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Codham Mill and Mill House

A Grade II* Listed Building in Wethersfield, Essex

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Latitude: 51.9251 / 51°55'30"N

Longitude: 0.5223 / 0°31'20"E

OS Eastings: 573534

OS Northings: 228176

OS Grid: TL735281

Mapcode National: GBR PH9.6VR

Mapcode Global: VHJJ4.0WG4

Plus Code: 9F32WGGC+2W

Entry Name: Codham Mill and Mill House

Listing Date: 2 May 1953

Last Amended: 9 October 2015

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1123325

English Heritage Legacy ID: 115649

Location: Wethersfield, Braintree, Essex, CM7

County: Essex

Civil Parish: Wethersfield

Traditional County: Essex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Essex

Church of England Parish: Wethersfield St Mary Magdalene

Church of England Diocese: Chelmsford

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A timber-framed water mill with an integral dwelling thought to date to the mid-late C18. The mill building is little altered, and retains its water wheel, primary and secondary gearing and the great majority of its milling machinery. The water management system on the site is also unaltered making this ensemble of buildings, machinery and watercourses an extremely rare survival.


Codham Mill, near Shalford in Essex is a water-powered corn mill with an integral wheel pit, a covered tail race extending southwards beyond the building frontage and an attached dwelling, thought to date to the C18. The mill and the house form a single continuous range, with the house incorporating what is believed to be earlier or re-used C17 fabric, together with C19 rear and side extensions.

The mill building is timber-framed with a weatherboarded exterior, whilst the house part has a plastered exterior and C19 painted brick extensions. The complex has brick chimneys and a red plain tile roof covering

The mill is an irregular U-shape on plan, with the house part occupying the east end bay of the frontage (south) range and the stepped wing which extends northwards from the east end of the frontage range. The integral wheelpit occupies the west-end bay of the frontage range, with the covered tail race passing beneath the west end bay and beyond the building frontage and beneath the road fronting the mill, terminating some ten metres the south.

The mill and the front of the attached house are of three storeys, with a two-storey wing to the house extending northwards, together with a single-storey extension to the north end of the wing. The mill frontage has two window openings to the upper floor: that to the west a two-light horizontal sliding sash, each light of six panes; that to the east a three-light opening without sub-divisions. The middle floor has two boarded loading doors, one of which is halved, and a three-light window set below the upper floor window of matching appearance. There is a doorway to the right hand end of the mill frontage with a small, two-light window to its east side. The single-bay frontage to the house part has plaster quoining and a canted ground-floor bay window with an eight over eight-pane, sash window flanked by narrow two over two pane side lights. Above are stacked three-light windows to the two upper floors: the middle floor window with six-pane lights; the upper floor opening without glazing bars. The doorway to the house has a six-panel door, the two upper panels glazed, and set below an open pedimented canopy carried on scrolled brackets. The east elevation is plastered with a two-light window to the apex of the east gable, and lined out panel decoration to the two-storey section. There is an eight over eight-pane sash window and a three-light casement to the ground floor and a three-light and two-light window to the upper floor, the latter with glazing bars. The single-storey extension has a small shuttered opening roughly on the line of the ridge stack. The west gable of the mill has a blocked opening to the gable apex and a central doorway and an access doorway to the wheel chamber in the north-west corner, both openings with boarded doors. The rear elevation has a shallow gantry extension set above the head race where it enters the building. This has a shallow lean-to roof and a small central four-pane window. Towards the centre of the main range is a deep lean-to with a steeply-pitched roof extending to the level of the upper floor of the mill. The lean-to has brick walling at ground-floor level and a three-light window in the west side wall. The main mill has a single three-light window to the upper floor and a similar window to the middle floor, set between the two projecting lean-tos.

The ground-floor rooms of the house are linked by a corridor which extends through to the two-storey rear wing. The principal room contained within the three-storey frontage range has a large hearth now without a surround or hearth fittings. The room is plastered, and has a niche fitted with shelves to the right of the hearth. The room behind this room, located within the two-storey range has a small, C19 hearth surround and a semi-circular arch headed niche with a dentilled cornice moulding to the left-hand side. Further into the rear range is a long room with a substantial free-standing brick hearth to its centre and exposed studs in its east side wall rising from a low masonry wall. A winder stair leads from the passage to a single first-floor bedroom with a two-panel door, a small blocked hearth with a moulded mantel shelf, and a small subsidiary room with a plank door. Above this room is a small upper-floor room with exposed wall framing. The upper floor of the two-storey range retains one room with exposed wall framing comprising thin stud work with long diagonal bracing, a substantial spine beam and exposed joists. The remaining rooms at this level have undergone C20 alteration.

The interior of the mill is largely unaltered, with exposed wall framing comprised of closely-spaced studs with down bracing and floors with exposed joists carried by substantial bridging beams supported by knee braces. Open-sided flights of stairs link the mainly open-plan floors which accommodate the milling machinery and associated drive mechanisms. The roof is formed of coupled common rafters with slender purlins clasped by collar beams.

The mill interior was planned around the requirements of power transmission and grain processing, the machinery and associated equipment for which survive almost in their entirety. The mill was powered by an undershot paddle wheel housed in the wheelpit in the end bay of the mill. The wheel has a cast-iron shaft and cast-iron spokes, with wooden paddle blades attached to metal bearers. In front of the wheel, a pair of ratchet and pinion mechanisms and the shuttle gate which controlled water flow onto the wheel, survive in situ. The wheel drove a pit wheel and wallower, which in turn powered the wooden upright shaft that transmitted power to the working floors above. Three sets of mill stones were under-driven by a wooden compass arm spur wheel attached to the upright shaft, which extends further upwards to the bin floor where a cast-iron crown wheel drove line shafting. This provided power for the sack hoist which lifted sacks of grain into the attic grain bins, from where grain was distributed to the lower floors of the mill. The hoist pulley and grain bins survive in the attic space, together with the lay shaft and crown wheel on the bin floor below, and the sets of stones with their drives and tuns on the first floor. At ground-floor level, all of the primary gearing for the transmission of power from the water wheel survives, separated from the surrounding work space by a substantial wooden framework, alongside which is the staircase to the first floor. Water is released from the wheelpit by means of a covered tail race which extends southwards from the mill beneath the road in front of the building and which terminates at a brick parapet wall and a semi-circular arch some 10 metres to the south of the mill beyond which it continues as an open water course.


Codham Mill is a water-powered mill thought to date to the mid-late C18, but may possibly occupy a much older site. It is located to the south-east of Shalford near Braintree in Essex, close to the River Pant from whence it draws its water supply, via a head race to the east of the river. The mill building houses both the milling equipment and machinery as well as a dwelling. The latter is believed to incorporate C17 fabric in a rear wing. The mill was operated by Daniel West in the late C19 and was then taken over and run by various generations of the Ashby family of millers, before finally closing in 1956. The mill was listed at Grade II in May 1953, whilst still operational. From that time the mill house remained occupied, whilst the remaining parts of the complex were used for storage purposes, with the water wheel and mill machinery left in-situ. It was completely vacant at the time of inspection (15 June 2015).

Reasons for Listing

Codham Mill, a water-powered mill near Shalford in Essex dating to the late C18, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural interest: Codham Mill is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a C18 timber-framed water mill which has escaped significant alteration to its structure and its internal machinery and equipment;

* Technological interest: the mill retains all of its power transmission system and milling machinery, providing a very complete and legible and example of water-powered technology which continued in use throughout the C19 and the early decades of the C20 despite the advances made in other forms of power generation during those periods;

* Completeness: the mill displays an exceptional level of completeness in terms of the building's timber-framed structure, its plan form, its power transmission system and its milling equipment;

* Rarity: Codham Mill is one of only four water mills in Essex known to survive in such complete condition. The other examples are all listed at high grade.

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