MSO9353 - Town Mills / Higher Mill, Dulverton (Building)


Higher Mill is a three-storeyed stone building, believed to have been the town mill for Dulverton. It was fed by a leat originating from the weir across the River Barle. The present building probably dates from the mid 19th Century.

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Type and Period (2)

Protected Status

Full Description

'Higher Mill' is shown on the 1962 6 inch map. [1] Higher Mill is marked on the 2nd Edition Ordnance Survey map as a corn mill. [2] The mill is shown on the 1820 map of the town. [3] 'Town mills (corn)' is printed on the 1970 Ordnance Survey map. [4] This was the town mill for Dulverton. It is a three storied stone building. It had two breast wheels. It was fed by a leat originating from the weir across the River Barle at SS91242868, going through town and rejoining the river at SS91402840. The gearing was of iron. [5] The leat from the River Barle drove the twin breast wheels at Town Mills. The Warren family were the millers until the house and buildings were acquired by the Rural District Council in 1973. The waterwheel was sold to Bickleigh Craft Centre, near Tiverton. [7] Higher Mill was the largest mill in the post-medieval period and 19th century, and may have been the main town mill in the medieval period. Milling continued until 1973. [8] The Conservation Area appraisal for Dulverton states "Town Mills is one of the 19th century grist mills, probably with earlier origins. It is of three-storeys, with transverse wing across the leat. Predominantly built of local sandstone rubble there is some timber panel infill and segmental arched openings with six-light casement windows." [9] The Somerset HER records that source [11] states the mill had a multitude of functions; as a woollen mill, then a silk and crepe mill and now a laundry; however, this information actually appears to relate to MSO10842. [11] In December 1972, the older wheel and stones were labelled and photographed with a Polaroid camera and drawings made by the Somerset Industrial Archaeology Society, preparatory to dismantling and removal to Hurstone Farm, near Waterrow. [12] A deed dating to 1606 refers to the Town Mills in Dulverton, which was entrusted by Humfrey Sydenham to the trustees for his sons. The name ‘Town Mills’ for the Dulverton manor mills persists throughout the 17th Century, with a further Sydenham deed dating from 1638 referring to the Town Mills as well as a fulling mill. There were two water wheels at the Dulverton Town Mills, each of which may have been counted (together with its associated set of millstones) as one milling unit. The Dulverton Town Mills were worth £40 per annum in the 17th Century. The building now called "Town Mills" is clearly shown on a map of Dulverton dating to 1790 and also on a further map from 1820, which depicts the site with a water wheel across the leat between the associated mill buildings. The mill is under the name "Manor Mills" along with Lower Mill at this time and were presumably under the same ownership. By 1861 Robert Warren was the miller at Town Mills. The leat was used to supply water to the Town Mills well into the 20th Century and the owners of the Town Mills were responsible for the repair and maintenance of the weir and leat. The Town Mills continued milling corn for animal feed until 1972. [13] Jack and Minnie Warren were the last of the Warrens who lived in the Mill House and worked the Dulverton Town Mills. Jack still dealt with animal foodstuffs after he ended milling at the property, buying stock from wholesalers and storing it in the mill. The Mill House was flooded in August 1952. They moved into a cottage nearby and the mill was sold to Dulverton Rural District Council, which then announced its intention to demolish the mill and convert the house into apartments. Local conservationists (including the Exmoor Society) successfully saved the building, but in the interim the mill wheel had been sold and transported to Bickleigh Mill (Devon HER Record MDV19631; see External Links). The property was sold to a private buyer. [14] This record was enhanced as part of the National Record of the Historic Environment to Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record data transfer project. [15]

Sources/Archives (15)

  • <1> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1962. 6 Inch Map: 1962. 1:10560.
  • <2> Map: Ordnance Survey. County Series; 2nd Edition (1st Revision) 25 Inch Map. 1:2500. 67 (3).
  • <3> Map: 1820. Map of Dulverton.
  • <4> Map: Ordnance Survey. 1970. 1:2500 Map. 1:2500. SS912.
  • <5> Verbal communication: Various. Various. Oral Information. D Warren, Somerset Industrial Archaeological Society, 24 November 1977.
  • <6> Monograph: Aston, M. and Leech, R.. 1977. Historic Towns in Somerset. Committee for Rescue Archaeology in Avon, Gloucestershire and Somerset. Survey Number 2. 43.
  • <7> Monograph: Binding, H. + Bonham-Carter, V.. 1986. Old Dulverton and Around: Dulverton - Bury - Brushford - Exebridge. The Exmoor Press. 28, 32, 38, 40, Photo.
  • <8> Article in monograph: Gathercole, C.. 2003. English Heritage Extensive Urban Survey: An Archaeological Assessment of Dulverton. The Somerset Urban Archaeological Survey. English Heritage. P.9.
  • <9> Unpublished document: Fisher, J.. c.2003. Dulverton Conservation Area Appraisal. p5, 7, 8, 16.
  • <10> Monograph: Dulverton and District Civic Society. 2002. The Book of Dulverton, Brushford, Bury and Exebridge. Halsgrove. P.149.
  • <11> Monograph: Page, W. (editor). 1911. The Victoria History of the County of Somerset. Archibald Constable and Company, Limited (London). 2.
  • <12> Serial: Somerset Industrial Archaeological Society. 1973. Newsletter of the Somerset Industrial Archaeological Society. 3.
  • <13> Report: Riley, H.. 2015. Dulverton Town Weir, Exmoor: Historical research, recording and assessment.
  • <14> Serial: Exmoor Society. 1959-present. Exmoor Review. Volume 34 (1993), "Wintered and summered", p29-35 (SH Burton).
  • <15> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 1114415, Extant 11 April 2022.



Grid reference Centred SS 9130 2786 (31m by 34m) Estimated from sources
Map sheet SS92NW

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (1)

External Links (2)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11213
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 92 NW23
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 1114415
  • Somerset SMR PRN: 33545

Record last edited

Apr 11 2022 1:43PM


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