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HER Number:MDV37666
Name:Cawsey Meethe Mill, King's Nympton


Cawsey Meethe is a double mill with the remains of two waterwheels in a central chamber each with a set of machinery constructed largely of timber, which date from the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It is an important survival of a small traditional water-powered corn mill.


Grid Reference:SS 677 227
Map Sheet:SS62SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishKing's Nympton
DistrictNorth Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishKINGS NYMPTON

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SS62SE/40
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II): 97309

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • WATERMILL (Built, XVIII to XIX - 1701 AD to 1900 AD)

Full description

Watts, M., 16/08/2012, Cawsey Meeth Mill, King's Nympton, Devon, 1, 2, 3, (Report - Survey). SDV350264.

Cawsey Meeth Mill, Kings Nympton is an outstanding survivial of a small traditional water-powered corn mill. It is essentially a double mill and retains the remains of two waterwheels and two sets of corn milling machinery, constructed largely of timber, which date from the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
The earliest reference to the mill dates from the 18th century. A building is shown in this location on Donn's map of Devon of 1765, but is not marked as a mill. 'Meeth Mill' is marked on Greenwood's County map of Devon of 1827. No miller's names have been found in a search of 19th century trade directories, suggesting that the mill was run as part of a farm or estate, rather than as a trading mill. The relativley small scale layout of the building and its working parts are considered to support this conclusion.
The items recommended for repair/remedial work are concerned with the surviving working parts only and do not include the building structure. No allowance has been made for reinstatement of any mechanical elelments that no longer survivie on site. The condition survey of the working parts is divided into three sections: the north mill, the waterwheel chamber and the south mill. Please see report for the conditon of each section.
The current proposal is to retain and repair the building structure and convert only the upper floor of the mill, to provide accommodation, thereby retaining the waterwheels and the working parts of both the north and south mills in their current positions. This is considered to be an acceptable compromise, in order to bring the building back into use and secure its future maintenance and repair, including the working parts.

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

'Cawsey Meethe Mill (Corn)' shown.

Alcock, N. W., 1981, Cruck Construction: An Introduction and Catalogue, 108 (Report - non-specific). SDV342504.

Hulland, C., 1982, List of Historic Houses (Un-published). SDV75440.

Department of Environment, 1988, Kings Nympton, 107 (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV340321.

Cawsey Meethe Mill approximately 20 metres north-west of Cawsey's Meethe Farmhouse. Water mill. Probably late 18th century (1796 carved on beam) remodelled and extended in early to mid 19th century. Unrendered stone rubble. Slate roof with gable ends. The mill consists of two undershot water wheels, one each side of the leat, the lofted mill building itself straddling the leat with storage/granary facilities of single cell plan to each side. The original core appears to consist of the left-hand side section, the mill having been extended over the leat and on the right side in the 19th century. The stone floor, with provision for one set of stones, is situated over the right-hand section, with loft floor over left side.
Exterior: largely obscured by ivy, there appears to be two shuttered windows on each floor and plank door at right end. Cambered arched lintel to leat entrance. Loft door over plank door at left gable end.
Interior: two undershot wheels, the earlier, possibly late 18th century wheel situated to left, all timber construction and 19th century wheel to right are largely intact, as is the gearing and sluice arrangement. The millstones have been removed. Hopper arrangement survives to left-hand section which has 'IH 1796' carved on cross ceiling beam.

North Devon Archaeological Society, 1989, North Devon Watermills, 38 (Monograph). SDV337776.

The building and wheels are still intact, but are decaying.

North Devon District Council, 1990, Proposed Conversion of Former Mill to Form a Dwelling (Planning Application). SDV75434.

Application for proposed conversion of Cawseys Meethe Mill to a dwelling. Other details: Plans.

Hughes, B. D., 1995, Three Old Wooden Shipwrecks at Westward Ho! (Correspondence). SDV9880.

Machinery dated 1796, but mill may be much older. Considerably damaged by floods of winter 1994/5. Other details: Site visited.

University of the Third Age, 1995, Watermills in North Devon 1994, 28 (Monograph). SDV74915.

There is a lovely stone-walled building of exceptional design, but the end wall has a serious structural crack. The whole place is rather derelict and the two undershot wheels are disintegrating. The leat is dry. Research in 1974 found that the 9 feet diameter wheels and paddles were entirely of wood, including the arms and naves. The stub axles were of iron, two and a half inches thick. The wooden spur wheels were in position. The two sets of millstones had gone. The mill is unusual in that its two undershot wheels are at the confluence of the Mole and the Bray. It takes water from a weir on the Mole and empties into the Bray. In low flow seasons on the Mole, the entire river flow could be diverted into the leat. Other details: Visited 1994.

Bodman, M., 1998, Water-Powered Sites in Devon, 35 (Report - non-specific). SDV305931.

Cawsey's Meeth Mill on the river Mole. Other details: 83.

North Devon District Council, 2003, North Devon Buildings at Risk Survey 2000-2003, 43 (Report - Survey). SDV344372.

Crack through walling at left-hand front and gable end. Left-hand corner is subsiding. Most of roof covering is still in place, but with holes in places, missing verges and ridges. Right-hand end is particularly overgrown with ivy. Other details: Photographs.

Bodman, M., 2003, Watermills and Other Water-Powered Sites in Devon, 239 (Report - Interim). SDV325576.

Cawseys Meethe Mill seen in 1993 with stone walls under a slate roof with a central section for the millrace. Other details: Draft Report.

Watts, M., 2005, Cawsey Meethe Mill, King's Nympton, Devon (Report - Survey). SDV355493.

Condition survey of the mill. The mill is a remarkable survival of a small traditional water-powered corn mill. It is essentially a double mill, which retains the remains of two waterwheels and two sets of machinery constructed largely of timber and dating from the late 18th and early 19th century. It is sited towards the west end of a leat that ran from a weir, which has now gone, on the River Mole. The mill buildings are located one each side of a central chamber.
A building is shown in about this location on Donn's Map of 1765 although it is not marked as such. The only positive dating evidence is the inscription I H x 1796 cut into the bressumer beam of the hurst frame in the north mill. Taken with the mechanical features this is taken to represent the primary construction date of the gearing at the north end; the waterwheel and gearing of the south mill appear to be a little later, perhaps early 19th century. The first floor is thought to be a later insertion. While both sets of machinery are comparable in that each mill only worked a single pair of millstones, there are important differences between them. The older machinery on the north side was 'modernised' in the 19th century with some cast iron gearing replacing the earlier timber gears. The south mill retains a complete set of primary timber gearing.
The current condition of the building and its workings (2005) gives cause for concern, both having deteriorted over the last five years. The slates have been removed from the roof over the north mill and the lack of subsequent adequate weatherproofing has resulted in considerable water penetration into the roof timbers, walls, hurst frame and machinery. The south mill has retained its roof and has stayed relatvely dry and stable as a result. Recommendations for the conservation of the machinery given.

Gaimster, M., 2009, Post-Medieval Fieldwork in Britain, Northern Ireland and the Channel Isles in 2008 (Article in Serial). SDV352753.

M. Watts undertook recording for Jonathan Rhind Architects to inform repairs to the mill gear and to minimise further decay and damage. The mill was built in the late 18th century with single-cell plan and one timber waterwheel; it was remodelled and extended over the adjacent leat in the early to mid-19th century with a second waterwheel and storage/granary. The lofted mill retains the remains of both timber waterwheels and two sets of primary gearing, mainly of timber.

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

Watts, M., 2014, Cawsey Meethe Mill, Kings Nypmton, Devon (Report - Survey). SDV357197.

Historic building recording undertaken in support of planning and listed building applications. This report has been compiled at the request of the building owner, to record the historic fabric and working parts of Cawsey Meethe Mill.
The north mill appears to be the older, perhaps occupying a site established by the mid-18th century. Some significant rebuilding or reconstruction of the working parts of the north mill are likely to date from 1796, at which stage it was a single cell building with one pair of millstones on a hurst frame driven by spur gearing. The south mill was added sometime before c.1842, effectively doubling the output of the mill, and the waterwheels of both mills were perhaps reconstructed at that time. The machinery of the north mill was 'modernised' with the introduction of a cast-iron pitwheel and wallower, perhaps in the mid-19th century, and the ancillary drive to work a small purpose-built threshing machine was also installed. The full first floor of the north mill also appears to be a later insertion.
In the reveals of the ground floor window in the south gable of the south mill several apotropaic marks have been cut into the plaster on both sides. These symbols, also known as white witches' roses, were thought to have the power to avert evil influences or bad luck. In the east reveal the name James has been neatly carved; the style of the lettering suggests this is an historic rather than a recent addition.
Because of the difference in the widths of the waterwheels, and therefore their power output, it is likely that the south mill continued to be used for milling, whilst the northern waterwheel would have been used to drive the thresher, particularly during the winter months. No ancillary machinery, other than a small thresher, appears to have been installed for cleaning grain or sifting flour, so an agricultural context for the mill is most likely, preparing and grinding grain grown on the farm, predominantly for animal feed. From map evidence, the mills stopped work before c.1904.
For full details see library linked report.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV305931Report - non-specific: Bodman, M.. 1998. Water-Powered Sites in Devon. A4 Spiral Bound. 35.
SDV325576Report - Interim: Bodman, M.. 2003. Watermills and Other Water-Powered Sites in Devon. A4 Spiral Bound. 239.
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. 38.
SDV340321List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1988. Kings Nympton. Historic Houses Register. A4 Spiral Bound. 107.
SDV342504Report - non-specific: Alcock, N. W.. 1981. Cruck Construction: An Introduction and Catalogue. Council for British Archaeology Research Report. 42. Photocopy. 108.
SDV344030Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2010. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #89569 ]
SDV344372Report - Survey: North Devon District Council. 2003. North Devon Buildings at Risk Survey 2000-2003. North Devon District Council Report. A4 Stapled + Digital. 43.
SDV350264Report - Survey: Watts, M.. 16/08/2012. Cawsey Meeth Mill, King's Nympton, Devon. Martin Watts Report. A4 Stapled + Digital. 1, 2, 3,.
SDV352753Article in Serial: Gaimster, M.. 2009. Post-Medieval Fieldwork in Britain, Northern Ireland and the Channel Isles in 2008. Post Medieval Archaeology, p359 -423. 43/2. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV355493Report - Survey: Watts, M.. 2005. Cawsey Meethe Mill, King's Nympton, Devon. Martin Watts Report. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV357197Report - Survey: Watts, M.. 2014. Cawsey Meethe Mill, Kings Nypmton, Devon. Watts, M.. CMM60/2014. Digital.
SDV74915Monograph: University of the Third Age. 1995. Watermills in North Devon 1994. Watermills in North Devon 1994. A5 Paperback. 28.
SDV75434Planning Application: North Devon District Council. 1990. Proposed Conversion of Former Mill to Form a Dwelling. North Devon District Council Planning Application. A4 Stapled.
SDV75440Un-published: Hulland, C.. 1982. List of Historic Houses. List of Historic Houses. Unknown.
SDV9880Correspondence: Hughes, B. D.. 1995. Three Old Wooden Shipwrecks at Westward Ho!. Letter. A4 Stapled + Digital.

Associated Monuments

MDV71440Related to: Leat to Cawsey Meethe Mill, King's Nympton (Monument)
MDV115351Related to: Meethe Weir, King's Nympton (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV1696 - Cruck Construction
  • EDV4599 - North Devon Buildings at Risk Survey 2000-2003
  • EDV6036 - Historic Building Appraisal and Conditon Survey of Cawsey Meethe Mill, King's Nympton, Devon
  • EDV6990 - Condition Survey of Cawsey Meethe Mill, King's Nympton
  • EDV6584 - Building Recording, Cawsey Meeth Mill, Kings Nypmton (Ref: CMM60/2014)

Date Last Edited:Aug 10 2023 9:09AM