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Hungerford lies on the river Kennet and the river Dun. There have been several mills in the area, their fortunes changing as local trades and industries changed.
The Domesday survey mentions a water mill at Eddington, and two (wind)mills at Charlton (Hopgrass with Charnham Street). In the 13th century there were two water mills, by the 16th century there were many. They include:
- Dun Mill
Town Mill, Bridge Street, c1900
- Mill Hatch, Bridge Street, c2006
- Dun Mill
- Dun Mill, c1910 [Albert Parsons]
- Denford Mill, 1904 ["W8643"]
- Denford Mill, (undated) ["15716", wrongly labelled "Dun Mill"]
- "Denford Mill and Kennet", (undated) [E. Barnard, Market Place]
- Denford Mill from the Common, undated (Moya Dixon).
- Denford Mill by Harry Sutton Palmer (1854-1933). Titled "Dentford Mill"
- Denford Mill, c1920 [A. Parsons]
- Denford Mill from the Common (wrongly labelled Dunn Mill!), undated [Albert Parsons].
- Denford Mill, c1930 ["S17577"]
- Denford Mill, c1949-50 (Kindly sent by Charles Jones, 2013)
- Denford Mill, undated (Moya Dixon).
The Town mill stood in Bridge Street opposite the John of Gaunt Inn. We know that there were two water mills in the town in 1275, and one of them was probably on this site (the other may have referred to Eddington mill).
In 1566 the mill was "burned and utterly consumed with fire" in the great fire of Hungerford. The mill was run at the time by John Yowle, who had married the widow of the previous miller. After the fire the Yowles claimed against "the negligence of his neighbours" for causing the fire. Hoping to have some recompense, he "did re-edify the said mills which cost him £100 or very near thereabout." The owners at the time would have been the Crown via the Duchy of Lancaster, and no doubt the rebuilding had been swiftly undertaken. The miller at the Town mill had a legally guaranteed monopoly to grind corn in the entire manor of Hungerford.
In a Survey of Hungerford made by the Duchy of Lancaster in 1591, "John Yowle holds one watermill or cornemill".
From c1805 until c1930 the mill was owned by Edward Leybourne Popham (of Littlecote). The last miller was Mr Robert Cole, but the mill closed during the the First World War, and the building remained derelict. In 1932 Mr Turner of Hungerford Park owned it, and he demolished the old mill building, and in 1935 built Mill Hatch (for £1,000). The first tenants were Lon & Joy Peart of the Hungerford Trout Farm.
The miller's cottage is on the left of the picture (now Mill Cottage). Beyond the mill can be seen Rumball's butcher's shop. The butcher's business was started c1860 by William Cruse, and Ernest Rumball took over c1896. (Now Furr & Co., Goldsmiths and Jewellers).
The earliest mention of Dun Mill was in 1406. It was a fulling mill from the 15th century.
The present mill dates from the 18th century. When the canal was built immediately adjacent to it, the owners were able to take great advantage of an alternative means of transport to and from the mill.
Norman Hidden's notes include the following early references:
1406: Close Rolls May 25th: Thomas Stokke to William Coventre and Richard Batfolde, heirs and assigns, quit claim with warranty, of Dun Mill by Hungerford which they had by his charter of enfeoffment dated 24 March, 7 Henry IV.
1494: I.P.M. of Richard Chok (IPM Hen.VII Vol.1 No.957): A fulling mill called Dunne Myll, beside Hungerford, worth 20s., held of the King as of the Duchy of Lancaster by service of one thirtieth knight's fee.
1552: Survey lists 2 grain mills of Hungerford (T/S p.8). Also refers to Dun Mill pound (T/S p.9)
1573: Dun Mill in occupation of John Yowle + 3 acres in Everlong adjoining the mill + 1 acre of mead lammas ground called the Mill Pound Bank and 1 little close several all the year round containing ½ acre, and holdeth the same mill by indenture of Richard Chock gent, as his freehold (T/S p.28).
Also (T/S p.2): boundary of town and manor from Hungerford Mill past the free chapel and along the Dun to Bell Mead corner and so over the Kennet and over the mead to the water that comes out of the flood hatches to Dun Mill, the inheritance of Richard Chok gent, and so along the river to Denford Bridge. [For notes on the River Dun see Summer's T/S notes No.30]
1577: Parish Register: "buried John Smith who was hurt with a knife at Dun Mill".
1591: Survey: Dun Mill Pound one of 7 pounds excepted from Crown fishing rights. Also in 1609 (T/S p. 12)
1595: Parish Register: "buried Ellen wife of Thomas Smith of Dun Mill"
1609: Dun Pound Bank is one of several town common lammas grounds.
1610: DL44/ 869 Special Commission to inquire into fishing rights. William Cannon deposes that Dun Mill pound (belonging also to Avington) extended from the mill to the end of 3 acres in the Everlong.
(NH - from Summers' typed notes No 48): "In 1614 the King had a grist mill a a malt mill in Hungerford. (Where the latter was is uncertain). Dun Mill was a tucking mill and was private property. Hungerford town articles state "this mill was occupied by Thomas Holmes who held it of Alexander Choke esq "in the right of his freehold, and payeth no quit rent". In 1691 Thomas Layson of Hungerford Mill brought an action against Boulton James of Dun Mill, which had been converted to a grist mill... the court sustained his claims (of suit and soke) "and ruled that Dun Mill should be eithe pulled down or converted again into a tucking mill". (E13/734 in Latin!).
In 1793 and subsequent rent rolls, an item appears under Sanden Fee "Thomas Randall for Dun Mill and cart house 2s".
Between 1805 and 1818 this becomes Thomas Lanfear, and a note in 1818 roll states the Cart House has gone.
In 1832 the entry is Thomas Lanfear for Dun Mill 1s 6d.
In 1836 Trustees of Thomas Lanfear 1s 6d.
In 1494 Nicholas Passion was fined at Blackwell Hall for defective cloths (Margaret Yates - Town & Countryside in Western Berkshire, c1327-c1600, p95 - TNA, E195/350, 330, 332).
Tom Hine states "Dun Mill on the River Dun started grinding cord again after having been a 'Tucking Mill'. (Tucking mill was the West Country term for a fulling mill which was where homespun cloth was dipped, cleansed and dressed.) An action was brought by the owner of Town Mill, Newbury, to restrain Dun Mill at Hungeford from grinding corn for the inhabitants. The Court decreed that the corn be ground at Town Mill, Newbury, or Dun Mill would be pulled down, or converted back to 'Tucking' again."
The Victoria County History states (Vol 1, p.388,1972) "Dun Mill was a fulling mill, held in 1614 by Thomas Holmes, of Alex Choke Esq. of Avington. As late as 1691 the owner of the Town Mill brought an action to restrain the owner of Dun Mill from grinding the corn of the inhabitants of Hungerford. The Court decided they were bound to have their corn ground at the Town Mill, and that Dun Mill must be either pulled down or converted into a fulling mill again." W H Summers added "It was not found possible to put the decree into operation, and the miill remains to this day a corn mill"
1614 Thomas Holmes - fulling mill
1753-1817 Mr Harrison was miller.
1851 James Langford
1869 Samuel Trumper
1869 Henry Trumper
1881 (CS) Mrs Ann Andrews (widow) and sons George, James and Thomas Edmond.
1883 George Coombs
There has been a famous trout farm here since 1907, run by the Peart family.
In July 1979 the mill and trout farm were sold at auction to Michael Stevenson. (See NWN report of sale, 26 Jul 1979 and "New owner of the trout farm has designs on your table" - NWN 31 Jan 1980).
See also: Berkshire Trout Farm.
When Ken Major surveyed the mill in 1963, he reported that "Stones there, pre 1847, gear removed. Building preserved, and an interesting loading bay by the Kennet & Avon Canal extended to meet the bank".
Denford mill and bridge were mentioned in a survey of 1573 (T/S p2).
Tom Hine gives the following information:
1558 J Choke (A fulling mill)
1778 Roger Randall
1823 Alfred Viner
1830 Alfred Viner
1842-47 John Ruddell
1847 Thomas Bungay
1851 Thomas Bungay
1854 Thomas Bungay
1868 Thomas Bungay
1869-77 George Bungay
1881 (CS) George Bungey
1883 George Bungey
1895 George Bungey
1903 George Bungey
1895 Jessett brothers
1907-11 Bungey & Chamberlain
Denford Bridge, near Dun Mill, carrying the road from Hungerfrod Common over the canal towards Lower Denford, is Listed Grade II. The Listing states "Canal bridge. Late c18. Brick with stone end piers and capping and band at road level. Plain single arch with curved brick courses to parapet. Deep brick lines cut forming end of Lock."
The road bridge over the River Kennet at Dun Mill is also listed Grade II: "Road bridge. Late c18. Brick with stone caps to end piers and double curved brick coping to parapet, band at road level. 3 arches, 2 small and 1 large."
This mill was used during the 19th century as a fulling mill in the cloth industry, for which a copious supply of water was required. (Fulling was where homespun cloth was dipped, cleansed and dressed.)
Robert James adds:
"The tenants of Denford Mill were "Bungey and Chamberlain" until 1911. They were also tenants of Chilton Mill in Chilton Foliat. [Will Bungey, a descendant of Ralph Bungey, emailed from Australia Jul 2016 to add that Ralph emigrated to Australia in 1911 after the sale of Denford Mill]. My Grand father Ernest Frank James was employed as manager of the business of Bungey and Chamberlain in December 1909 and he moved his family from Dorking in January 1910. They lived in the Chilton Mill until 1929 when he took a short tenancy with Mrs Percy who owned Essendene in the Croft. Ernest took the Bungey share of the partnership in 1911 and continued the tenancy after a gap in 1915. At that time I think the Mill was owned by Col Walmesley of Inglewood House who at that time also owned all Hungerford Park as well Avington, Radley, Windingwood and Elgars Farms.
Ernest bought out Sidney Chamberlain (founder of the Ramsbury Building Society) from the partnership in 1916 and ran the Mill as James & Co until 1926. By that time the mill was in need of major repair to the water wheel or turbine and the new owner Sir Philip Dunn (Peter's grandfather I think) would not bear the expense of the repair. Ernest handed back the tenancy and the Mill, which never worked again.
In the meantime Ernest was offered the maltings and out-houses of the old brewery by H&G Simmonds, Brewers in Everlands Road which he took on a long lease at a fixed rent of £50.00 per year. I think we gave this up in about 1958."
When Ken Major surveyed the mill in 1963 he said "Took photos of stones. Gear removed. Converted to a house".
In 1972 Frank and Nigel Wilson bought Denford Mill (and Denford Fishery).
In 1978 Denford Mill was bought by Mrs Esther Mahboubian, the Wilsons retaining the Fishery.
In 1991 the property was offered for sale for £1.25 million.
This watermill used to be downstream of Dun Mill, somewhere in Lower Meadow, probably on the north bank of the River Kennet. Robert James says (2013) that "the mill pound and waste remain and still run and I am aware of the old foundations. The mill was mentioned in the Parliamentary Report of 18 Mar 1905 carried out for the Charity Commission, when it was listed as one of the six mills of Hungerford (Eddington, Hungerford, Denford, Dun Mill, Charleford, Avington and Kintbury) where the "inhabitants, commoners, had no right to fish the mill pounds". Otherwise, the last mention I have seen was in 1599 but no detail of the ownership or tenants and whether it was a flour, provender wool or cloth mill. It was either washed away or just fell into disrepair."
He added "Charleford Mill was mentioned in the surveys of 1600 and what ever. I have not seen more a recent mention.
Last year I asked Peter Durrant County Archivist to see if they could find the owners of the mill. Unfortunately they drew a blank. The mill foundations are still there on the north bank of the R. Kennet a little way downstream of the outflow of the Sewage Treatment Plant. In the winter it is possible to see the entrance of what was the mill pound. The mill tail flows into the side stream where the coffer dam is situated 150m upstream of the Avington boundary.
When John Newton was Constable 1973/75 he beat the bounds and he and I waded, neck deep along that "ditch" although passable then it would be difficult now. That is the line of both the parish and Town & Manor boundaries. There was an estate, which probably included the remains of the Charleford Mill, owned by the Blandy family (I talked to Pat about that) but as there were no maps it is difficult to ascertain where the boundaries could have been."
In the Lawsuits connected with the Town and People of Hungerford, collected by Norman and Joyce Hidden, Vol II Court of the Duchy of Lancaster, page 37, ... Special Commission on Fishing Rights, 8 James I (1610) [NA DL44/869], William Cannon, aged about 65 years, a fisher of Hungerford, described the course of the town's waters, and mentions seven mill pounds, including
"5. Chalforde, belonging to Mr Blandy together with the weir, and extending from the weir to a crosse hedge that parteth with Mr Blandy's lands and Hungerford Down."
There other water mills at Chilton Foliat and Leverton , and a windmill at South Standen (mentioned 1719 and 1792 - VCH).
Tom Hine reports that in 1336-37 there are records of a windmill in the Manor of Eddington.
The watermill at leverton was sites south of the "pepper-pot" cottages. It is said to have been wrecked in the "bread" riots of the 19th century, There are also some traces of a mill close to the fishing house belonging to Chilton lodge. This may have been the remains of Colcote Mill, mentioned in the Domesday Survey.
The windmill at Wilton, just a few miles south-west of Hungerford, was built in 1821, and restored in 1976. See "Crowds marvel at the wonder of the windmill", NWN Jul 1979. For more see the Mills Archive Trust entry on Wilton Mill.
There were about 3,000 windmills in Britain in 1830 - the peak of their popularity, and about 52 remain in working order (2016).
For more on Wilton Windmill see www.wiltonwindmill.co.uk
The Shalbourne windmill was mentioned at Westcourt in 1330 (worth 10s a year), but it was "in ruins" in 1361. A second windmill stood in 1791, owned by John Bungey.
With thanks to Tom Hine for various bits of information on local water mills and windmills. He also has records of watermills at Chilton Foliat, Shalbourne (East Court Farm Mill and Bagshot Mill) both on Ham Brook, Elcot Mill and Werg Mill (just below Elcot Mill).
- The Mills Archive Trust, Watlington House, 44 Watlington Street, Reading RG1 4RJ (a huge archive of everything related to mill in the UK).
- The Wilton Mill website - www.wiltonwindmill.co.uk