Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Howsham Mill Courses

On a tiny island in the River Derwent at Howsham, North Yorkshire, stands a Georgian watermill. Howsham Mill dates back to c.1755 and is attributed to John Carr of York, more famous for designing Fairfax House in York, and an extension to Castle Howard stables. In 1965, a Royal Commission for Historic Monuments inspector, James Williams, described the Mill as "...a building of the maximum historical interest as a very early example of gothic Revival style…" and "...of great architectural interest as it is a very rare example of the gothic Revival style as applied to a functional building. (I cannot find reference to a similar example, eg watermill)…".

The mill was built both as a working grist mill, to grind grains into flour, and as an 'eyecatcher' or folly within the formal parkscape of nearby Howsham Hall.  The mill was powered by a breastshot waterwheel connected by a gear wheel to millstones, that grind the grain into flour.  Milling of flour ceased in 1947 and the building fell into decay by the 1960's. 

A huge restoration project is underway, with a busy schedule of events at the mill.  They are now generating their own hydro-powered electricity and run courses - clay creations, green wood bench making, willow sculpture, wild food cooking and bush craft.  

I have been asked to do a stone course with them - so will be getting a large block of stone onto the Island (not sure how yet!) for everyone to have a go at carving and make into a sculpture for the site, and also tutor a letter-cutting course where participants will learn how to carve letters in stone and take away their own stone inscription. 

What a location - all that beautiful stonework - I might be trying a bit of gothic styling myself.


  1. What a wonderful place to do a course in anything.

  2. Ellen, it is magical, it recently won Heritage Lottery Funding to continue the restoration, so very exciting for everyone involved.

  3. What a beautiful old mill. It is good to hear that it will be restored and saved. I hope your course planning goes well.

    My maternal grandparents lived in the other Howsham. A small rural hamlet in the flatlands of North Lincolnshire.

  4. I hadn't known there was another Howsham - I've been trying to find the derivation of the place name - all I can find 'place at the houses or buildings' - do you know more?

  5. What an amazing place..keep us posted with your project there!

  6. Linda - I will, stories about the mill itelf and its new life, and the course too and how everyone got on with their carvings.


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