Northwold Manby's Turret


Drainage Mills (Windpumps)
Steam Mills

Northwold Manby's Turret post windmill stood stood to the northwest of the village on the south side of the turnpike road from Kings Lynn to Thetford and just to the south of Northwold_postmill. The mill name suggests that the mill had a roundhouse.

To be LETT or SOLD
At NORTHWOLD in the County of Norfolk
A Very good WINDMILL, lately built in a convenient situation for Business, with a Cottage & Garden adjoining.
For further Particulars enquire of Mr. William Clarke Woodbine of Swaffham, Attorney at Law.

Norwich Mercury - 1st, 8th, 22nd & 29th June 1765

Tithe map 1837 - as redrawn by Harry Apling
Tithe map 1837 - as redrawn by Harry Apling

Tithe Award 1837
Owner: John Barritt
Occupier: do

No. 226

Cottage, garden & mill


0a. 2r. 0p.

11s. 6d.

You may be interested in an advert I found in The Norwich Mercury dated 12 Aug 1848 referring to the Northwold Post Mill; at least it establishes that Jacob Mason Bird operated the Mill in 1848.
Also, I noticed that Mr Bird's name cropped up a few times in Court Reports.  In 1858, he had trouble with a young man called Frederick Youngs whom he employed as a miller in Northwold. Youngs was convicted of theft of some flour, bran and sacks from his master and sentenced to 6 month's imprisonment and hard labour (The Norfolk Chronicle, 30 Oct 1858).
In 1861, Mr Bird was sued for breach of contract to supply 5 tons of bran.  The contract price was £5/10/0 per ton, and Mr Bird insisted on cash up front.  The plaintiff, George Girling, Merchant of Great Dunham, gave Mr Bird enough sacks for the bran but no cash. When he chased up his order, the price of bran had risen to £7 per ton.  He paid up and duly received his bran, but was seeking to reclaim the extra £7/10/0 it had cost him.  The Court found in Mr Bird's favour with costs as reported by the Norfolk Chronicle on 20th April, 1861.
More trouble with an employee in 1863: a clerk whom he employed in Downham_Market called Frederick Woodmancey was convicted on four counts of embezzlement, all in the month of June that year, totalling a few pence over £50 (!!) - Goodness knows how he thought he would get away with it! - and was sentenced to nine months hard labour (The Norfolk Chronicle, 8 Aug 1863).
Bird blamed his manager at Downham, Richard Curtis, for not spotting Woodmancey's shenanigans and for not keeping the books accurately; their relationship broke down completely by 3 Jul 1863.  Curtis thought he was going to be replaced, so he enquired after a position in Westacre ... Mr Bird found out about this and on 23 Jul gave Curtis written notice to leave at the end of the that quarter of his yearly contract.  Curtis protested that his contract required his employer to give him 3 month's notice.  Mr Bird seemed to acquiesce: he directed Curtis to report for work daily at Downham from 6 Aug 1863 onwards (but he repossessed the horse and gig that Curtis normally used).  Curtis did not report for work at all from 6 Aug onwards, but claimed a quarter's salary in lieu of notice (£47/10/0).  Mr Bird opted for the case to be judged by a jury - which was composed of men of similar status as himself: four farmers and an inn keeper.  The jury decided in his favour.  The judge endorsed their finding and certified costs against Curtis (The Norfolk News, 19 Dec 1863).
Bird took some road contractors to court in 1876 for failing to maintain the Nordelph to Downham road (The Norfolk Chronicle, 12 Feb 1876) presumably what is now Silt Road.  The case was adjourned and there is no further mention of it. (I presume that the contractors fixed the road and compensated Mr. Bird for whatever damage his wagon/cart had sustained).
But Bird caused the greatest sensation in 1865: on Mon 15 May, he was charged at the local Magistates Court with using threatening language towards his wife.  Early that morning, he had a row with his wife.  The commotion drew the attention of their neighbours who protested at his behaviour; apparently he was threatening to shoot his wife.   He skedaddled out the back door and took a train to Kings Lynn.  A warrant was issued for his arrest.  He took the first train back to Downham and was taken to the police station until the Magistrates Court opened at midday.  To the frustration of the crowd, his hearing was held in private by one magistrate only.  He was bound over himself for £300  with a further bond of £300 to keep his peace towards his wife.  To avoid meeting the angry crowd at front of the Courthouse as he left, a couple of "limbs of the law" hoisted him over the back wall to escape across the fields back home.  (Full report in The Norfolk Chronicle, 20 May 1865).
Jacob Mason Bird died in 1894.  His estate amounted to £21,000 (The Eastern Evening News, 25 Aug 1894). That amounts to £2.194 millions in today's money in terms of comparative Retail Price indices, 1894 and 2016 but a lot more if you factor in relative property prices.

Anthony Coker - 3rd August 2017

Ref. the row that Jacob Mason Bird had with his wife Mary in 1865 . . ..
I regret to say that my great, great grandfather had been a naughty boy and fathered a son out of wedlock. Clearly Mrs Bird took a dim view of this the the extent that a Deed of Separation was drawn up on 31st of March 1866. She moved to Cambridge after this deed came into effect and died there in the 1890s.
JMB acknowledged the son and supported his mother and educated the lad, who subsequently emigrated to Australia.
The original of this Deed is in my possession.
Born in 1848 he probably knew men who had fought at Waterloo. Not many people can claim that for their grandfathers.
He married late in life and sired my father when he was 48.
Regarding the memories of working in the Mill around the time of my father’s death in 1957, I believe the mill manager at that time might have been Mr Lake, but as a boy, I was not party to his Christian name! Mr Mardell was my godfather.

Peter Bird - 14th April 2023

... roundhouse ... certain writers to refer to mills with this feature as turret post mills.
J. N. T. Vince - Discovering Windmills - 1969

Index of Wills 1621: Henry Brewett, miller

Index of Wills 1750: John Gill, miller

June 1765: Mill advertised for sale or let

Faden's map 1797: Windmill

O.S. map 1824: Windmill

Bryant's map 1826: Windmill

1830: Henry Wilkinson, miller

White's 1836: John Barret, corn miller

Tithe Award 1837: Owner & occupier: John Barritt

White's 1845: John Barret, corn miller

1846: John Barret, miller

1848: Jacob Mason Bird, miller - also Hilborough watermill

White's 1854: Jacob M. Bird, corn miller

White's 1864: Jacob M. Bird, corn miller; home - Downham Market

25th April 1894: Jacob Mason Bird died leaving an estate of £21,000

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 TL74229737
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Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2006