History of the working watermill at Dunster Castle
Explore the history of the watermill at Dunster, records of which appear in the Domesday Book. From milling during medieval times to the bagging of flour today, follow the entire milling process.
A brief history
Milling has taken place at the Dunster estate since medieval times. The first records appear in the Domesday Book, which records two corn mills on the site: Overmylle and Nethermylle.
In 1427 Newmylle was built next to Nethermylle and by 1430 there were also at least four mills working in the grounds that were connected to Dunster’s cloth industry.
In 1620 Newmylle and Nethermylle were connected to form Lower Mill in the location of the current watermill. In 1779 a comprehensive set of works were carried out resulting in the watermill we see today.
Modernising the watermill
Lower Mill’s machinery was modernised in the late 19th century when all wooden parts, apart from the waterwheels, were replaced with cast iron.
By the 20th century the watermill faced an uncertain future, and the mill produced flour once again during the Second World War but in 1962 it closed and fell into disrepair.
Dunster Working Watermill is a rare type of mill called a double overshot. This means that both wheels are powered by water from the leat on to a launder which delivers the water to the wheels from above.
The upper wheel and associated machinery were repaired in 2007 and the lower wheel was replaced in 2015. Originally the watermill would have been run with three sets of mill stones, however since its restoration in the 1980s it had only operated with two.
Thanks to money raised from raffle ticket sales and a substantial grant from the LEADER scheme we have now been able to purchase a third set, securing the future of the Watermill for decades to come.
Bagging the flour
Since the Trust took over the running of the mill in 2014, over 18 tonnes of wholemeal flour have been ground from organic grain, which is available to buy at the watermill and in the stables shop.
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