news from the mill
Mill stones encased in wooden tun or vat
Grain is fed into the mill stones by the shoe
Setting up for Santa's Workshops
The original Hurst Frame
For Open Days please see Events
We know lots of people are interested in the restoration of the mill and finding out more about it's history, so with this in mind we have compiled a monthly newsletter to keep you up to date with our findings and progress.
We have also listed our current newletter along with an opportunity to
see some of our archived posts.
If you have any stories or pictures you would like to include on any future newletters please click here to email us directly.
With over 8000 visitors to the mill alone during 2019, we have added even more open days and events.
We would like to sincerly thank Historic England for giving a grant towards the costs involved with these repairs.
For those of you who enjoy the outdoors, why not pop down to Kersey Mill on the first Wednesday of each month for a Health Walk. Meet in the main car park at the back of the site at 9.20am. The walk starts at 9.30am and lasts for 90 minutes - no booking required, just turn up! Further details regarding the Health Walks in Suffolk, our Kersey Mill Open Days and other forthcoming Events can be found on our Events page.
Friends of Kersey Mill Newsletters...
After an incredibly busy Christmas and New Year at Kersey Mill, it’s a good time to reflect on the success of 2019 as well as all the progress that has been made with the Mill’s restoration. Now the decorations have been removed following the Santas Workshops, we can begin to look forward to continuing work on the fourth phase of this project, which should get underway this month. We will be able to update you in further detail in our next newsletter.
With well over 8000 visitors to the Mill itself during 2019, we are planning more Open Days, guided tours and events for 2020. Once again we will be hosting Drive It Day on Sunday 26th April. Planning is already underway to invite the national motor clubs as well as local car enthusiasts to display their vehicles for everyone to enjoy at this very popular family day out.
On the subject of visitors, we are also pleased to welcome back the Little Egrets to Kersey Mill. The Little Egret is a small white heron with attractive white plumes on its crest, back and chest, with distinctive black legs, bill and yellow feet. Although once a very rare visitor from the Mediterranean, Little Egrets began to appear in the UK during winter months in significant numbers during the late 1980s around the South West, Welsh and East Anglian coastlines. In the following decades, due to the milder winters we are now experiencing in the UK, further colonies have arrived from western and northern France, and they are even beginning to increase their range further inland and northwards here too.
2019 ended with our incredibly popular Santa’s Workshops and the tickets sold like hot cakes, attracting visitors from across the east region and even further afield! These events continue to be a huge success and are crucial in assisting with funding the Mill’s restoration project. Thanks so much to everyone who attended the Santa’s Workshops for your support, we also really appreciated reading the wonderful reviews we received on social media. Finally thanks to all those who helped stage the event, especially the dedicated Santa’s Workshop team that have worked extremely hard in the lead up to Christmas to produce an amazing event that we are all very proud of.
During 2019, steady progress was made with the Mill’s restoration and although at times the project was hindered by having to carry out essential maintenance work, we have been encouraged to see the work to reinstate the mill stones and furniture finally reach a conclusion. We are now looking forward to early Spring, when we will be able to commence the final phase in the restoration process; work to the mill elevators and bolters, in order to have the Mill fully operational for our forthcoming Open Days.
Our calendar of events for 2020 is currently being arranged and the Mill Open Days will start with the nationally organised “Drive It Day” on Sunday 26th April. We will also be including the weekends that coincide with “National Heritage Week” during 15th - 23rd August, please visit the website www.kerseymill.net for further updates. Following the feedback we received from our visitors during 2019, we will continue to offer our free guided tours of the Mill to small groups and societies, please call 01473 829317 for further details or to book.
Wishing you all a very Happy, Healthy
and Prosperous New Year.
It has been another busy year at Kersey Mill and time has whizzed by!
All the work to convert the Mill ready for Santa’s Workshops is now complete and we can report that Santa and his helpful band of elves are eagerly awaiting all the visitors in the run up to Christmas! The Santa’s Workshops start from 1st December and the hour long sessions run each Saturday and Sunday from 10.30am to 5pm. For the final weekend, additional Workshops have been added to include Friday 20th and Monday 23rd December. Tickets are selling like hot cakes, however for any last minute tickets you can still purchase these either by phone 01473 829317 or on-line, so please get in touch! All proceeds go to the restoration fund and we thank everyone who helps with the event and supports it by attending.
We are also pleased to report good progress has been made with the restoration work to the Mill itself and now that the millstones and associated furniture have been reinstated, we can look forward to commencing work on the final stages to the mill elevators and bolters next year.
Work completed during 2019 included:
• Replacing the millstone runner stones
• Maintenance carried out to the water wheel, sluice gates, head and tail race (the channel leading to and from the water wheel)
• Clearing and tidying the riverbanks
• Repair/replacement of some of the weather boards and guttering
• Repair/reinstatement of the three glut boxes to the water-driven stones
• Oak floorboards lifted and closed up on the first floor (as unfortunately they had shrunk)
• Building of the tuns (wooden casing for the millstones)
During 2019 it was pleasing to see so many visitors to the site and we invited numerous groups and societies along for our free guided tours of the Mill and gardens. We also welcomed students from Cambridge on an Historic England tour of Kersey Mill to witness the restoration work in progress. The Suffolk Mills Open Weekend held in May and two nationally organised events, Drive It Day and National Heritage Week held in April and September respectively, certainly helped to raise the profile of Kersey Mill and were highlights in our calendar.
The goal is to have the Mill working occasionally and be available to the public for recreational and educational purposes, so it becomes a working museum for all to enjoy. This project still requires substantial funds and expertise along with many hours of work of varying degrees, including administration, fundraising, working alongside builders, carpenters and general labour. We already have a small number of people offering support for the project but desperately need more. If you are a large organisation or a single individual who would like to be part of the restoration or arrange a visit to see work in progress or help create this legacy for generations to come, please do get in touch.
A special thanks is extended to everyone who has volunteered at our fundraising events and to "The Friends of Kersey Mill", who have continued to support us with the restoration project.
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Over the last month, work has continued with the Mill’s stone machinery, namely the “runner” stones. These are being replaced before the associated stone furniture can be reinstated. Mill stones are stones used for grinding wheat or other grains and they are arranged in pairs. Above the circular bedstone is the rotating “runner” stone, which actually does the grinding. Mill stones have to be accurately balanced, perfectly level and precisely the right distance apart in order for the process to work and also to prevent the stones from grinding against each other. The runner stone is supported by a cross-shaped metal piece (rind or rynd) which is fixed to a mace head topping the main shaft, which leads to the driving mechanism of the mill, the waterwheel.
Each of the runner stones is divided into sections called harps. The harps have a complex grinding face cut into them consisting of “lands” which are raised sections and “furrows” which are the grooves. As the runner stone spins above the stationary bedstone it creates a scissoring or grinding action. When the grain falls into the centre of the runner-stone from the hopper and down through the shoe, it is forced outwards by the pattern on the surface of the stones and the centrifugal force. The grain is crushed between the lands and falls from the edge of the stone as flour. It will then pass down a chute where it can be bagged as 100% wholemeal flour. White flour is produced by a wire-machine or “bolter” which is a series of sieves, made from graduated fine mesh and used to separate the 100% wholemeal flour into bran, semolina, and white flour. The next phase will be work to the Mill’s elevators and bolters.
Now that preparations for Santa’s Workshops are well underway, further restoration work will remain on hold until the New Year.
Over the summer Kersey Mill welcomed a large number of visitors from both the local community and from further afield, especially during the nationally organised Heritage Open Days that were held in September. It was a great opportunity for everyone to see the extensive restoration work that has been carried out to the Mill so far, as well as enjoy a walk around the beautiful gardens and grounds.
From the beginning of October, work gets underway to transform the Mill in preparation for the increasingly popular Santa’s Workshops. The Workshops are the major fundraising events which are held throughout December in order to help with the Mill’s ongoing restoration.
Santa’s Workshops are the perfect event for children and adults to experience the magical build up towards Christmas and the festive season. Each Workshop lasts approximately 1 hour and your little ones will enjoy a short story read by Mrs Claus in the cosy log cabin before heading over to Santa’s Workshop, where they will meet Santa and help his wonderful elves prepare for Christmas. Activities include face painting, mixing reindeer food, craft work, loading the sleigh, checking the names on Santa’s Scroll and singing along with Santa.
The Santa’s Workshops are run from 10.30am-5pm on Saturdays and Sundays throughout December starting from Sunday 1st and for the final weekend this will also include
Friday 20th and Monday 23rd.
TICKETS ARE SELLING FAST! Click on the button at the top of our website pages to purchase via Eventbrite, (a small booking fee applies) and you will be able to select your preferred date and time.
You can also book by telephone from 25th November 2019 by calling 01473 829317.
The cost is £20 per child (includes 1 adult FREE ADMISSION).
Additional adults £10 • Babies in arms FREE ADMISSION.
National Heritage Open Days at Kersey Mill
During September, Kersey Mill is pleased to announce additional Open Days as part of the National Heritage Open Days festival for 2019. This year is a particularly special one as the festival celebrates its 25th anniversary. It’s also your chance to visit Kersey Mill and walk around the grounds, all for FREE!
Heritage Open Days is England’s largest festival of history and culture, which brings together over 2,000 organisations, 5,000 events and 40,000 volunteers. Every year in September, places of interest across the country open their doors to celebrate their heritage, community and history.
The Heritage Open Days at Kersey Mill run from 10th to 16th Sept and from 27th- 30th Sept, between 10am and 4pm.
Redundant telephone box converted to a life saver
Eighteen months ago, Kersey Mill made the decision to have a defibrillator installed on site. With the ever-increasing number of visitors to the Mill and neighbouring businesses in mind, it was agreed the defibrillator should be readily available to any member of the public in the event of an emergency.
For those of you who have visited Kersey Mill, you will have noticed the bright red telephone box located outside The Flower Shop, next to Glass & Craft. The kiosk was originally situated in the village of Kersey prior to its relocation to Kersey Mill to house the defibrillator. The defibrillator is registered onto the WebNos Governance system in order that emergency services are aware of its existence. A rota system was put in place by a group of tenants who volunteer to check the defibrillator on a weekly basis and submit on-line reports to WebNos / National Defibrillator Database, so the local ambulance service is aware of its location and status. Another device is located at The Bell Inn, Kersey IP7 6DY.
At the beginning of July the emergency services had to be called to Kersey Mill after a visitor suffered a cardiac arrest as they were leaving the site. Fortunately, there were First Aid Qualified Staff nearby who responded swiftly when the alarm was raised. They were able to start CPR (chest compressions) on the unconscious casualty, while another colleague fetched the defibrillator from the site’s red telephone box. The device was used to deliver an electric shock to allow the casualty’s heart to stop and reconfigure its rhythm automatically.This undoubtedly made all the difference in helping to save the casualty’s life, before the Air Ambulance and further medical assistance arrived on the scene. It has since been reported the casualty remains in a stable condition and will continue to make their recovery in hospital. Everyone at Kersey Mill would like to extend their best wishes to the casualty and his family and are also extremely thankful to those involved in coming to the rescue.
Do you know where your nearest defibrillator is located?
According to the UK Resuscitation Council ‘if you are more than 5 minutes away from medical help, local initiatives are essential. In these situations, access to emergency first aid techniques, including CPR and using a defibrillator, can make the difference between life and death’. Statistics provided on the Community Heartbeat Trust (CHT) website indicate ‘death from cardiac arrest, if untreated, is about 97% of cases. With the correct and rapid treatment, survival to hospital can, in theory, be raised to around the 70% mark, but this assumes rapid action, good CPR and also the timely use of a defibrillator.’
If you are interested in installing a defibrillator within your local community or workplace, you can visit the CHT website at or call 0845 86 277 39 for further details. There are other providers out there too, however currently there is no legal responsibility for defibrillator owners to have their device listed with their local Ambulance Service. It is therefore recommended that you store the postcode of the nearest public access defibrillator cabinet on your mobile phone, or by your telephone at home/work and ensure that you know the access details.
Mill restoration update
During the summer months restoration work has ground to a halt in order to allow for essential maintenance and repair work. The Mill by its very nature is constantly exposed to general wear and tear by the elements, in addition to facing problems that are common to historic buildings. Recent maintenance work has been carried out to the water wheel, sluice gates, head and tail race (the channel leading to and from the water wheel) and the riverbanks have also required attention. Some weather boards have been repaired and replaced, as well as some of the guttering. Even the machinery has seen ongoing repairs and maintenance!
On the wildlife front, the kestrel chicks have flown the nest. Many of the grey wagtails can still be seen bobbing around the mill pool, and the riverbanks offer the perfect habitat for kingfishers. The house martins that return regularly nest under the canopy of the brick barn have done so again this year, but in considerably reduced numbers.
Kersey Mill Free Guided Tours
A recent visit to Kersey Mill was arranged by the Whitehouse Baptist Group. It was a lovely summer’s evening and there was just enough water in the river to turn the wheel for 10 minutes. Afterwards the visitors enjoyed a delicious cold buffet served at The Miller’s Kitchen. If you are interested in arranging a guided tour, please get in touch by email or call 01473 829317.
Kersey Mill welcomed a number of new visitors to the site over the recent Bank Holiday weekend. This included The Kersey Tuesday Club, a local organisation which meets on the first Tuesday of the month from March to December at Kersey Village Hall. One of the Club’s programme of events includes a visit to a place of interest. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed their visit and were impressed to see the work that had been carried out to date. It was surprising to find that a large proportion of the group had not yet been inside the Mill, as until recent years the building had not open to the general public.
Kersey Mill also played host to the Suffolk Outdoor Learning Group for the “Bugs & Fairies Workshops” held on 27th May. Children from ages 3-12 were invited to dress up as their favourite bug or fairy, and there were some impressive costumes on display including a very hungry caterpillar and Snow White! The children were able to explore the river banks and the beautiful natural environment surrounding the Mill, hunting for bugs, insects and wildlife. Their recordings revealed a wide variety of species including stag beetles, shield bugs, grass snakes, blue tits, squirrels, tree creepers, ducklings, swans with their signets, and much more! The resident kestrels were also busy flying backwards and forwards from their nest at the top of the Mill, feeding their young. It was a great way for the children to learn about nature, and combined with the arts and crafts sessions, enjoy a fun day out.
The proceeds from these events were kindly donated to the restoration fund.
Restoration Work is continuing at the Mill and the three glut boxes to the water-driven stones have now been repaired and reinstated. Reinstatement of the stone furniture is also proceeding well. Up until June, the lack of water had reduced the ability of the wheel to run for any length of time, however with the recent and persistent spells of heavy rain, water levels are now back to normal for the time of year.
It’s been another busy Spring at Kersey, having played host for a 4th year running to the nationally organised Drive It Day on Sunday 28th April. Despite the chilly weather, a far cry from the glorious weather we all enjoyed over the Easter Bank Holiday, there was an impressive turnout of exhibitors. The Friends of Kersey Mill would like to thank all the visitors, volunteers and everyone who contributed towards making the day another success. The proceeds totalled £505, which was divided between Roonagh O Halloran’s Just Giving Fund and The Friends of Kersey Mill. Together with an additional £150 kindly donated by JLS Catering, Roonagh’s family were delighted to receive £405 and thanked everyone for their kind and generous support. Photographs taken from this year’s event can be found on the Kersey Mill website gallery page.
Cover painting: St Benet’s Mill 1831 by John Sell Cotman
Copyright Patrick Taylor
Retail Price £12.95, discounted to £10, available from Kersey Mill or Glass & Craft.
The Suffolk Mills Open Weekend on 12-13th May encouraged a good number of visitors to Kersey Mill; it also prompted local Mill enthusiast and author, Patrick Taylor, to visit the site. Patrick was born and brought up in Truro, Cornwall, where he was educated at Truro School and the Architectural Association. His qualifications include an MA in Conservation Studies (York) and a BSc in Mathematics (OU) and he has worked as a Conservation Architect based near Ipswich, Suffolk. Patrick, formerly Heritage Officer at Babergh District Council, has written several books that have been published by Polystar Press. His latest, entitled “Drainage Windmills on the Broads”, was inspired by his passion of touring the Norfolk Broads by boat. This book expands upon previous publications by Rex Wailes and Arthur Smith, indeed some of the Mills have been documented as far back as the Domesday Book of 1086. Patrick’s guide is set out on a river by river basis for those visiting the Broads by boat. It offers a comprehensive survey of sites where Mills have either been lost or only survive as ruins.
Restoration work continues at Kersey Mill; unfortunately the oak flooring on the first floor had shrunk so the floorboards had to be lifted and closed up which is now complete. Work also continues with the building of the Tuns, so why not come along and see the work in progress.
Kersey Mill forthcoming Open Days:
June -1,2 8, 9, 22 23
July - 6 7.
Hadleigh Show Update below.
Directory of Suffolk Mills, by Eileen D Blyth, has recently been published by History Research.
The publication is an introduction and index of Suffolk Millers between 1086-1986.
Eileen says “ I have collected a list of Suffolk Millers from many different sources including Apprentice Bonds, Census, Deeds, Directories. Leases. Members of SFHS own research. Newspapers. Parish Records, rental books, Settlement Orders, Suffolk Record Office and Wills. Then I have arranged the 56 pages into 5 sections, 1 & 2 are arranged in town order, 3 & 4 by surname and 5 & 5a are Millwrights. All this information includes a reference to the source, so more research can be continued on the family or Mill you are looking for. This book came about because while researching my family tree and having found a Miller in my family in 1580 in Godalming, Surrey, and then another in 1671 in Layham Suffolk, and again in Framfield Sussex in 1576, my interest in Watermills was born."
Copyright Eileen Blythe.
It is very noticeable how many Mills were present in Suffolk prior to the turn of the 1900s. Most villages and towns had at least one mill and several in the larger towns such as Hadleigh. What is equally noticeable is how very few survive today, and even fewer are in working order or open to the public as a mill powered either by wind or water.
Suffolk Mills Open Weekend is May 12th to 13th when most of the mills that have not been converted to residential accommodation or lost over the years are open for public viewing.
MILLS THAT ARE OPEN:
• Bardwell tower Mill 13th (only) 10am-4pm
• Kersey Water Mill 12th & 13th 10am–4pm (refreshments available)
• Pakenham Water Mill 12th & 13th 11am–4pm (refreshments available)
• Stowmarket Museum of EA 12th & 13th 11am–4pm (refreshments available)
• Thelnetham Tower Mill 12th & 13th 11am–4pm
• Thorpeness Post Mill 12th & 13th 11am–4pm
• Woodbridge Tide Mill 12th & 13th 11am–5pm
Works at Kersey Mill are continuing with the building of the Tuns. Come along and see the works in progress.
Works have commenced and are at the early stages of the building of the stone furniture.
Above and around the stones is the stone furniture. Pictured below is part of the hexagonal tun cut from locally sourced Larch.
How does it work? Well the grain, in the bins above, drops down the wooden chute into the hopper, the box above the millstones. Wooden sliders in the chutes can be pushed in to stop the flow of grain. The hopper is supported by the frame known as the horse, Below the hopper the shoe slopes down towards the eye of the stone. But the slope is not sufficiently steep for the grain to slide down and off the end unless it is agitated. This is done by the lower end of the quant which is square in section. As it turns, driving the millstone, the corners act as cams and strike the oak block on the end of the shoe. This joggles the grain into the eye of the stone. The end of the quant that does this is known as the damsel. The block is held against the damsel by a rope connected to a wooden leaf spring; a piece of ash that has been split along its length and bolted to the wooden tun around the stones. The arrangement of damsel and shoe is very elegant for it allows both manual and automatic control of the flow of grain. A watermill rarely runs at a constant speed. As the mill speeds up the quant turns faster, more grain is jogged off the end of the shoe. Likewise, as the mill slows, the flow of grain slows and even stops completely if the mill comes to rest. Thus the flow of grain is matched to the speed of the mill. But the miller, working on the floor may decide that there is not enough grain going through. By slackening off the rope that supports the end of the shoe, he can increase the slope of the shoe; the flow of grain increases. And likewise, if too much grain is going in and the stones are beginning to clog, tightening the rope reduces the slope of the shoe and thus the flow of grain.
Please do not forget Drive it Day April 28th 10am to 4pm when there will be a host of Vintage and Classic vehicles to admire together with many other attractions.
This year's chosen charity that we will support, along with the F.O.K.M, is Roonagh Faith O’Halloran. Further details can be found via Just Giving.
Drive it Day update.....
The proceeds from the day totalled £505 and divided between the two charities.
Together with an additional £150 donated by JLS, Roonagh's family were delighted to receive £405 and thanked everyone for their kind and generous support.
Photographs taken from this year's event can be found on our gallery page, or please click on the link below.
Finally, with all the decorations and staging taken down following Santa’s Workshop, the Mill is looking and sounding bare and quiet. It was a hive of activity with excited children enthralling in Santa’s Workshop throughout December, but now we look forward to pushing ahead with further restoration. Phase 4 starts with the installation of the runner stones and the building of the stone furniture before we move onto the reinstatement and repair of the crown wheels and teeth below.
Plans are well underway for the next major open day on April 28th, 10am – 4pm. Drive it Day is when a huge range of classic and vintage vehicles descend on Kersey Mill, in fact early indications would suggest that we will have more exhibitors that any previous year. Weather permitting it does make for a great day out, with lots of display vehicles on show. Display vehicles enter free of charge so do get your pride and joy out of the garage and mark the start of the season with a trip to Kersey Mill. There is also an opportunity to view the Mill and enjoy the many attractions including the recently refurbished Café and several of the new businesses involved in health and wellbeing along with the wedding venue, craft studios and shops.
It is a wonderful opportunity for classic and vintage vehicle owners to commence the season and come to Kersey Mill where you can admire and discuss with other owners the delights of yesterday’s vehicles. All public will be welcomed, so come and enjoy a lovely day out, admire the beautiful vehicles, tour the Mill, sample some delicious refreshments on offer. Entry for display vehicles is free. Free entry for pedestrians, £5 public parking.
We are also welcoming students from Cambridge on an Historic England tour of the mill to witness the restoration in progress. More on this next month.
Click below for archived monthly newsletters
A family visit from overseas
Tragedy at the mill
A specialists view
The Waterwheel turns after 70 years
A look back at some of the people who lived at the mill
Work starts on the wheel
Welcome to our first newsletter