Mill that used to
stand on the marsh is well recorded in
old prints and postcards, but
a mill that once stood on high near
the church had almost passed out of memory and legend until Tony
Palmer started his investigations
. . .
people know of the mill that once stood on Mill Drift the remains
of which can still be seen as a mound. Allegedly it was destroyed
during the first World War when it was used for target practice by
the artillery. Not so many people, however, are aware that there
was an earlier mill at the top of Grout’s Lane built around
Although as a boy I was brought up in Norwich, and moved to Taverham
in 1936, I knew very little about the North West Norfolk coast. I
can recall driving through Cley with my father in 1945. To me, it
was a dreary, war-worn place, lacking paint and people, but the coastal
countryside was wooded, extremely attractive and relatively hilly
in comparison with the coast further south.
Anxious to explore the area, my wife Shirley and I spent our first
summer holiday in 1956 camping on Salthouse Heath. The site was on
the left hand side of the road approaching Bard Hill. We went across
the road for water to the R.A.F. radar station on the heath which
was still in operation.
A year or two later, when we had a family, we found bed and breakfast,
provided by Mrs F. Radley in Heath View (The Old Almshouse), in Cross
Street where we spent a number of happy holidays, with our sons Mark
and Simon. Mrs Radley was a great raconteur and told of privations
of her early life, such as the necessity of collecting firewood from
the Heath. The family pig was kept in an adjoining stye and there
was frantic activity when it was slaughtered, to prepare the meat
for winter provision. When later we stayed at Church Cottage we became
friendly with Mr and Mrs Lee who lived in the bungalow beside the
Church, called ‘Myngs’ (now
Mill Ridge). In about 1971 the Lees decided to move inland to Coltishall
and the bungalow came on the market; we became the owners in December
Over the years I have been able to assemble the previous history
of the site and building. This information has been acquired from
various sources, including a number of past inhabitants who have
known the place from earlier times. Among these were Mr K. Brown
and his sister Mrs Phyllis Jackson who as children lived in Church
Cottage (later called ‘the Nest’,
now St. Nicholas Cottage).
of Grouts Lane
Nest', where Ken Brown and Phyllis were born, is the little house
central in the picture and 'Church House', where the Matthews lived,
is the house on the right.
The first owners of the bungalow were the three
Harrison sisters (school teachers) who were relatives of the Matthews
who lived in Church House (now Church Cottage). The bungalow was
prefabricated, they had seen it exhibited at the 1933 Ideal Home Exhibition.
The manufacturers’ guarantee was for 15 years, which
the sisters considered would be long enough, although
one lived to the age of 90.
The sectional building was delivered by rail to Wells station,
from where it came to Salthouse as one load towed by a steam
tractor. Access via Grout's Lane was impossible and so it
'came up the meadow in one huge load', as described by Mr
Sidney Craske, who was about 16 at the time when his father
assembled it. I presume it was manhandled for the rest of
the way, through a ‘gap’ in
the west hedge.
The first owners named the bungalow ‘Windy Ridge’. The second owners
were Admiral and Mrs. Ashley Waller who renamed it ‘Myngs’,
which had a suitable Naval connotation.
Over the years we have met a number of people who suggested that at one
time there had been a windmill in the garden. Mrs Jackson told us that
as a child, she remembered playing in the flint ruins of a windmill at
the bottom of the garden (the west end). In a letter dated March 1981,
her brother Mr K. L. Brown, told me ‘I was born at the Nest in
1922 and returned to live there when married in 1949, so I do know just
a little about the place.
'The Harrisons gave me a vegetable garden and I remember in the 1950s coming
across terrific foundations which I could only conclude belonged to the mill.
I exposed a few yards and then covered it up. It was not too deep, about 18" only'.
Mr Brown enclosed a plan which indicates a semicircle of foundations
at the west end of the garden, next to the present vegetable patch.
On 3 Sept ‘83 Shirley and I revisited Mrs Radley (then aged 93) who said
that her mother had told her that there used to be a post mill on our plot (the
'Pightle'). Later that year I met Sidney Craske who recounted that Gerald Cubitt
(whose family lived in Salthouse for many years) told him that one day the post
mill at Mill Ridge ‘ran away with itself’ in a strong wind, and he
had heard that they had thrown coarse sand between the mill wheels in an attempt
to slow it down which had done it no good at all. Later I was told by the late
Harry Apling that a very strong wind could result in the mill turning so that
the sails backed on to the wind leading to their destruction—'tail