Transcript of newspaper article


'A New Life for the Mill.'

It would seem an almost  impossible task to convert an ancient mill complete with wheel, water and workings into a home. But this is just what Mr and Mrs Noel Hutchinson did when they bought Stillington Mill near York.

They found it by accident. For some time they had been looking for an unusual home and came to the village to look at another house. In exploring the village they came down a quiet lane and saw the mill. They decided this was the place for them so they approached the farmer who owned it and bought it for £1,500.

A mill was first mentioned in the Doomsday Book. The present building is believed to be 300 years old and was last used as a mill ten years ago.

It took Mr and Mrs Hutchinson about one year to get full planning permission before they could begin. The fact that the building was a shell was a help for it meant they could start from scratch. They decided to do as much as possible themselves to defray the heavy cost of the building work.

More skilled work like the laying of drains, the main plumbing, installation of heating and electricity and some of the more complicated joinery was done by professionals.

" We never considered ourselves handy types,"  Mrs Hutchinson commented, " We were surprised when we found we could fit things like windows."

Her husband, an architect, designed the conversion, which has been split into two stages. The first has been completed. A hole in the wall for a door, a staircase and some partitions plus some decorating will finish the second.

Estimated Cost

They have worked to a well thought out budget and have estimated the total cost of conversion, including the purchase of the house, will be under £7,000.

Most weekends the house has been filled with energetic friends and relatives all busy with workmen's tools. The roof was in good repair so this was one job that did not have to be tackled. Mr and Mrs Hutchinson laid new floors, lined ceilings and treated all the old beams for woodworm.

When she was helping to lay pieces of the floors and ceilings Mrs Hutchinson soon developed a good head for heights. She found herself treading between beams with nothing between herself and the ground, two storeys down.

The walls were flat with whitewash which had accumulated over the years. Mr and Mrs Hutchinson chiselled this away to the attractive stone beneath. They then sealed the surface with a  special preparation to stop stone dust escaping and have painted two walls in the dining room deep olive green.

 Liking the idea of open plan rooms they were able to make the best of the open plan layout of the building.  Instead of having to do away with passages  and extra walls they had to put in the odd partition themselves.

A shed at the back of the building was demolished to reveal the large mill wheel. The family are busy smartening up this part of the mill and making a small water garden around the mill wheel.

Unexpected snags which cropped up during the work often had good results. When the corner of the dining room was renovated one section of wall was found to be in  bad condition. On investigation Mr Hutchinson discovered an outside opening so he turned this into an effective peephole window.

The walls were full of grain  when they were opened up for piping. Swallows and other birds were loathe to leave what had been their home for several years. Mrs Hutchinson found when she left the windows open that the birds would fly in. The crows caused slight difficulties by deciding to nest in the boiler chimney which was not discovered until the chimney caught fire.

When the Hutchinsons moved in they had not had the time to build a staircase so had to climb up a ladder.


Information under the sketch by Noel Hutchinson.
(Located above the article.)

The top floor and half of the first floor comprised of the first stage in the conversion of Stillington Mill. Stairs lead from the outside into the dining room and the open plan kitchen on the first floor.
A spiral staircase winds around the mill, shaft leading to a sitting room on the top floor, where there is an ingenious combination of old and new, with contemporary furniture, large white lanterns and bright colours setting off the old beams and natural stonework.
By making panel walls of attractive coloured woods, the Hutchinsons turned the top floor into three bedrooms and a bathroom.

In the second stage, which is still under construction, they are turning a large room on the ground floor into a music room and a playroom. One of the features is the open fireplace. The bottom of the mill shaft has been left intact as decoration. In the other part of the ground floor there is a large hall behind which is a wash house and patio. A staircase will lead from the hall up to a landing with a balcony which will be Mr. Hutchinson’s study.