Buy Of The Week: Suffolk

You can enjoy bird's-eye views of the countryside from the top of a 18th-century mill
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The Independent Online

This Grade I-listed 18th-century windmill overlooking the picturesque Suffolk village of Dalham, near the Cambridgeshire border, has been in Angela Carr's family for three generations.

She inherited it from her grandfather, Frank Farrow, when he died in 1989. Frank and his father before him had been flour millers, and Frank bought this mill when he retired with the intention of restoring it. He never quite finished the job. "I always think it looks a bit like a giant Dalek, with its missing sails," Angela says.

The mill has not produced any flour since the 1920s, but it is structurally sound and well protected against the elements by its brick base and upper timber frame encased in weatherboard and canvas. Most of the internal machinery is intact and in good working order.

It occupies a lovely spot, too, sitting on the brow of the hill overlooking the village across an expanse of glorious rolling wooded countryside. Angela often climbs its five flights of ladders to reach the 80ft-high observation platform to admire the views.

"I can spend hours up there," she says. "It's like being on your own island. The colours are constantly changing with the seasons and I particularly love it in the summer when the cornfields ripple in the breeze like waves in the sea."

Angela also inherited the four-bedroom flint cottage that comes with the mill, where she and her husband have brought up their four children. This also is 18th-century. With its double-peaked roof it looks like two houses knocked into one, but it was in fact built in two stages; and extended to accommodate the original miller's growing family.

It's a solidly built, comfortable two-storey family home, with oil-fired central heating, set well back from the road and facing south towards the windmill and open countryside. Light streams through the bubbled panes of four Georgian sash front windows.

To the right of the entrance hall is an airy living room, from where French windows open out on to a patio. To the left of the hall is a generously proportioned dining room that can seat eight, and has plenty of cupboard space as well as double aspect windows.

The flagstoned kitchen to the rear of this has a solid-fuel Rayburn cooker, a stable-style back door opening on to another patio area and a large utility room/pantry, from which a flight of stairs leads down to a basement den and shower. "That's very handy," Angela says. "It means you can clean up dirty children or dogs as soon as they're in without having to spread muck all over the rest of the house."

Stairs from the main entrance hall lead up to the split-level landing, from which access is gained to a loft, the four bedrooms and the main family bathroom.

One of the things the Carrs have loved about living here has been the privacy. "We are a good 150 yards from the road, nobody overlooks us, and we are surrounded on all sides by countryside," Angela says.

The property stands in an acre of its own grounds. There is a raised well sunk into a back terrace fringed with beds of shrubbery, while beyond that and bordering the road is a large enclosed paddock.

"We don't keep horses ourselves," Angela says, "but we've some friends who bring theirs over from time to time to mow it for us."

To the front of the house is an equally generous parcel of land on which the mill itself sits, along with a detached two-storey barn, for which planning permission has been obtained to convert it into a self-contained two-bedroom annexe.

Although well tucked away, the Carrs don't feel at all cut off from the local community. "It's a lovely spot," Angela says. "It's secluded and peaceful, but at the same time Dalham village is just a quarter of a mile down the road, where there's a beautiful church and a great pub."

It's been good for the children, too. Apart from the huge garden, there's plenty of great local countryside to explore and an excellent network of local schools - a nursery in Dalham itself, a primary in Moulton three miles away, and good middle and secondary schools in Newmarket, just a short bus ride from the village.

However, for all the charms of Dalham Mill, the Carrs have decided that it's time to sell. "The children are growing up and moving away and we want to find a house closer to where my elderly mother lives in Cornwall," Angela says.

Ideally, they would like to sell to a genuine mill enthusiast who would be prepared to continue the restoration work begun by Angela's grandfather. "It would be a labour of love, but a fascinating project and well within the bounds of possibility," Angela says. "The mill is remarkably well preserved, and we still have accurate specifications for the few mechanical components that are missing. Furthermore, thanks to its listed status, grants may well be obtainable from various sources to help with the work. It would be wonderful to see the place up and running again and restored to its full former glory."

Get the spec

What's for sale: two-storey 18th-century flint cottage with a Grade I-listed former flour mill and a detached flint barn in the grounds.

Serious kit: flagstoned kitchen with solid-fuel Rayburn oven; original cast-iron fireplaces plus oil-fired central heating throughout; enclosed paddock area, paved terrace and raised well in the back garden; long gravel drive and plenty of parking spaces to the front of the house.

How big? four-bedroom cottage with a five-storey flour mill and a detached 1,000sq ft flint barn set in an acre of land.

Extras: magnificent views over the surrounding rolling countryside and the nearby village of Dalham; planning permission has been obtained to convert the barn into a two-bedroom annexe; most of the mill's machinery is still intact, and grants may be available to help restore it.

Buy it: The Mill, Stores Hill, Dalham, Suffolk is for sale through David Burr (01787 277 811) for £549,950.

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