One of the largest timber-built water mills in Europe, Houghton Mill is open to the public for the main tourist season and welcomes around 14,000 visitors a year. There are 3 floors of information and interactive exhibits relating to the milling process and social history of milling. Visitors can see flour being milled every Sunday when the site is open. There is a car park, tea shop, second-hand bookshop, toilets and baby-changing facilities during opening times. Houghton mill is also an excellent base for walks along the Ouse Valley Way, watching wildlife and relaxing by the river. The ground floor and surrounding landscape is accessible to wheelchair users. Braille guides, touch list and portable audio loops available. Short guides are available in English, French and German. Groups and schools are welcome outside of normal opening hours by arrangement with the property manager.
There has been a water mill on this site for over 1000 years. In 974 AD the mill was bought by Aylwin the foster-brother of the Anglo-Saxon King Edgar and given to Ramsey Abbey to raise money. It was subsequently mentioned in the Domesday Book, and remained the property of the church until the Reformation in the 16th century. The current building has been dated to c. 1759 by dendrochronology and is constructed of timber and brick, with 5 floors. During its most productive period in the mid 19th century there were 3 water wheels and 10 sets of working stones at this mill.
Four generations of one family, the Browns, ran Houghton Mill for nearly 100 years from 1797. The mill thrived during this period and employed many villagers. Potto Brown is the best remembered of the mill managers and was also well known as a generous philanthropist, as it was through Potto´s efforts that Houghton gained a new school and chapel. Potto Brown and his business partner Joseph Goodman made sizeable profits from their mill business in Houghton and expanded to build other mills in nearby towns. In the 1920´s traditional milling with stones was coming to an end and in 1930 the mill was becoming a ruin and its wheels were taken off. It was saved from destruction by the local people and given to the National Trust. Houghton Mill was fully restored for the Millennium year 2000.