The Old Bakery, Manor Mill & Forge is a collection of buildings in Branscombe, Seaton, Devon, England. The property has been in the ownership of the National Trust since 1965. The property consists of three buildings: a bakery, a watermill and a forge.
The Old Bakery is a stone-built and partially rendered thatched building. It was the last traditional working bakery in the county when it closed its doors in 1987. The old baking equipment has been preserved in the baking room and the rest of the building now serves as a tea room.
The water-powered Manor Mill probably supplied the flour for the bakery. The mill has recently been restored and is now in full working order. The Forge is the only thatched forge surviving in England. The blacksmith sells the ironwork he produces.
*** – Manor Mill – ***
Branscombe's Manor Mill boasts a rich history, and has delighted visitors ever since its return to full working order. The Manor Mill is currently closed due to Government guidelines.
In the heart of Branscombe, you can watch the Manor Mill come to life and experience a miller’s world. Standing since the nineteenth century, the National Trust have kept the Mill in full working order for everyone to enjoy. Nestled into the valley, the Mill draws water from the nearby leat to turn its huge wheel. Young visitors can try their hand at turning cogs on a miniature quern, and learn all about life as a miller.
The Mill you see today has been standing since the nineteenth century, and is one of four mills that used to be in operation. But the history of milling at Branscombe stretches much further back, with millers living and working here since the Middle Ages. In its full glory the Mill would have been a very busy place, from harvest time right through to spring. Now, it’s a much calmer environment that makes a perfect stopping point along the coastal path.
Life at the mill
The miller and his family would live in the attached buildings, with his animals, carts and machinery nearby. It wasn’t an easy life, with dangerous activities and long working days. Young children would serve as apprentices, helping with unloading the grain and bagging up the flour.
The mill would also grind wheat, barley and oats for animal feed, and it was used up until just before the Second World War. It’s likely that Manor Mill would have once provided the flour for all of the bread baking in the village, but it fell into disrepair after the war. Many of its mechanics and workings were left in place, and the National Trust carefully restored many of the parts during the 1990s. Because of this restoration, the mill has been returned to full working order once more.
*** – Old Bakery Tea Room – ***
The licensed Old Bakery is a welcoming and relaxing place to enjoy homemade cakes with teas and coffees or a delicious light lunch with a glass of wine or beer. The Old Bakery displays some if its baking equipment and through scrapbooks and photographs tells of his baking past. Look out for the old wood-fire bread oven on the ground floor thought to be one of the oldest in the country. The Old Bakery tea-room is currently closed.
Situated in the village of Branscombe in a wooded valley, the Old Bakery is a stone built and partially rendered thatched building. Under the thatched eaves of this former traditional bakery, you'll discover the old bread oven and proving trough. A colllection of tins, dishes and measuring scales used by the last bakers are displayed in the rooms. Scrapbooks and old photographs tell the story of the Collier Brothers, the bakers, and the simple process of of how bread was made here.
If the weather is fair the pretty cottage garden is the perfect place to while away an hour or two in a picturesque setting overlooking the orchard. If the skies are dull and overcast you can head inside and find a seat in the cosy interior.
*** – The Forge – ***
Branscombe Forge was built around 1580 and is believed to be the oldest thatched working forge in the county. For over 400 years generations of blacksmiths have toiled over red hot metal at Branscombe Forge while carrying out their daily work.
The Forge gives us an insight into the old village economy. After deciding to settle, villagers would have built up a self-sustainable place to live. It is likely that settlers chose this area due to the fishing potential. Blacksmiths would have made ploughs, fishing hooks, metal tyres, axe heads, pig rings and shoed horses. To shoe a horse would cost two shillings (ten pence).
Over the centuries the stone walls and thatched roof of the building have provided blacksmiths with shelter and much needed protection from the elements while performing their craft. Blacksmiths still work at Branscombe forge using traditional methods to create both practical and artistic works available for purchasing in the showroom which is open all year. If you are lucky, you will see their blacksmith at work in The Forge.
*** – The Beach – ***
Fantastic for a family day out, the shingle beach at Branscombe is part of the famous Jurassic Coast. Enjoy a dip in the water, see how far you can skim a stone, or see what hidden creatures you can discover in the rock pools. Stretching over a mile, the beach offers beautiful views of the Jurassic cliffs on either side of the valley, and is a popular starting point for walks on the coast path. Close by to the east is Beer, and slightly further to the west is Sidmouth.
The long beach offers plenty of room for families to visit and enjoy the coast. Children can rock pool or skim the smooth pebbles underfoot. During the summer months, from Easter, National Trust beach rangers will be on the beach on Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays, helping families with kite making, creating wild art, or scrambling around the rock pools. The sea at Branscombe is perfect for paddling. For the more adventurous, why not take a dip?
*** – The Seashore Code – ***
Remember to follow the seashore code and help keep Branscombe a special place for you and for the wildlife that makes a home here.
Handle me with care: Poking or squeezing soft-bodied animals like sea anemones can harm them.
Buckets: Keep one animal at a time in your bucket and not for too long –sea creatures get stressed too!
No nets: Use a bucket and your hands to catch rockpool creatures rather than a net. Nets can rip seaweed off the rocks and animals like crabs can lose their legs and claws if they get tangled up in the net.
Don’t make me homeless: Only collect empty shells.
Put me back: Always replace animals, rocks and seaweed as you found them.
Hey! I’m down here! Watch where you walk – you can easily dislodge or crush small sea creatures.
I don’t like litter: Take your rubbish home – litter is a killer.
Look after yourself: Branscombe is a wonderful place but be careful – the rocks can be slippery, the cliffs are high and the tides change quickly.
Please note: the beachside car park is not operated by the National Trust, and charging applies 24 hours a day. There is another small car park near the Old Forge which is free for National Trust members.
*** – Branscombe village walk – ***
A short circular walk around the historic, beautiful village of Branscombe. Explore the village, take in coastal views, discover nature and perhaps stop for a drink or tasty treat at the Sea Shanty Café. Classified as Moderate, this walk is two and a half miles long and should take about one and a half hours to complete. It is a dog-friendly walk.
Start: Branscombe National Trust car park.
1. From the car park, cross the main street and head through the gate, past the toilets and information room to the Old Bakery. From here follow the path and cross the zig zag bridge, then follow the leat that channels water all the way to Manor Mill. Manor Mill operated as a corn mill from 1700 until 1939. It has a restored water wheel that can be seen up close on certain days (for details call 01297 680507).
Branscombe Old Bakery. The Bakery was the last traditional bake house in Devon, finally closing in 1987, leaving the present tea-room and baking museum in its place.
2. Walk down the track in front of the Manor Mill and then go through the gate on the right, following the surfaced path all the way to Branscombe Mouth. The path ends at the Sea Shanty Café.
Great Seaside. On your left, as you head down the pathway, you can see Great Seaside, a National Trust farmhouse with medieval origins.
3. After exploring the beach, go through the kissing gate and head up the steep path to West Cliff. The path passes a private home called the Lookout and two Second World War pillboxes. In the spring this hillside is covered in wild flowers and butterflies. Keep following the path up to the viewpoint and then head through the woods, taking in the views of Branscombe village through the gaps in the trees.
Viewpoint. Savour the sweeping views of the Devon coastline down towards Brixham. Look out for a wealth of wildlife here, including buzzards, peregrines and dolphins.
4. At the five-bar gate you can take a detour down to the cliff edge and enjoy striking coastal views. Continue until the woodland opens out into a meadow and veer right, taking in another panorama of the village.
St Winifred's Church. Admire St Winifred's Church, which dates from the 12th century.
5. Follow the path into a field, along a hedge and over a stile. Take the path and you'll stroll through Pitt Coppice, which is awash with bluebells, wild garlic and primrose in spring. The path emerges at a steep slope. Go down, through a gate and onto the road. At the junction, turn right and take a look at the picturesque thatched cottages that Branscombe is so famous for. After passing Forge Cottage, on your left will be the Old Forge.
The Old Forge. The Old Forge dates back to 1580 and is now run by the award winning blacksmith Andrew Hall.
End: Branscombe National Trust car park. You made it!
*** – Branscombe to Beer coastal walk – ***
Starting in the heart of Branscombe village, this scenic walk through picturesque countryside passes by the historic Forge, Old Bakery and Manor Mill before heading towards Branscombe beach where you can see the 13,500 kilograms (29,800 lb) anchor of the MSC Napoli which grounded on the beach in 2007.
Follow the coast path up Hooken cliff for fantastic views of the Jurassic Coast UNESCO World Heritage Site before exploring the pretty seaside village of Beer. Returning to Branscombe along the famous South West Coast Path, this hike will take you down the Hooken undercliff path which weaves through a 10-acre tract of land with chalk pinnacles on the seaward side that is abundant with wildlife.
Classified as Moderate, this walk is six miles long and should take about three hours to complete. It is a dog-friendly walk. There are toilets at rear of the Village and next to the National Trust information room. Additional public toilets are located in the Sea Shanty car park at Branscombe mouth and at the sea front in Beer.
Start: National Trust car park, Margells Bridge, Branscombe.
1. Leave the car park via the steps, cross over the road and take the footpath immediately to the left of the building opposite. Follow the path through the orchard passing the National Trust information room and the Old Bakery tea rooms (open from Easter until late October). Cross over the footbridge and walk straight through the field ahead and over a gated footbridge. Take the path in front you of that follows the leat that provides the water needed to power the Manor Mill grinding stones. At the end of this path go through the two gates in front of you to the Manor Mill (National Trust: Open Sunday afternoons from April to October, and Wednesday afternoons in July and August).
Manor Mill. Branscombe was once home to three mills however Manor Mill is the only remaining working mill in Branscombe today. It was renovated by us and grinds grain into animal feed and flour when it opens its doors to the public. The mill is open Sunday afternoons from April to October, and Wednesday afternoons in July and August. Admission: Adult £3, Children £1.50 & free to National Trust members).
2. Take the steps to the left of Manor Mill (or exit the Manor Mill on the ground floor), walk down the driveway and through the gate on the right to take the surfaced footpath which passes in front of a barn (signposted 'Public Footpath Branscombe Mouth ¾m'). As the path forks, take the path to the right that follows the fence line and passes over a wooden footbridge. Continue along the Branscombe Mouth footpath to the sea front and then take the 'Coast Path Beer 2m' path to the left that passes in front of the Sea Shanty restaurant and the MSC Napoli anchor.
MSC Napoli anchor. On the 18th January 2007 MSC Napoli, a 300 yard (275m) long ship carrying 2,323 containers got into difficulty in the English Channel during stormy weather. It was beached at Branscombe to prevent further damage to the ship and minimise pollution to the environment. 114 containers were lost overboard and cargo including BMW motorbikes, car parts, hair products and nappies washed up on the beach. The vessel’s salvage and removal operations costing 50 million pounds were not completed until the 30th July 2009, 924 days after the incident occurred.
3. Continue following the 'Coast Path Beer 2m' path over the concrete footbridge at the mouth of the river by the interpretation boards and then take the path on the right signposted ‘Coast Path Beer 2m’ up the East Cliff (National Trust). After walking uphill through two fields, follow the ‘Public footpath Hooken cliff ½m Beer 1¾m’ path up a steep set of steps. Upon reaching the top of the steps continue forward to the bench for a rest where you will be rewarded with fantastic views of Branscombe, Sidmouth and the coastline beyond.
Views of the Jurassic coast. Following parts of the famous South West Coast Path, the views of the Jurassic Coast UNESCO World Heritage Site cliffs and valleys are not to be missed.
4. After a short rest, continue along the public footpath towards Beer. Pass through the gated cattle pen and across a field with the remains of the old look out. Follow the footpath along coastline passing through a further two kissing gates before veering to the left as the footpath reaches the bottom corner of the field. Continue along this path passing through another kissing gate before going left along a well-established dirt path that follows the hedge line, and passes through a kissing at the foot of the Beer Head caravan park. At the end of Little Lane Coast Footpath by the HM Coast Guard Beer Station, follow the path signposted ‘Beer 1/3m' down Common Lane into the centre of Beer where you can enjoy an ice cream, Devonshire cream tea or join a mackerel fishing trip (seasonal).
Beer. Beer is a pretty little seaside village nestled in Lyme Bay on the 95-mile (!50km) long Jurassic Coast, England’s first natural World Heritage Site. A small fleet of brightly-coloured fishing boats still operates from the shingle beach, whilst the picturesque chalk cliffs protect the cove from prevailing winds - making it an ideal beach for swimming and sunbathing.
5. After exploring Beer, start your return journey towards Branscombe by walking back up Common Lane and turning left into Little Lane Coast Footpath by the HM Coast Guard Beer Station. Continue following the footpath back towards Branscombe past the bottom of the Beer Head bistro, shop and caravan park to the coast. Follow the South West Coast Path along coastline for approximately ¾ mile (1.2km) and then take the lower path that passes through a kissing gate signposted ‘Coast Path Branscombe Mouth 1m’ to return to Branscombe via the Hooken undercliff path.
The Hooken undercliff footpath. The Hooken Undercliff was formed in 1790 after a dramatic landslip. Today, this 10-acre tract of land with chalk pinnacles on the seaward side is thriving with wildlife.
6. Follow the undulating footpath along the undercliff and beyond the chalets of the Sea Shanty Caravan park. After passing through the gate next to the cattle grid, follow the concrete drive across the field (signposted 'Coast Path Public Footpath'). At the end of the field continue past the Branscombe Vale Brewery ‘Branoc’ and Great Seaside buildings to the end of the drive. Turn right on to the road and then take the path immediately to the left (in front of a bench by an allotment) which passes through the Monterey Pine woods opposite Great Seaside Bed and Breakfast. Follow the path through the woods bearing off to the right. Climb over the stile and walk across the field and through a gate to rejoin the Branscombe valley path. Turn right onto the path and continue walking ahead passing through the gate next to the barn at the end of the Manor Mill driveway. Continue straight up Mill Lane and turn left before crossing the road to return to the National Trust car park next to the Forge (National Trust).
The Forge and Old Bakery. Branscombe Forge is the only thatched forge currently operating in England. Today visitors to the forge can see the blacksmiths crafting beautiful ironwork over their hot coals and purchase work from the showroom. The Old Bakery situated in the orchard opposite the Forge was the last traditional working bakery in the county when it closed its doors in 1987. The old baking equipment has been preserved in the baking room while the rest of the building now serves as a tea-room.
End: National Trust car park, Margells Bridge, Branscombe. You made it!
*** – Visiting – ***
Take time out for a spot of lunch or sample some award-winning ale on a visit to Branscombe, Devon.
The Old Bakery. Phone number: 01297 680333
Enjoy a home cooked lunch or a cream tea in the last traditional bakery to be used in Devon. Relax in the cosy tea-rooms of the cottage or sit out in the garden, next to the idyllic mill stream and orchard. The bakery is owned but not managed by the National Trust. The opening times vary throughout the year, so take a look at the Branscombe Opening Times ca
lendar before your visit.
The Sea Shanty. Phone number: 01297 680577
Located next to Branscombe Beach, the Sea Shanty offers fantastic views over the coast and out towards Lyme Bay. There is a range of food and drink available with outside seating and a covered area. Please note that the Sea Shanty is not managed by the National Trust.
The Fountain Head. Phone number: 01297 680359
A critically acclaimed five hundred year old pub complete with an open log fire and flagstones serving homemade, locally sourced food and traditional ales. Please note the Fountain Head is not managed by the National Trust.
The Masons Arms. Phone number: 01297 680300
An award winning 14th-century pub named after the skilled masons who helped to build Exeter Cathedral. The Masons Arms offers a bar with a range of local beers, a restaurant and delightful accommodation. Please note that the Masons Arms is not managed by the National Trust.
Shopping at Branscombe
Local meat is available from Jenny Lombard and Ian Crowe at Natural Branscombe Meat. The beach shop at the Sea Shanty stocks a wide range of beach wares, ice creams, local crafts, village information booklets and children’s small toys. Please note, these are not National Trust businesses.
Branscombe Vale Brewery.
Why not try this award winning beer, available in the Old Bakery, the village pubs, the Sea Shanty restaurant and A La Ronde
. The Brewery was set up in 1992, using renovated cowsheds owned by the National Trust.
*** – Facilities – ***
• The Old Bakery tea room is currently closed.
• The Manor Mill is currently closed.
• The National Trust car park and countryside will be open from Wednesday 13 May. Please follow social distancing measures.
• Not suitable for coaches because of narrow lanes and height restriction barriers in local car parks.
• Adapted toilet next to Old Bakery information point closed.
• Hardened path to the sea from the Manor Mill.
• There is level access to the information point and Old Bakery but please note it is loose gravel.
• Limited wheelchair access to the Forge and Manor Mill.
• Dogs on leads are welcome.
• Please click here for the full access statement.
Location : Branscombe, Seaton, Devon, EX12 3DB
Transport: Honiton (National Rail) 8 miles. Bus Routes : The Axe Vale Mini-travel bus 899 serves Branscombe between Sidmouth and Seaton. View the 899 AVMT timetable here.
Opening Times Mill: Closed until further notice.
Opening Times Bakery: Closed until further notice.
Opening Times Countryside: Dawn to Dusk.
Tickets : Adults £3.50; Child £1.75; Free for NT Members.
Tel: 01752 346585