Things to see and do at Bourne Mill

Spot the wildlife, try out the new pedal-power fulling stocks, relax with a picnic topped up with a scone and drink by the water's edge, or try our downloadable walk.

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.
Please note: The water wheel does not run mid-week but we are hoping to run it most weekends in the foreseeable future.

Fulling Stocks

Can you take the place of water to operate the fulling stocks by pedal power. Our recent addition to 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.

Scoping for wildlife

For a relatively small area, there's a deluge of wildlife on our doorstep. So that you can get that up-close perspective without scaring it off, we now have a wildlife scope. You may find some of the ducks even pose!

Picnic by the pond

The grounds may be small but when we're open we like to see people enjoy every part of them. We have plenty of pleasant spots to enjoy a bite to eat.

Family fun

Looking for something for the younger guests? How about trying our Kids activity booklet designed by Rachel Simson as part of our HLF young roots project to get your budding adventurers scouring the grounds for answers?
If you want to explore futher afield then head down the Bourne Valley boardwalk to see what else you can discover. You should find the distillery ponds and Cannock Mill...

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. We also have a quiz to go with the banner for our younger visitors.

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 ubercool building was the ultimate in showing off one's wealth.

How it works

After many years of use in the cloth industry, Bourne Mill was converted back to use as a corn mill around 1840 and made flour until the 1930s. Come and see it working to get a hint of the sights and sounds of yesteryear!

What's on at the Mill

We offer a range of programmed activities including costumed re-enactment, talks on local history, drama and craft workshops. Check out our events below and come along.

Bugs and beetles

Many a creature calls the mill home, with beetles in our new bug hotel, bats in the walls and trees, and larger furry friends being caught on our new trail camera.
Download the Woodland Trust ID sheets

Pond dipping

Why not borrow our pond dipping equipment and have hours of fun discovering what lives in our pond? See if you can catch a water scorpion or dragonfly nymph - the T-Rex of the pond world!
Get the iSpot app

Go for a Wee Wander - try our downloadable walk

Get it here and enjoy a wander around the Bourne Valley. Discover the local area and why the pubs were so important to Bourne Mill in the past.