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HER Number:MDV1033
Name:Head Mill, Chittlehamholt


Head Mill is a large three storey stone structure with miller's accommodation attached. The machinery is complete with three pairs of stones driven through spur gearing. The 18ft waterwheel has been restored to turning order. It appears to have been built in the late 18th or early 19th century to replace a mill that formerly stood in Head Wood South.


Grid Reference:SS 666 182
Map Sheet:SS61NE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishChittlehamholt
DistrictNorth Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishCHITTLEHAMHOLT

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SS61NE/4
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • WATERMILL (XVI to XXI - 1501 AD to 2009 AD)

Full description

Ordnance Survey, 1880-1899, First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map (Cartographic). SDV336179.

'Head Mill (Corn)' marked on 1880s-1890s 25 inch Ordnance Survey map as a group of buildings on either side of the 'Mill Leat'.

Ordnance Survey, 1906, 31SE (Cartographic). SDV335731.

'Corn Mill' marked on 1906 6 inch Ordnance Survey map.

Ordnance Survey, 1964, SS61NE (Cartographic). SDV337347.

'Head Barton Mill' shown on 1964 6 inch map.

Devon County Council, 1974, Survey of Watermills in Devon: Gazetteer (Report - Survey). SDV83967.

18th century or earlier cornmill, in present use as a warehouse, but mill is still in working order. Building has three storeys and is of stone. Waterwheel is breastshot, 18ft diameter. Insufficient stream discharge. All machinery intact.

Department of Environment, 1976, Chittlehamholt (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV337372.

Head Mill. Mill-house incorporating miller's accommodation. Early 19th century. Unrendered snecked stone rubble. Slate roof with gable ends. Rendered stack towards rear left-end.
Plan: rectangular on plan with the mill wheel towards the front of the left-hand long side of the mill and an integral miller's house in a single storey and attic outshut on the right-hand side with entrance to both the mill and miller's house on the shorter gabled front.
Two storeys with attic storey. Three-window range, three-light windows, six panes per light to window at left end, rectangular leaded 15-paned lights to two to right. Two three-light casements to ground floor, six and eight panes per light both to left of large undershot wheel with inspection door over. Right gable end has boarded gabled sack hoist projection to top storey with two-light window, six panes per light. First floor has projecting pulley wheels to each side of one three-light and a two-light window. Plank stable door to ground floor left end and a wide stable plank door with chamfered door surround and slate leanto porch roof, flanked by a three-light window six panes per
light to left and two-light casement three panes per light to right. Gabled half dormer, formerly loading door to rear. Slate leanto porch roofs to two doors at left gable end.
Interior: Mill machinery, including three sets of grinding stones, intact throughout. This is a good example of a mill complete with its wheel and machinery and with an integral miller's house, the whole very unaltered. Other details: LBS 442145.

Griffith, F. M., 1982, Head Mill (Site Visit). SDV337371.

The mill is a large and imposing structure, and an unusually wide water wheel still survives, apparently in good condition. A substantial leat is still visible. Building not recorded in MHLG list.

North Devon Archaeological Society, 1989, North Devon Watermills, 55 (Monograph). SDV337776.

Two waterwheels in tandem. Machinery gone. Now a fish farm.

University of the Third Age, 1995, Watermills in North Devon 1994, 52 (Monograph). SDV74915.

The 19th century mill is in good condition, with machinery practically intact. The wheel could be turned now but would be incompatible with fish farming. Outside, the front of the mill building has two entrances through low doors: on the left, the door to the mill, and on the right, one to the mill house. Two big pulley wheels protrude at first floor level, and in the apex of the roof there is a wooden overhanging structure for a hoist. Entering the mill, the expected machinery (pit wheel, wallower etc) is on the left. To the right are big pulley wheels with a hessian belt extending through to the first floor. Up wooden steps through an open hatch to the first floor, there are three sets of millstones (one runner stone with the tun missing), two normal size and one larger, plus other machinery. At ceiling level, a spindle with pulley wheels runs the width of the room. Behind the millstones and tuns there is a portable screw jack which can be slotted into ceiling beams for a single operator to lift the millstones for them to be dressed or cleaned. There is a set of meal bins. On the top floor there are reported to be initials and dates carved into the woodwork in the last century but the structure is to unsafe to investigate. The leat is flowing swiftly.

Bodman, M., 1998, Water-Powered Sites in Devon, 34 (Report - non-specific). SDV305931.

Other details: No 64.

Bodman, M., 2003, Watermills and Other Water-Powered Sites in Devon, 246-7 (Report - Interim). SDV325576.

'Hed' and 'Hed Myll' were mentioned in 1552, although these probably refer to the 'Head Mill' on the River Tawabout half a mile below its junction with the River Mole as shown on Donn's 18th century map. The waterwheel was used to power the mill until production ceased in the 1980s and was restored in 2002.

Watts, S., 2004, Weekend Mill Tour, Devon, 2-5 September 2004, 1 (Un-published). SDV323972.

Documentary evidence suggests there has been a mill here since at least the 16th century although the present mill building, a large three storey stone structure is probably 18th century. The earlier mill is thought to have stood on the River Taw. The waterwheel of the present mill is of timber and iron construction, 17ft diameter and 8ft wide, and was originally renovated in 1975 for the film 'Tarka the Otter'. It was restored again in 2002 to turning order. The mill machinery is practically intact with three pairs of stones driven through spur gearing. There are a number of interesting pieces of machinery including the remains of a millstone ventilation system, a portable screw jack for lifting millstones, a roller mill and silk reel. There was also once a long external belt drive to a small threshing machine in one of the outbuildings.

Watts, M., 2010, Head Weir Kingsnympton/Chittlehamholt, Devon. An Assessment for the Environment Agency (Report - Assessment). SDV344639.

The present Head Mill is thought to be early 19th century in date and comprises a mill and the miller's accommodation under one roof with an external waterwheel on the east side. The wheel is a prominent feature of the mill and has undergone two phases of repair and restoration since the mill stopped work in the 1960s, having been restoredin 1975 and 2002. The building contains a complete set of machinery, including three pairs of millstones and a late 19th century roller milling plant. Head Mill, as one of the most complete and unaltered watermills surviving of Devon with a live water supply, is considered to be of both regional and national importance.

Ordnance Survey, 2010, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV344030.

Parker, R.W. + Browne, L.M.S.F., 2019, Historic Building Assessment and Documentary History of Farm Buildings at Head Barton Farm, Chittlehamholt, Devon, 4-5 (Report - Assessment). SDV365470.

It is likely that the mill replaced the watermill that formerly stood in what is now Head Wood South, and which is shown on Donn's Map of 1765, in the late 18th or erly 19th century. The leat is suggested to have formerly run further south to serve the original Head Mill.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV305931Report - non-specific: Bodman, M.. 1998. Water-Powered Sites in Devon. A4 Spiral Bound. 34.
SDV323972Un-published: Watts, S.. 2004. Weekend Mill Tour, Devon, 2-5 September 2004. A4 Stapled + Digital. 1.
SDV325576Report - Interim: Bodman, M.. 2003. Watermills and Other Water-Powered Sites in Devon. A4 Spiral Bound. 246-7.
SDV335731Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1906. 31SE. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 6 inch Map. Map (Paper).
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV337347Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1964. SS61NE. Ordnance Survey 6 inch map. Map (Paper).
SDV337371Site Visit: Griffith, F. M.. 1982. Head Mill. Not Applicable.
SDV337372List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1976. Chittlehamholt. Historic Houses Register. Website.
SDV337776Monograph: North Devon Archaeological Society. 1989. North Devon Watermills. North Devon Watermills. A5 Paperback. 55.
SDV344030Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2010. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #62774 ]
SDV344639Report - Assessment: Watts, M.. 2010. Head Weir Kingsnympton/Chittlehamholt, Devon. An Assessment for the Environment Agency. 186/2010. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV365470Report - Assessment: Parker, R.W. + Browne, L.M.S.F.. 2019. Historic Building Assessment and Documentary History of Farm Buildings at Head Barton Farm, Chittlehamholt, Devon. Richard Parker Historic Building Recording and Interpretation. 2019 .0 2. Digital. 4-5.
SDV74915Monograph: University of the Third Age. 1995. Watermills in North Devon 1994. Watermills in North Devon 1994. A5 Paperback. 52.
SDV83967Report - Survey: Devon County Council. 1974. Survey of Watermills in Devon: Gazetteer. Devon County Council Report. Unknown. A4 Bound.

Associated Monuments

MDV53436Related to: Head Mill, Chittlehamholt (Monument)
MDV73011Related to: Head Weir, Chittlehamholt (Monument)
MDV67875Related to: Leat to Head Mill, Chittlehamholt (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV4725 - Assessment of Head Weir, Chittlehamholt

Date Last Edited:Oct 27 2023 12:26PM