height of 5 feet. The buck was painted white and after 1906 was roofed with iron sheeting.

Garboldisham postmill c.1890

In 1864 the sails were driving 2 pairs of 4ft 4ins French burr stones but in later years one pair of 4ft 4ins French burr stones and a pair of Peak stones were being used along with a flour machine and jumper.

The millpost was 32 ins square at its base and 25 ins square at the top.. The sails were struck by rack & pinion, with the chain wheel half in and half out of the buck.
The 8ft 6ins wooden brakewheel had a clasp arm with horns cast on a shaft instead of the square section and was controlled by an iron brake. Drive to the stones was via an iron wallower, spur wheel and mortice nuts.
The mill's tail section incorporating the stairs, fantail and trolley at around 22 feet in length is the longest recorded in Norfolk.

WR 1780 date and initials carving
Date and initials carving

Carved into the plaster in the roundhouse
Left side of the door C.A.P. 1909
Right side of the door C.A. P. 19..
This would refer to Christopher Augustus Pattinson, son of C. G. Pattinson who was later listed in Kelly's 1929 & 1937 as a coal merchant in East Harling.
Near the left door jamb

W B ?

R. Lon?
Nov 1797
Near the right of the door W B 1903
On the outside of the roundhouse, carved on the est pier, 5 feet from the ground I T (James Turner?)
Lower down and 3 ft to the right

... and also of all that my windmill in Garboldisham aforesaid ...
to his wife Penelope
Will of Ishmael Pizzey, miller of Garboldisham - 1739

Around 1788 James Turner built a smockmill to the southwest of the postmill and in 1802 apparently sold both mills to John Button. In 1820 a towermill was built nearby, allegedly to the north of the postmill, although again it is noted that the 1888-91 O.S. map shows two mills to the southwest.
The property was part of an estate owned by the Molyneux-Montgomery family for some 200 years before finally being sold off in 1944.

James Turner to John Button - 5th December 1811
WHEREAS in or about 1802 John Button of Garboldisham, miller, purchased from James Turner of Blo Norton, farmer
WHEREAS disputes etc
IND. WITBESSETH in consideration of ten shillings James Turner releases etc.
TWO WINDMILLS on Garboldisham Common
One piece on which James Turner erected a windmill granted to him at General Court Baron for the Manor 18th February, 1788 at yearly rent of five shillings.

Garboldisham POST MILL axletrees put up July 7th 1827.
Patent sails put up on Garboldisham POST MILL March 1831.
Diary of Thomas King of Thelnetham 1804 - 1838

In his diary, Thomas King of Thelnetham noted that on 7th July 1827 he put up an axletree. Later he replaced the original wooden windshaft with a cast iron windshaft and then replaced the common sails with patent sails in March 1831. Most of the machinery was replaced in cast iron and a fantial was added to allow for self winding.

Extracted from the 1828
Will of John BUTTON of Garboldisham

This is the last will and testament of me John BUTTON of Garboldisham, in the County of Norfolk, miller and I revoke all former wills………

I appoint my dear wife Mary Button and my uncle James Button of Thelnetham in Suffolk, Merchant to be executrix and executor.

Gives to Mary all her paraphanalia, all household goods, furniture, beddings, beds, table and other linens, plate, china, stoves, fundues ?, five …….. all other household furniture in my dwelling house or in any other dwelling he resides in…

And all such fixtures and effects as shall belong to me and be in and about or belonging to the mills, situate in Garboldisham aforesaid now in the several occupation of myself and John PEARL to and for her own absolute use and benefit independently of any debts which shall be owing by me at my decease (or demise?).

And I authorize, empower and request them, my said dear wife and my said uncle James Button as soon after my decease as they or the survivor of them conveniently can be to collect and get in all debts which at my decease shall be due and owing to me.

And to sell, and dispose of all my houses, cotts (cottages?), and other implements which shall then be used by me in my trade or business of a miller and all other my live and dead stock, cattle, chattels, and effects of any descriptions whatsoever, which shall then be used in or belonging to my trade or business as a miller (but not belonging to my farm), either by public or private auction or private contract….

And I give to my dear wife Mary Button, for her own personal use and benefit -- And whereas under and by virtue of the last Will and Testament of my late father John Button, power is given to me when in possession of the estates therein devised to me for my life and settle any part thereof upon or in trust for the benefit of any woman I shall marry during her life not exceeding a moiety thereof. And whereas I am as heir to my said late Father, entitled in my own right to certain Freehold and Copyhold Estates situate at Diss Haywood in the said County of Norfolk.

Now therefore I the said John Button, the testator by virtue of the pursuance of the Power and Authority given to me in and by the said last Will and Testament of my said late father as well in my own right hereby give and devise unto her my dear wife Mary Button, and her assigns for and during the term of her natural life - All the real Estate situate in Wattisfield in Suffolk and Diss or Diss Haywood in the County of Norfolk which were respectively purchased by him my said Father as well as the Freehold and the Copyhold parts thereof with their respective rights, members, Priviledges and app…………. to hold the same etc……………..

The will was written on 4th August 1827 and proved in the Archdeaconry of Norfolk Court by executrix Mary Button on 8th March, 1828, with power reserved for James Button to act………… (whenever?) Personals were under £2,000.00.

Garboldisham postmill c.1906 Garboldisham postmill c.1908

The postmill and towermill were offered for sale by auction in November 1839 but remained unsold. The smockmill was not mentioned and may well have already have been dismantled. The following year the two remaining mills were offered for sale or let by private contract.

Capital Estate & Corn Mills at GARBOLDISHAM in Norfolk
To be Sold by Auction by Mr. H. Calver on Thursday 21 November 1839 at 3 o’c at the Fox Inn, Garboldisham.
The Estate consists of a comfortable Messuage recently put into a thorough state of repair, Yards & Garden, Granary for 1000 coombs, Waggon Lodges, Stable, Gig house, Piggeries, Carpenter’s shops & other Buildings, a Post Windmill with roundhouse capable of containing 50 sacks of flour & chamber for 300 coombs, Patent Sails, Winding Tackle, Flour Machine & Jumper, two pairs of French Stones, 4 ft. 4 ins. Iron rightup Shaft, Wallower & Spur wheel, Iron Stone Nuts, Iron Bridge Trees, Iron Racks & all Running & Going Gears in complete repair.
A Brick Tower Windmill four stories high in an enclosed yard near the above driving two pairs of French Stones 4 ft. 7 ins. & 4 ft. 4 ins., Flour Mill, Winding tackle & all Going Gears complete.
The property is well situate in a populous neighbourhood about 15 miles from Bury, 7 miles from Diss & 4 from East Harling, all good corn Markets & an excellent Trade is now carried on.
Apply to Messrs. Bignold, Fulley & Mawe, Solrs. Norwich, Mr. Daniel Calver, Solr. Kenninghall or the Auctioneer, Diss.

Norfolk Chronicle - 2nd, 9th & 16th November 1839

To Millers. An excellent Situation for Trade at Garboldisham
To be Sold by Private Contract or Let with Immediate Possession
The Premises late in the occupation of Mr. Robert Button deceased comprising a comfortable Messuage recently put into a thorough state of repair, yards and gardens, granary for 1,000 coombs, waggon lodges, stables, gig house, piggeries, carpenter's shop and other buildings.
A POST WINDMILL with Roundhouse capable of containing 50 sacks of flour and chamber for 300 coombs, patent sails, winding tackle, flour machine and jumper, two pairs of French stones, 4ft . 4 ins., iron rightup shaft, wallower, and spur wheel, iron stone nuts, iron bridge trees, iron racks, and going gears in complete repair.
A Brick TOWER MILL, four stories high in an enclosed yard near the above driving two pairs of French Stones 4ft. 7ins. and 4ft. 4ins., flour mill, winding tackle, and all going gears complete.
The Property is well situated in a populous neighbourhood about 15 miles from Bury, 7 from Diss and 4 from East Harling, all good corn markets and an excellent trade is now carried on.
A Purchaser may be accommodated with a considerable portion of the Purchase Money at a modest rate of interest.
Apply to Mr. Calver, Solicitor, Kenninghall, near East Harling, Norfolk,
Norfolk Chronicle - 29th February, 7th & 14th March 1840


On Sunday morning, about 5 o'clock, the tower_windmill on Garboldisham Common, Norfolk, in the occupation of Mr J. G. Button, was discovered to be on fire, and although prompt assistance was rendered, nothing but the brickwork remains. We are happy to state that the greater part of the stock in trade was saved and the mill was insured.
Suffolk Chronicle - 22nd August 1840

Tithe map 1842
Tithe map 1842 - as redrawn by Harry Apling

Tithe Award 1842
Land owner: Mary Button
Occupier: John Button

No. 333
No. 334
No. 17

Mill & yard
Mill & premises


0a. 0r. 9p. (Tower mill)
0a. 2r. 3p. (Post mill)
0a. 1r. 5p.
0a. 3r. 17p.

Tithe 14/-

Land owner: Crisp Molineux Montgomerie
Occupier: Mary Button

No. 43


3a. 3r. 21p.


Garboldisham postmill c.1920 Garboldisham Mill c.1930

Four space 21 ft. breast to tail, 9 ft.9 ins. wide inside framing 8 ins. deep.
Centre post 2 ft. diam. At floor level, 1 ft. 11 ins. at crown-tree which has square plate this size.
22 treads to stairs.
Single storey roundhouse, floor sunk 20 ins.
Brake wheel 8 ft. 6 ins. diam., arms 13 ins. deep, iron cogs in sections of eleven, bolted on. 2 ft. 6 ins. square iron plates for mounting on windshaft. Iron brake.
Windshaft 10 ins. diam. at brake wheel, 6 ins. at tail. 2 ft. iron wallower.
Upright shaft 4 ins. square above, round below.
Great spur wheel all iron 3 ft. 10 ins. diam.
17 inch stone nuts, wood cogs. Raised out of gear on large short tapers (in Norfolk “cones”) by single-sided ratchet with ring mounted above operated by turn key at side of bridgestrees.
Bridgetrees wood, 9 ins. square. Iron tenter bars lifted by T-section iron bars running along flush with breast.
1 pr. French burr, 1 pr. Peak stones, all 4 ft. 4 ins. diam. Governors belt driven off lower ends of stone spindles & are between spindles & breast.
Back drum in roof driven from 5 ft. 6 ins. flanged wood ring on face of brake wheel.
Pattison let mill to Stephen Brock for 3 years & then employed a miller to work it. Mill closed down when man called up for military service in 1914/16 War.
Mill had worked with only 2 sails for many years.
The Miller - 17th November 1847

c.1862 William Alfred Lawrence took over the running of the mill. He had come from East Harling where his father William and his uncle James ran East Harling towermill.

Wanted, a strong active Youth as an IMPROVER.
Apply to W. A. LAWRENCE, Garboldisham, Norfolk.
Norfolk News - 11th October 1862

Messrs. BUTCHER are favoured with instruction to Sell by Auction at the King's Head Inn, Diss on Friday 2nd September 1864 at 4 for 5 o'clock the following DESIRABLE PROPERTIES in 2 lots, viz:
All that POST WINDMILL with substantial brick Round House, driving two pairs of French stones, with Messuage, Stable, Cart Lodge, Granary, and Counting room.
The above is well situate next the road to Bury aand is in the occupation of Mr.William Alfred Lawrence at the annual rent of £31. 10s.
Apply to Field & Bignold, Solicitors or the Auctioneers, Norwich and at 21 Bedford Row, London.
Norfolk Chronicle & Norfolk News - 20th August 1864

5th July 1937
5th July 1937

At the age of 36, William Lawrence died from gangrenous frostbite on Christmas Morning of 1871, leaving his wife Emma to carry on the business. In 1872, the following year, she took on the 21 year old John Ellis Nunn from Dickleburgh to manage the mill and the farm, which turned out to be an astute move.

1879, August 3rd, on Sunday morning happened a great storm that done so much damage about and took the sail of Mrs Lawrence's Mill.
George Doe - diary 1879

Great storm 3rd August.
At Garboldisham 2 sails torn off a mill, hurled two hundred yards.
Diss Express - Friday 8th August 1879

A great storm indeed struck the neighbourhood all around on that fateful day, and at Garboldisham two sails were torn off the windmill and hurled two hundred yards by the fury of the wind.
Eastern Daily Press - Friday 8th August 1879

When the damage was repaired by local millwright Alfonso Vincent, John Nunn had the mill lengthened by three feet to accommodate a flour mill to produce white flour. This necessitated the removal of the platform (or porch) at the top of the steps. In order to provide additional power, it would appear the two replacement sails were made 18" wider. At the same time, a steam engine to drive an additional pair of stones was installed in a nearby shed and drove a pair of stones mounted on a hurst frame within the roundhouse.

Garboldisham postmill c.1952 East Anglian magazine cover painting by Albert Ribbans 1959
East Anglian magazine cover painting by Albert Ribbans 1959


Garboldisham Mill 1st September 1970 1971
1st September 1970

In June 1892 John Nunn married Jane Rebecca Barrett, youngest daughter of Emma Lawrence and soon left the employ of his mother in law and moved into Grange Farm where he successfully ran his own business. John Nunn eventually died in 1921 at the age of 70.

After John Nunn moved to Grange Farm, Mrs. Lawrence's son, Frederick Barrett helped run the mill until a new manager was appointed. John Tuck then became manager and remained in service until Mrs. Lawrence retired in 1902.

After Emma Lawrence retired the mill lease was taken on by the Pattinson Brothers who were running East_Harling_towermill.

Charles W. Herring worked at the mill either before 1896 or after 1904 and during those years he was working at Moulton St. Michael postmill.

In 1906 one of the sails was blown off in a storm. The opposite sail was then also removed and the mill continued to work with two sails. By this time, trade was running down and William Bennett, Mr. Pattinson's miller from East_Harling would drive over in a horse and cart to run the mill whenever there was sufficient work. Unfortunately William Bennett died suddenly in 1914 and the mill fell into disuse, with the business finally closing down on expiry of the lease in 1917.

Garboldisham Pattinsons' miller c.1910
William Bennett c.1910

Garboldisham post on props Oct1972 Garboldisham post on props Oct1972
The mill supported on props October 1972

Garboldisham Mill 21st May 1973
21st May 1973

When the Molyneux-Montgomery family sold the estate in 1944, Stephen Brock was still living in the Mill House and his son then bought farm and mill complex from the new estate owners. The mill became derelict over the years and was on the point of collapse, when in the spring of 1972, it was bought for £250 by George Colman of Ixworth, Suffolk.

Grant towards cost of restoration of £3050 from Department of the Environment.
Eastern Daily Press - 15th September 1973

Electrically driven mill set up in roundhouse to grind wheat for sale.
Derelict mill bought for £250.
Eastern Daily Press - 6th June 1975

George Colman's son Adrian, then set about restoring the mill with professional help where necessary from millwright Philip Barrett-Lennard. A new Mill house was built to the south of the mill in 1977 as the original Mill House was not sold with the mill.

September 1976 September 1976
September 1976

A History of Garboldisham Postmill

Garboldisham windmill stands on high ground on Garboldisham Common, off the Hopton road, some way outside the village, and only a few hundred yards inside the county boundary. Originally two others stood in adjacent fields on either side, and another at Smallworth in the same parish. The latter was a small, rather Heath-Robinson affair, built by one Alfonso Neville Vincent, a millwright and stone-dresser from the nearby Thelnetham windmill. It was his own design, with four canvas-spread sails, the drive being coupled to a 'Woods' plate-mill, of which the output was very small. 'Ponto', as he was known, was a local character who went about stone-dressing in a governess cart pulled by a donkey, his wife taking him to work in the morning and bringing him back at night.
Of the other three windmills, a document of 1811 reveals that two were built by James Turner, a farmer of nearby Blo' Norton: first the present post-mill, and then a smock-mill, the latter in 1788. The earliest date so far found inside the present mill is 1778 on a board, but erection of the structure may have preceded this by a few years, the roundhouse possibly being added about 1787 - in which case the original brick piers must have been replaced, as the roundhouse wall and piers form an integral part. In 1802 both mills were sold to one John Button for £795, and in 1820, according to a local diary, Garboldisham tower-mill was built close by.
The Button family seem to have carried out extensive modernisation around 1830. According to the diary of a local miller, Thomas King of Thelnetham, 'Garboldisham Post Mill Axle-tree put up July 7th 1827' and 'Patent Sails put on Garboldisham Post Mill in March 1831'. The present cast-iron machinery and fantail were probably added at the same time. There is clear evidence for a tail-pole, and it is quite likely that the millstones were head-and-tail layout, because the left-hand pair seems very old and rather large so that it was found necessary to hack a section to a depth of 2" off the inner edges of both side-girts to achieve the present layout.
The next decade or so is slightly confusing. All three mills are shown on the First-Edition O.S. Map of 1837. In 1839 the post-mill and tower-mill were put up for auction.
However, the Button family were still running the mills after that date; so, were they tenants, the freehold being sold, or were the mills withdrawn from auction? According to the Suffolk Chronicle of 22 August 1840 there was a fire at the towermill and nothing but the brickwork then remained.
And yet, on the 1842 parish tithe-map, the two remaining mills appear to be the post-mill and tower-mill - perhaps it is the smock-mill which was burnt down as this had gone by about that date. (A smock-mill stands on a brick plinth.)
The fate of the tower-mill is not known, although it is thought to have lasted until 1860; only the present post-mill is shown on later maps.
The Button family continued to work the post-mill until about 1864, when William Button went to mill in the Diss area and it was taken over by a young man from East Harling, William Alfred Lawrence, whose father William and uncle James had the tower mill there. The family seemed prone to disaster. In a short space of time they lost five of their eight children, three of bronchitis in infancy, two were stillborn; William Alfred lost a horse which suddenly dropped dead between the shafts of his waggon; his wife, Emma, was knocked down by the sails of the windmill, receiving severe concussion; and later, while she was alone and unaided, some unknown person or persons tried to force an entry into the Mill House. On Christmas morning 1871, William Alfred, aged only thirty-six, died of gangrene resulting from frost-bite caught while he attended to the sails in bad weather. His poor wife was left to run the business and bring up a young family, in those days no easy task. She was, however, a woman of great character, for which she is justly revered by her descendants. Obviously she could not run the business alone, and in 1872 a young man of 21, John Ellis Nunn, came from Dickleburgh to manage both farm and mill, which had always been run together. He was of humble origins and means, but the business very soon began to prosper under his very able direction.
Seven years later, however, '1879, August 3rd, on Sunday morning happened a great storm that done so much damage about and took the sail of Mrs Lawrence's Mill'. This entry in villager George Doe's diary is confirmed by the Diss Express of the following Friday: 'A great storm indeed struck the neighbourhood all around on that fateful day, and at Garboldisham two sails were torn off the windmill and hurled two hundred yards by the fury of the wind.' This was quite a set-back for Mrs Lawrence, but John Nunn seized the opportunity for certain necessary alterations to be made, and repairs were soon put in hand by Alfonso Vincent with the local estate carpenter. According to Stanley Nunn, eldest son of John Ellis Nunn, 'The width of the replacement sails was increased from 4'6" to 6'0" (on the driving side) which enabled two pairs of millstones to be utilised, and a small flour mill with cloths (dressing machine) which enabled a nearly white flour to be manufactured in place of brown flour or wholemeal'. For this purpose the mill was completely extended some three feet at the rear, where there had previously been a platform at the top: of the steps, and possibly a Norfolk-style porch. Owing to the uncertainty of the wind, a steam engine and boiler were also added in a nearby outhouse that drove a pair of stones within the roundhouse via a slack belt.
During the succeeding years trade remained brisk, and both mill and farm flourished. John Nunn gained a high reputation in the neighbourhood, and it came as no surprise when, in June 1892, he married Mrs Lawrence's younger daughter, Jane Rebecca Barrett. In the meantime her elder daughter, Emma Mary, became a school teacher and married William Balls, the headmaster of Garboldisham school. John Nunn and his new wife soon moved up the road to Grange Farm, where he continued to trade very successfully, mainly in hay. A self-made man of much local property and in high esteem, he died in 1921 at the age of seventy. After John Nunn moved to Grange Farm, Mrs Lawrence's son, Frederick Barrett, assisted her with the business. He later married Helen Morley, daughter of the owner of the local post office, and moved away to London, where he spent the rest of his life.
A new manager was then engaged, Mr John Tuck, grandfather of the founder of the well-known modern millers. Tucks of Burston. A distinguished-looking man with a long white beard, he was rather saucily known to the Harling boys as 'snout and whiskers'!" He had previously been in business on his own account at Little Snoring and Hindringham windmills, near Fakenham, and was an accomplished organist and counter-tenor. Trade, unfortunately, had now begun to decline at the mill, due to the construction of huge modern mills, and to the installation by local farmers of an oil engine and small plate-mills.
On Emma Lawrence's retirement from business in 1902, the property was taken over on lease by the Pattinson brothers of East_Harling_windmill, who had succeeded the Lawrences there too. Mrs Lawrence remained, however, in one half of the Mill House, while the new tenants occupied the other half. Shortly after this, a local man, Stephen Brock, came to assist with the running of the mill, carting, etc. Two years later, in 1906, another accident occurred. Wet rot had previously begun to appear in one of the sail stocks, and one windy, stormy Sunday night, while the mill was running, one of the sails was blown off and smashed on the ground. It was severely damaged, and the opposite number was removed by Mr Ling, the estate carpenter, to restore the balance, and was taken to the local estate yard on a four-wheel drug, where it was eventually cut up and reused for other purposes. The mill continued to work with two sails, but with war restrictions the grinding trade dwindled to almost nothing, and Mr Pattinson employed a miller, William Bennett, who would travel over from East Harling with a high cart and white horse whenever necessary. On the decease of Mr Pattinson's father, and the sudden death of his miller in 1914, the mill became virtually disused, and when the lease expired in 1917, the business closed down, and Mr Pattinson's belongings were removed.
Five years later Emma Lawrence died, and the work of the mill was done. The Old Mill Farm had always stood on the Garboldisham Hall Estate, belonging for two hundred years to the family of Molyneux-Montgomery. The last owner, Major Montgomery, died in action during the Great War, but his daughter was adamant that the mill should stand until it fell. The property was accordingly let to Stephen Brock, and for many years the windmill stood decaying until it gradually became derelict. In 1944 the estate was sold for family reasons by Miss Montgomery, at which time Mr Brock was still the tenant at the Mill House. His son later bought the premises of farm, mill, house, barn, stables, etc., from the new owner on behalf of his father. After several attempts at vandalism, which were partly successful, the mill was once again left in peace. The passing of the years, however, left their mark, and when Garboldisham post-mill was finally sold to a sympathetic young owner in 1972, it was sorely in need of urgent repair. Fortunately this has been carefully and speedily undertaken, and there is no doubt that this lovely old mill will continue to grace the skyline over Garboldisham village for many years to come.

AGKNOWLEDGEMENTS I should like to acknowledge with thanks the valuable assistance afforded me by Mr and Mrs S. Flatman, Mr Stephen Brock, and several other local villagers, together with Mr J. Pattinson of East Harling and Mr Dennis Lawrence of London, without whose help this history could never have been compiled; and Mr Peter Dolman for sending me the extracts from the Bury & Norwich Post and the Suffolk Chronicle.
Phillip Unwin - Brome, Suffolk, 1973

Owner of mill: Major H. A. Dewing
In 1886 took on as journeyman miller Horace Edward Hutson, informant's grandfather, aged 19, at 5/- per week, after his apprenticeship with Mrs. Emma Lawrence at Garboldisham postmill at 2/6d a week with full board and lodging.
A Mr. Andrews had built the Roller Mill near the Railway Station. They went into partnership (?) and closed the smock mill in 1905.
Letter from Herbert E. Hutson, Ickleford to Harry Apling - 10th Januuary 1988

Roundhouse under repair autumn 1973 Garboldisham roundhouse interior c.1980 Adrian Colman
Roundhouse under repair in 1973 with new trestles above
Roundhouse interior c.1980

Mill restoration work 1972 - 1997

Autumn 1972
New cross trees and quarter bars fitted, brick piers repaired, one being jacked back to the vertical. Buck relevelled.

Roundhouse wall repaired / rebuilt.

New roundhouse roof, windows and doors fitted. Interior wall replastered and new concrete floor laid. Electrically powered milling machine installed in roundhouse to produce flour for sale alongside other cereal products.

Buck of mill restored including a new tail extension, new left hand side girt and weatherbeam. All weatherboarding replaced. Roof and floor repaired.

Fantail and stairway restored incorporating replacement gearing salvaged from other mills. (The truck wheels and fan carriage gearing came from Topcroft postmill. However, the fan spindle was for 6 bladed fan so it was exchanged with an 8 bladed version from Eye postmill.) New fan blades were fitted along with a new fan frame, fan carriage and new steps in the stairway. A new fantail track was laid.

1st February 1991
Mill finally turning to wind once more.

Work to millstones, machinery and interior of buck.


Garboldisham spring 1992 Garboldisham postmill aerial 5Jul1995
Spring 1992
5th July 1995

Garboldisham postmill Jun2001 Sails canister 13th Sept 2005
Adrian Colman repainting June 2001
Sails canister 13th September 2005

Mill 13th Sept 2005 Fantail trolley 13th Sept 2005
13th September 2005
Fantail 13th September 2005

Mill steps 13th September 2005
Stairway & fantail with new mill house in background 13th September 2005

Garboldisham centrepost bearing Garboldisham brakewheel
Top of post and crown tree 13th September 2005
Brakewheel and sackhoist 13th September 2005

Garboldisham centrepost Garboldisham stone floor
Trestle and roundhouse roof 13th September 2005
Stone floor with pair of restored stones 13th September 2005

My name is Amy Brock, I have just been looking at the Garboldisham mill. My great granfather Stephen Brock with his wife May lived at the mill. My grandad James Brock, Stephen's son brought the mill, I see that info is still on there if you look in the brick work I think on the house it is ingraved Amy Brock that is James daughter she did it. I was named after her by the way. I do have a pic of my great granfather at the mill it was one the newpaper had took.
Amy Brock, grandaughter of ex owner James Brock - 2nd September 2008

14th June 2009
14th June 2009

Roundhouse 22nd March 2011
22nd March 2011

History of the Buck Roof & 2015 Repairs

The original roof, dating from the 1700’s, is still intact – it is the roof covering which has changed.
The roof consists of a horizontal and then a vertical layer of weatherboards, which is an unusual feature. The ribs are a curious construction; they are joined about a foot above the upper side rails that enables them first to go out at an angle then return giving a pronounced curve near the bottom of the roof. The horizontal boards followed the curve while the vertical boards projected about 9” forming an eaves. The vertical boards were overlapped so as to be most watertight when the mill was into wind, but many of the overlaps had painted canvas stuck over them to further water-proof them.
In the 1880’s/1890’s flat galvanized iron sheets were fixed over the vertical boards. They were produced by the Gospel Oak Sheet Ironworks, Wolverhampton. The company was out business by the mid 1890’s.
These sheets were still intact (other than one row which had blown off) when restoration started in 1972. It was thanks to these sheets that the buck was still in such good condition, unlike the roundhouse and trestle. The missing sheets were replaced with flat steel and in 1982 the roof was over-coated with a rubber/bitumen pain system using mesh reinforcement.
Between 1992 and 2014 the roof surface was repainted and/or patched several times with various bitumen paints/mastics and most recently with Flexacryl, a gloopy waterproof bitumen-free paint. Unfortunately rust spots started pushing through the paint surface at an ever-accelerating rate. I am extremely grateful to Paul Little of East Harllng Mill, who came on several occasions with his 17m cherry picker and helped me paint/patch the roof.
By the autumn 2014 it was obvious that we were fighting a losing battle and the only answer was to replace the iron sheets. A chance visit from Suffolk millwrights Bill Griffiths and Tim Whiting, who were working on Thelnetham Mill at the time, resulted in them being employed to replace the roof covering. Bill had done something similar to Framsden Mill in East Suffolk only two years earlier.
At first the plan was to remove the iron sheets, put on two layers of 6mm marine-quality plywood bonded together and fixed with stainless steel screws and then cover in Belzona Flexible Membrane in black. However, the ‘black’ was, in fact, mid grey which did not look right so it was decided to do as at Framsden Mill and cover the plywood with aluminium sheets.
Work started in late February 2015. The first job was to set up the scaffold platforms. These were built off the buck so that the mill could continue to turn to wind. Using their own scaffolding, Bill and Tim constructed a platform along each side, a little below the eaves, linking them together across the tail. They were trained to use ropes and harnesses so did not require ladders or a cherry picker. Holes were cut in the weatherboards (five on each side and four at the tail) through which the scaffold poles were pushed. This enabled them to be linked together inside the mill. The scaffolding took about a week to construct and there ended up quite a maze of poles under the bin floor.
The iron sheets were then removed in stages, being replaced with the plywood sheets, which had been painted with roofing emulsion on one side to waterproof them and bonded together with felt adhesive. When taking off the sheets, it was discovered just how corroded and fragile they were. We also discovered the name of the manufacturer stenciled underneath.
Before the plywood could be fitted, the detailing at eaves had to be altered. The ends of the vertical boards were cut off, a horizontal length of 2” x 3” treated softwood was coach-screwed to the bottom of the ribs to which the plywood could be screwed. These ‘soffit boards’ had vertical holes drilled through them to give ventilation to the bi floor.
Having sorted out the eaves, it was necessary to strengthen the rear gable, which entailed constructing a new pair of ribs beyond the weatherboarding of the tail gab le. The ribs were encased in plywood and aluminium, which gave a really chunky finish to the back of the roof. It was very interesting to see the vertical boards exposed for the first time in about 120 years.
Meanwhile, Bill had ordered the aluminium from Riverside Engineering of Wickham Market, who supplied the 1mm thick sheets cut into 4’ x 2’ panels. The two longer edges were bent to about 150 degrees, so that when the sheets were laid, the horizontal joins could be lapped together.
Once the plywood was in place the aluminium went on remarkably quickly. The vertical joins were fixed with dome-headed stainless steel screws and sealed with Sikaflex, a very high performance mastic, and laid in such a way that rain would blow past the joins when the mill was into wind. Two layers of aluminium were put over the ridge to make it really strong, as at a future date it may be necessary to put ropes over the ridge for a cradle or harnesses. The original lead ridge over the vertical boards had deep ‘ruts’ caused by ropes used in the past.
At the head gable the weatherboards did not protrude beyond the roofline as at Framsden Mill, the aluminium was dressed over the boards then sealed and screwed. Since the head of the buck has Belzona Flexible Membrane on it, this was reapplied over the aluminium and the gab le recoated. The aluminium has been left unpainted, but in order to reduce the shine and speed up weathering, the sheets were lightly sanded prior to fixing. The scaffolding was removed remarkably quickly, the fourteen holes cut in the weatherboarding for it were covered with fly screen mesh stuck on with the Belzona Flexible Membrane ‘emulsion’. This was to retain the ventilation as sit had been considerably reduced under the eaves.
The job was completed on 16th June 2015. It had taken Bill and Tim six weeks spread over three and a half months. They have done a superb job, which should last many decades.

Adrian Colman - 16th July 2015

Prior to roof repairs - February 2015 During roof repairs
Prior to roof repairs - February 2015
Roof repairs in progress - 2015

Roof repairs in progress - 2015 Roof repairs in progress - 2015
Roof repairs in progress - 2015
Roof repairs in progress - 2015

Buck roof repair completed - 2015 Buck and roundhouse repairs completed - 2015
Buck roof repair completed - 2015
Buck and roundhouse repairs completed - 2015

Mill Painting

From the beginning of the restoration of Garboldisham windmill, in the early 1970’s, the new weather boarding for the buck was painted with White Lead Paint.  When repainting was necessary I continued to use WLP and would have used it again this year had it been available.
I remember more than 20 years ago I spent almost a week repainting one side of the buck doing the other side the following year.  I had been told by the paint suppliers that one could simply overcoat existing WLP with Linseed Oil to rejuvenate it and thereby extend its life.  As I had the time I did just that to the tail weather boards since the WLP was beginning to fail.  To my dismay within a couple or three years the WLP on the sides of the buck was deteriorating quite badly whereas the rejuvenated WLP on the tail was in excellent condition although it has discoloured.
I realised that what gave the WLP its durability was the amount of Linseed Oil in the mixture so when I next repainted the buck in 2006 I mixed the WLP 50/50 with extra Linseed Oil, using Raw LO for the undercoat and Boiled LO for the top coat.  Because the paint was so runny I was able to use a 4” paint brush and in a week had repainted both sides and the tail with two coats!
Eight years later it was time to repaint but because the failure was less than 1% I just gave it one coat and because I had some WLP left from last time, and was not prepared to pay a vast amount of money for anymore, just added more LO.  By the time I got round to the tail the mixture was about 85%LO.
There are two big disadvantages with using large amounts of LO they are the very slow drying time and the fact that it discolours badly.
Last autumn I started seriously thinking about what I was going to use to repaint the boarding as WLP was no longer available.  The German oil paint Kreidezit had been used on several mills but it was very expensive, had not been used long enough to be really proven and would have been slower to use as it was a thicker consistency. It was important to have a paint that was quick to apply and needed the minimum of preparation as the buck at Garboldisham is seriously large.  The side boards are 21’ long and the tail boards, if one includes the insides of the side boards where they project beyond the tail boards, are 12’ long and a 17m cherry picker is over £500.00 a week to hire.  You may be wondering why  I have not mentioned the weather boarding on the head of the buck that is because back in 1987 I covered it entirely with Belzona Flexible Membrane.
I decided to mix my own Linseed Paint and contacted the conservator who had recently restored an 18th C peel board in Garboldisham Church, which was painted canvas, in the hope that she might have a source of white lead pigment.  What she used was a very superior thick oil paint called Warm White (Lead White Alternative) which was mixed in Linseed Oil.  It was on offer at £26.50 for a 225ml tube but because of its
Quality could be diluted 1:9 with Linseed Oil.
By adding about 10% Turps Substitute I hoped the undercoat would dry within 24 hours so that it could be top-coated the next day.  By chance, I was talking to Paul Little of East Harling Mill about the paint and he said that I should put Zinc Oxide into the mixture as he was convinced that the grey that had developed so badly on the boards was in fact an algae which was living off the Linseed Oil - I discovered that Vincent Pargetter had always added Zinc Oxide to his paint.  I was advised to add about 15% ZO to the mixture and found that the combination of it and the Turps Sub really speeded up the drying time.
I repainted the sides and tail this late April and early May.  The undercoat was Raw LO, Turps Sub and ZO Powder and the top coat Boiled LO, TS, ZOP and the White Pigment.
The sides had about 10% Pigment in the mix but because I used less top coat than anticipated  was able to add 20% Pigment to the paint used on the tail.
With hindsight I should, perhaps, have used 20% Pigment on the side boards as well as they are still a bit grey, but as it is an ongoing experiment having both the different mixtures is useful, it will be interesting to see if the ZO does stop the paintwork going grey.  I mixed the paint in a large plastic container and then decanted it into the paint kettle, I soon found that it was important to give the mixture a good stir using a broad-bladed paint scrapper each time I topped up the paint kettle as the ZOP was inclined to separate a bit, and sink to the bottom of the container.  
I used a total of about 26 Litres of paint and it cost about £300.00, the Kreidezit would have been about £900.00.  If one wanted to paint, say, windows then one would have to add more pigment to make it thicker.
I will let you know what it is like in a few years time!

Adrian Colman - 19th June 2021

1st May 2021 11th May 2021
Adrian Colman painting the mill - 1st May 2021
Mill painting complete - 11th May 2021

Mill Maintenance

This morning I completed the task of covering the roundhouse roof with a double staggered layer of 6mm thick plywood which will form the base for aluminium sheets.
These are going to be fitted by Bill next spring.
The roof is surprisingly large (approximately 600 square feet) so I used 23 10’x 5’ sheets of plywood held down with nearly 2000 screws and about 180 small countersunk bolts at the eves.
After painting one side of each sheet with ‘barn paint’, I started by cutting the first six sheets (using the portable circular saw) diagonally across to make two panels 18” at the top and 42” at the bottom.  I quickly found these difficult to handle on my own and very difficult to pull down around the curve of the roof.  This was made worse because the first lot of stainless steel screws were like a traditional wood screw and didn’t pull in well.  So l cut the panels in half and bought better screws (once l had used up the first lot) and that solved the problem!  It took a bit of time to get into a routine but eventually I found that fixing four panels per morning was not too exhausting (not as young as l was!).  When I had finished a quarter of the roof I marked the curve of the eves, bolted the panels together as I was making the eves project beyond the existing, and painted the edges of the plywood and over the screw heads.  I also sealed the tops of the panels with mastic to prevent rain water getting beneath them.  When I had almost finished I had to cut the final few panels to fit.
I never imagined that I would have completed the project before the end of November but the weather has generally been very kind.
Adrian Colman - 19th November 2021

9th November 2021 19th November 2021
Plywood being attached to the roundhouse roof - 9th November 2021
Roundhouse roof with full covering of plywood - 19th November 2021

Mill Maintenance

Millwright Bill Griffiths has almost finished putting aluminium sheeting over the plywood base which l fitted in the autumn of 2021.
We bought 42 sheets of aluminium 1m x 2m x 1mm thick.  These were cut and shaped for us by Riverside Engineering, Wickham Market so that we ended up with two wedge shaped pieces from each sheet.  As the sheets were longer than necessary the ends were cut off, the majority of the offcuts being used to form the separate eves pieces.  There are two horizontal rows of sheets held down with almost 2000 dome headed stainless steel screws.  The overlaps and screw holes are sealed with Sikaflex which is a very high performance mastic (we used 20 tubes!).  The sheets were lightly sanded to take off the excess shine and speed up the weathering process.
The work took about ten days and the whole project included the plywood base came to about £6K.  The Windmill now has both roofs covered in aluminium which is maintenance free and could last up to a hundred years!  I am sure that it is the only post mill in the country to have this covering on both roofs!
Adrian Colman - 12th May 2023

Roundhouse roof with aluminium covering being fitted over the plywood - 25th April 2023 Roundhouse roof with aluminium covering being fitted over the plywood - 25th April 2023
Roundhouse roof with aluminium covering being fitted over the plywood - 25th April 2023
Roundhouse roof with aluminium covering being fitted over the plywood - 25th April 2023 Garboldisham postmill - 25th April 2023
Roundhouse roof with aluminium covering - 25th April 2023
25th April 2023

O. S. Map 1883
O. S. Map 1883
Courtesy of NLS map images

Index of Wills 1580: Richard Carman, miller

Index of Wills 1722: Henry Harrod, miller

Index of Wills 1739: Ishmael Pizzey, miller

1778: Possible date mill was built by James Turner

Faden's map 1797: Postmill and smockmill

1802: Postmill and smockmill sold to John Button for £795

Bryant's map 1826: Postmill and smockmill

7th July 1827: Axletree put up by millwright Thomas King of Thelnetham, Suffolk

1828: John Button made his will

March 1831: Common sails replaced by patent sails, fantail added and most machinery replaced in cast iron

White's 1836: John Potter, corn miller, The Common

O.S. map 1837: Postmill, smockmill and towermill all shown

November 1839: Mill advertised for sale by auction

February 1840: Mill advertised for sale or let after the death of Robert Button but the family continued to run it

14th March 1840: Mill advertised for sale by private contract or let along with towermill

Tithe map 1840: Postmill and towermill

Census 1841:
James Button (30) miller
James Lancaster (55) journeyman miller
Ann Lancaster (60)
Eliza Mapes (15) servant
May Copeman (60) servant
Edward Banyard (15) servant
Address: Common next to parsonage

Tithe Award 1842: Mrs. Mary Button (owner of postmill and towermill) John Button, occupier

Census 1851: William Button (20) b.Mundford, master miller
Charles Hubbard (29) b.South Lopham, journeyman miller
Ellen Hubbard (26) b.Roudham, wife
Ellen Hubbard (5) b.Bacton, Suffolk
Address: Mill

Charles Hubbard (29) b.South Lopham, journeyman miller
Ellen Hubbard (26) b.Roudham
Ellen Hubbard (5) b.Bacton, Suffolk

White's 1854: William Button, corn miller

c.1862: William Button left the postmill to run a mill in the Diss area

c.1862: William Alfred Lawrence, tenant miller from East Harling

Friday 2nd September 1864: Mill for sale by auction

White's 1864: William Lawrence, corn miller

1864: William Alfred Lawrence, miller

25th December 1871: William Alfred Lawrence died from gangrenous frostbite aged 36

1872: Emma Lawrence (widow) owner; John Ellis Nunn (21) from Dickleburgh farm and mill manager

Sunday 3rd August 1879: Gale tore off two sails

1879: Tail of buck extended to accommodate flour sifting machine and wider replacement sails installed by Alfonso Vincent

Kelly's 1879: Emma Lawrence (Mrs.), miller

White's 1883: Mrs. Emma Laurence, miller

1886: Mrs. Emma Lawrence, miller

1886: Horace Edward Hutson, journeyman mill left the mill to go to Wells, having served his apprenticeship

O.S. map 1888-91: Postmill and 2 mills to southwest

Kelly's 1892: Emma Lawrence (Mrs.), miller (wind & steam) & farmer

June 1892: John Nunn married Mrs Emma Lawrence's daughter Jane Rebecca Barrett

c.1892: Mrs. Emma Lawrence's son Frederick Barrett took over running the mill before moving to London

c.1895: John Tuck employed by Mrs Emma Lawrence to run the mill. Previously at Lt Snoring & Hindringham

Kelly's 1896: Emma Lawrence (Mrs.), miller (wind & steam) & farmer

Kelly's 1900: Emma Lawrence (Mrs.), miller (wind & steam) & farmer

1902: Emma Lawrence retired

1902: Pattinson Brothers from East Harling leased the mill from Emma Lawrence

Kelly's 1904: Christopher George Pattinson, miller (wind & steam) & farmer

c.1905: Stephen Brock, mill assistant and carter

1906: Sail blown off the mill in a gale one Sunday night. Opposite sail then removed to balance the mill

Kelly's 1908: Christopher George Pattinson, miller (wind & steam) & farmer

Kelly's 1912: Christopher George Pattinson, miller (wind & steam) & farmer

1913: Christopher George Pattinson bought East Harling towermill

1914: Mr Pattinson's miller suddenly died and mill virtually ceased working

Kelly's 1916: Christopher George Pattinson, miller (wind & steam) & farmer

1917: Pattinson's lease expired and mill finally closed down when last employee called up for military service

1922: Mrs Emma Lawrence died

1922: Mill, Mill House and property let to Stephen Brock before being bought on his behalf by his son

1926: Mill derelict

1944: Estate sold by Miss Mongomery of the Molyneux-Montgomery family

c.1945: Stephen Brock's son bought Mill, Mill House and the farm

1949: Mill derelict

1959: Mill derelict

29th March 1972: Mill bought by George Colman of Ixworth, Suffolk for £250

1972: Mill house owned by ? Poerpower and let to Americans

1972: Adrian Colman began restoration of the mill as detailed above

c.1975: Electric mill installed within the roundhouse to assist with onsite sales

2005: Some flour milled on the premises and a large selection of cereal products on sale

2005: Mill open for viewing by appointment only

2021: Mill repainted and in good condition

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 TM 00278047
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Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2005