Video: Norfolk mill goes back to its roots

Long before supermarkets and cellophane, when windmills were a familiar feature of Norfolk's skyline, grain was ground and bread baked just a stone's throw from the field.

Long before supermarkets and cellophane, when windmills were a familiar feature of Norfolk's skyline, grain was ground and bread baked just a stone's throw from the field.

Now Denver Windmill, in West Norfolk, has gone back to those roots by using the wind to grind flour, while the grain comes from a field which can be seen from the windows of the windmill.

On Saturday, in celebration of the beginning of the harvest and a new season of grain, visitors will be able to experience and follow bread making from plough to plate at a traditional Lammas festival.

Taking its name from the old English for loaf mass, the ancient harvest festival's traditional highlight is eating bread baked with autumn's first grain.


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Straight off the combine harvester from Headleypoplar Farm in Stow Bridge, the grain will be delivered to the mill by pony and cart where visitors will be able to watch the grain being ground, before having a go at crafting their own loaf.

The festival comes just a month after Lindsay and Mark Abel, who took over the running of the mill last year, started selling bread in their shop and tea room made only from flour ground by the mill.

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Mrs Abel said: 'This is the first time we will have done it all in a day. It is great to be someone who is milling and baking and to be able to do it from start to finish. There aren't many places that can do that.'

When the wind dies in Denver, flour production continues using a vintage Barron mill powered by electricity.

Mrs Abel said: 'It is a real challenge not using the standard produce and it has taken a lot of work to get it as perfect as we could.

'We're not re-creating the past we are putting it in the context of today. We're celebrating that we've got a harvest and that we've got a mill today. We are a mill in a commercial environment. We are working with a local farmer who is commercial.'

Miller Mark Abel said: 'There must have been so many mills in the past. I can remember people talking about working them.

'People would live within a seven-mile catchment of the mill. You forget how important they were. Just think of how many villages have a Mill Road. You loose track of how many there were. There are only a dozen or so left in the country that work and produce. It is something quite precious to hang on to.'

Andrew Charlton, managing director of Headleypoplar Farm, who supplies much of grain for the windmill, said: 'Although they aren't a huge customer in terms of tonnage they have the potential for growth in the future.

'It's very important to celebrate one of the old traditional festivals around the farming year. So many people have lost touch with the farming world.'

Baker Martin Ager said that using flour from the mill meant they had to work around variations in the flour.

He said: 'Here we have to just take what we get. You need to be conscious that it can behave differently.'

The Lammas Festival at Denver Mill West Norfolk:

10am - Wheat delivered to Denver Mill by pony and cart

10.30am - Seed cleaned using vintage seed cleaner driven by a Lister engine

11am - Milling will commence, using the mill if there is wind or a vintage Barron mill if it is calm

11am - Make and Bake session for children

12noon - Adult baking session start - including a demonstration of making the Lammas loaf

2pm - Make and Bake session for children

3pm - Loaf will be blessed

4pm - Make and Bake session for children

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