Things to see and do at Bourne Mill
Explore the fascinating story of Bourne Mill on one of our guided experiences. These are a few of the highlights of things you can see or do on your tour of the property, each one a glimpse into the mill’s rich history stretching back over 1,000 years.
The working waterwheel
With a circumference of 18 feet and 72 buckets to turn, this cast-iron overshot wheel sits proudly beneath the main floor. The machinery is sadly now long gone but you can experience the thrill of starting the wheel and hearing the sound of the rushing water.
Can you use pedal power to take the place of water to operate the fulling stocks? The mill brings this once important industry back to life. Discover what the slightly unpleasant 'chamber-lye' was and why it was so important in the production of Colchester’s textiles, particularly a special cloth known as 'Bay' famed for miles around.
People and personalities
The mill was originally built in 1591 by Sir Thomas Lucas as a banqueting house but was later converted for working with fullers and then millers until the 20th century. Find out more about the individuals that have lived and worked here through the centuries.
The mill’s walls read like a book on the history of Colchester. Constructed from a mixture of Roman clay brick and monastic limestone, they were then finished with black flint galloting and Dutch-style gables. While successfully showing off Sir Thomas’s wealth, the building was also a great example of upcycling.
See the magnificent banner created by Colne and Colchester Embroiderers Guild. It depicts items from around the grounds and snapshots of the history that make up the story of Bourne Mill.
From a monks' fishing spot to an Elizabethan banqueting house to a fulling mill, Bourne Mill's history is inseparable from the town of Colchester's. Discover its rich story here.
Explore the millpond, bug hotel and stumpery in the grounds at Bourne Mill and take a stroll around to fully appreciate the exterior of the 16th-century mill.
Find out how we’re researching and reinterpreting Bourne Mill thanks to Heritage Lottery Funding, and discover the vital conservation work we’re doing to preserve this place.
Historic buildings are a treasure trove of stories, art and collections. Learn more about what makes these places so special and plan your visit.
Discover the smaller, quirky houses and buildings to visit around Essex, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, including a mill, a barn and a dovecote.