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HER Number:MDV36432
Name:Lew Corn Mill, Northlew


A former corn mill with origins in the late medieval period. It originally had two waterwheels, one perhaps initially working a fulling mill. The mill was remodelled in the 19th century with a single waterwheel driving two pairs of stones. A drive from the wheel also powered an apple mill in a cider barn that was added in the 19th century.


Grid Reference:SS 513 006
Map Sheet:SS50SW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishNorthlew
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishNORTHLEIGH

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SS50SW/86
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II): 506891

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • WATERMILL (Built, XVI to XIX - 1501 AD to 1900 AD (Between))

Full description

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

'Lew Corn Mill' shown on 19th century map as a scattered group of buildings to the west of the road with two leats to the north and the River Lew.

Ordnance Survey, 1904 - 1906, Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map (Cartographic). SDV325644.

'Lew Corn Mill' shown on early 20th century map.

Ordnance Survey, 1906, 64NW (Cartographic). SDV335854.

'Lew Corn Mill' shown on 1906 map.

Ordnance Survey, 1964, Untitled Source (Cartographic). SDV339898.

'Lew Mill' shown on 1964 map.

Bodman, M., 1998, Water-Powered Sites in Devon, 44 (Report - non-specific). SDV305931.

Other details: 69.

Bodman, M., 2003, Watermills and Other Water-Powered Sites in Devon, 306 (Report - Interim). SDV325576.

Directory entires to: 1857, John Glass, Lew Mill; 1878, William Glass, Lew Mill; 1897 William Glass & Son, Lew Mill; 1926 Geoge William Glass, Lew Mill. Other details: Draft.

English Heritage, 2009, List of Buildings of Architectural or Historic Interest (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV343181.

Lew Corn Mill in the Lew Valley in Northlew was probably built in the early 19th century with possible medieval origins. Mainly stone with cob above and a hipped roof with Coryton slate in diminishing courses. All the openings have wooden frames and lintels except for the axle hole which has a granite lintel.
Plan: Irregular shaped mill with rectangular granary attached to the east.
Exterior: The northern elevation includes two doors, one leading to the granary and the other into the mill, a pair of windows and two groups of pigeon nesting boxes. The eastern elevation adjacent to the road has a doorway and slit window on the ground floor and a large loading door on the first floor. The southern elevation faces the cart shed, has a small openingand slit window at ground level and a narrow slit window on the first floor. The western elevation, to which the wheel was attached, has a large number of openings some of which have been blocked. The southern of the two openings at ground level carried the axle of the wheel into the mill, the other may represent the site of an earlier axle opening. At the first floor there are two window openings, a door and adjacent metal rod which would have connected to the sluice above the overshot water wheel.
Interior: The interior is divided into two rooms. The eastern room (Granary) includes a large space with floor joists denoting the position of the first floor. The roof is supported by a single double braced A-frame truss carrying purlins and three sunstantial timbers supporting the hip. Within the western room (Mill) elements of the original milling process are still clearly discernable. On the ground floor adjacent to the western wall is a pit wheel with associated timber axle bearing block with metal fittings. The first floor is supported by a series of substantial beams some supprted byample posts. Although many of the floor boards have been removed the housing for two millstones, one of which remains in place, together with access and sack hatches survive. The remaining millstone is a bedstone and is situated in the north west corner of the building. In the roof timbers further evidence of milling includes a hoist and the possible remains of a grain hopper.
History: The leat carrying water from the River Lew to Lew Corn mill forms the edge of a late medieval field system. This strongly suggests thet it was already in existence when the fields were established. It is therefore very likely that Lew Corn Mill is on the site of a Medieval mill. The existing structure does not however have any obvious particularly early elements, although traces of the earlier building may have been incorporated into the structure now standing. The 19th century Ordnance Survey map shows the mill complex with an additional group of buildings to the north which have subsequently been destroyed. The northern buildings were the miller's accommodation. The mill ceased operating in the 20th century and some parts of the machinery were removed to renovate a mill in Okehampton. In recent years the buildings have been used for agricultural storage. Other details: LBS number 506891.

Watts, M., 2012, Lew Mill, Northlew, Devon: Archaeological Appraisal and Historic Building Recording (Report - Survey). SDV363476.

A watching brief was carried out on the excavation of a series of test pits in order to assess the depth of the building foundations and a historic building appraisal undertaken to inform a planning application for conversion and reuse of the former mill and other buildings. The buildings are all of local stone and cob with slate roofs. The watching brief found most of the footings to be at or just below ground level.
The mill machinery was removed in the 1970s at which time the wheelpit was backfilled. It is thought that some of the shafting and gearing was reused in Town Mill, Okehampton. Nevertheless Lew Mill still retains some features of interest. These, together with remains including structural timbers from the hurst frame, parts of a waterwheel and an apple mill found in the debris cleared from the wheelpit, plus the machinery now in situ in Okehampton, enable its working layout to be determined.
Lew Mill is a former corn mill which appears to have late medieval origins. The fact that the leat forms the edge of a late medieval field system suggests that it was already extant when the fields were established. The oldest surviving structural evidence, although not closely dateable, is the wheelpit wall where blocked openings indicate the mill once had two waterwheels in line. This type of layout is thought to be 16th-17th century in origin and it is possible that one wheel droving milling machinery and the other a fulling mill (a nearby cottage is called Tucking Mill). The mill, however, was latterly a corn mill and the survival of a millstone in the floor at the north end of the mill suggests that the two wheeled arrangement survived into the earlier 19th century. The mill was remodelled in the 19th century with a single waterwheel driving two pairs of stones together with ancillary equipment and a hoist. A cider barn and cart linhay were added between circa 1840 and 1888.
The last waterwheel (south wheel) appears to have been overshot, about 3.8m diameter and 1.22m wide, of timber and iron construction mounted on a timber shaft. A ring gear on its outer side also took a drive to an apple mill in the cider barn.
See report for full details and descriptions.

Ordnance Survey, 2020, MasterMap 2020 (Cartographic). SDV363413.

Lew Corn Mill marked.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV305931Report - non-specific: Bodman, M.. 1998. Water-Powered Sites in Devon. A4 Spiral Bound. 44.
SDV325576Report - Interim: Bodman, M.. 2003. Watermills and Other Water-Powered Sites in Devon. A4 Spiral Bound. 306.
SDV325644Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1904 - 1906. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Second Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV335854Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1906. 64NW. 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).
SDV339898Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1964. Ordnance Survey 6 inch map. Map (Paper).
SDV343181List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: English Heritage. 2009. List of Buildings of Architectural or Historic Interest. Historic Houses Register. Unknown.
SDV363413Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2020. MasterMap 2020. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital. [Mapped feature: #123731 ]
SDV363476Report - Survey: Watts, M.. 2012. Lew Mill, Northlew, Devon: Archaeological Appraisal and Historic Building Recording. Martin Watts. 179/2009. A4 Stapled + Digital.
Linked documents:1

Associated Monuments

MDV127289Related to: Cider barn at Lew Mill, Northlew (Building)
MDV36431Related to: Leat to Lew Corn Mill, Northlew (Monument)
MDV72212Related to: SLUICE GATE in the Parish of Northlew (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV8223 - Archaeological appraisal and historic building recording of Lew Mill, Northlew

Date Last Edited:Jan 17 2020 10:35AM