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HER Number:MDV13365
Name:Lydia Mill, South Brent


Former corn mill now converted. The site is first documented as a fulling mill in 1580 but thereafter appears to have been a corn mill with two waterwheels in line each probably driving a single pair of stones. The layout of the mill was altered in the 19th century with the introduction of a single waterwheel driving two pairs of stones. The surviving waterwheel is considered to date from this time. It is no longer in situ having been rolled downstream in the wheelpit to enable a new waterwheel to be installed for generating electricity.


Grid Reference:SX 695 606
Map Sheet:SX66SE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishSouth Brent
DistrictSouth Hams
Ecclesiastical ParishSOUTH BRENT

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX66SE/230
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II): 99371

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • FULLING MILL (XVI - 1501 AD to 1600 AD)
  • WATERMILL (Constructed, XVI - 1539 AD to 1580 AD (Between))
  • CORN MILL (Altered, XVI to Unknown - 1580 AD (Post))

Full description

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

Lydia Corn Mill marked.

Ordnance Survey, 2013, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV350786.

Watts, M., Feb 2013, Lydia Mill, South Brent, Devon. Historic Building Appraisal (Report - Survey). SDV351034.

Lydia Mill forms part of a group of buildings including a cottage and a former forge on the south side of the road. The earliest documentary reference to Lydia Mill is to a fulling mill in 1580 although it is possible that the mill had its origins as the corn mill that served the medieval manor of Aish. In 1622 there is a reference to two water grist mills near Lyde Bridge with a cottage or tenement adjoining and in 1669 the mill was rebuilt after a flood. Subsequent documentary references occur in 1799 and 1803-5, again referring to mills in the plural. Millers at Lydia Mill are recorded in the mid to late 19th century trade directories and a drawing of 1891 shows the mill with an overshot waterwheel. It has been suggested that the mill became a wheelwright's shop and forge. However, it appears that these were housed in a separate building located to the west of the mill. The mill is marked as a corn mill on both the first and second edition Ordnance Survey maps suggesting that it continued in use for grinding corn into the 20th century. By 1968 it had been converted to a domestic dwelling and the balcony over the wheelpit was in place. No internal machinery was said to survive. In 1992 the only feature relating to corn milling machinery was a cast iron bearing support over the inner end of the waterwheel shaft. The cast iron frame of the 19th century waterwheel has now been rolled downstream in the wheelpit to make way for a new waterwheel used for electricity generation.
The building is orientated north-south, the north end built into the natural slope with the principal entrance through the gable wall and the wheel pit on the east side. It is constructed of random rubble stone under a slated roof, the latter of recent construction. The north gable door and several window openings appear to have been enlarged. There is at present no internal access to the lower floor or basement. A granite millstone survives, reused as an external threshold to the door in the north gable. The use of mills in the plural in 17th - 19th century documents mentioned above is significant. The size of the floor plan and the wheelpit which runs the length of the east wall indicates that Lydia Mill was formerly a two-wheeled mill, with two overshot wheels in line. It is possible, therefore that the mill once combined the functions of corn grinding and fulling under one roof. It is likely that the mill was rebuilt in the late 17th century with two wheels each perhaps driving a single pair of stones. This arrangement appears to have continued into the 19th century, the mechanical layout remodelled it is suggested in the second half of the century. The surviving cast iron waterwheel is considered to date from this time. The cast iron arch photographed in 1992 is a typical fitting for supporting the foot bearing of a vertical shaft suggesting that the earlier two-wheeled arrangement had been superseded by a single waterwheel driving a spurwheel to two sets of millstones. Such changes have been recorded elsewhere in Devon.

Robinson, R., Unknown, Mill and Millhouse (Worksheet). SDV351014.

Earliest documentary reference is in 1580 when it was a fulling mill. By 1662 it had become a grist mill. It was rebuilt after flooding in 1669. It is described as an industrial building in the late 19th century when it was a wheelwrights shop and forge but it is not certain that the wheel was in use at this time. The last reference to milling here is in 1873. The mill had been derelict for many years when the roof finally collapsed around the middle of the 20th century. It has now been restored as a private dwelling. The mill machinery, millstones etc are sealed among debris below ground floor level. The overshot water wheel is still in situ.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV350786Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2013. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital. [Mapped feature: #80895 ]
SDV351014Worksheet: Robinson, R.. Unknown. Mill and Millhouse. Parish Checklist. Digital.
SDV351034Report - Survey: Watts, M.. Feb 2013. Lydia Mill, South Brent, Devon. Historic Building Appraisal. Watts, M.. Project 220. A4 Bound.

Associated Monuments

MDV80403Related to: Old Mill Leat at Lydia Mill, South Brent (Monument)
MDV106275Related to: Wheelwrights Forge at Lydia Bridge, South Brent (Building)
MDV93456Related to: Wisteria Cottage and Old Forge Cottage, South Brent (Building)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV6122 - Historic Building Appraisal of Lydia Mill, South Brent (Ref: Project 220)

Date Last Edited:Feb 16 2018 3:26PM