South Lopham towermill


Drainage Mills (Windpumps)
Steam Mills

South Lopham towermill was sometimes known as Gaol House Mill. This was because the mill stood beside to the place where the gaol of the Duke of Norfolk's Liberty was kept, of which Swaffham is the head town in this county. Francis Blomfield states the Liberty was first granted to the Duke of Norfolk by Edward IV on 7th December 1468 and after passing through the hands of others was again vested in 1669.
... vested in the Howard family, The Duke of Norfolk being now (1739) lord, who nominates a steward and coroner and keeps a gaol for debtors either here, or elsewhere, as he pleases.

The 5 storey white bricked, black tarred tower with a dead curb, had a Norfolk boat shaped cap, which was sometimes painted red and sometimes white. The patent sails, were also painted red, as was the fan. In 1860 the mill was using 2 pairs of French burr stones but one pair was later replaced by a pair of Peak stones. A flour mill and jumper were also in use and by 1863 the mill had been adapted to run via auxiliary steam power when necessary.

Bastardy order to William Fryer of Hempnall, miller, regarding the daughter of Hannah Ward 1832
William Fryer was probably an employee and could have worked at the towermill or the postmill.

South Lopham new Tower Mill built and Cap put up about 25th August 1830.
Diary of Thomas King of Thelnetham - 1804-1837

Mr. Brook's patent sails put up at JAIL HOUSE mill October 1830.
Diary of Thomas King of Thelnetham - 1804-1837

Sails of Lopham Tower Mill set to work in Oct. 1830.
Diary of Thomas King of Thelnetham - 1804-1837

Tithe map 1847 - as redrawn by Harry Apling
Tithe map 1847 - as redrawn by Harry Apling

Tithe Award 1847
Map by Lenny & Croft, Surveyors
Owner: Edward Blake
Occupier: Walter Wharton, miller

No. 474

House, mill & paddock


0a. 3r. 0p.


Messrs. Elliott & Sons are favoured with instructions from the Executors of the late E. P. Blake, Esq. deceased to sell by Auction on Tuesday 3 July 1860 at the Cross Keys Inn, Redgrave at 3 for 4 o'c the undermentioned highly desirable PROPERTY in 8 lots.
Lot 7. A Valuable FARM situate in South Lopham & Blo Norton containing 47a. 1r. 25p. of capital Arable Land, Meadows, & Plantation ...
Also a capital Brick Tower WINDMILL with patent sails, two pairs French Stones, Flour Mill, Jumper & going Gears complete, the whole in the occupation of Mr. George Green.
Norfolk Chronicle - 16th & 23rd June 1860

Local Bankrupts (From London Gazette)
Friday December 26
Alfred Steff, South Lopham, Miller
Norfolk Chronicle - 3rd January 1863

Capital small Farm, Tower Windmill & Residence
H. Preston Is instructed to Sell by Auction at the Kings Head Hotel, Diss on Friday June 12, 1863 at 6 o'c by direction of the Mortagees of Mr. Alfred Steff, a bankrupt.
Estate ... Farm house.
Also a superior Brick built TOWER WINDMILL with patent sails, two pairs of French stones, Flour mill & going gears complete, adapted to affix Steam Power, with a neat & substantial Brick-built, sash-fronted & slated Residence, Stables, Granary, Cart lodge & Offices.
And 47a. 1r. 25p. Arable & Pasture (in South Lophjam & Blo Norton)
Apply to Wallace & Lyus, Solrs. Diss or H. Preston, Land Agent & Auctioneer, Worlingworth, Wickham Market.
Norfolk Chronicle - 30th May 1863

A Valuable Small Farm & a Superior BRICK TOWER WINDMILL for SALE by Auction by
W. R. Cooke at the Cross Keys Inn, Redgrave on Tuesday September 22, 1863 at 3 o'c in the Afternoon in 9 Lots.
In South Lopham:-
Lot 1. A Superior Brick built Tower WINDMILL with patent sails, two pairs of French stones & going gears complete & adapted to affix steam power. Also a neat & substantial brick built & sash fronted Messuage with offices & Garden & a piece of good Pasture LAND containing with the site of the windmill & buildings about 1a. 3r.
Possession at Michaelmas next.
Particulars & conditions of sale may be had of Messrs. Wallace & Lyus, Solicitors, Diss & of the auvctioneer, Rickinghall near Botesdale.

Norfolk Chronicle - 12th & 19th September 1863

At Eye County Court, Wednesday July 8, before John Worlledge, Esq., Judge.
Flour Bills
Arthur Gibson, miller, Lopham sued the following parties for the amounts named & no little amusement was caused by the examination of the accounts & the defence set up in some of the cases.
Robert Taylor £2 .12. 8. Defendent said he had paid £1 for which he had not had credit, but failed to prove that to be a fact. Judgement for the amount claimed.
Daniel Joly £2. 18. 10. Plaintiff inn this case had made an error of £1 against himself in casting up the bill, but his Honor did not allow him to suffer on account of the error, making only a trifling deduction, which left judgement for £2. 15. 6.
(and others) ...

Norfolk News - 11th July 1868

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

Local Bankrupts
Gibson, Arthur, South Lopham, Miller & farmer.
Norfolk Chronicle - 27th September 1890

In 1974, Bertha Sercombe, daughter of Lottie Pawsey, wrote to Philip Unwin to say that her grandfather Daniel Pawsey, (listed as a farmer in Kelly's directory of 1912) had bought the mill from Sidney Witton. Daniel Pawsey later sold the mill to John Button of Diss_Victoria_towermill for £100.

In 1974, Philip Unwin wrote that the Mill House stood beside the mill and that the Gaol House was a double cottage that was still standing. Theodore Vincent of Thelnetham apparently dressed the stones and undertook the painting and repairs, although the date of his work is so far unknown.. Daniel Pawsey of Barker's Farm bought the mill, the Mill House and the land for quarrying c.1910. He used the mill to grind food for his own farm livestock via windpower. In 1919 he sold the mill to John Button of Diss_Victoria_towermill, who had the mill demolished as speculation, with the machinery etc being auctioned by Vincent of Diss.

When the mill machinery was sold at auction in 1919, the windshaft, which was dated 1830, went to Stanton smockmill in Suffolk. One of the stocks went to Thelnethan, also in Suffolk.

1830: Mill built

25th August 1830: Cap fitted on to new mill

October 1830: Mill started working

1830: William Brook, miller

White's 1836: John Sare, corn miller

O.S. map 1837: Windmill

Index of Wills 1839: John Sare, miller

Tith Award 1847: Owner: Edward Blake; Occupier: Walter Wharton, miller

1850: George Green, miller & farmer

White's 1854: George Green, corn miller

1860: George Green, miller & farmer

June 1860: Mill advertised for sale by auction

1863: Alfred Steff, miller & farmer

January 1863: Alfred Steff miller, bankrupt

May 1863: Mill advertised for sale by auction due to bankruptcy of Alfred Steff

September 1863: Mill advertised for sale by auction

1865: Arthur Gibson, miller

1868: Arthur Gibson, miller

Kelly's 1879: Arthur Gibson, miller

White's 1883: Arthur Gibson, miller & farmer

1890: Arthur Gibson, miller & farmer

September 1890: Arthur Gibson, bankrupt

Kelly's 1892: Sidney Brooks Witton, miller (wind & steam)

Kelly's 1896: Sidney Brooke Witton, miller (wind & steam)

Kelly's 1900: Sidney Brooke Witton, miller (wind & steam) & farmer

Kelly's 1904: William Sparrow, farmer, fowl dealer & miller (wind)

c.1910: Mill and property bought by Daniel Pawsey

1919: Daniel Pawsey sold Mill for £100 to John Button of Diss_Victoria_towermill who dismantled and sold it

c.1919: Mill machinery sold at auction

1925-26: Mill demolished with bricks going to Fersfield airfield

c.1980: Mill House renamed The Willows

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 TM03887948
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Copyright © Jonathan Neville 2006