Happisburgh Mill Farm


Drainage Mills (Windpumps)
Steam Mills

Twin fantail c.1910
Twin fantail c.1910

Happisburgh Mill Farm postmill stood to the south of Happisburgh at Whimpwell Green and had been built to replace an earlier mill on the same site; the post was dated 1773. The mill had a two storey roundhouse and a full width porch with a balcony. The mill was self wound by twin six bladed fantails mounted on a trolley attached to the tailpole. Four double shuttered sails, each with eight bays of three shutters were used to power two pairs of 4ft 4ins French burr stones, one pair of 4ft 4ins Peak stones and an oat crusher.

The two pairs of French burr stones were in the breast to of the mill and would have been used for flour production from wheat. The pair of Peak stones for crushing barley etc for animal feed would have been in the tail of the mill and were probably driven directly from the rear face of a tail wheel on the windshaft without an intermediary gear, thus providing a left-handed drive.

The mill was in the possession of the Frarey family, and before that in the Harvey family. I have a copy of the will of John Harvey of Ingham who farmed near Calthorpe Broad, leaving the mill at Happisburgh to his eldest son, Jonathan Harvey. This will was executed in February 1797.
Eric Harvey Whittleton, Hatch End, Middx. - 16th August 1979

A very great storm from the North West Mr Harvey's mill was very much hurt by a ball of fire falling on it and burst out the side of the mill and hurt the man in the mill very much.
Newspaper report

On 13th May 1810, James Harvey, a farmer of Ingham, wrote a will leaving land and cottages to his brother John Harvey, the miller of Happisburgh. He also left land to his grandson, James, who was possibly the son of John Harvey and was under the age of 21.  No wife or children were mentioned in the will.
James Harvey snr was almost certainly the son of John Harvey snr and inherited the land and farm in 1797.


I devise to John Ford, my beloved brother of Happisburgh, my copyhold house, and half acre more or less of land in the parish of Palling, Co. Nfk, (in the tenure of Robert Rutheram), also my cottages and 2 acres of Land more or less situate in the parish of Eccles (Next the Sea), Co. Nfk. 
I further devise :-
£20.00  to James Ford son of William Ford
£10.00 to James Lack of Lessingham, cordwainer.
£5.00 each to the following.
Frances, wife of George Abigail, of Eccles,
Charlotte wife of ........?........  Royall (or Moyall), of East Ruston, Labourer.
sister Elizabeth Colman, (if alive).
Thomas Frary the Younger of Happisburgh to purchase a suit of mourning to follow me to my grave.
Will of James Ford, miller of Happisburgh.
Written 11th November 1826.  Proved at North Walsham 15th April 1829.

Happisburgh, Norfolk
On the Sea Coast 7 Miles from North Walsham & 3 ½ Miles from Stalham Railway Stations & in high repute for its extraordinary fertility & salubrity
Messrs. Barcham & Son are instructed by the Trustees of Mrs. Mary Frarey, deceased to Sell by Auction at the Kings Arms Hotel, North Walsham on Thursday 19 September 1889 at 4 for 5 o’c in the Afternoon the following valuable PROPERTY

Lot 5. FARM …
And also all that POST WINDMILL driving three Pairs of Stones, with the Roundhouse & fixtures thereto. A lucrative Milling business has for many years been carried on & the Goodwill will be included.
This Lot contains, Sites of Buildings included, 39a. 2r. 15p. of which 28a. 3r. 20p. or thereabouts are Copyhold. Fine certain, residue Freehold.

Particulars of the Auctioneers, Knapton, North Walsham & of Mr. John Wilkinson, North Walsham, Vendors’ Solicitor.
Norfolk Chronicle - 31st August, 7th & 14th September 1889

Barcham & Son are instructed to Sell by Auction at the Town Hall in North Walsham on Thursday 13 July 1893 at 4 for 5 o’c in the Afternoon, the following Valuable & Desirable FARM, DWELLING HOUSE & BUILDING LAND


Lot 5. A Desirable FARM comprising an excellent Brick & Slate Messuage or Dwelling House which contains … with walled-in Flower & Kitchen Gardens & small Orchard & convenient Outbuildings. Also a Three-stall Riding Horse Stable & Coach house with Granary & Hayloft over. Also all that Post WINDMILL driving Two pairs of Stones, with the Round House thereto, which has for many years past been doing a lucrative business.

The Farm Buildings & Premises comprise … Paddock & several Inclosures of superior Arable LAND. This Lot contains, sites of Buildings included, 39a. 2r. 15p. of which 28a. 3r. 20p. or thereabouts are Copyhold, Fine Certain, residue Freehold.

Further Particulars of the Auctioneers, Knapton, North Walsham & of Mr. John Wilkinson, North Walsham, Vendors’ Solicitor.
Norfolk Chronicle - 8th July 1893

O.S. map 1951
O.S. map 1951 - redrawn by Harry Apling

Very rarely a post mill has had twin fantails side-by-side, so as to catch a light breeze more readily.
Windmills & Millwrighting - S. Freese, 1957 - 1971

There were distinct physical similiarities between Happisburgh Mill Farm postmill and Catfield_postmill that had been built by John Bowen c. 1770 - 1774.

In 1976 Harry Apling noted that one of the Peak stones was being used as the front doorstep of the Mill house.

O.S. Map 1885
O.S. Map 1885
Courtesy of NLS map images

1773: Mill built to replace an earlier mill on the same site

Faden's map 1797: Happisburgh windmill

1797: John Harvey's will executed leaving the mill to his eldest son Jonathan Harvey

22nd November 1801: Mill struck by lightning causing severe damage and injuring the occupant

1810: Jonathan Harvey, miller

Bryant's map 1826: Windmill

Index of Wills 1829: James Ford, miller

O.S. map 1885: Windmill (corn)

August 1889: Mill advertised for sale by auction wth 3 pairs of stones

O.S. map 1891-92: Windmill (corn)

July 1893: Mill advertised for sale by auction with 2 pairs of stones

1921: Mill dismantled

1934: Roundhouse still in situ

Karl Wood painting 1937: Roundhouse remaining without a roof

1949: Mill remains still visible

1959: Roundhouse foundations grassed over

1959: Mr. & Mrs. Murray Ferguson

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 TG39142933  

Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2004

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