4 June 2015, Letheringsett: ‘A maltings of national importance’

Letheringsett is a small village near Holt, in north Norfolk. Despite its rural setting it was an industrial and manufacturing centre with an impressive watermill of 1798 (still powered by water and producing stoneground flour) and with a huge maltings dating from earlier that century. The maltings expert and architectural historian Amber Patrick, in a report of 1996, described that great building as a maltings ‘of national importance’ for its scale and its early date.

Letheringsett Maltings, west front

Part of this remarkable building in the village centre, before its 2013-15 conversion to housing. In all it was six bays long, plus the barley steep and kilns

On Thursday 4 June 2015 Margaret Bird will give an illustrated talk in Letheringsett Village Hall on the story of the maltings and its adjoining brewery: ‘ “A maltings of national importance”: the working days of Letheringsett’s maltings and brewery 1720–1896′. The talk will begin at 7.30 pm, preceded at 6.30 by a cold buffet costing £9.00 a head. Details of the evening’s arrangements are given at the end.

Its history

The brewery, founded and owned by John Brereton of Letheringsett Hall, was in existence on this site by 1721. The diarist Mary Hardy and her husband William came to live in Letheringsett and run the business in 1781. They converted the malt-mill and brewery to water power in 1784, using the force of the River Glaven just downstream of the corn watermill.

Their son William reclad some of the buildings such as the vast tun room in 1814, and at the same time remodelled the brewery.

Letheringsett Maltings, west front, from the roof

The same wall seen internally, from the roof looking west, at the start of conversion in March 2013. The tun room is glimpsed beyond, in the brewery yard

Brereton was also a maltster, like all the succeeding owners in the 18th and 19th centuries. The date of the maltings is not known, but the present structure pre-dates the Hardys’ arrival. William Hardy junior rebuilt the malt-kilns which still stand at the north end of the complex, beside the main Fakenham–Holt road.

This two-floored maltings had a very large roof space used as a granary. In all the building is 45 metres long (49 yards).

The venue

The buffet and meeting will be held in Letheringsett Village Hall, Holt Road, Letheringsett, NR25 7YB. This stands on the main road near the foot of the hill leading to Holt. It was built in 1910 for the people of the village by Mary Hardy’s great-grandson Herbert Hardy Cozens-Hardy, then Master of the Rolls and soon to become the first Lord Cozens-Hardy.

There is only limited parking in the small layby beside the Village Hall. On-road parking is available in the lanes nearby, including Riverside Road opposite. Marion Thurlow, of Letheringsett Watermill, has kindly offered the mill car park as an overflow. It is beside the River Glaven in Riverside Road, at NR25 7YD (details below).

It would help with the catering if those wishing to come could telephone the organiser Louise Stevens (01263 713857) at least some days in advance. Payment can be made at the door on the night.

You can read more about the talk on the Burnham Press website, which shows a reconstruction of the maltings in its working days.

The watermill nearby

Letheringsett Watermill, in Riverside Road, will be open to visitors on 4 June from 9 am to 4 pm. Working demonstrations will run from 12.30 to 3.15 pm that day. The mill lies just three minutes’ walk from the Village Hall.