Couple's dream of a windmill home
A Norfolk couple could soon achieve a long-held ambition to convert a ruined windmill in the garden into a dream home for their family. Owners Janet and Michael May acquired the building when they bought their present home The Mill House, at Great Ellingham, more than 20 years ago.
A Norfolk couple could soon achieve a long-held ambition to convert a ruined windmill in the garden into a dream home for their family.
Owners Janet and Michael May acquired the building when they bought their present home The Mill House, at Great Ellingham, more than 20 years ago.
Dating from 1849, the tower mill originally had five storeys, a boat-shaped cap and was 53ft tall. The sixth floor was a later addition and during its heyday a bake office also operated from the site, near Attleborough. But over the centuries the mill fell into disrepair and was completely derelict when the Mays arrived on the scene.
They were granted consent two years ago for the conversion, but an unforeseen problem with the positioning of an extension to the mill delayed the project. And the couple have just submitted modified plans for Breckland Council's approval.
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“We have been trying to get permission to do something with the building for 22 years. English Heritage have changed their policy and whereas in the past they had always hoped for restoration they decided it was derelict and capable of conversion.
“Breckland's listed buildings officer, Andrew Gayton, has been absolutely brilliant to help with the design. The extension will be completely in sympathy with the tower, and after five or six years it will look like it's always been there,” Mrs May explained.
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The couple plan to sell their present home to fund the project, with the intention of moving into the neighbouring mill with sons John, 26, and Paul 23.
“I'm not sure if it's going to be a dream or a nightmare,” quipped Mr May, contemplating the months of work that lie ahead.
“The first thing we had to do was make sure the extension didn't clash with the mill. It will have wooden cladding on the outside and a traditional Norfolk tiled roof,” he said.
“Because of the shape of the mill, the further up you go the narrower it gets so basically the top floors will just be spaces, and the bottom three will be used for living accommodation. We are sealing the outside with tar that will still allow it to breathe, and making it watertight. You will see it as a tower as it stands now - to put on something like the original boat cap is prohibitively expensive.”
The house will have environmental features such as a ground heat source pump to provide energy, high levels of insulation and low energy lighting. A wind turbine and solar panels have been ruled out as not in keeping with the mill which has two foot thick walls, so no extra insulation is needed in the original part of the building.
The Mays are hoping to start work this autumn, if all goes well.