The Mill Buildings
There has been a mill in Fairford since Medieval times. The mill even gets a mention on page 69 of the Domesday book.
In 1066, there were actually 3 mills belonging to the Fairford Manor, one of which was on the site of the current mill.
In 1296 the site included a fulling mill, but by 1307, there were only corn mills. One corn mill was connected with Milton End farm and the other 2 mills were in demesne (that is, land retained by the lord of the manor for his own use).
In the 17th Century a mill was recorded where Mill Lane Crossed the Coln. This is the main part of the mill that we see today. The left wing was added in 1827 and further alterations were made in 1841 and 1857.
The Mill was used as a store between the first and second world wars and was derelict until it was converted to residential property in the 1950s. At that time, the machinery that had become dangerous was removed, but some of the machinery remained to minimise the impact on the environment around the mill. Consequently, there are still 5 mill sluices in place - 3 of them under the buildings.
The Fairford estate was acquired by Ernest Cook in the 1920s and the Mill then came under the care of the Ernest Cook Trust. The Mill House and adjacent Mill cottage were renovated and the Mill is back in service - this time as holiday lets.
The Millers It is likely that the early mill was operated on the lord of the manor's behalf by villeins or by serfs, in fulfilment of their feudal obligations.
In 1791, William Carter was a Miller in Fairford, but it's not clear if this was at Fairford Mill.
More definite news of this mill's occupants comes from the 1830s, Pigot's Directory. There are two entries for millers in Fairford. The first is Robert Bosberry of Fairford Mill, whose occupation was as a Miller and the second entry is for Henry and Robert Tovey of Fairford who were also Millers by occupation.
Between 1839 and 1847 Messrs Tovey were the millers at Fairford Mill.
From 1889 until 1906 the Fairford Mill resident was Mr Richard Cole - a farmer, coal merchant and miller.
The last millers were the Bartletts, who moved here from Arlington Mill in 1910. They ran the mill until the first world war, but by 1919, there is no record of any millers working in Fairford.
The Mill was bought as part of the Fairford estate by Ernest Cook in the 1920s and the current owners of the Mill are the Ernest Cook Trust, an educational charity set up by Ernest Cook.
A FEW USEFUL DEFINITIONS Domesday Book: The record of the great survey of England completed in 1086 for William the Conqueror. It was similar to a census by a government today. The main purpose of the survey was to find out who owned what so they could be taxed on it, and the judgment of the assessors was final -- whatever the book said about who owned the property, or what it was worth, was the law, and there was no appeal.
Serf: A serf is a laborer who is bound to the land. Serfs differed from slaves in that serfs were allowed property for themselves and could not be sold apart from the land which they worked.
Villein: A villein is a peasant who gave dues and services to a lord in exchange for land. Villeins were not slaves, but they were not free. They and their land and possessions belonged to the lord of the manor. They were not free to leave the manor, and they were subject to a large number of obligations required by the lord, including work on the lord's demesne two or three days a week, additional work at harvest, and the payment of manorial dues. In many places they also had to pay for the right to brew ale, bake bread, and grind corn at the lord's mill.
Fulling is the beating and cleaning of cloth in water to shrink the loose fibres and make a denser fabric. The beating would be performed by wooden hammers driven by a tappet wheel turned by the mill water wheel.
© 2013 Fairford History Society