Approaching 40 members arrived in the
small parish church of St. Peter & St. Paul, Mautby,
on a warm July evening. The doors north of the
Nave and south of the Chancel are examples of early
English style (1200-1275). The first rector was
presented in 1307 by Sir Robert de Mauteby. Margaret was
the daughter and heir of John de Mauteby a prosperous
land owner who died in 1433. Her marriage and life
with John Paston and the Paston letters which they wrote
to each other have become an invaluable insight into the
history of their time. Margaret was born in 1423.
Margaret was chosen by William &
Agnes Paston to be the wife of their eldest Son, John.
They married in 1441 and although being arranged, they
were very much in love enjoying 25 years of marriage,
Margaret and John had 5 sons and 2 daughters. John
passed away in 1466. Margaret lived on and in her
sixties became very ill making her will in 1482, stating
that she wished to be buried at Mautby church beside
other members of her family. The aisle in which Margaret
was buried no longer exists.
The Pastons owned great swathes of
land and rose from peasantry to aristocracy within 2
generations. Clement Paston was a yeoman and took
advantage of the Black Death to gain substantial lands
around Paston, Clement died in 1419 and is buried at
We left Mautby and drove the small
distance up a slight incline to Thrigby Mill, where we
were greeted by Peter and Tricia Gillett with cups of
tea and cake. Peter gave us a history of this Post
Mill built in 1792, by Robert Woolmer to grind wheat for
his Thrigby Hall estate. Alfred Hood and his family were
farmers and were the last owners of the mill until
1889. In 1892 the mill was dismantled due to death
watch beetle, and rebuilt by N. Prior a hundred years
later in 1981. Darby Brothers, timber merchants of
Beccles were tasked with cutting the 19ft oak post. My
question was, what is a Post Mill? Post Mills are made
almost entirely of wood coated in resin and paint to
protect from the weather. The round house at the
base is of brick, inside there are four brick piers
which support the wooden structure above. The
upper part of the Mill was turned on the centre post to
bring the sails to wind, using horse power.
Some of our members climbed the
wooden stairs to the top. I decided to take a stroll to
look up at the mighty sails, tethered to the ground, at
rest, no longer turning, no longer grinding wheat for
the local folk.
Was there a mill here in Margaret
Paston’s time? As a girl did she walk up to this high
point? I looked up at the sails. The mill owns this
place, looking out over the ancient Norfolk countryside.
It sits quietly now, a job well done. I looked to the
ripening crops in the field and to the big Norfolk
sky. Quietly like the mill the sun starting to
set, throwing shafts of light through the clouds.
How lucky we are to live in this part of Norfolk,
surrounded by history and unanswered questions buried in
the mists of time.