Essex CO2 8RT
Bourne Mill near Colchester is an extremely historic and picturesque building. Its tranquil setting next to a millpond and babbling brook makes it an ideal spot for a family day out. The Grade 1 listed mill still has a working waterwheel.
There is a pond (ideal for pond dipping), wetlands and woods and the grounds are home to a variety of wildlife including birds, bats, waterfowl, bugs and beetles.
The external appearance and age of the building is what makes it unique. It is constructed of a jumble of Roman tiles, odd bits of limestone and flint. At each end stepped and curved Dutch gables with pinnacles are topped with an octagonal chimney.
Bourne Mill’s Mysterious History
Not a great deal seems to be known about the building's origins although it is believed to have been built in the late Elizabethan period as a fishing lodge in which banquets could be held.
A tablet set in the south gable is inscribed 'Thomas Lucas, miles, me fecit Anne Domini 1591'. It seems its builder, Thomas Lucas, was a soldier of Dutch or Flemish origin which could well explain the fantastical gables. Whatever his origins, Lucas's design is very un-English - unlike almost anything else in England.
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Extract from A History of the County of Essex: Vol. 9, the Borough of Colchester. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1994.
'... Bourne mill, which belonged to St. John's abbey by 1311, may have been the mill granted to the abbey at its foundation. It takes its name, first recorded c. 1240, from the small stream or bourne south of the town on which it stands. Like the other mills on that stream, it seems to have worked as a corn mill throughout the Middle Ages.
It may have been rebuilt c. 1326, when the abbey agreed to find large timber, ironwork, mill spindle, wheel, and stones for it. Its pond was the abbey's fishpond. St. John's held the mill until the Dissolution. It, and its fishpond, then passed through a number of hands before being sold in 1590 to John Lucas, whose descendants held it until 1917.
The mill was a corn mill in 1632 and seems to have remained one, perhaps with a fulling mill, throughout the 18th century. In the earlier 19th century it was a cloth mill for weaving, fulling, and finishing bays. That business closed c. 1840, and the mill seems to have been disused for some years.
By 1860 it was a corn mill, and by 1894 it was partly steam-driven. It worked until 1935. It was given to the National Trust in 1936 and converted into a house. The machinery was restored in 1966. ...’
'... Bourne mill lies close to the northern end of a large artificial embankment which was built to create the pond to the west. The surviving house was built as a fishing lodge in 1591 by Thomas Lucas, whose arms appear over the doorway.
The walls are of re-used materials, presumably taken from the site of St. John's abbey. The ornate gables are in the style which was fashionable in the Low Countries in the later 16th century. Each gable-end incorporates a chimney and originally the principal floor may have contained a single room with a fireplace at each end.
By the early 19th century a fulling mill had been attached to the south end of the lodge, and in the mid 19th century the main building was converted into a corn mill, necessitating the insertion of an upper floor and a sack hoist and the cutting of additional doorways in the walls ...'
Plan Your Visit
Accommodation - Search & Book through Hotels.com here:
Mid-March to end of October
Wednesday – Sunday & Bank Holidays: 11:00 – 17:00 hours.
Closes 1 hour earlier from last week in September.
Adult £3.75, children £1.90 approximately. Visit the Bourne Mill website for up to date details.
Building: The building is accessible via a slope. There are steps into the lower floor and a ladder stair to the upper floor
Grounds: Grassy paths and slopes, some steps.
Assistance dogs welcome; large print & Braille guides.
All parking is close to the building.
Baby back-carriers admitted and dogs welcome on a lead.
Free hire of pond-dipping equipment and lawn games.
Gift shop; On-site light refreshments; Picnic sites; Public toilets and limited on-site parking.
Contact & Further Information
+44 (0)1206 549 799
- By Car
Bourne Mill is 1 mile (1.6 km) south of the centre of Colchester, on Bourne Road, off Mersea Road (B1025).
When coming from Mersea and using the postcode CO2 8RT in the SatNav, the directions take you to Roosevelt Way. The property is not visible from here so walk back to Stalin road and head north down the footpath, over the brook and up onto Bourne Road.
Alternatively, stay on Mersea Road towards the centre of Colchester and take a right at Bourne Road.
- By Train
Bourne Mill can be accessed from 3 railway stations: Colchester (1.84 miles/3 km away), Colchester Town (0.73 miles/1.2 km) or Hythe (0.88 miles/1.4 km). The 66 bus runs from Colchester Station to Old Heath.
- By Bus
Bus Numbers 66/66A go from the town centre to Old Heath Road
Google Maps - Bourne Mill