Monday, March 10, 2008

My Town Monday - Mill Green Mill

This week I was undecided about what to comment on, so I eventually decided to tell the story of our local Water mill - Mill Green Mill.

There has probably been a mill on this site since Saxon times, for the Doomsday survey of 1086 records that the manor of "Hetfelle", held by the Abbot of Ely, included four mills. With the dissolution of the monasteries during the reign of Henry VIII the manor of Hatfield, and thus Mill Green Watermill, came under the control of the crown. The crown maintained control until the Cecil Family took over the Hatfield estate in the early part of the 17th Century.
Mill Green Watermill remained a part of The Cecil Family estate until its purchase by Hatfield Rural District Council in the 1950s.

Down through the centuries the mill has seen many alterations and repairs. The date and initials "17 IB 62", which are still visible on a front wall brick, suggests a major rebuild was undertaken during the latter part of the 18th Century. This was probably connected with the need to increase milling capacity as the medieval system - "soke" - fell into disuse. The initials "IB" are most likely those of Joseph Biggs, a prominent entrepreneur in the area at that time. A signature dating from 1824, visible on the first floor Hurst frame, may indicate further structural work.
Modernisation of the milling industry meant that by the early 1900s the local grocer was able to supply flour much cheaper than the local mill, and so traditional milling, and, inevitably, millers themselves, began to disappear.

In 1911 the miller at Mill Green, Sydney Christmas Lawrence, dropped the sluice gate and closed the front door for the very last time. After his emigration to Australia both the building and machinery were left to fall into disrepair.

Plans to restore the mill were first formulated in the early 1970s.
The Mill Green Watermill Restoration Trust, set up in 1979, pooled the resources of a large number of interested groups and individuals.
A new staircase and first floor were installed, and the pit wheel and Hurst frame were both repaired.
The work was concluded in 1986 with the replacement of the waterwheel and millstones.
Following a break of 75 years the wheels and gears roared back into life, the millstones began to grind and Mill Green Flour was once again being made.

Now the Mill is open to the public and produces its own brand of flour. There is an education centre and a range of different exhibits. During the year there are many different interactive activities. If watching the water mill in action become too much, there is a great pub, The Green man, right next door!!!


Alexandra said...

I love hearing about where you live - fabulous photo Lyzzy! *STAMPIN HUGS* Alex

The Anti-Wife said...

How wonderful that the town restored the mill. Very interesting.

Britta Coleman said...

What a lovely building. The pub doesn't sound bad, either!

Travis Erwin said...

The details of that brick and the age of the inscription are fascinating.

Debbielou said...

I feel a trip coming on to see it and of course a visit to the Green Man ! x

Maureen said...

Lyzzy - this is sooooo cool! I love the pictures and the explanation!
ps - love the pics of your surprise party in previous post - looked like a great par-tay!!!!

Josephine Damian said...

Lyzzy: Your town has my town beat by a country mile when it comes to history. Saxon times? Wow! And of course my town's historic places do not have pubs! Your town sounds more fun!

Lana Gramlich said...

Wow...Very interesting! Thanks for sharing. :)

WordVixen said...

I love it, I love it, I love it! I could happily spend days on end at the mill and the green man. :)

suebaru said...

Ahem...what was with the cryptic text message last night hun??!!

punknscrap said...

what a fantastic post! Fascinating.

Anonymous said...

The Mill is still turning and the flour makes a lovely loaf. Sadly, the Green Man pub is no longer open. The building is still there but it closed its' doors a few years ago. There is a brilliant Vintage day , held in July, with vintage cars and stalls and lindy hop dancing going on in front of the Mill. Great fun. Check out the website as there is always something interesting to do at the Mill.