The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 11. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1800.
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'Canterbury: Mills on the river', in The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 11, (Canterbury, 1800) pp. 143-147. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-kent/vol11/pp143-147 [accessed 4 March 2024]
Mills on the river
THERE IS NOTHING to say further of this river, excepting as to THE MILLS situated on it in and about this city, which are now but few, in number only five; whereas about king Stephen's time, I find that, besides these mills, there were six others standing upon this river, in or not far from this city, which belonged to the monks of Christ-church; all which are long since down and quite gone. (fn. 1)
The five mills above-mentioned still remaining, are King's-mill, so called, because it formerly belonged to the king, and was otherwise called both Eastbridge mill, and Kingsbridge mill, from the near situation to that bridge. Thorn, in his chronicle, says, that king Stephen gave to the abbot of St. Augustine, the mill which he had within the city near Eastbridge, with the course of water belonging to it, in recompence for one hundred marcs, which he received from that church in his necessity; (fn. 2) from which time the abbots enjoyed the mill, until abbot Clarembaid made it over to king Henry II. who in lieu of it granted many liberties to the monastery. (fn. 3) Afterwards, when the city was granted to the citizens in fee farm, by Henry III. this mill of Eastbridge, otherwise called King's mill, as parcel, was expresly included in the grant and given to the citizens, together with the borough, (fn. 4) and they posses it at this time. (fn. 5) Abbot's mill, the next upon the same stream, below King's-mill, was so called because it once belonged to the abbot of St. Augustine, and that as early as king Stephen's reign, being then purchased by the abbot Hugh, the second of that name, at his own cost, for the use of the sacristy of his monastery. (fn. 6) At the suppression of the monastery, in the 30th year of king Henry VIII. this mill came into the king's hands. (fn. 7) It now belongs to the mayor and citizens of Canterbury. (fn. 8)
For many years this mill, from the occupier of it, was known by the name of Brown's mill; but MessSimmons and Royle having in 1791 obtained the lease of it from the corporation, restored its antient name of Abbot's mill. They have since erected, at the expence of near 8000l. a capital building and corn mill, on the antient scite, from plans furnished by the late ingenious Mr. John Smeaton, which is of such curious and strong mechanical powers, as to be able to grind and dress from 500 to 700 quarters of corn weekly. (fn. 9) Mr. Simmons is now the sole lessee of it.
Westgate mill, the first upon the other stream, is a very antient one; in the survey of Domesday, it is mentioned as being the archbishop's mill, but then in the hands of the canons of St. Gregories. The tithe of it was by archbishop Hubert, in king John's time granted, among other things, to the hospital of Eastbridge, and that grant was confirmed by the prior and convent of Christ-church. This mill still continues parcel of the demesnes of the archbishop of Canterbury.
Shafford's mill, now called Dean's mill, from the late possessor of it; is situated on the same stream, at no long distance below Westgate itself. Mr. Somner thinks it is the same, which about king Richard I.'s time, was called Scepeshotesmelne; (fn. 10) in the 20th year of king Edward III. it was called by the name of Shafford's mill. It is now the property of Mr. Deane John Parker.
Barton mill is situated still further down the river, and appears by some of the buildings belonging to it, made of flint with ashlar windows and quoins, to be of good antiquity. It formerly belonged to the priory of Christ-church, being appropriated to the grinding of the corn used by them for their own spending within the court. At the dissolution in king Henry VIII.'s time, it came to the crown. (fn. 11)
Christopher Hales, esq. afterwards knighted, and attorney-general to king Henry VIII. was possessed of this mill, then called Barton mill, with a meadow belonging to it, then in the tenure of George Robinson, holding it in capite by knight's service, and then being of the value of ten pounds. (fn. 12) He died in the 33d year of that reign, and it was afterwards sold by his daughters and coheirs to Thomas Culpeper, on whose decease, Alexander, his son, had livery of it in the 3d and 4th year of Philip and Mary. (fn. 13)
It lately belonged to Mr. Allen Grebell, who erected close to it a handsome house, in which he afterwards resided. But the mill and some land adjoining to it, has been lately sold to Messrs. Sampson and William Kingsford, the latter of whom has long resided on the premises.