Well, I promised to tell you about yesterdays diversion away from the Six Nations rugby .
well this was it, the sails were turning and as I found out, Wicken Corn Mill was open to visitors and working, grinding corn into flour. A rare opportunity to see inside a fully restored, working mill so I dropped soaking wet dog off and drove back for a look inside. I was lucky in that I was the only visitor so got a wonderful guided tour from one of the band of dedicated restorers, Dave Pearce. Next year this old fenland beauty celebrates her 200th birthday after some 25 years of restoration work to bring her back to her former glory.
And she is (to me at least, more beautiful inside than out).
The first above is Dave demonstrating how the corn is shuffled to ensure an even flow of grain down into the two grind stones which, were turning as the sails passed the window. You can see in the next photograph above, a focus on the craftsman's hand-print in flour dust (you by now know me for attention to the smaller details in what I see)
Whilst the one the other side was silent today, but I was entranced by the 1813 technology that, at the time involved so many varying trades, woodsman, carvers, metal workers, leather workers and all that before the miller and his assistants started work. There were also female millers too.
And ... what surround sound as a mill, powered purely by wind makes ... a beautiful symphony of different elements of wood, wind, stone, metal and leather coming together, plus the vibrations that shuddered through the mill that could be felt by my whole body ... wow!! It entranced me totally.The above shows the craftsmanship in the internal design of the top with the beechwood cogged wheels spinning round as we sat on sacks of corn, listening to the musical sounds.
We returned (very carefully) down some steep wooden ladders to see the freshly ground flour being sacked and packed by a gentle old man ...
and in the background you can see a new sack has been put in place to collect the flour that was being ground as we descended the ladders from the top to the bottom. Depending on the settings one can have, wholemeal (my favourite) white or finest white!
And to just the taste of the flour, fresh from the millstone is well ... wonderful, even in it's raw, pre-baked state! Now this is where the hundreds of years of milling, meet our modern day modernity ...
Though now sadly static with no wind to drive it, nor corn to grind inside it. Wonderful craftsmanship as much to be admired as the full scale restoration of where it resides!!
For further details, check out www.wickenmill.co.uk it's deffo worth a google!! G-nite.