Saham Toney


Drainage Mills (Windpumps)
Steam Mills

November 1926
November 1926

Saham Toney tower mill was a six storey 50 ft. brick mill with a Norfolk boat shaped cap and gallery. The patent double shuttered sails drove an 8 ft. 6 ins. great spur wheel. The mill was built in 1826 as borne out by its original datestone J & S B 1826 relating to John Bristow snr. and his wife Sophia. A second datestone was added later Rebuilt 1960 EG&ME Twining. When the mill was converted to a private dwelling, the cap was unusually replaced by castellated brickwork and the tower was given an off white pebbledash finish. By 1981 single storey rooms had been added around the base of the tower.

The mill stood on the east side of the village just to the south of the Ovington Road.

Faden's Map of Norfolk of 1797 shows quite clearly that Saham had four post mills by the late 18th century, all situated in Saham Hills. The earliest, the most easterly, was Simon_Wyer's_post mill of 1744. In the pages of the Court Rolls there is his request to build "upon that part of the Common pasture in Saham Toney called Saham Hill...". The rent was 5/- a year.
Forty years later Isaac Hardy built two mills, one of which was run by his son Michael from 1802.  Isaac's_post_mill stood about opposite the chapel on Saham Hills Road.  Michael_Hardy's_mill was sold to William Youngman in 1810, then is passed to his daughter Frances Adcock but it was almost immediately sold again, this time to William Ashley in 1863, for £130. Subsequently this was rebuilt in brick and became known as Ashley's_Tower_Mill and was located up the lane opposite what used to be the Windmill public house.
Robert Whalebelly owned the post mill that stood behind what is now Ngong House (a slight hump in the paddock there may indicate where the foundations stood). In 1841 the land belonged to Phoebe Bowen and its site was a pasture, as it is today.   An outhouse carries the initials R. W. and the date 1862.  This mill was eventually sold to Robert Joseph Mace, Robert Whalebelly's son-in-law, who advertised himself as a "wind and steam baker" from 1896 and whose sons continued in the same business until 1929.

The land on which Wyer's mill stood passed to Mary Ann Pickling, wife of William, when she inherited land from John Alderton, her father, in 1858. By then the old_mill had probably disappeared, wooden post mills were somewhat less durable than brick ones and rarely lasted 200 years. Both post mills and smock mills were transportable and could be dismantled and re-erected. Bristow's Tower Mill, the only windmill that remains in Saham - and in nothing like its original condition - was built in 1828, as is shown by a date stone that reads: J. & S.B. 1828.
John Bristow retired in 1845 and went to live in Chequers Lane and the mill was taken over by his son who worked it until 1880, and then his son, Robert, was in charge from 1882 until about 1904 after which he advertised himself only as a baker. In 1948 the tower was converted into living accommodation for Mrs. K. M. Tice, and as such it is the only visible remains of what was once an important and flourishing activity in Saham Toney. At the time the maximum number of windmills were operating in Saham the parish was probably milling flour for much of the surrounding district. Watton only seems to have had one mill, near the junction of High Street with the Swaffham road, behind West house.

Windmill at the Hills, Saham Toney - Extracted from the Shadows on the Summer Grass - Robin Brown.

Isaac Hardy married in 1766 and his son Michael snr. married Mary (née Kiddle) with their son Michael jnr. being baptised in 1794. Michael jnr. married Elizabeth (née Meachen) and they had 3 daughters at Mattishall.
Ann was baptised on 6th May 1819, Harriet on 23rd February 1823 and Elizabeth on 22nd March 1826. Michael Hardy jnr. went on to own mills in Dereham, Gressenhall. and Ovington.

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

Tithe Award 1842
Map 1842
Owner: John Bristow
Occupier: do

No. 397

Mill Field

part of

1a. 2r. 37p.
73a. 0r. 29p.

13s. 4d.
£22. 14s. 5d.

House etc. at 317 (Chequer Lane)

8th August 1936 30th January 1938
8th August 1936
30th January 1938



To Journeyman Millers
WANTED, a Married Man without incumbrance, who is well acquainted with the MILLING BUSINESS, a Man with a good character, and one used to the Bookkeeping will be preferred.
Apply to Mr. J. Bristow, Miller, Saham Toney, Norfolk.

Norfolk News - 18th December 1858


To Millers & Bakers
WANTED, a Young Man to assist at the Mill and Bake Office as an IMPROVER.
Apply to J. Briston, Miller, Saham Toney.

Norfolk News - 16th August 1862

Situation Vacant
To Millers & Bakers
WANTED, an educated Youth under 16 years of age as an IMPROVER in the Milling & Baking Business.
Apply to John Briston, Saham Toney.

Norfolk News - 23rd August 1862

Situations Vacant
WANTED, an OUT DOOR APPRENTICE to the Baking Business; one who is a good Scholar.
Apply to J. Bristow, Saham Mill, Watton.

Norfolk News - 8th November 1862

Situations Vacant
WANTED, a JOURNEYMAN MILLER, Married without family. Good references.
Apply to J. Bristow, Saham, Watton.

Norfolk News - 4th September 1869

Situations Vacant
WANTED, a Married Man (without family preferred) who can keep accounts, for a Miller's Cart.
Apply to J. Bristow, Miller, Saham, Watton.

Norfolk News - 14th September 1872

20th May 1978
20th May 1978

Notice re
John Bristow, deceased, late of Saham Toney, Farmer, whose will was proved 27 November by William Ashley of Saham Toney, Miller, one of his Executors.

Norfolk Chronicle - 12th June 1886

House & land
Rateable value
Mill Gross
Rateable value
Rateable value

6a. 3r. 31p.
£19. 15. 0

Rate Valuation 1891 from - Notebook of E. R. George

Saham Toney & Saham Hills millers' family tree
Saham Toney & Saham Hills related millers' family tree

Abbotts Estate Agents Property Guide July 1983
Abbotts Estate Agents Property Guide July 1983

Painting by Gillian Blackburn - 1989
Painting by Gillian Blackburn - 1989

The (above) painting by Gillian Blackburn in 1989 was given to me when my husband and I stayed there. The picture measures 20” x 15”. The dome shaped structure was a covered swimming pool. In front of the building on the right was where we played Croquet.
My husband and I stayed in the bedroom at the very top, therefore had a great view, 4 windows, and we got to go out on the very top.

Brenda Bateson - 17th August 2021

c.1990 1990


One of the bridge trees was marked C. RIX. DEREHAM, which indicates it was cast between 1892 and 1904. This bridge tree was later fitted to Caston towermill.

On 18th April, 1953 the Eastern Daily Press published a photo of the converted mill and listed Mrs. K. M. Tice as the owner and occupier. It was also reported that the great spur wheel was still in place above the lounge within the accommodation.

The mill's second date stone

E.G. & M.E.
was replaced by
R. G. & G. W.

WATTON 883474
Self-contained Bung./annexe
Offers around £110,000
Saham Toney: Early 19th-century Tower Mill conversion with adjoining stable block/bungalow. Annexe, 3 receps., 4 beds. Bung. Lounge, sun lounge, kit./diner, bedroom, en suite bathroom, sep. w.c. dble. garage and workshops.
Eastern Daily Press - 22nd July 1983

I grew up in Saham and remember a Mr Hardy and his family being in residence about 1957/8/9ish he was a serving RAF officer.
In the front garden was a large piece of the mill, a hollow steel square at the large end tapering to the other. To me it was very big, but then I was very young. I have no idea what its purpose was.
I do remember the part of the mill in the lounge.
Paul Cooper - 20th July 2011

My mother and father-in-law lived in the bungalow opposite the mill (next to the band rooms) and we knew the occupants during the 80's-90's.  I was able to climb to the top of the mill which gave a lovely view of the surrounding area.  The great spur wheel was still in situ as it was not possible to remove it but it made a great conversation piece.
Sue Davey - 24th March 2012

Shakin’ Stevens’ converted mill in Saham Toney
could be yours for £575,000

Looking for a home which offers something completely different? How about this beautiful converted mill once owned by singer Shakin’ Stevens? Saham Mill on Ovington Road in Saham Toney is for sale for offers over £575,000 with Abbotts.

When you buy a converted mill like this one, you really are buying into the heritage of the surrounding area but it’s an interesting anecdote to know in recent years it was owned by Shakin’ Stevens and further back in its history, the Twinings family.
Mills in this part of Norfolk were extremely important, milling flour to be used by much of the vicinity, especially as there were not that many mills near Watton. If you research it on the mill was built in the late 1700s by Isaac Hardy and it was’t until 1948 that it was converted to residential use.
Saham Toney tower mill was a six storey, 50ft brick mill with a Norfolk boat shaped cap and gallery. The patent double shuttered sails drove an 8ft 6ins great spur wheel and it seems to have been rebuilt over the years and when the mill was converted to a private dwelling, the cap was replaced by castellated brickwork and the tower was given an off white pebble dash finish. By 1981 single storey rooms had been added around the base of the tower.
Indeed what you have now is the converted mill with two large reception rooms, five bedrooms, one of which has en-suite facilities and a kitchen/dining room.
You also have the benefit of an independent two bedroom cottage lending itself to entertaining on a grand scale or it would make an ideal holiday let and games room in the grounds. As the agents Abbotts state, there is nothing ordinary about Saham Mill.
It boasts a wide and welcoming reception hall, a circular drawing room boasting a wood burning stove and exposed beams opening onto the curved living room that enjoys views over the landscaped garden.
Outside, at the front of the property is a sweeping gravel driveway offering ample parking which leads to the independent annexe/holiday cottage with access to the rear garden at both sides.
The rear garden offers a terraced area for alfresco dining with steps leading down to the landscaped garden with a water feature and flanked by mature trees. At the end of the garden is a woodland area that houses the games room/studio.

Caroline Culot, Eastern Daily Press - 10th July 2015

O. S. Map 1882
O. S. Map 1882
Courtesy of NLS map images

1810: ? Wier, millwright

White's 1864: John Bristow, farmer
White's 1864: Robert Bristow, farmer (owner)

White's 1888: John Bristow, farmer & landowner

Kelly's 1904: Robert Bristow, baker

c.1784: Mill built by Isaac Hardy along with Saham Hills north postmill

1802: Isaac Hardy put son Michael Hardy in charge of running the mill

Bryant's map 1826: Windmill

Pigot's 1830: John Bristoe, miller, Sahan

Greenwood's map 1834: Windmill

White's 1836: John Bristow (yeoman) miller, baker & farmer

White's 1845: John Bristow miller & baker

1845: John Bristow snr. retired

White's 1854: John Bristow, corn miller

1858: John Bristow jnr. miller

20th July 1861: Sophia Bristow died aged 67 and buried in Saham Toney churchyard

1862: John Bristow jnr., miller

1869: John Bristow jnr., miller

24th June 1869: John Bristow snr. died aged 87 and buried in Saham Toney churchyard

1872: John Bristow jnr., miller

Kelly's 1879: John Bristow, miller & farmer

1880: John Bristow jnr. retired and mill taken over by son Robert Bristow

White's 1888: Robert Bristow, corn miller

White's 1890: Robert Bristow, corn miller

O.S. map 1884: Windmill

1885: John Bristow jnr. died and buried in Saham Toney churchyard

Kelly's 1892: Robert Bristow, miller (wind) & baker

Kelly's 1896: Robert Bristow, miller (wind) & baker

Kelly's 1900: Robert Bristow, miller (wind) & baker

c.1902: Mill ceased working and a bridge tree was sent to Caston towermill

1926: One pair of sails remaining

2nd September 1933: Robert Bristow died aged 82 and buried in Saham Toney churchyard

1936: Mill tower with cap and single pair of sails with no shutters

1938: Mill tower with cap and single pair of sails with no shutters

c.1948: Windgear dismantled by Smithdales of Acle

1948: Mill converted to residential by D. C. Potter for Mrs. K.M. Tice in 14 wks commencing 9th March 1948

1953: Great spur wheel still in situ in lounge

1957: Mr. Hardy, Mill House, RAF officer

1959: Mr. Hardy, Mill House, RAF officer

1960: Mill accommodation renovated by E. G. & M. E. Twining

1970: Old bakehouse converted and occupied by E. G. & M. E. Twining

O.S. map 1974: Windmill

April 1978: Robert Graham & Gillian Blackburn, owners & occupiers

c.1980: Single storey accommodation block built against mill tower

July 1983: Mill advertised for sale at guide price of £110,000

March 1984: Mill taken off market as Graham Blackburn moved from Shropshire to Marlow head office

1989: Robert Graham & Gillian Blackburn, owners & occupiers

c.1995: Mill owned by pop star Shakin Stevens

June 2013: Mill advertised for sale by William H. Brown for £600,000

July 2015: Mill advertised for sale by Abbotts for £575,000

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 TF90810188

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Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2005

Wiliam Ashley Robert Whalebelly Robert Mace Robert Mace jnr