Bircham Windmill

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The windmill was built in 1846 and worked until the 1920s when the sails were removed and the tower abandoned. It was bought by the current owner in a very dilapidated state. Initially the two adjoining cottages were renovated. The mill is now fully restored and in working order. Visitors can climb to the very top and go out on the fan deck.

Bircham Windmill

The earliest record of a windmill in Great Bircham is in 1761, when miller Richard Miller made his will. The mill, which was probably a post mill, was offered for sale in 1769. In 1800 the miller, Robert Sparham, was in financial difficulties and made a Deed of Assignment. In 1804 the mill was offered for sale or to let by George Humphrey. The next miller was Bloom Humphrey, who was followed by his widow Martha and then their son George. The mill remained in the Humphrey family until it was demolished c1846 to enable a new tower mill to be built on its site.

The tower mill was built for George Humphrey in 1846, a date stone to this effect is located between two windows on the first floor of the mill. The mill was built from cream coloured bricks, but was latter tarred. The mill was offered to let in 1856 and again in 1861. An accident in March 1864 in which George Humphrey was driving his cart whilst drunk resulted in the death of his wife Elizabeth. In April the mill was ordered to be sold by the mortgagees. An auction was held on 13 May at the Hare Inn, Docking. The next millers were Henry and Philip Stanton, followed by Walter Palmer. He left Norfolk in 1882 and Joseph Wagg took the mill, followed by a succession of Howards. William Howard was the last miller. The mill was working in 1916 but had ceased by 1922. The sails and fantail had been removed by 1934.

The mill was part of the Houghton Estate of the Marquess of Cholmondeley. In 1939 the mill was sold to Her Majesty the Queen, becoming part of the Sandringham Estate. The mill was purchased from Her Majesty the Queen by Roger Wagg in May 1976 and the restoration of the mill began in 1977, the tower being coated with Bellecoat Stipple (a black resin-based protective covering). Internally, new floors were fitted, and a new stage constructed around the mill. Replacement machinery was sourced from other windmills. The drive for the sack hoist came from Harpley.

Great Bircham Mill is a five-storey tower mill with a stage at third floor level. The tower is 52 feet (15.85 m) to curb level and 25 feet (7.62 m) outside diameter at the base, with walls 2 feet 6 inches (760 mm) thick. It has an ogee cap with a gallery. The cap is winded by a six bladed fantail. Four double Patent sails are carried on a cast iron wind shaft. The wallower and upright shaft are of cast iron. The great spur wheel has a cast iron centre and iron teeth. The mill drives two pairs of French Burr millstones.

Slide to the right to see how it looked in the past!
Site Information
Opening Times:
Easter To September 10.00am - 5.00pm
Entrance Fee:
The Mill, Snettisham Rd, Great Bircham, King's Lynn, PE31 6SJ, Norfolk
Visitor Information
Disabled access
Dog friendly
Refreshments (nearby)
Links to National Heritage
Social Heritage
Nearby Attractions
Attraction 1:
Church of St Peter and St Paul, Shernborne
2.87 Miles Away
The present church was built in 1898 at the expense of King Edward VII. A late 19C structure incorporating 13C elements. The site itself dates back to the second church founded by St Felix in the 7C. The church had stood as a ruin until 16C. HRH Prince of Wales financed the rebuild as part of the Sandringham Estate.
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Attraction 2:
Church of St Martin, Houghton
3.38 Miles Away
The medieval church dates from 13th Century and has been enlarged and restored over the centuries, most notably by Sir Robert Walpole, who rebuilt the tower as a memorial to his grandfather Sir Jeffery Burwell in about 1730. Sir Robert, his two wives, his brother Galfridus and his successors, the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Earls of Orford are all buried here along with the 5th Marquess of Cholmondeley and his wife, Sybil.
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Attraction 3:
SHARP - Sedgeford Historical and Archaeological Research Project
3.78 Miles Away
SHARP (the Sedgeford Historical and Archaeological Research Project) is a long-term, independently-run archaeological project. The primary objective is the investigation of the entire range of human settlement and land use in the north-west Norfolk parish of Sedgeford. Established in 1996, SHARP is one of the largest independent archaeological projects in Britain and is firmly rooted in the local community.
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Attraction 4:
Church of St Mary the Virgin Sedgeford
4.05 Miles Away
There has been a church on this site for over 900 years. In 1205 the church was appropriated to Norwich Cathedral Priory. It is during the Priory's period of responsibility that the church was eventually rebuilt from circa 1300. The church is of great architectural significance and is Grade 1 listed having many medieval wall paintings, which we are hoping to stabilise and refurbish.
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Attraction 5:
Church of St Mary the Virgin, Flitcham
4.33 Miles Away
When St Felix came from Burgundy to bring the Christian message to Britain in 630AD, he is attributed with founding churches at Babingley and Shemborne, and then at Flitcham. This church would have been built of wood, not stone, and there are no visible remains of it. However, there is still evidence of the 11 C church built by the Normans.
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