A mill is mentioned in the Domesday book as part of Burton manor but it is believed that this was located to the south under what is now Burton Mill Pond. The present 4 storey, 5 bay mill building dates from 1780 and was built on the foundations of an earlier forge or fulling mill. Two waterwheels (one either side) drove 4 pairs of stones. By 1899, the eastern waterwheel had been replaced by an early Francis type turbine driving a dynamo to provide power to Burton Park House. A second 27h.p. Gilkes turbine was installed in the western watercourse in 1929 to drive a circular saw and a cattle cake crusher. It is around this time that the grain bins in the attic were re-configured to accommodate a larger variety of grains but there is no record of milling taking place. By 1934 the eastern turbine had ceased to be used as mains electricity had arrived. It was uncovered during the renovation work and then placed in he car park.

This wonderful 1938 photo from the Petworth Society archives shows Burton Mill in operation as a saw mill. It continued to be only used as a saw mill until the 1950s. In the mid 1960s the mill was still in use for cutting firewood but by this time the ‘new’ western Gilkes turbine was broken so the 1899 eastern turbine was used to drive the saw.

In the late 1970s, as SIAS volunteers were converting the mill back to a flour mill the circular saw and saw table were removed and given to the Amberley museum.

Burton Park Saw Mill 1938
Burton Mill

In 1962 or 1963 part of the mill dam collapsed, closing the road along it and allowing some water to escape. The County Council as highway authority repaired the road, but claimed that the mill owner was liable for the cost. After a court case which the Council won, the two parties came to an agreement in 1966 whereby the mill, mill pond, and embankment were conveyed to the Council.

By 1976 the mill had been abandoned and had fallen into a very poor state, to the extent that it was used as a ‘derelict building’ set in an early episode of the BBC series ‘Shoestring’. In 1978, a lease on part of Burton Mill was acquired by Mrs Anne Mills who, with help from SIAS (Sussex Industrial Archeology Society) and naval volunteers restored the mill to working order using a pair of stones acquired from a mill near Cardiff coupled to the existing western turbine. The mill was once again producing flour and this continued until around 1987.

After considerably structural strengthening in 1994, the mill was part converted into a residence. Fortunately, the ground floor was left with the milling machinery installed by Mrs Mills and the first floor only adapted for use as a tea room.

The mill was acquired by the current owners in 2016 and by 2018 the mill was working once again.

Dr A F Hughes, Historic Building Consultant – 2009 report;
Unknown author, ‘A short History of Burton Mill’;
The West Sussex Gazette, 16th November 1978;
SIAS Newsletter No. 10 (1980)

A full history of Burton Mill by Dr T P Hudson and Mr A G Allnutt