. . . . . . . . Hough Mill open 2-5pm Sundays to end of September . . . . . . . . . .

Hough Mill History

We are fortunate enough to have a few images of Hough Mill’s past.  They include:

  • A 1920s watercolour by Miss Elsie Palmer of Hough Hill, who was Headmistress of Thringstone Infants School from 1926-1949.
  • A 26th December 1932 sketch by Karl Salsbury Wood who cycled thousands of miles to sketch windmills.
  • A 1980 photograph by Colin Mitchell showing the condition of the mill during the last few years of ownership by the Hough family.


Read Hough Mill – The Last 100 Years

1920s watercolour by Elsie Palmer of Hough Hill
Sketch 26th December 1932 by cyclist Karl Salsbury Wood
1980 photo by Colin Mitchell

From the late 18th century until the 1870’s the Griffin family owned and operated Thringstone Smock Mill (now Hough Mill).  The third generation of millers decided to move into other occupations and by 1874 the mill was leased to James Kirby.

James was the son of John Kirby and Sarah Griffin, so the family connection was key.  James was listed as the miller on the 1877 auction poster.  James’ older brother Thomas and his wife Mahala Sketchley were the millers at a post mill on the other side of St George’s Hill near the church.

Marriage of Sarah Griffin to John Kirby 1813
Griffin and Kirby families - millers

Milling Families Married Into Milling Families

Many people marry people they know from work or others in the same profession as they are part of their social network.  Millers were just the same.

  • Sarah Griffin – Married John Kirby, miller, on the 26th July 1813 at Whitwick.
  • Mary Griffin – Married John Timms, miller from Swarkstone, on the 17th September 1822 at Whitwick
  • Thomas Kirby – Married Mahala Sketchley on the 18th May 1847.  Mahala’s brother Jesse was a miller.  When Thomas died in 1891 Mahala briefly continued the business before she died a month later.

A Confusing Name

How and why did Thringstone Smock Mill become Hough Mill?

There are three reasons.

1. Thringstone Dismembered 1936

Thringstone Parish was much bigger than the current village of Thringstone.  In 1936 Coalville Urban District Council expanded and absorbed 142 acres of Thringstone, the current village.  The remainder of the civil parish was divided between:

  • Osgathorpe (482 acres) – The area north of the A512 Ashby to Loughborough road.
  • Coleorton (98 acres) – The Peggs Green area, including the New Inn where the mill was put up for auction in 1877.
  • Swannington (70 acres) – A finger of land bordered by Mill Lane, The Rowlands and Workhouse Lane (now Moor Lane.  Thringstone Smock Mill was just on the Thringstone side of the border.
  • Belton (68 acres) – unknown.
  • Worthington (12 acres) – a strip of land to the east of Top Road, Griffydam so that the houses on both sides of the road would be in the same parish.


2. Sale Of The Mill By The Hough Family

During the second half of the 1980’s, North West Leicestershire District Council was negotiating with the Hough family to purchase Thringstone Smock Mill.  In November 1987 at the Hough family’s request, the council agreed to  rename the mill as Hough’s Smock Mill.

3. Milling Definitions

Swannington Heritage Trust bought Hough’s Smock Mill in 1994.  In accordance with modern day definitions (which were less clear in the 19th century)  the mill is not a smock mill but a tower mill.  The Trust therefore dropped the word smock from the title as it was felt it was confusing, shortening the name Hough Mill.  Sometimes people use Hough Windmill.

The decision created an element of controversy as smock had been in the title for a long time.  Some people suggested it was named after the lady’s smock flowers (cardamine pratensis or cuckooflower).

Thringstone Finger - Moor Lane and Mill Lane including Hough Mill

Hough Mill Timeline


  • John Griffin (grandfather) 1758-1833
  • John Griffin (father) 1792-1874
  • John Griffin (son) 1826-1917
  • Census records record the occupation of miller but do not record which mill



  • 1790     A tower mill was built by John Boultbee, Lord of the manor of Thringstone
  • 1791     John Griffin (grandfather) purchased the tower mill for £50
  • 1804     John Griffin (grandfather) purchased Home Close from Thringstone enclosure commissioners
  • 1823     Baptism of Jane Griffin, daughter of John Griffin (father), miller
  • 1833     Death of John Griffin (grandfather)
  • 1841     Census, John Griffin (father), miller
  • 1851     Census, John Griffin (father), miller; John Griffin (son), miller
  • 1861     Census, John Griffin (father), miller; John Griffin (son), miller; Edwin Griffin, miller
  • 1871     Census, John Griffin (father), miller; Edwin Griffin, miller
  • 1874     Death of John Griffin (father)
  • 1877     Death of Susannah Griffin (nee Jesson)
  • 1877     Mill scheduled for auction at the New Inn on the 13th November, James Kirby leasing mill
  • 1878     Conveyance of the mill, house, cottage and Home Close to John Hough for £1,175
  • 1880’s  Commercial use ceased
  • 1899     Death of James Kirby, miller
  • 1914     WWI use of mill for animal feed by Walter Chester, son-in-law of John Hough
  • 1917     Death of John Hough, mill owner
  • 1917     Death of John Griffin (son), miller
  • 1918     Death of Edwin Griffin, miller
  • 1940     Removal of ironwork from mill for WWII war effort
  • 1990     Purchase of mill from Hough family by North West Leicestershire District Council
  • 1994     Purchase of mill from NWLDC by Swannington Heritage Trust
  • 1999     Structural restoration of Hough Mill (Heritage Lottery Fund grant)
  • 2000     Mill opened to public
  • 2005     Refurbishment and installation of flour dresser
  • 2009     Static mill cap removed and remounted incorporating windshaft and fantail (Grantscape grant)
  • 2012     Construction and installation of brake wheel
  • 2012     Construction and installation of wallower
  • 2017     Construction and installation of sack hoist
  • 2018     Reconfiguration of mill (moving flour dresser, grain bins and pulpit)
  • 2019     Framework sails fitted to the mill


Milling Dates



1791-1833 John Griffin 1758-1833
1808-1872 John Griffin 1792-1874
1842-1862 John Griffin 1826-1917
1853-1872 Edwin Griffin 1837-1918
1872-1880 James Kirby 1826-1899
1914-1918 Walter Chester 1859-1933

These dates are the best estimates.  For sons of millers, assumes they started working the mill from the age of 16 years.

Walter Henry Chester married Jane Maria Hough (daughter of owner John Hough) in 1893.  He was landlord of the Railway Inn, Main Street, Swannington 1901-1925.

There are a couple of suggestions that John George Hough (son of owner John Hough) worked the mill.  He was landlord of the Bull’s Head, Main Street, Swannington 1901-1912