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A dozen dream homes: Mills

The romance of residing somewhere with a great story draws eager buyers to mills of all shapes and sizes. They also offer generous square footage, quirky features and historical interest. Their locations are unbeatable, too - windmills need high ground or flatlands and watermills tend to be found in upland areas with fast-flowing rivers.

If pressed back into service, mills can be a source of clean, free energy for their owners. A number of watermills have been upgraded with small-scale hydropower technology - a turbine installed at Gants Mill in Somerset generates enough electricity to power eight houses, and feeds into the grid. Unfortunately, mills are rare. At one time they peppered the countryside, providing the muscle for everything from
grinding corn to forging iron, weaving cloth to sawing timber. Even as late as the 19th century, there were around 10,000 windmills and a similar number of watermills in the UK - now there are only about 600.

By the early 20th century,electricity had replaced water and wind power as the main energy source for manufacturing and most of the country's
rural mills were lost. Others were bought in the 1970s and 1980s and badly converted. It can be a challenge to find an unrestored mill or one that has been sensitively renovated.

Find out more from SPAB Mills, part of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, which offers advice about how to carry out repairs. It also issues a list of redundant mills for sale. Mortgage funding for derelict properties can be tricky - contact specialist lenders such as the Ecology Building Society.

Both Unique Properties and Barns Etc have a range of mills for sale. Click here to see Country Living magazine's selection of mills to buy or rent, or for inspiration, visit one during National Mills Weekend, 14-15 May when many will open their doors to visitors.



Click here for Country Living magazine's round up of the best mills available to buy, rent or holiday let




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