Past Talks

Oxfordshire Mills

Date: 18th February 2019
Speaker: Elaine Steane

Oxfordshire Mills – Elaine Steane 18 February 2019

Windmills are an important part of our culture as evidenced by the number of mill-based idioms in general use.  Examples include ‘grist to the mill’, ‘rule of thumb’ – testing the quality of the flour, ‘fair to middling’ – indicating the quality of the ground flour, ‘show your mettle (metal)’ – shows experience of the miller, as much sharpening of millstones results in tiny fragments of metal embedded in the miller’s hands, and many more.

Elaine Steane aimed to introduce us to the many windmills, watermills and steam mills in Oxfordshire and in adjacent counties.

Ardington Mill (near Wantage) – a water mill, the dairy contains art deco painted tiles

Ascot Water Mill – remains of leet

Brill – post mill

Chinnor Windmill - historic flour mill built in 1789. Demolished in 1967 for housing but rebuilt from stored parts by volunteers.

Coleshill Watermill – NT – estate mill

Combe Water & Steam Mill – Blenheim Park Estate

Charney Watermill – water now diverted because of the risk of flooding.

Crofton Steam Mill – two working beam engines by the Kennet & Avon Canal

East Hanney Mill – first Archimedes screw – hydo-electric power from a small chalk steam.  Used to make silk parachutes.

Ford End Watermill - recorded in 1616 but very much older, was in use until 1963.  Restored by volunteers, and now maintained and run by Ford End Watermill Society, it is the only remaining working watermill in Buckinghamshire with original machinery.

Lacey Green Windmill – a smock mill

Mapledurham Mill – the only working mill in the Thames valley, powering 400 houses in Caversham.

Pitstone Windmill – NT – near Ivinghoe.  A post mill – machinery damaged in a storm.  One of the oldest post mills in Britain.

Stadhampton Watermill – an overshot mill – most efficient

Turville Windmill – also known as Cobstone Windmill.  It is a smock mill that replaced the original mill that had stood there since the 16th century.

Tysoe Windmill – sails recently restored – part of Compton Wynyates Estate

Wantage Watermill – run by Clarkes of Wantage from 1908.

West Hendred Water Mill – an undershot mill and granary

Wheatley Windmill – ground ochre for paint

Along with her beautiful photographs, which will encourage members to visit these interesting sites, Elaine provided other fascinating snippets of mill history and legend.  Many millstones came originally from the Peak District.  It is considered bad luck to break a millstone.  Sails on windmills are secured in a X format.  If they are found to be displayed as a  , this denotes a significant event such as an invasion or the death of the miller.