Dissolution of the Monasteries
At the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries, in 1539, the Member of Parliament for Colchester was John Lucas, a lawyer. He acted as prosecutor for the crown and in December of that year hanged the Abbot of St Johns and dismantled the monastery.
Nine years later John Lucas purchased the Abbey grounds and built himself a mansion on the site. In 1591, using leftover abbey stone, his son Sir Thomas Lucas built Bourne Mill as a fishing lodge. The materials used in the construction are a mix of Roman brick, Abbey stone and locally sourced Septaria. Much of the stone still shows signs of decorative carving from the Abbey.
The grandson of Thomas Lucas, Sir Charles Lucas, was later to achieve notoriety as the royalist commander at the siege of Colchester. His last words were: 'See, I am ready for you; and now, rebels, do your worst.' He was executed by firing squad in Castle Park in 1648, alongside his friend and fellow royalist George Lisle. His mansion was destroyed and Bourne Mill was probably saved only because it had the potential to generate wealth from the cloth industry.
A return to milling
The building remained as a fishing lodge until around 1640 when it was fitted out as a fulling mill and run by Flemish refugees. It became one of the many local mills making the Bay and Say cloth that brought much fame and wealth to Colchester in the 17th-century. It was converted back to a corn mill in about 1840 and made flour until the 1930s when the machinery became uneconomic to maintain. The last miller, Mr AE Pulford gave Bourne Mill to the National Trust in 1936.