Sitting outside the Millhouse with its picturesque cottage standing alongside, looking out onto the rolling countryside with the smell and sound of nature all around you is almost what it must have been like on this same site back in 1066 when the first census was taken, today known as the Domesday book. A mill is mentioned as being here then and a working mill stood on this site for the next 860 years.
The abbots from Muchelney held and owned the hamlet of Ashford, where our Mill stands, until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the mid 1530’s and after that passed to the Wadham family. A few names that held the Mill over time was the Woolmington family, 1667 – 1708, and later the Grabham family.
The current mill building dates to around 1655, whilst the cottage is probably 80 years newer (1739) – all of this probably happening under the Woolmington tenancy. Moving on a hundred years we find the first record of the Grabhams long association with the Mill. George Sawtell owned and farmed the land around the large Ashford House, just along the road from the Mill. James Grabham married Louisa Sawtell and the Mill passed through that family for the next 90 years or so. James’ nephew Joshua is milling here from the 1881 census and when the Wyndham estate was sold off in 1915, Joshua didn’t make the reserve. He continued to rent until 1920 when the property went under the hammer again and his sons George & William bought the property.
From the 1920 sale the Mill premises are described as such; “The Mill premises are stone built and slated and tiled and have 3 floors. The stone floor is fitted for Three Pairs of Stones and Flour Machine, driven by an excellent stream of water over a Breast-wheel 14-ft. diameter, by 5-ft. wide, with Pit-Wheel, Upright Shaft and Spur and Pinnion Wheels.” All that remains today is the pulley system on the third floor, that would have pulled the sacks up and down. The Grabhams continued to Mill here until 1927 when William Grabham tragically fell into the whirlpool and died. Some time after this the Mill-wheel was removed and the stone wall you see now around the millpond was built; thus preventing it from being a functioning Mill. Just over a decade later came the beginnings of World War 2 when the Staniforth family started living here. It was thought that at one time there were railings all around the property, but they were taken for the war effort and melted down. Whether this is true, or not, I suppose we will never know. The property was listed as a Grade 2 property in 1989. When we bought the property it had fallen into disrepair and we are trying to lovingly restore it. During our renovations we have made a couple of great finds, which include coins dating back to 1655, a gold piece which is currently at the British Museum and the Millers' account book, which was concealed in one of the rafters from 1895, showing an array of village names at the time.
We have these items and a few others on display here at the Mills for you to see when you stay.