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Page 4

Newsletter 112, Spring 2016  © Hampshire Mills Group


Memorials to Millers & Millwrights


An aspect of Milling History


Nigel Harris


Whilst researching ‘soke rights’ and the suggestion that some millers were less than honest. I came across a reference (on page 41 of Leslie Syson’s book “British Water-Mills”) to an 18th century epitaph to an Essex miller by the name of Strange which says it all:

“Here lies an honest miller

And that is Strange”.

I subsequently tried to locate this epitaph, but unfortunately had no luck.  However, I did find a number of memorials to millers and millwrights past. Not wishing to be morbid, but it struck me that perhaps a record should be made of these memorials as an aspect of milling history. Here are some examples:


The ‘Miller’s Tomb’ on Highdown Hill near Worthing, West Sussex. The tomb is of John Oliver who died in 1793 aged 84. John took over his father’s windmill in 1750, which was demolished in 1826. There are many myths and stories about John including one that he was a leader of local smugglers. It is even said that 2,000 mourners attended his funeral.

Image courtesy Andrew Grantham and reproduced with permission of the National Trust


The tomb of George Green, owner of Green’s Mill a five storey tower mill at Sneinton, near Nottingham. The mill was built in 1807 by George’s father and passed to him on his fathers death in 1829. George who had worked in the mill let it out in 1833 and became a student at Caius College, Cambridge, becoming a mathematician and physicist. George died in 1841 and is buried at St. Stephen’s Churchyard, Sneiton. The windmill still exists as part of ’Green’s Windmill and Science Centre’.

Image courtesy and © copyright Ashley Dace and reproduced with permission of St. Stephen’s Church History Project


A millstone used as headstone. The inscription on this headstone is not altogether clear, though the name Robert Fincher, age 85 and date March 1777 can be made out. Fortunately, his wife’s grave, again marked by a millstone, tells us that her husband was a millwright. Both headstones are to be found in All Saints’ Churchyard at Hertford, Hertfordshire

Image courtesy and © copyright Stefan Czapski and reproduced with permission of the All Saints Church, Hertford


This interesting gravestone in the churchyard of St. Mary’s, Wiverton, Norfolk is dedicated to Thomas Smith, a millwright and probably miller of Wiverton postmill, who died in 1725 aged 82 years. The gravestone is illustrated with ‘tools of the trade’. 

Image reproduced with permission of Revd Neil Batcock



A headstone in Kirkmichael Parish Churchyard, South Ayrshire. The front bears symbols that appear to show a rhynd and a waterwheel. The inscription on the rear of the headstone reads:- “Her Lys the corps of Anthor Fulton Mler at Newmill of Straiton who departed this lif Januar 12 1721 age 46”. Straiton is a village on the River Girvan and the mill was a watermill. There are remains nearby of a mill lade and dam.



Images courtesy and © copyright Walter Baxter and reproduced with permission of Perth and Kinross Council.

This runner stone was removed from Bawburgh Watermill, Norfolk after its closure in 1967 ending 800 years of milling on the site. It was erected nearby as a memorial to Clifford Warman resident miller for many years who died in January 1991. The Warman family sold the mill in 1968 and it was converted to residential use.

Image courtesy and © copyright Elliott Simpson


Another runner stone used as a gravestone, this one is in St Nicholas Churchyard, Sydling St Nicholas, Dorset. It is a memorial to the last miller Robert Spriggs of Sydling St Nicholas who died in 1919.

Image courtesy and © copyright Val Ghose and reproduced with permission of Revd Geoffrey Boult



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