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Windmills on Norfolk Village Signs

[From a typescript prepared by the late Harry Apling, of East Dereham, undated, but probably 1984/6]

NORFOLK is noted for its past wealth of Windmills, as from the 13th century. It has now also become notable for its wealth of Village Signs, which originated in those erected on the Sandringham Estatte by King Edward VII whilst he was still Prince of Wales.

It is, therefore, of interest to combine these two features and see how the mills are depicted on some of the signs. Windmills occur on 42 of over 300 signs.

In this article it is possible only to list and comment upon them and to give references to the 3-volume work by Miss F. Proctor and Miss P. Miller, as follows:

  1. Village and town Signs in Norfolk. 1973/4 - referred to below as P&M 1
  2. 100 More Village Signs in the County of Norfolk, 1979 - referred to as P&M 2
  3. Book Three. Village Signs in Norfolk, 1983 - referred to as P&M 3

[The numbers after the / are the entry numbers in the respective volumes]

ACLE [P&M 2/1]
The tower of the corn mill with its four sails is shown on the horizon.

BARNHAM BROOM [P&M 3/6]
Sign show the tarred tower mill with four sails and fantail, with the watermill nearby

BRADWELL [P&M 2/11]
Bradwell was in Suffolk during the lifetime of its windmill, which is not, therefore, recorded in the Norfolk survey. The sign shows a tower mill with four sails and a fantail.
[ECA: A pencilled note here says: B. Flint - POST mill]

BRININGHAM [P&M 3/8]
The carved oak sign shows the restored residential "Belle Vue" tower with its octagonal tapered base of the 1721 smock mill.

BUCKENHAM, OLD [P&M 3/11]
In the central Gateway panel is a scene inside the tower mill. The upright shaft is nowhere near the centre of the floor and a pair of stones without vat, hopper and horse is being overdriven by a quant and stone nut from the overhead great spur wheel. This is a total misrepresentation; the mill had 5 pairs of underdriven stones, with, of course, the great spur wheel below the stone floor.

BURGH ST. MARGARET [P&M 3/12]
A double-sided sign showing on one side the tower corn mill.

BURNHAM MARKET [P&M 3/13]
The post mill on the sky line, described as 'typical of the 15th century,' has, however, a fantail. At that time it would have had a tail pole and would probably have been a 'sun' post mill with crosstrees at ground level or below.

CLIPPESBY [P&M 3/15]
Sign shows the drainage tower mill.

DENVER [P&M 3/16]
The restored tower mill is fitted with a 6-bladed fan, not a 5-bladed one as shown. The pond in front is not a mill pond, but is farm pond across the road from the mill, though it is often depicted showing the reflection of the mill.

DICKLEBURGH [P&M 3/17]
The sign shows in the distance the post mill once n Rectory Road, with a very low roundhouse; it was in fact a 2-storey roundhouse.

DILHAM [P&M 3/18]
The tower corn mill at the Staithe is shown with its four white sails on the horizon.

FORNCETT ST. PETER [P&M 3/24]
Shows "Spratt's" post mill with four white sails and fantail on its roundhouse

FREETHORPE [P&M 3/27]
The mill shown here would be one of the many drainage mills on the marshes.

FRETTENHAM [P&M 3/28]
The derelict capless tower is shown at the top of the sign. The circular base is a millstone from the mill.

GARBOLDISHAM [P&M 3/31]
The model of he post mill on top of the sign has its original 2-storey roundhouse; it has been restored with only one floor. The clockwise sails are incorrect and should be anti-clockwise. The fan revolves, but the body and sails are fixed.

GRESHAM [P&M 3/34 & frontispiece]
A good representation of a Norfolk post mill with four sails and fantail on a single-storey brick roundhouse.

HALVERGATE [P&M 3/38]
One of several drainage mills in the district, complete with sails, fantail and cover of scoop wheel.

HEMSBY [P&M 1/43]
One of the curiosities. A tower mill with no fantail, but with the sails attached halfway up the tower instead of at the cap. This is said to be "artist's licence to combat the fierceness of the N.E. gales..." The mill here was a corn mill; a drainage mill would hardly have been situated on a hill as suggested.

HINDRINGHAM [P&M 3/43]
P & M state, 'The windmill shown is no longer in existence ...' The carved oak sign depicts Lower Green tower mill, the tower of which still remains having been converted to residential use with a fixed cap. The sign shows the rear view of the mill with four sails, but no fantail and with the gallery extending right round the rear of the cap.

MARTHAM [P&M 2/42]
Shows the drainage mill, a tower mill with four sails and fantail.

MELTON, LITTLE [P&M 3/55]
The sheet iron sign shows the front view of the tarred tower mill with four sails.

MELTON CONSTABLE
One side of this sign shows a poor representation of the Briningham 'Belle Vue' tower, the late 18th century conversion to residential use of the remains of the 1721 smock mill.

NORDELPH
The residential conversion of the smock drainage mill on Well Creek is depicted on this sign.

NORWICH, SPROWSTON [P&M 1/77]
This ironwork sign shows the post mill in its derelict state. It has no ladder up to the body and the fan lacks 3 blades. This is not Crome's 'Windmill'. which is now thought to be of Trowse post mill. The picture has been in the Tattoo Gallery since 1951.

PASTON [P&P 2/51]
Tarred tower mill at Stow Hill with four sails, white cap and fantail. As now restored the fan revolves in the opposite direction.

POTTER HEIGHAM [P&P 2/53 & 3/61]
Two signs, both showing drainage tower mills.

RACKHEATH Erected 1983
The early type -"sunk" - post mill depicted recalls the fact that in the 13th century Rackheath Magna was one of the earliest of the few places so far found in Norfolk to have had such a mill.

RUSTON, EAST [P&M 3/69]
Iron work sign showing the four-sail corn tower mill in its top half.

SNORING, GREAT [P&M 2/68]
Shows the open trestle post mill with two sails and fantail which was on the tail pole. It is stated that the mill 'sadly disappeared in the early 30s.' The broken down substructure still remains, though overgrown with brambles.

SOMERTON, WEST [P&M 3//76]
This ironwork sign shows the drainage tower mill with four sails and fantail.

SOUTHERY [P&M 2/69]
Sign shows a tower mill with four sails. However, the corn mill which 'stood upon a hill not far from the church' was an open trestle post mill.

STARSTON [P&M 3/77]
This small post mill is a wind pump.

SUTTON [P&M 2/76]
This sign shows the 9-storey corn mill with its four sails. It is now undergoing private restoration. [Note (CEA 1999): now completed and open to visitors]

SWAFIELD [P&P 3/80]
This ironwork sign is set on top of the post from the old post mill which stood on Swafield Road, North Walsham and which was worked in conjunction with Swafield watermill.

THURLTON [P&M 3/83]
No picture is known of Thurlton tower mill in its working days, so the ironwork sign shows it with a dome-shaped roof but no sails.

UPTON WITH FISHLEY [P&M 2/89]
This sign shows an open trestle post mill. There was a tower corn mill in the village at Upton, but no record has been found of there having been a post mill in either village, though a miller at Upton is given in the 1802 Poll Book.

WACTON [P&M 3/89]
Sign shows a post mill with a square roundhouse with the body sitting squarely over it. The plaque on the base states that the mill was 195 ft. high! This figure is actually the Ordnance datum of the site, its height above sea level, recorded for the known sites of the county's corn mills.

WALPOLE ST. PETER
The tower corn mill at Walpole Highway is shown on this sign.

WALSHAM, SOUTH [P&M 2/90]
The sign shows a drainage mill.

WELNEY [P&M 2/93]
The sign shows a tower mill as a West Norfolk drainage mill.

WICKLEWOOD [P&M 2/96]
The sign shows the front view of the tarred mill with white cap and four white sails.

© H. Apling 1986

© Transcribed by E.C.Apling, January 1999

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