A History of Beaulieu Mill
has been a water-mill in Beaulieu since the thirteenth century. It was
built within the precincts of the Monastery adjacent to the outer Gate
House. The Beaulieu Accounts of 1270 detail the money spent on stone,
timber and ironwork in repairing the mill by the gatehouse. This is
evidence that the mill was built around the time of the founding of the
monastery. Archaeological research in 1906 by Sir St. John Hope and
Harold Brakspear revealed the exact location of this mill together with
the mill flume. It was positioned by the Outer Gatehouse of the Abbey.
This mill had two chambers within which each had an undershot wheel.
Details of the monastic mill are to be found in the Archaeological
Journal of September 1906. The 1270 Beaulieu accounts also revealed two
newly-built windmills, and the materials used in their construction – as
the cloth for the sails and the pick for dressing the millstones. Their
original location is a mystery.
mill was built on the present site is uncertain though the Dissolution
accounts of 1537/8 record ’40s from the farm of the watermill within the
vill of Beaulue demised to William Couper’. This mill was built just
outside the abbey walls where it stands today.
Survey of the Manor of Beaulieu dated October 1578 has the following
extract. ‘Henry Welles gentleman holds by Indenture one corn mill with
one tenement and curtilage upon (super) Bewley bridge for the rent by
the year of £7. Also he holds one piece of land at Fullingmille pound
for one fulling mill to be made by himself by the rent of the year of
20s.’ It also includes the requirement to provide the landlord, Henry
Wriothesley 2nd Earl of Southampton, with ‘4 couple of capons’.
Estate records enable a
complete record of all the tenants of the mill until 1976 to be made.
A painting of 1730 of
Beaulieu Mill and Palace House shows the mill to be thatched and the
roofs of some of the other buildings to be of slate.
In 1744, Stephen
Barney took over the tenancy of the mill and it remained so for three
generations until the grandson of the first Stephen Barney, with the
same name, moved to Bishopstoke Mill in 1845. Soon after Stephen Barney
(Sen) took over the mill, estate records show the mill to have been
tiled in 1748.
Barney family were very influential members of the community during
their time at Beaulieu, Stephen Barney being both an Overseer and Church
Warden [a very important position in those days]. Also he held Ashlett
Mill and Calshot Salt works. Stephen Barney died in 1768 and the tenancy
was carried on firstly by his widow until 1773 when his son Thomas, born
1755, was considered old enough to take on the tenancy which he did so
until his death in 1833.
Barney and his servant, Sansom, were suspected of being the biggest
poachers in the village. John Fry was employed by the Duke of Montagu’s
steward John Warner to prevent poaching. In 1777 when Barney was fishing
by the mill he threw Fry into the river. Fry and Barney then had a
fight, and Sansom joined in. Warner thought the incident was “an insult
to himself and the Lords of the Manor” and made Barney pay 3 guineas in
compensation. Thomas was most keen to provide a son and heir, and it was
only after the birth of eight daughters was a son, Stephen, born.
married Elizabeth and they had thirteen children and only left Beaulieu
in 1845 as the result of a melancholy incident in which he imprisoned
his daughter Frances in the Mill House in an upstairs room, only
allowing her to be fed through a round hole in the door. I was brought
up in the Mill House and the bars on the window and the round hole, with
its cover were still intact. The reason for his actions: Frances wanted
to marry the groom. What happened next is uncertain but Frances (Fanny)
Barney died in 1848 and is buried in Bishopstoke Churchyard.
most of the period from 1845 until 1976, the mill was in the occupation
of, firstly, the Burden family, and from 1922 until 1976, the Norris
Photographs of the interior of the mill, one showing the beam balance
which I remember we used, the exterior and a scale drawing of the mill
machinery are to be found in the excellent book Windmills and
Watermills by J. Reynolds [Publisher: Hugh Evelyn Ltd].
The mill wheel ceased to
be used at the end of the Second World War. In its latter years the mill
was used to grind grain for animal feed rather than for flour.
Most of the milling took
place at harvest time. Once the wheel started turning, my Uncle Fred,
who worked in the mill all his life, told me that the sound of the
mechanism, the splash of the water, the smell and scent of grinding
barley all combined to make the building sing – and when the sun shone
through, the drops coming off the mill wheel was a wonderful sight. It
could grind 2-3 hundredweights an hour, for up to eight hours, by which
time the tide would be coming in again.
As time went on, the old
building started to creak and shudder, so they decided to stop before
any damage was done. Fred told me that the last time it worked was in
1945. The building was then used solely was storing animal feed, though
a motor had been installed which enabled the sack hoist to be used and
also oats to be crushed.
By 1976, the business at
the mill necessitated the loading and unloading of lorries of grain and
animal feed and as a consequence of the increase of road traffic, it was
felt the business should move to other premises.
The mill then remained
unoccupied as the Estate sought assistance in the mammoth task of
restoring the mill, possibly as a working mill.
existence of a similar tidal mill at Eling, meant requests for funding
were refused. It was then necessary for the Estate to finance all the
Much of the work on the
roof had been done by March 2006 when the mill was badly damaged by an
arsonist. In the next few years restoration took place and in 2014 the
newly restored mill was let to a boat designing company.
OF BEAULIEU TIDE MILL
Couper ‘40s from the farm of the watermill within the vill
of Beaulue demised to William Couper’
[First Dissolution Account of the Ministers]
1575 Henry Well(e)s
1576 ‘May 2nd 21 year lease by Henry, Earl of
Southampton to Henry Wells, Gentleman of the Mill of Beaulieu, Mill
House and lands’
Thomas Kempe [22 year lease from 1616]
1626 John Kempe [Executor of Thomas Kempe]
1646-85 Richard Lambert [Susanna Lambert, wife of
Richard d1654, has burial stone just N of the font in Beaulieu Church –
not original site; The Bishopric Pipe Roll of Fawley for 1605, which
almost certainly refers to Ashlett, records ‘Nicholas Lambert pays a
rent of five shillings for one corn mill’ Would Nicholas be the father
1686-89 Tristram Mayn
1690 Estate run
1691 Widow Semar
1692-96 Estate run
1697 William Eldridge [Mill and Ryehill]
Scott [Robbard Scot buried July 1st 1702]
1703-09 Mr Corbett [1708 Mill and Palace and Sowley]
1710-21 Roger Seager [died March 29th 1721]
1721 Widow Seager
Thomas Wyatt [died of smallpox – I think]
1744- Stephen Barney [died June or August 1768
burial record unclear]
Barney [died July 1833]
Stephen Barney [moved to Bishopstoke Mill]
Edward Godrich [moved to Durley Mill]
Fred Norris [Sen] [died February 1948]
Fred and Stan Norris [business moved to Home Farm]
2014- Leased to boat designing company