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Things to see and do at Bourne Mill

Exterior of Bourne Mill, Essex, in June
Exterior of Bourne Mill in June | © National Trust Images/John Miller

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.

Fulling stocks

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.

Detail of the exterior of Bourne Mill, Essex
Detail of the exterior of Bourne Mill | © National Trust Images/John Miller

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.

Recycled Colchester

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.

Hand-stitched banner

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.

Visitors exploring the garden at Bourne Mill, Essex

Book your visit

Please note you need to book tickets to Bourne Mill. You can book for today up until 8am. Every Thursday time slots will be available for the next 14 days.

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