MDE11708 - Post-medieval farm mill at North Furzehill Farm (Monument)


The remains of a mill 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.

Please read the Exmoor National Park Historic Environment Record .

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 Ordnance Survey map [3] at North Furzehill farm. They are not shown either on the Tithe Map [4] or the 1888 Ordnance Survey 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 Ordnance Survey 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 (MMO1888). 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. [3-9] The earthwork remains of the mill pond, leat and catchwater 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 dam during the 1952 floods. Due to its recent date the dam has not been transcribed, but the leat is illustrated to differentiate it from the catchwater system to the west (MMO1888). [10-11] 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. [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] The southwestern half of an L shaped range was surveyed in 2021 in support of a planning application for the building's redevelopment. The buildings include a tack room, stables (including mezzanine, either a replacement or recent addition) and storage building (a lean to structure, previously a plant room). The structures are built of local rubble stone and of the same origin and similar pattern, and were suggested to have been built together prior to the 1840s, reroofed in the mid 20th Century. The floors had been replaced in concrete. The tack room included the passage to a water wheel, thought to have been in place since the late 19th Century. [16]

Sources/Archives (16)

  • <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 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 7(5).
  • <6> Verbal communication: Various. Various. Oral Information. Mrs V Robinson, 22 June 1994.
  • <7> Technical drawing: Sainsbury, I.. 1994. North Furzehill Mill/Antiquity Model . 1:2500. Permatrace. Pen and Ink.
  • <8> Collection: RCHME Exeter. 1993-1999. Exmoor Project.
  • <9> Unpublished document: Sainsbury, I.S.S. Field Investigators Comments. RCHME Field Investigation, 22 June 1994.
  • <10> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. RAF 540/931 (F20) 3037-8 (8 November 1952).
  • <11> Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 74 NW. MD002173.
  • <12> Monograph: University of the Third Age. 1995. Watermills in North Devon 1994. University of the Third Age. A5 Paperback. P. 84.
  • <13> Aerial photograph: Meridian Air Maps. 1977-1978. Infrared False Colour Aerial Photography. 13/058 (May 1977).
  • <14> Report: Schofield, J.. 1997. Exmoor Farmsteads: An evaluation of old steadings within Exmoor National Park. Farm reference 26.
  • <15> Digital archive: Historic England. Various. National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) entry. 926160, Extant 15 December 2021.
  • <16> Report: Mackinley, A.. 2021. North Furze Hill Barns, Barbrook, Lynton: Level 2 survey in support of an application for planning permission to convert to workshops and accommodation in the Exmoor National Park. Alina Mackinley.

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
  • Local List Status (Unassessed)
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 74 NW51
  • National Park: Exmoor National Park
  • NRHE HOB UID (Pastscape): 926160



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

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (4)

Related Articles (1)

Record last edited

Feb 7 2022 9:34PM


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