Dunster Working Watermill, Somerset

The mill at Dunster is a extremely rare surviving example of a working double overshot watermill. The mill is powered by water from the River Avill via an ancient leat one kilometre upstream from the mill. Although two Dunster corn mills were recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086, the current building dates back to around 1780. It has had mixed fortunes over the centuries and closed as a grist mill providing cattle food for the Dunster Estate in 1962. After years of neglect and close to dereliction, the mill was given to the National Trust along with Dunster Castle and its grounds in 1976.

In 1979 the mill was renovated back to full working order by heritage engineers Arthur and Laura Capps who ran it for many years as tenants. The mill continued to be tenanted until in 2014, when the National Trust took it in hand. Over the last 40 years, our tenants have done a brilliant job of keeping the mill operational with limited resources. However, when the last tenants retired, the mill was in need of much repair work. Both waterwheels are made almost entirely of wood and the lower wheel was beyond repair. Thanks partly to a grant from the SPAB Mills Section, in 2015 we restored the lower wheel back to its former glory. In 2016 we milled nine tonnes of our wholemeal flour, and all the signs are that this quantity will increase in the years to come, thereby keeping alive the ancient tradition of milling in Dunster.

Stephen Hayes, National Trust