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HER Number:MDV19605
Name:Bish Mill, Bishop's Nympton


Three storey mill building constructed of stone under a slate roof. The mill is believed to have last worked in the 1950s. It had four pairs of stones driven by an undershot waterwheel which has gone.


Grid Reference:SS 741 253
Map Sheet:SS72NW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishBishop's Nympton
DistrictNorth Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishBISHOPS NYMPTON

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SS72NW/41

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • WATERMILL (XVIII to XIX - 1751 AD to 1900 AD (Between))

Full description

Department of Environment, 1964, South Molton Rural District, 5 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV320155.

Mill house, L-shaped plan, 17th century and later. Listed grade III only.

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

17th century mill in present use as garage/warehouse. Building is L-shaped in plan. Plastered walls, with hipped slate roof and brick stacks. Two storeys. Has four millstones.

Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, 1982, Mills Index (Un-published). SDV12998.

Site visit 1965. Mill empty.

Griffiths, D. M., 1984, Bish Mill (Personal Comment). SDV85161.

Site visit 13th August 1984. Some restoration (ie re-rendering, new roof) taking place. Immediately east is a stone building of 3 storeys, late 19th century, probably originally a warehouse.

Cotton, S., 1984, Bish Mill (Worksheet). SDV85162.


Department of Environment, 1988, Bishops Nympton (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV61773.

Not included on the new 1988 lists.

North Devon Archaeological Society, 1989, North Devon Watermills, 36 (Monograph). SDV337776.

The undershot water wheel has gone. Of the machinery only four millstones survive. The mill building, of three storeys and a loft, is constructed of stone with a slate roof and is now dilapidated. The mill is believed to have last worked in the 1950s.

University of the Third Age, 1995, Watermills in North Devon 1994, 16 (Monograph). SDV74915.

The mill building is in need of repair. The wheel pit remains. The leat, running behind the building, is silted up being blocked off from the river

Google, 2016, Google Streetview (Website). SDV359355.

Three storey mill building close to the road, constructed of stone under a slate roof with brick window and door heads. The adjacent mill house looks to have been renovated.

Ordnance Survey, 2016, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV359352.

Bodman, M., 2016, Water Mills and other Water-powered Sites in Devon. Revised edition, 367 (Report - non-specific). SDV359634.

Described in a sales advert of 1807 and comprising a 'good dwelling-house in which there are three parlours, a large shop, kitchen, back-kitchen, cellar, wash-house, dairy and six lodging rooms, three cottages, a commodious malt and mill-house, with two kilns, lofts and store rooms, two water wheels, four pair of stones, dressing engine etc'.
Bodman visited the site in 2003 and describes it as a deteriorating Victorian mill with considerably oder looking mill house.'

Watts, M., 2017, Bish Mill, Bishop's Mympton: building recording (Report - Survey). SDV362854.

This report has been compiled at the request of the building owner, to record the historic fabric which will be affected by the proposed development of a former water-powered corn mill at Bish Mill, Bishop's Nympton, South Molton, Devon, EX36 3QF. The proposed works comprise the conversion of the mill building to provide one unit of holiday accommodation.

A mill on the Nympton manor of the Bishop of Exeter is recorded in Domesday Book, one of the few in north Devon. The last mill on the site dates from the late 19th century, perhaps c.1870, and worked until the 1950s. The waterwheel and machinery were removed for scrap in the 1960s. After a period of neglect, the floors and roof structure were renewed. The site retains a live water supply, which has the potential for future reinstatement for power generation.

References cited indicate that there were two waterwheels driving four pairs of millstones at Bish mill in the late 18th and early 19th century. The mill building was then cob walled under thatch, probably with stone walls forming the wheelpit along the east side. The plan of the mill shown on the tithe map, with a rectangular building orientated about north-south with the mill race running along its east side, suggest a layout with two waterwheels sharing the same pit. If, as with the last working wheel, these were breast wheels, then they would have been staggered rather than in line, and possibly overlapped, a layout recorded elsewhere in Devon. It is possible that some of the stonework of the lower part of the present wheelpit wall may have survived from the earlier mill and that the feature in the north-east corner, described above, indicates the position of the second wheel. A difficulty with this interpretation is that it appears to be quite high in relation to the wheel- shaft opening for the last working wheel, which is likely to have been of larger diameter than the two late 18th/early 19th century wheels.

The stone-lined cog pit inside the pit wall at the east end of the ground floor is narrow and its north and south ends are not built into the pit wall. Its narrowness suggests it was built to accommodate a cast-iron gear, so it probably dates from the comprehensive rebuilding of the mill in the later 19th century. The earlier cog pit would have been wider and longer, to accommodate two timber-built pitwheels.

The present mill building appears, on stylistic grounds, to date from the second half of the 19th century. It is possible that it was built in about 1870, if the over-drawing of the plan on the 1870 manor map can be used as evidence. The existing building is certainly shown on the large scale Ordnance Survey maps, the original survey for which was carried out in 1886.

A date of c.1870 is also compatible with the scant evidence that survives of the millwork. The removal of the waterwheel and gearing for scrap indicates cast-iron work and the iron plates on the bridge posts appear to have supported iron bridges. The wholesale removal of the machinery, together with the complete renewal of the suspended timber floors, has resulted in the loss of further evidence.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV12998Un-published: Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. 1982. Mills Index. Mills Index. A4 Stapled.
SDV320155List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1964. South Molton Rural District. Historic Houses Register. Unknown. 5.
SDV337776Monograph: North Devon Archaeological Society. 1989. North Devon Watermills. North Devon Watermills. A5 Paperback. 36.
SDV359352Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2016. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital. [Mapped feature: #82551 ]
SDV359355Website: Google. 2016. Google Streetview. http://maps.google.co.uk. Website.
SDV359634Report - non-specific: Bodman, M.. 2016. Water Mills and other Water-powered Sites in Devon. Revised edition. A4 Comb Bound. 367.
SDV362854Report - Survey: Watts, M.. 2017. Bish Mill, Bishop's Mympton: building recording. Martin Watts. BNM256. Digital.
Linked documents:1
SDV61773List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1988. Bishops Nympton. Historic Houses Register. Website.
SDV74915Monograph: University of the Third Age. 1995. Watermills in North Devon 1994. Watermills in North Devon 1994. A5 Paperback. 16.
SDV83967Report - Survey: Devon County Council. 1974. Survey of Watermills in Devon: Gazetteer. Devon County Council Report. Unknown. A4 Bound.
SDV85161Personal Comment: Griffiths, D. M.. 1984. Bish Mill. Not Applicable.
SDV85162Worksheet: Cotton, S.. 1984. Bish Mill. Unknown.

Associated Monuments

MDV37624Related to: LEAT in the Parish of Bishop's Nympton (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV8079 - Building Recording: Bish Mill, Bishop's Nympton, Devon (Ref: BNM256)

Date Last Edited:Mar 13 2019 9:44AM