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HER Number:MDV21342
Name:Knowstone Mill


Knowstone Mill probably dates back to the 17th century although the house was much altered in the 20th century. Much of the machinery was apparently removed during the Second World War, but the wooden overshot wheel continued to work until 1972 when the mill was destroyed by a lightening strike. Only the leat and millpond remain today.


Grid Reference:SS 811 231
Map Sheet:SS82SW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishKnowstone
DistrictNorth Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishKNOWSTONE

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SS82SW/61
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • WATERMILL (Post Medieval to XXI - 1540 AD to 2009 AD (Between))

Full description

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

'Knowstone Corn Mill' marked on 1880-s1890s first edition 25 inch Ordnance Survey map. The 'Mill Leat' runs into a millpond situated off the south east corner of the mill.

Department of Environment, 1964, Knowstone, 39 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV83968.

17th century small house. End brick and rubble stacks. Casements, some with leaded lights. Kitchen has exposed ceiling beams and joists and open fireplace.

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

Knowstone Mill. 17th century mill. Building of cob and plastered rubble. Thatched roof and brick stacks. Two storeys. All machinery removed. Mill worked until 1972 when a lightening strike destroyed it. Other details: Site visit c1973.

Department of Environment, 1987, Knowstone, 14 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV83969.

House: probably late 17th century, much remodelled in 20th century. Rendered stone rubble and cob. Thatch roof, half hipped at left end, gable end to right. Two axial stacks, one brick, one stone rubble.
Plan: entirely altered in 20th century and now consisting of four rooms in line, with direct entry into second room from left and staircases to rear left-hand corner and besides stack to third room from left. The original plan appears to have consisted of the two central rooms, the larger hall/kitchen to right. The left end room appears to have been added in the late 18th or early 19th century, and the right end room in the 20th century. Large continuous outshuts to rear.
Exterior: two storeys. Five-window range. 20th century fenestration, two light casements, except for an 18th century three-light to left and a three-light above a four-light window to right of doorway, all with rectangular leaded panes. These may be reused or reset. Plank door has gabled corrugated iron canopy. Lean-to at left end.
Interior: much altered in 20th century, with some reused 18th and 19th century fabric brought from elsewhere. Large chamfered cross ceiling beam to hall/kitchen. Panelled door to cupboard to right of fireplace. Panelled window seat to smaller room which also has panelled doors to wall cupboard. Old three plank door to chamber at head of principal stairs.

North Devon Archaeological Society, 1989, North Devon Watermills, 43-44 (Monograph). SDV337776.

The overshot waterwheel and buckets are constructed of wood. The drive wheel may be hidden in the rubbish in the building. There is one pair of millstones in situ and one dismantled. The leat is 4ft wide by 1ft 6in deep, and is chanelled from the crooked oak stream. The building is constructed of stone and cob with a thatched roof, in fair condition. The mill house is attached. The iron machinery of this mill, which last worked in 1939, was dismantled at the request of the government in 1940. A ledger of 1903 to 1934 survives; it includes the charges for cracking and grinding grist and flour.
The reference to the machinery being removed during World War II is probably correct. It is likely that only the wheel was working until 1972. It was perhaps used for generating or pumping. Other details: Site visit 1974 and 1989.

University of the Third Age, 1995, Watermills in North Devon 1994, 68 (Monograph). SDV74915.

Only the millpond and leat remain. Other details: Site visit c1994.

Bodman, M., 1998, Water-Powered Sites in Devon, 35.97 (Report - non-specific). SDV305931.

Bodman, M., 2003, Watermills and Other Water-Powered Sites in Devon, 251 (Report - Interim). SDV325576.

Walls, S. + Freeman, J. + Laing-Trengove, D. + Green, T., 2011, Knowstone Mill, Knowstone, Devon: Results of a Desk-Based Assessment, Historic Building Recording and Archaeological Monitoring, 3, 14, 20, figures 2, 15 (Report - non-specific). SDV347762.

The Knowstone Mill buildings were of 17th century origin, but have been considerably altered throughout the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Much of the historic fabric of the building and the mill machinery had been lost as a result of these changes, and the surviving historic core of the building had been severely damaged by a devastating fire in the early 2000s. The core of the building, formed by a rectangular block of two storeys, 16 metres by 6 metres, had originally been thatched and was the part of the building most badly damaged by fire. This had a single storey lean-to extending 4 metres from the western end, which was part of the original one roomed building. Originally the roof was probably lower, with loft space accessed by a loading door in the north wall, and which may have had an external stair. During the 18th century the building was subdivided and the first floor created, accessed by stairs at the eastern end. In the late 18th or 19th century two further internal divisions were inserted in the main range, with a central stair and chimney stack added. In the 20th century there were further alterations, and the addition of two buildings on the north and east sides of the main range, possibly replacing earlier buildings; that on the east side appears to have replaced the original mill building. See report for full details.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV305931Report - non-specific: Bodman, M.. 1998. Water-Powered Sites in Devon. A4 Spiral Bound. 35.97.
SDV325576Report - Interim: Bodman, M.. 2003. Watermills and Other Water-Powered Sites in Devon. A4 Spiral Bound. 251.
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV337776Monograph: North Devon Archaeological Society. 1989. North Devon Watermills. North Devon Watermills. A5 Paperback. 43-44.
SDV347762Report - non-specific: Walls, S. + Freeman, J. + Laing-Trengove, D. + Green, T.. 2011. Knowstone Mill, Knowstone, Devon: Results of a Desk-Based Assessment, Historic Building Recording and Archaeological Monitoring. Southwest Archaeology Report. 110727. A4 Stapled + Digital. 3, 14, 20, figures 2, 15.
SDV74915Monograph: University of the Third Age. 1995. Watermills in North Devon 1994. Watermills in North Devon 1994. A5 Paperback. 68.
SDV83967Report - Survey: Devon County Council. 1974. Survey of Watermills in Devon: Gazetteer. Devon County Council Report. Unknown. A4 Bound.
SDV83968List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1964. Knowstone. Historic Houses Register. Unknown. 39.
SDV83969List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1987. Knowstone. Historic Houses Register. Unknown. 14.

Associated Monuments: none recorded

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV5255 - Historic Building Recording at Knowstone Mill (Ref: 116123)

Date Last Edited:Jul 10 2018 11:28AM