MDE11708 - Farm mill at North Furzehill Farm (Monument)


The remains of a mill at North Furzehill are evident from a ruined building and the earthwork remains of a mill pond and leat. The earthworks are clearly visible on aerial photographs. The waterwheel has been re-established.

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Type and Period (3)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

SS 7256 4518. McDonnell reports 'two substantial banks forming possible mill ponds' on 1947 aerial photographs. [1,2] A dam and pond with two leats and an aqueduct are shown on the 1904 OS map [3] at North Furzehill farm. They are not shown either on the Tithe Map [4] or the 1888 OS map [5] so these features may have been constructed sometime between 1888 and 1904. Water from the pond was fed through sluices to an open leat, thence it was piped underground and along a raised metal launder to an overshot wheel. According to [6], a local farmworker John Leeworthy can remember shearing his first sheep here in 1928 when the machinery was used to power machanical shears. The building once used as a sheepshed is shown on the 1888 OS map [5] at SS 7252 4510 but is now reduced to foundations heavily obscured by scrub. The sheep dip, fed by a pipe from the mill leat to the east of a hedge, is a few metres to the north. It is not known when the wheel was last used but the dam burst in the floods of 1952. The complex is being renovated by the present owners [6]. The dam has been restored and the pond, which has a puddled clay lining, now feeds the renovated leat which flows southwards for some 50 metres before being piped underground. It is then lost but the dry leat channel commences again behind a hedge at SS 7254 4512 and is traceable up to the farm buildings at SS 7252 4505. There is no trace of the metal launder. The wheelpit, on the southwest side of a farmbuilding at SS 7251 4506, has been cleared of debris and is being renovated. It is 6 metres long and 1.2 metres wide. Its southwest wall is 1.9 metres high and its northeast wall 3.5 metres high. At its south end is an overflow down-pipe set vertically in the wall and an outflow pipe is set at the bottom of the north wall. At the top of the northeast wall the original wheel axle drive shaft is still in position and extends to a belt drive inside the upper floor of the adjacent building. Inside this building an axle shaft powered four wheels as belt drives for machinery (none of which remain). The iron wheel (made by Garnish & Lemon of Pilton, Barnstaple) which had been dismantled and removed from the site, has now been returned and is laid on the floor in pieces waiting to be rebuilt. It had 42 oak buckets but none survive. A catch water leat extends off through a sluice on the west side of the pond. It is partly depicted on the 1904 OS map [3] and its silted channel is still evident in fields to the southwest of the pond. Surveyed at 1:2500. [3-7] The earthwork remains of the mill pond, leat and catch-water system are clearly visible on aerial photographs of 1952, examined as part of the Exmoor National Park National Mapping Programme survey. The water course which feeds, and comprises the mill pond is clearly visible on the 1952 aerial photographs following the breach of the damn during the 1952 floods. Due to its recent date the damn has not been transcribed, but the leat is illustrated to differentiate it from the catch-water system to the west. [8-9] Mill building presently used as stables. The mill was pond-fed via a leat thought to run through an earthenware pipe buried under the driveway. The sluicegate has been repaired, as has the pipework of the leat as far as the launder. Pipes have been laid to drain water from the pit to the river. The Water Mill was last used in 1979, for powering shearing and chaffing machinery. The wheel had been sold in 1979. The current owners, keen to reinstate the wheel, traced it to Brendon Village where it had been dismantled. The present owners have purchased the wheel, new bearings and pitch pine buckets are needed but the wheel should be re-erected in the summer of 1995. [12] The farmstead was visited in December 1996. The buildings that house the wheel farm two sides of a yard facing the front of the farmhouse, built of rubble and dating to the 19th Century. The water wheel was stated to be housed in the corner, above the barn machinery, under a roof. [13]

Sources/Archives (14)

  • <1> Unpublished document: McDonnell, R.. 1980. Gazetteer of Sites in the Exmoor National Park Identified through Aerial Photography. SS7245A.
  • <2> Aerial photograph: Royal Air Force. 1947. RAF/CPE/UK 1980. Royal Air Force Aerial Photograph. 3086. 1980, 4080. 04/1947.
  • <3> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1902-1907. County Series, 2nd Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500. 1904. Devon Sheet 7:5.
  • <4> Map: 1840. Lynton and Lynmouth Parish Tithe Map and Apportionment.
  • <5> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1868-1901. County Series; 1st Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500. 1888, Devon sheet 7(5).
  • <6> Verbal communication: Various. Various. Oral Information or Staff Comments. Mrs V Robinson.
  • <7> Unpublished document: Sainsbury, I.S.S. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation.
  • <8> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF 540/931 (F20) 3037-8. 08/11/1952.
  • <9> Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 74 NW. MD002173.
  • <10> Survey: North Furzehill Mill/Antiquity Model . 1:2500. General: Permatrace. Pen and Ink.
  • <11> Collection: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. Exmoor Project.
  • <12> Monograph: University of the Third Age. 1995. Watermills in North Devon 1994. 65. A5 Paperback. P. 84.
  • <13> Aerial photograph: Meridian Air Maps. 1977-1978. Infrared False Colour Aerial Photography. 13/058. 05/1977.
  • <14> Report: Schofield, J.. 1997. Exmoor Farmsteads: An evaluation of old steadings within Exmoor National Park. Farm reference 26.



Grid reference Centred SS 7253 4513 (100m by 187m) (Estimated from sources)
Map sheet SS74NW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (1)

Related Articles (1)

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 17999
  • Devon SMR: SS74NW/56
  • Exmoor Farmsteads Survey 1996-1997 (2/3): 26
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE20733
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO346
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 NW51
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • Pastscape HOBID (was Monarch UID): 926160

Record last edited

Oct 27 2014 12:38PM


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