Dunster… and its watermill

Boxing Day and what should we do, it wasn’t raining so let’s go out!! Dunster is a pretty village further south, not far from Minehead; it’s famous for its castle and its candlelit evenings in December, where there are no artificial lights, only candles and lanterns… if you ever get the chance to go, do so, but beware, traffic and parking is horrific!

Dunster on Boxing Day was quiet and we parked and wandered into the main area with the old Yarn Market in the centre of the High Street, yes in the middle of the street. The village is dominated by a tor, which once had Iron Age fortifications, but later, over a thousand years later, the Norman conquerors built a castle in about 1090. Within a dozen years a Benedictine Priory was established and as you might imagine, a village grew up around the base of the tor and a very pretty little village it is. Originally there was a harbour at Dunster, but the sea has receded and it’s now a little way away. The village was an important centre for wool and cloth production, hence the Yarn Market, and it was shipped out from the harbour.  There are many very old houses, a twelfth century church, just by where the priory was. The village is well-kept, neat and tidy, it really is a photographer’s dream! If you want to visit and don’t ant to take your car, why not travel on the steam railway, the West Somerset Railway, which runs from Minehead to Bishops Lydeard.

It’s not surprising that there is a watermill,  a working flour mill, on the south side of the village; the restored eighteenth century watermill, is on the River Avill. We walked along beside the river and unfortunately did not look back at the old packhorse  bridge, which is called Gallox Bridge. Another reason to visit Dunster again! As with most watermills, there has been a structure on the river for hundreds of years, who knows how long ago the first mill was constructed. The present one is an eighteenth century mill, built on the site of one of the two mills mentioned in the Domesday Book, Overmylle and Nethermylle. By the fifteenth century there were five other watermills close by, some connected to the wool industry Unfortunately the mill was,  was closed – another other reason to return! But through the window we could see the great wheel turning and hear is clanking away because it has been restored and is fully working.

Dunster Working Watermill is a rare type of mill called a double overshot. This means that both wheels are powered by water from the leat on to a launder which delivers the water to the wheels from above.

Here’s a link to the National Trust page about the mill:

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/dunster-castle/features/a-working-watermill

My featured image is not of Dunster, or the mill, the light was not too good, but walking back I spotted a drowned monster, washed up on the banks of the Avill… at least, I think that’s what it was!

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