Things to see and do at Bourne Mill

Bourne Mill is a tale of survival, adaptation and re-use, it has stood the test of time and adjusted its use to survive through 500 years of changes in Colchester. On this page, find some of the mill's highlights and stories.


The working water wheel

With an 18ft circumference and 72 buckets to turn, this cast-iron overshot wheel sits proudly beneath the main floor. The machinery is now long gone but you can experience the thrill of starting the wheel and hearing the sound of the rushing water.

Fulling Stocks

Can you take the place of water to operate the fulling stocks by pedal power?  The Mill brings the fulling industry of the Mill back to life. Discover what 'chamber-lye' was and why it was so important in the production of Colchester white, a special cloth known as 'Bay' famed for miles around.

People and personalities

The Mill was originally built in 1591 by Sir Thomas Lucas for partying with the aristocracy but was later converted for working with fullers and then millers until 1935. Come and find out about the people that have lived and worked here.

Hand stitched banner

The Colne and Colchester Embroiderers Guild created a magnificent banner which depicts items from the grounds and fascinating chunks of history that make up the story of Bourne Mill. 

Recycled Colchester

Our walls read like a book on the history of Colchester. Made from Roman clay brick, Septaria and monastic limestone, they then get treated with black flint galloting and Dutch styled gables. This building was the ultimate in showing off Lucas' wealth and a great example of upcycling.

How it works

After many years of use in the cloth industry, Bourne Mill operated solely as a corn mill from 1835 and made flour until the 1930s. Come and see the waterwheel working to get a hint of the sights and sounds of yesteryear.