Levisham Mill

The first written record of a mill at Levisham is dated the year 1246AD 'when Ralph De Bolebeck gave Thomas de Haukesgarth half a mark yearly rent from his mill at Levisham in return for Haukesgarth giving up any other claim to the mill' and it would seem likely that a water mill existed there for some considerable time before that.

Whether the present mill has always been on the present site is a matter of conjecture, it is situated almost halfway between Levisham and Lockton at a point where the very steep valley begins to finally widen and perhaps become less wild. Over the years many people have commented on the idyllic situation of the mill and photographed it.

The valley is perhaps unusually covered in deep forest and is watered by two parallel streams: Levisham Beck and the Mill Race which join together in the garden of the mill and pass under a wooden footbridge a few yards before the beck passes under the road bridge.

If you stand on the road bridge you will see quite a high waterfall in the mill garden and this is the terminus of the water that at one time used to carry on behind the mill and power the wheel which still exists in a dilapidated state and can be seen from the main road.

Although some of the machinery still exists in the mill building, it has not processed corn since 1963 and the gearing was removed in 1976.

The present mill was modernised in 1846 and a new 14 feet diameter overshot cast iron water wheel was constructed and installed in 1904. There is a photograph showing the wheel manufacturer R Benson of Malton and some of his labourers standing by the wheel upon its erection.

The mill race has spectacularly crystal clear water and has never been known to dry up even though the stream is only about 500 metres long from its source at some springs gushing from the valley hillside known as 'St Robert's Well' until it reaches the waterfall. The valley bottom here is 'enchanting', heavily wooded and private as it is away from much human and agricultural activity and there is an abundance of wildlife. The streams are full of trout and consequently kingfishers, herons, badgers, otters, deer and foxes may often be seen and many motorists driving down the steep road between the two villages may have to avoid deer, foxes and squirrels.

As the Mill, its cottage and barn (now a house) and St Mary's Church are the only buildings in the valley there has long been some conjecture as to whether a village also existed in the valley and this mystery continues to be part of the archaeological research carried out by the local heritage society who hope one day to shed more light on the lack of other buildings nearby.

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