Colour photo of the rear of the Granary
Flatford Granary

Early History

A group of barns stood on the site of Flatford Granary in Constable’s time. They would have been used to store all sorts of things, including wool, wood, coal and grain and flour.the The Enclosure Map of 1817 is the first to show the granary as a separate building.  The granary would have been built by the mill owner and so from early times belonged to the mill.

Until his death in 1816, the granary formed part of Golding Constable’s (John Constable’s father) milling estate. The granary then passed to Golding’s younger son Abram who sold it to William Bentall in 1846.

Owners 1846 - 1929

1846 -1864 William Bentall, who

  • Modernised the machinery at Flatford water mill by installing a massive water wheel 16ft in diameter and over 13ft wide. This was one of the largest mill wheels on the Stour.
  • Is also credited with installing the steam mill at the Granary. This is supported as in the 1851 Census he was a “Miller and Coal Merchant” and was employing a large workforce.
  • Added a brick extension to the back of the granary to accommodate a coal-fired steam engine, boiler and mill stones.
    • Coal to power the mill was transported by sea from the north of England to Mistley Wharf. It then travelled from Mistley to Flatford by horse-drawn barges (called lighters). 
    • A tall chimney (you can see it in the distance in the first image below) was built to take away the smoke produced by burning of coal to drive the steam engine.
    • The steam mill would have been built in the granary as it would have been a fire risk to have the two mills (the other mill being Flatford water mill) in the same building.

1864-1878 Richard Barrell, who

  • Owned the water mill and the steam mill at the granary.
  • Put the estate on the market in 1878 – at that time the water mill was described as having 8 pairs of stones while the steam mill had 3 pairs.

1878-c1894 Walter Benneworth, who

  • Owned both steam and water mills and presumably when he retired he split the estate and left the steam mill to his son, Arthur.

c1896-1929 Arthur Benneworth who owned the steam mill. After the steam mill closed he ran a boat hire business from the granary. Arthur Benneworth died in 1942 aged 77.

1896-1901 William Green who owned the water mill

1901 William Docra who owned the mill and Flatford water mill ceased working. Most of the water mills along the Stour closed in about 1900.

1929 – Flatford steam mill at the granary ceased working because of the advent of roller mills.

The Granary 1911-1979

Owners since 1972

  • 1972-1977 Sidney Dale bought the tea garden at Bridge Cottage. The purchase included the land beside the Stour down to and including the granary. The Granary at that time was described as derelict and probably had not been used since 1929 as much of the milling equipment was still visible. Sidney Dale wanted to convert it into a luxury 20-room dwelling, a plan that did not reach fruition. In 1977 Sidney Dale sold The Granary to Joyce and Alan Baker.
  • 1977-1979 Joyce and Alan Baker who restored the internal and external structure, converting it into a private house whilst living there with their young family. In so doing they saved the street scene at Flatford as we see it today, without a grand 1970s building which would have been totally out of character.
  • 1979-1985 Ian Wilkinson
  • 1985-2018 Derek and Marjorie Tripp who ran a bed and breakfast and opened  part of the ground floor as a museum in the 1980s.
  • 2018-present National Trust

Links with John Constable

Feint sketch of a barn at Flatford by John Constable, 1813 - owner unknown
Pencil drawing of a barn at Flatford by John Constable, 1813 - owner unknown

Although John Constable sketched the Granary, he did not include it in any of his famous oil paintings.

Please note: there is no public access to the inside of The Granary