Bourne Mill, BOURNE ROAD

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Colchester, ESS
United Kingdom
51° 52' 37.5132" N, 0° 54' 44.4132" E
See map: Google Maps

Grade I.
Built in 1591 by the Lucas family from the C12 and C13 materials of the destroyed of St John's Abbey (Bourne Ponds belonged to the Abbey) probably on the site of a former mill. Its elaborate character suggests that it was built for a fishing lodge. In the Cl7 it became a cloth mill (Dutch refugees) and was used as such until the mid C19, when it was converted to a corn mill. It is of 2 storeys and has elaborate Dutch gables at each end with curved and voluted off-sets mounted with pinnacles, and at the apex an octagonal chimney stack. In the south Gable is a stone panel inscribed "Thomas Lucas, miles, me fecit Anne Domini 1591". There are original windows on the front with stone mullions and moulded labels, an original' doorway with square head, moulded label and moulded panel above with an achievement of the Lucas arms; there is a weather boarded C19 hoist loft. The interior, which has been converted into a dwelling house, retains the mill machinery - 3 great grindstones and the water wheel. An exceptional building and very picturesque.


'... Bourne mill, which belonged to St. John's abbey by 1311, may have been the mill granted to the abbey at its foundation. It takes its name, first recorded c. 1240, from the small stream or bourne south of the town on which it stands. (fn. 24) Like the other mills on that stream, it seems to have worked as a corn mill throughout the Middle Ages. It may have been rebuilt c. 1326, when the abbey agreed to find large timber, ironwork, mill spindle, wheel, and stones for it. Its pond was the abbey's fishpond. St. John's held the mill until the Dissolution. It and its fishpond then passed through a number of hands before being sold in 1590 to John Lucas, whose descendants held it until 1917. The mill was a corn mill in 1632 and seems to have remained one, perhaps with a fulling mill, throughout the 18th century. In the earlier 19th century it was a cloth mill for weaving, fulling, and finishing bays. That business closed c. 1840, and the mill seems to have been disused for some years. By 1860 it was a corn mill, and by 1894 it was partly steam-driven. It worked until 1935. It was given to the National Trust in 1936 and converted into a house. The machinery was restored in 1966.

Bourne mill lies close to the northern end of a large artificial embankment which was built to create the pond to the west. The surviving house was built as a fishing lodge in 1591 by Thomas Lucas, whose arms appear over the doorway. The walls are of re-used materials, presumably taken from the site of St. John's abbey. The ornate gables are in the style which was fashionable in the Low Countries in the later 16th century. Each gable-end incorporates a chimney and originally the principal floor may have contained a single room with a fireplace at each end. By the early 19th century a fulling mill had been attached to the south end of the lodge, and in the mid 19th century the main building was converted into a corn mill, necessitating the insertion of an upper floor and a sack hoist and the cutting of additional doorways in the walls ...' -

In 'Journals of wartime Colchester' by E J Rudsdale, with Hollytrees, the castle, Gordon Villas, Jacklins, etc.

[1 photo. by jA]

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