Serving the communities of Bures St Mary and Bures Hamlet


SmallBridge Mill

(rear view)

This magnificent moated house, is believed to be one wing of a much larger Elizabethan mansion.
The house is surrounded by a moat and fronts onto the River Stour.

In a previous page I mentioned the rail track which led into some farm buildings, these also housed Smallbridge Mill

The first reference to a Smallbridge Mill dates from 1090 together with The Stoke by Clare Priory cartulary containing a charter of 1090 whereby Gilbert Fitz-Richard donates his income of 20 shillings a year from his mill at 'Smalbruge' to the monks of St. John at Clare for the lighting of their church. The mill continued to appear on the Priory's Bures rent roll until 1502
A 1411 court of the neighbouring Clare manor, Bures Netherhall, refers to a piece of pasture lying between the manor of 'Smalbregg' and the mill called 'Smalbregg melle', which Sir Richard Waldegrave had occupied

Its location of the Mill can be clearly seen to the map (left)

However, this is some distance from the Stour, so one might ask what powered the Mill wheel ?

From more than half a mile away. water from Assington Brook was diverted into a ditch lined with clay and finally delivered to the waterwheel

To keep the ditch clean of debris and wildlife such as moles, boys working on the farm checked the leet at regular intervals and plugged any leaks they came across.

The difference in height between the sluice at Assington Brook and the wheel head gave a height of 4ft 6" a remarkable engineering achievement

In the images below, I have assumed the Sluice is to the right of the Brook indicated by the brickwork and mound.
However I may be incorrect, if so what is it ?

The remnants of the Smallbridge Sluice can still be seen in 2016 (Yellow arrow) to the south of the Nayland Road
The red arrow indicates where Assington Brook passes under the road
Both are approximately 20m apart

Smallbridge Sluice taken from the Assington Brook
Head on view of the Sluice
The Smallbridge Leet would have run to the left of the trees in a clay lined ditch.
Assington Brook is just right of canter
Assington Brook (red) and Sluice Gate (yellow)
Mound indicating position of Sluice gate

The wheel, which is believed to have been of iron with wooden paddles, was removed in the early 1930's, this machinery was powered by a petrol engine until its closurel c.1960.

Many medieval watermills often stood upon relatively small watercourses, since early technology was better able to manipulate these to produce a headwater than the large, comparatively slow- flowing main rivers, which demanded large outlays of time, money and expertise to dam or leet.
We can also see Little Mill ( now called Little Mill Cottage )standing on the course of Assington Brook, as the name suggests this may have well been another medieval Mill


Visit the Suffolk Mill web site for a more detailed account of the structure
Author Leigh Alston

updated 15/04/2016
updated 17/04/2016 with new images