Stanwell: Mills

A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 3, Shepperton, Staines, Stanwell, Sunbury, Teddington, Heston and Isleworth, Twickenham, Cowley, Cranford, West Drayton, Greenford, Hanwell, Harefield and Harlington. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1962.

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'Stanwell: Mills', in A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 3, Shepperton, Staines, Stanwell, Sunbury, Teddington, Heston and Isleworth, Twickenham, Cowley, Cranford, West Drayton, Greenford, Hanwell, Harefield and Harlington, (London, 1962) pp. 42-43. British History Online [accessed 19 April 2024]


There were four water-mills at Stanwell in 1086. (fn. 1) Their sites cannot be established: all the later mills stood on the Poyle stream, the Wyrardisbury River, or the present River Colne. (fn. 2) There are frequent references to water-mills in Stanwell in the Middle Ages and 'atte Mill' was a common surname. (fn. 3) The history of individual mills can, however, be only partially established. A new mill was apparently built in the 14th century and there were at least three mills in the later Middle Ages. The millers of Poyle and Stanwell mills complained in 1546 that they were injured by the making of the new cut (the Duke of Northumberland's River) to Isleworth. (fn. 4) In 1606 there were three mills, (fn. 5) and a new one, though not necessarily on a new site, was built in the late 17th century. (fn. 6) By the late 18th century there were four mills, all of which had ceased to work as water-mills by 1956.

The mill at Poyle has the longest continuous history. A mill was attached to Poyle manor in the 13th and 15th centuries, (fn. 7) and evidently passed with the manor to Andrew Windsor, since it was alienated by the Crown in 1612 as part of his former property. (fn. 8) In the 15th and 16th centuries it comprised two mills under one roof. In 1636 it was a paper-mill employing twelve men. (fn. 9) In the 18th century it came into the hands of the Bullock family, first as lessees and then as owners. (fn. 10) Henry Bullock (d. 1760), the first of the family to work the mill, and his sons were leather-dressers and used it primarily as a leathermill, though they also made paper. (fn. 11) They acquired other property in Poyle but sold the mill in the early 19th century. (fn. 12) By 1807 it was worked by William East and Richard Ibbotson, and Ibbotson & Sons later acquired the freehold. (fn. 13) The Ibbotsons used it at first for making paper and later for leather and asbestos board. (fn. 14) From 1890 it passed through various hands, being used in turn for asbestos, fibre, flock, artificial manure, and bricks. (fn. 15) The mill building was pulled down in the 20th century and its site was occupied in 1956 by the factories of Graviner (Colnbrook) and the Wilkinson Sword Co. There was then still a weir on the river at the site. (fn. 16)

In the Middle Ages many mills which cannot be identified were mentioned as being in Stanwell. None of them belonged to the lord of Stanwell manor. (fn. 17) One of them was held successively by Richard Peacock and his son John in the 14th century; 'Peacock's mill' was in existence in the early 17th century. (fn. 18) A second mill was acquired in the 15th century by Richard Bulstrode, (fn. 19) and a mill was attached to Edward Bulstrode's estates in 1598. (fn. 20)

In 1385 John Donet was presented for building a mill over a common footpath in Stanwellmoor. (fn. 21) Donet's mill passed to Thomas Windsor in 1472. (fn. 22) It therefore may have been the same as North Mill, which was held by the Crown in the 16th century, (fn. 23) and granted to Lord Knyvett in 1612. (fn. 24) North Mill may in turn be identifiable with Upper Mill, mentioned in 1630, (fn. 25) which was itself presumably the same as the 18th-century Upper Mill in Horton Road. This was called the New Mill about 1771, (fn. 26) but it may then have been recently rebuilt. It was a paper-mill in the 18th century and belonged to the lord of Stanwell manor. (fn. 27) Its 17th-century history is uncertain: the moieties of Stanwell manor each owned a mill, (fn. 28) and there was an independently owned paper- and corn-mill from c. 1610 to 1652. (fn. 29) It employed a journeyman as well as the miller's family in 1636. (fn. 30) The Upper Mill changed from paper to corn at the very end of the 18th century and at about the same time it was sold by the lord of the manor. (fn. 31) It continued to be used under various ownership as a corn-mill until the 20th century, and in the late 19th century was powered by steam as well as water. (fn. 32) By 1956 the mill had been used for at least 20 years for the manufacture of medicines, and until about 1950 was driven by water. Although electric power was thereafter used, the mill wheel and machinery were still there in 1956. Part of the building was damaged by a bomb in the Second World War. (fn. 33)

By the late 18th century the Lower Mill was in existence: (fn. 34) in fact it probably existed much earlier and may have been one of the two 17th-century mills held by the lords of Stanwell manor. It stood at the weir in Leylands Lane where this crosses the Colne, a few hundred yards downstream from the Upper Mill. (fn. 35) It was used as a corn-mill and appears to have been managed by the same miller as the Upper Mill from the mid-19th century (fn. 36) until it was demolished between about 1886 and 1896. (fn. 37)

By 1791 Edmund Hill owned a gunpowder-mill on the Colne about 550 yards south-west of Hithermoor Farm. (fn. 38) Between 1832 and 1844 it passed from Hill's successor to Messrs. Curtis & Harvey, who had already been working it for some years. (fn. 39) By 1896 it was a snuff-mill and soon after became a corn-mill, and remained one until it was burnt down in 1925. In 1956 a house close by marked its site. (fn. 40)


  • 1. Dom. Bk. (Rec. Com.), i. 130a.
  • 2. The Colne and its branches and their respective mills in 1641 and 1725 are shown in B.M. Maps 1027, c. 30 and ibid. 1240 (53, 55); see also p. 33.
  • 3. For references to mills not identified or discussed below, see e.g. C.P. 25(1)/149/52/329; /151/71/462; /151/81/151; C.P. 25(2)/27/178/12; /692/3 Chas. II Trin. For 'atte Mills' see, e.g. Feet of F. Lond. and Mdx. ed. Hardy and Page, i.
  • 4. S.C. 12/3/16.
  • 5. B.M. Add. MS. 20216, ff. 4d. 11.
  • 6. Hist. MSS. Com. 13th Rep. pt. 5, Ho. of Lords, 498.
  • 7. C 133/89/5; C 139/10/8; C.P. 25(1)/152/98/76.
  • 8. C 66/1967.
  • 9. M.R.O., Acc. 249/820-1, 826, 829.
  • 10. For its descent in the 17th and 18th cents., see M.R.O., Acc. 27/2 and Acc. 132/125.
  • 11. Middleton, View of Agric. of Mdx. 438; M.R.O., Acc. 132/113, 137, 166; L.T.A. Mdx. 6691; Shorter, Paper Mills and Paper Makers in Eng. 1495-1800 (Paper Publics. Soc. vi), 214-15.
  • 12. M.R.O., L.T.A. Mdx. 6700; see above, p. 39.
  • 13. Guildhall MS. 9580/3, 20 June 1807; M.R.O. Stanwell Tithe Award.
  • 14. Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1890); see also p. 49.
  • 15. Ibid. (1890-1937).
  • 16. Personal observation.
  • 17. See extents of manor cited above, p. 36, n. 97-98.
  • 18. Year Bk. 17 & 18 Ed. III (Rolls Ser.), p. 209; B.M. Add. MS. 20216, f. 13.
  • 19. Cal. Close, 1461-8, p. 367.
  • 20. C 142/253/69.
  • 21. Public Works in Medieval Law, ii (Selden Soc. xl), 48.
  • 22. C.P. 25(1)/151/79/105; Cal. Close, 1468-76, 228.
  • 23. Cal. Pat. 1554-5, 296; E 123/23, f. 143.
  • 24. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1611-18, 111.
  • 25. Bodl. MS. Don c. 26.
  • 26. B.M. Map 3465(4).
  • 27. See docts. cited on p. 37, nn. 34, 36, and Shorter, Paper Mills, 215.
  • 28. M.R.O., L.T.A. Mdx. 6681; see also ibid. F 34/248.
  • 29. E 134/1652 East. 6, m. 3; C.P. 25(2)/574/1651 Mich.
  • 30. M.R.O., Acc. 249/821, 827, 829.
  • 31. M.R.O., L.T.A. Mdx. 6691-6727.
  • 32. Ibid.; Stanwell Tithe Award; Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1866-1906).
  • 33. Personal observation and information from the staff.
  • 34. M.R.O., L.T.A. Mdx. 6681.
  • 35. M.R.O., Stanwell Tithe Award.
  • 36. Ibid.; Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1886-94).
  • 37. Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1866); O.S. Map 1/2,500 Mdx. xix. 7 (2nd edn.).
  • 38. M.R.O., L.T.A. Mdx. 6694.
  • 39. Ibid. 6719-27; Stanwell Tithe Award.
  • 40. Personal observation and information from Mrs. Wooster, Stanwellmoor.