Santa’s workshop to boost restoration of historic mill

SANTA'S HELPERS: Zoe Whadecoat and Aimee Heywood as Elfs.
SANTA'S HELPERS: Zoe Whadecoat and Aimee Heywood as Elfs.
Share this article

The magic of Father Christmas and his team of helpers is undoubted. They make presents for children all over the world to be delivered on Christmas Day.

But a Santa’s workshop at Kersey Mill, manned by elves and volunteers, is also raising money towards the restoration of a historic watermill.

Complete with reindeer, a nativity scene and of course the big man himself, the workshop which has been open during weekends in December, in the run up to Christmas, has proved a hit with visitors.

“We have a reindeer feed station which the children have loved, elves wrapping presents and carol singing,” said Alison de Lara Bell, who took over the mill in Stone Street, Kersey, with husband Stephen last summer.

“It is the first year we have done this and the feedback has been amazing. People have already said that they will definitely be coming back next year.”

Since buying the listed buildings and mill house associated with Kersey Mill, the couple have carried out major renovations and now rent a number of properties to businesses.

They have also set about restoring the four-storey watermill, which is mentioned in the Domesday Book, and hope funds from the workshop will aid the project.

“The event is manned by volunteers and we have pupils from Hadleigh High School helping out,” said Mrs de Lara Bell.

“The whole community has been involved.”

Although progress is being made, getting the watermill, which has not worked for 50 years, functioning again is a tall order.

“It is a massive process, but the roof is now watertight to prevent further damage,” said Mrs de Lara Bell.

“We have bought the oak to make the teeth for the pit wheel and slowly but surely are getting there.”

Santa’s workshop will be open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.