Newsletter 121, Summer 2018 © Hampshire Mills
Yearsley Mill, Yorkshire
In 2013, John Harrison, the Yorkshire mill expert,
phoned me and said “Have you a George Yoward in your
ancestors?”. I searched my records and told him I
have two George Yowards in the 1700s. My family
history goes back to 1504 in the Yorkshire Moors
south of Helmsley until the 1800s.
The earliest mention of Yearsley Mill is when it was
sold by the Yearsley landowner, Weldon, to Fairfax
of Gillingham in 1559. In the Rental Records of
Gillingham for 1711-12, a George Yoward was paying
£3-3s-4d for the mill. So I had a miller in my
family! GEORGE YOWARD was my great-great-great
grandfather. A document dated 1748 talks about ‘the
ould mill’; presumably it had gone before then.
As part of a Heritage Lottery project ‘Lime and
Ice’, the Yearsley Moor Archaeological Project
brought together a group of volunteers to
investigate the stone foundations of a building
described as ‘Medieval or later’.
The group led by Elizabeth Sanderson had been
excavating more of the remains of the building and
uncovered the edge of a millstone. The site of
Yearsley Mill had been found.
Remains of mill buildings and runner stone on
Yearsley Moor in 2012
The volunteers then formed the Yearsley Mill
Research Project, excavating in the next three years
the remains of the hearth, the kiln/oven, the
flagstone floor, the remains of the mill wheel and
cog-wheel and masses of pottery sherds. They
applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund to do more
Excavation of the cog-pit exposed cuts in the bed
rock which supported the hurst frame and axle and
further digging revealed support posts which carried
the water to the top of the overshot water wheel.
The buckets measured 20cm in width, 21cm in depth,
and the overall external diameter of the wheel was
estimated at 4.5m.
The Forestry Commission opened a display of the mill
at the Visitors Centre in Dalby Forest in February
2018. I was invited to the launch and was able to
meet some of the volunteers, who were thrilled to
have been able to trace a descendant of the first
known miller, living in the south of England, and
with an interest in watermills.
Nuts and Bolters
Tony Yoward’s well-known 1996 Glossary of Mill
Terms is being used as the basis for a new
glossary from The Mills Archive Trust, with
illustrations by John Brandrick. The general editor
is James Wheeler.
This joint project with the Mills Research Group is
supported by The
Heritage Lottery Fund and Stichting
Steunfonds TIMS. Of the more than 2200
terms in Tony’s glossary, almost 800 are possible to
draw; John did not try to draw ‘animal gelatine’,
Nuts and Bolters
can be found at