Oldest mill in Suffolk is removed from ‘at risk’ Historic England register but five sites are added

Work is underway at the Guildhall in Bury.

Work is underway at the Guildhall in Bury. - Credit: Archant

Urgent work is needed to stop crumbling buildings, including 14th Century Suffolk churches, from falling into further disrepair, according to figures published today.

Drinkstone Post Mill after the repairs.

Drinkstone Post Mill after the repairs. - Credit: Historic England

Five Suffolk buildings have been added to Historic England’s register of ‘at risk’ sites in the county, with six being removed.

Sites added include The Guildhall in Bury St Edmunds and three medieval churches in Walberswick, Redlingfield and Saxmundham.

The work produced by Historic England provides a snapshot of the health of significant buildings across the country.

One of the key parts of the annual report focuses on the condition of mills – with 41% at risk nationally being in the East.

The famous Naze Tower at Walton on the Naze

The famous Naze Tower at Walton on the Naze

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There was good news however for what Historic England calls “Suffolk oldest windmill”, Drinkstone’s Post Mill near Bury. This was removed from the list following a conservation project.

Greg Luton, planning director for Historic England in the East of England said:

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“This year’s national register gives us the most complete overview of the state of our nation’s heritage to date.

“We know barrows are more at risk than any other type of heritage nationally but we also know it’s a different story depending on where you are in the East of England.

“Historic mills help characterise our region and make it special, and are one of the types of heritage sites most at risk.”

A project is underway to repair Friston Post Mill which has been on the register since 2006. It is the tallest surviving post mill in Britain and has been propped up by a steel frame for the past decade.

Mid Suffolk District Council’s area includes Drinkstone and one of the three medieval churches added to the list this year.

Nick Ward, corporate manager for heritage at Mid Suffolk and Babergh district councils, said:

“It’s an ongoing concern that all districts in Suffolk have in terms of dealing with heritage at risk, these include conservation areas which have undergone significant change.

“Often buildings can be at risk because they are not occupied and they are perhaps not maintained to an appropriate standard.”

Suffolk Coastal District Council’s patch includes Friston. A spokesman for the authority said: “We have worked closely with Historic England on a variety of successful projects. A good example of this work in the Friston Post Mill, where Historic England and Suffolk Coastal’s conservation team are looking at the options for the future of the site, in collaboration with the owner, to ensure that the significance of this nationally important structure is retained and restored.

“However, this is not the only conservation work undertaken by the council. The buildings on the Historic England register are only Grade-I and Grade-II*, whereas most of our buildings at risk are Grade-II and do not feature on this register.”

There are now 67 sites across Suffolk which are deemed as at risk.

The story in Essex

In Essex the Grade II*-listed Naze Tower at Walton has been added to the register this year, in a move welcomed by its owners.

Built in 1720 by Trinity House the 86ft tower was originally a navigation point for ships, and was used as a lookout in the Napoleonic and First World Wars and as a radar station during the Second World War.

Now it is a tea room, art gallery and viewing point.

Cracks have developed along almost the length of the tower as a result of steel inserted to counteract the weight of the military radar, as the metal has rusted and expanded.

Historic England has awarded a £168,000 grant towards urgent structural repairs and repointing works

Michelle Nye-Brown, co-owner of the Naze Tower, said: “It has been a rollercoaster ride but it’s been great to have the support of Historic England, without them we couldn’t afford to do the work which is required.

“When we knew the external elements needed re-doing as well we realised we needed to put the tower back on the risk list to get help with funding.

“We were really pleased Historic England awarded us a repair grant, which covered 80% of the cost while we funded the rest.”

The tower was opened to the public in 2004 after major renovation took it off the risk register, and more work was carried out last winter to tackle damp and adding a new roof.

Public access to the tower has been maintained through-out repairs, and it remains open until November 1 when it closes to the public until Easter.

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