MDE21144 - Bumsley Mill or Heddon Valley Mill (Monument)


Bumsley Mill, a corn mill, is shown on historic mapping. It was in use as a Youth Hostel between 1947 and 1953, suffering damage during the Lynmouth Flood in August 1952. It is now called Heddon Valley Mill.

Please read the Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record .

Type and Period (2)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

"Bumsley Mill (Corn)" is shown on the 2nd Edition Ordnance Survey map. [1] The 1963 Ordnance Survey map also depicts and labels the mill. [2] Bumsley Mill was visited in 1989. The remaining buildings seem a bit far above the river and are not obviously a mill. There are probably remains of tail race. The site is very near Higher Bumsley but seems to be called westmill. [3] All the buildings have recently been renovated and converted into holiday cottages. Two conglomerate millstones and part of the iron shafting are now on view in the car park, otherwise there is no evidence of a mill to be seen. The route of the leat is barely discernible. [4] SS 6568 4591 Bumsley Mill. The mill at Bumsley, shown on the 1839 Parracombe Tithe Map [5], is no longer in use. The buildings were incorporated into holiday cottages in about 1988 and it is now difficult to ascertain their original form. According to the present owner, who took over the property recently, there were 2 water wheels. The main wheel was situated at the southern end of the building at SS 65676 45902 and was presumably used to grind corn and work farm machinery. This was probably an overshot wheel as the leat taking water to it can still be traced on the slope above the rear of the building. The other was situated on the River Heddon at SS 65663 45908 and powered a smithy. From the position of the present buildings in relation to the Heddon this was most probably an undershot wheel worked directly from the river. An old mill wheel is laid on the ground at SS 65682 45917. The waters of the Heddon were taken from a weir at SS 65503 45587 and conveyed to the mill pond immediately to the north. The mill pond is still in situ with a large earthen dam on its northern side. A bypass leat, still flowing, leads around the western side of this pond and feeds back into the Heddon at SS 65527 45694, some 15 metres south of this point. All these features are still evident on the ground though somewhat overgrown with scrub and vegetation. Pond and dam have been constructed to the west of the mill pond. [6] The Youth Hostel Association has published research recording a Youth Hostel as below: SS 656 458. Bumsley Mill Farm opened 1 January 1947. The wardens were Mr and Mrs Hutchins. The farm was damaged in the Exmoor Floods 15 and 16 August 1952, but was restored by volunteers. Closed March or possibly April 1953. A postcard comment stated that the hostel was an ex farmhouse, with the men's quarters in a barn and washing conditions being "rather primitive". It seems from the grid reference provided that the YHA believe MDE21144 to be the property concerned, although the name "Bumsley Mill Farm" could imply that the hostel was at Higher Bumsley, previously known as Bumsley Farm (MEM23098). Bumsley Mill certainly appears to be in a more vulnerable position by the river and is possibly more likely to have suffered flood damage. [7,8] A report was written by the son of the Hostel Wardens as a response to the data recorded above [1-8]. The origins of the mill may date the 16th Century or possibly earlier. It was sold by Richard Blackmore in 1865. Originally, the mill building adjoined the miller's double storey house and both were built into the hillside in the northeastern corner of a courtyard near the bank of the Heddon River. The mill was indicated as no longer in use on the Parracombe Tithe Map [5] and it is suggested the mill building was demolished in the late 1800s, replaced with a substantial, stone built two storey house that again adjoined the original miller's house. The latter included large flag stone floors, a low ceiling, a large walk in fireplace and leaded windows in the large ground floor living area, with a stone spiral staircase leading to the first floor bedrooms. The report notes that there is no physical evidence for the suggestion in [6] that a second waterwheel powered a smithy. The property was purchased by Mr and Mrs Hutchins in 1946 from one "Granny White" and it was operated as a youth hostel between January 1947 and March 1953, before the operation was relocated to Heddon's Gate. Other buildings present at the site in 1946 included a large stone two storey barn on the southwestern side of the courtyard, and a relatively recently built bungalow that backed onto the river on the northwest side of the courtyard. Two conglomerate millstones of a diameter of c.1.2 metres were also still present at the site, and the shaft for the millwheel was in use as a gate post. When the buildings were in use as a Youth Hostel, the men slept in bunks in the upper level of the barn with ablutions below. The ladies were accommodated in the main house and bungalow. The report also includes an account of the Exmoor Flood (August 1952), when water levels in the hostel rose to over a metre, partially due to a surge caused by the collapse of the railway embankment upstream of the Heddon (MEM24814). However, no buildings collapsed in the farmstead and there was no loss of life or injury on site, although a whirlpool exccavated a massive two metre pit in the centre of the courtyard (it is suggested the barn took the brunt of the surge and protected the farmstead). Two Australian girls who had been booked into the hostel that night had instead chosen to stay in a bed and breakfast in Barbrook due to the poor weather; the building was carried into the West Lyn River and there were no survivors. Since 1953, Bumsley Mill was operated as a holiday venture. [9] The site is now labelled "Heddon Valley Mill" on the 2020 MasterMap data. [10] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [11]

Sources/Archives (11)

  • <1> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1902-1907. County Series, 2nd Edition 25 Inch Map. 1:2500.
  • <2> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1963. 6 Inch Map: 1963.
  • <3> Monograph: Thorpe, J.. 1989. North Devon Watermills. North Devon Archaeological Society Report. 5. 54.
  • <4> Monograph: University of the Third Age. 1995. Watermills in North Devon 1994. University of the Third Age. A5 Paperback. 28.
  • <5> Map: 1839. Parracombe Tithe Map and Apportionment.
  • <6> Unpublished document: Sainsbury, I.S.S. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 8 September 1993.
  • <7> Unpublished document: Martin, J.. 2018. Youth Hostels Association (England and Wales): Historical listing of all youth hostels and other YHA accommodation. 358.
  • <8> Verbal communication: Various. 1993-. Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Team staff comments. Catherine Dove, 1 August 2018.
  • <9> Unpublished document: Hutchins, J.. 2020. MDE21144 - Bumsley Mill (Monument).
  • <10> Map: Ordnance Survey. 2020. MasterMap data. 1:2,500.
  • <11> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 915459, Extant 2 November 2021.

External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Devon SMR Monument ID: 31431
  • Devon SMR: SS64NE/91
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MDE11212
  • Local List Status (Unassessed)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 64 NE52
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 915459



Grid reference Centred SS 6568 4590 (59m by 74m)
Map sheet SS64NE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (4)

Related Events/Activities (2)

Record last edited

Nov 2 2021 11:41AM


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