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The Dunster Working Watermill is the finest example of its kind in the West Country, built in 1680 on the banks of the River Avill and still grinding flour to this day. Overlooking the awesome landscape of Exmoor National Park and just a few minutes from Dunster Castle it's an ideal spot for an outing from your neighbouring Somerset hotel. If you're just passing through the area, it's also ideal for a break.
There were originally two mills on the site, both mentioned in the Domesday Book, but the other one has long since vanished. The mill we see today dates from back in medieval times, although its present appearance can be traced to the late 1770s. It survived prolonged periods of neglect and war until it finally stopped working in 1962. Fast-forward to 1979 and the mill has been restored and is in working order once again, and basically that's what visitors now see. The adjacent bridge dates to the 18th Century, when it was built to replace the medieval one, so there's quite a bit of living history on display here. Take advantage of the excellent Somerset hotel and guesthouse accommodation in the area to pop along and see the mill in action.
In the 19th century artists from across the country came to the mill because of its sheer beauty and romantic charm. For today's visitors, a riverside garden was added, along with a tea room in the renovated stables. If you're looking for a real rural idyll from your Somerset hotel base then this must surely quality. It's an educational experience too, with visitors allowed in to see how flour is classically produced by harnessing the power of the river to complex traditional machinery, including incredibly rare twin overshot water wheels. Buy some real homemade stone-ground flour while you're here, and have morning coffee with scones and cake in the tea room. There are some great accommodation options in this part of Wessex, from Somerset hotels to small family-run B&B establishments that will give you a big welcome.