My recollection of Aldborough Mill were ones of faded neglect, when the needs of the business had outgrown its archaic confines and it sat there in the boggy valley bottom all clad in asbestos and looking very sorry for itself. This was after the activity had been transferred to the larger premises in Coltishall which offered better space and enhanced communications.
I heard stories of boats on the stream and beautiful snowdrops carpeting the mill island, but all this had long since been swept away by progress and it was very hard to reconcile this with the wet marshland and driveways i saw before me. I guess this was all good training for the canal hunting later in life!
I was therefore a pleasant surprise to read about how the grounds were much prized and visited by all and sundry, come to see the rare plants, the pretty pools or just to mess about in boats on the mill pool. Accounts describe them as "flocks of human starlings" including hungry temperance ministers attending the May meetings, political orators, fishermen, botanists and ornathologists - all were welcome at the Cooke family table.
The calm of the mill, its pretty water and lagoons crossed by a network of bridges designed and built by Henry Cooke which drew admiration from near and far - all in sharp contrast to the changes wrought in the first two decades of the 20th century. Not that Tom Cooke was blind to gardens - he maintained a huge one acre plot at his home in central North Walsham and this was so successfully husbanded that commercial crop pickers were employed in season.
I attach a collection of photos taken when the beauty of the mill pool as at its height.