Blewbury Mill and associated structure
- Heritage Category:
- Listed Building
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Location Description:
- Statutory Address:
- Blewbury Mill, Blewbury Road, Blewbury, OX11 9EB
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- Statutory Address:
- Blewbury Mill, Blewbury Road, Blewbury, OX11 9EB
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Location Description:
- South Oxfordshire (District Authority)
- East Hagbourne
- Vale of White Horse (District Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
Late-C16 timber-framed house and outbuilding with mid-C19 connecting structure and C20 additions. Exposed breast-shot wheel set in brick pit set to the south of the house, probably of early-C19 date.
Reasons for Designation
Blewbury Mill house and the associated elements of the brick mill on the Mill Brook, Blewbury, Oxfordshire are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* as a particularly complete late-C16 timber-framed building, with queen-post trusses, winder stairs, bay posts, girding beams, braces and a continuous jetty to the south;
* for the legibility of the original three-bay, baffle-entrance and central stack plan-form.
* as a well-preserved mill house which demonstrates late-C16 vernacular building traditions and, with the later brick mill structure, shows the evolution of the water mill complex into the C19.
From at least the C11 there were four mills operating in Blewbury. In 1086 the Domesday Book recorded that three of these mills were attached to the Great Manor of Blewbury and another was on land held by the Count of Evreux. It is probable that the present plot on the Mill Brook was originally occupied by one of the manorial mills, although the earliest extant evidence for the present mill on the site appears to date to the late C16. At this time, on the basis of surviving fabric, the site appears to have consisted of a miller’s house probably dating to the late C16 and a separate building (of approximately contemporary date; possibly originally built as a bakehouse or a grain store with a kiln, on account of the substantial brick hearth), with the water-powered corn mill (apparently rebuilt in the early C19) set around 20 metres to the south, spanning the Mill Brook. Within the mill house a date stone of 1683 is set into the floor adjacent to the stack; however, the form and carpentry of the building suggest an earlier date than this, possibly indicating that a secondary phase was conducted at this stage.
The mill and some associated land and outbuildings are recorded in the 1839 Tithe map and apportionment for Blewbury (recorded as Blewberry at this stage). The water-powered corn mill is outlined on the Mill Brook and, to the north, the present ‘Mill House’, as it is recorded in the apportionment record, is shown in an L-plan configuration. The house is set within an orchard with a further narrow rectangular building positioned to the south-east under the same ownership; possibly a barn associated with the corn mill. To the south of the mill is a water meadow with surrounding arable land and outbuildings all reached by Mill Road, which led directly to the mill from Sheen Croft Way (now Bessel’s Way), the main road travelling north out of the village. The mill holdings were all owned and occupied at this point by Joseph Corderoy, although it is probable that the family association with the Corderoys at Blewbury Mill goes back further; the family having a recorded presence in the village from at least 1625.
Over the course of the C19, the mill buildings and the wider site saw some development. Part of a connecting structure (to the east of the house range and south of the outbuilding, which completed the earlier L-shape plan) appears to have been taken down between the Tithe records of 1839 and the 1876 Ordnance Survey map (Berkshire, 1:2,500). The latter record shows that the single-storey joining structure was introduced at this stage on the south-west side of the east range (which was itself extended to the north around the same time) and an extension wing (broadly in its present form) was built to the north-east side of the house, parallel to but initially distinct from the east range. By 1969, a minor extension to the west side of the C19 block set under a catslide roof had been built and the mid-C19 range had been extended to the east to infill the narrow space separating it from the east range. Shortly after this, probably in the 1970s, a glazed lean-to structure was added to the west side of the mill house. Piecemeal repairs to the timber-framing have been made in recent years, including the replacement of some joists along with the introduction of modern, solid timber doors. In 1994, the roof main range was repaired, with tiles reused and damaged rafters replaced.
Late-C16 timber-framed house and outbuilding (possibly built as a bakehouse) with a mid-C19 connecting structure and C20 additions. An exposed breast-shot water wheel in a brick pit is set to the south of the house, probably of early-C19 date.
MATERIALS: box timber-framed construction with lath and plaster and brick infill. Metal-framed C19 and C20 casement windows with leaded diamond and square glazing patterns. Clay tile roof throughout.
PLAN: The main late-C16 range has a three-bay, baffle-entry plan with a central stack with stairs to the south and a blocked entrance in the centre of the north elevation (the entrance having been re-sited to the east end). The house has a rectangular plan-form arranged over two storeys (with an attic level). A broadly contemporary structure is set adjacent to the north-east, connected by C19 additions to the north-east.
EXTERIOR: the north elevation of the principal C16 range is divided into three bays, with broad end bays flanking a narrower central bay, which probably originally had a lobby entrance in line with the central stack (the doorway having since been blocked). The regularly-spaced box framing has brick-infill (painted white), except for three lath and plaster portions to the east side of the upper floor. The ground floor and a wedge of the upper floor have been obscured by the later, brick, pitched-roof northern range added in the mid-C19 (extended to the east in the mid-C20) and the pre-1969 catslide roof extension to the southern side of this range which cuts into the central bay of the C16 elevation on this side. The red brick chimney stack is slightly off-set to the west; this appears to have been rebuilt in the C19. The south elevation differs from the north in its jettied form, although the bay arrangement and brick-infilled box framing broadly matches. The main exception is the slightly wider central bay (this accommodating the stairs) which has some bracing at ground-floor level and a high-level window to the east side. The south elevation has an applied, moulded bressumer plate to its east end, apparently a later addition, and an affixed C18 Sun Fire Insurance plaque to the central bay of the first floor. The central bay has had two timber posts added to support the central portion of the jetty.
The western side elevation of the C16 range is partially obscured by a lean-to conservatory set on a brick plinth, added in around 1970. The timber-framing of this side at ground-floor level has been partially rendered over externally, with a pair of posts exposed which have been underbuilt with a later brick plinth. A central window is retained here and a doorway to the south has been inserted. The exposed box framing at first-floor level again has brick infill. The gable has clay-hung tiles (a late-C19 or C20 addition) and a central window to its lower half. The gable end to the east is of a slightly different form: the timber-framing is exposed to the upper level and gable, with a pair of wind braces to the corner bays on the first floor. An entrance off-set to the south has been added to this east elevation, the C19 doorway set under a shallow, pitched, clay-tiled projection with a circular mill stone set into the ground in front of the door. The ground floor of the east elevation has a mid-C19 connecting structure (linking to the separate C16 east range) built up against its north side.
The range to the east, a bay of which is broadly contemporary with the main C16 range, is of a single storey with a pitched roof and gable ends to the north and south. The northern half of the range dates to the mid-C19, with the roof structure, chimney and the brick walls throughout apparently also dating to this phase of development (any timber-framing to the walls of the C16 bay having been replaced). The mid-C19 northern gable end is weatherboarded, with a taking-in door set into the gable. On the south side the elevation is of brick with a central window. On the east side there is a straight joint in the brickwork, suggesting that the gable was rebuilt and the range truncated; this is consistent with the map evidence which indicates that the east block, in 1839, was attached in some manner to the main C16 range. On the west side of the south elevation is a later, mid-C19, narrow connecting structure with a small window and clay-tiled pitched roof, which appears to have been built separately (probably earlier) to the rest of the mid-C19 wing to the north. INTERIOR: The main C16 range retains a significant proportion of its timber-frame structure and internal fabric. The ground floor retains exposed bay posts, mid-rails and girding beams to each of the walls with chamfered and stopped spine beams and many original joists to the ceilings. This area is divided into two separate rooms by a central bay with a substantial brick stack which has fireplaces to both rooms. The east room's fireplace has a thick timber lintel with a leaded, glazed spice cupboard cut into the north side (a later addition). The brick jambs have niches for inglenook seats and a simple brick fireback. To the west room, the fireplace has a curved brick back with a much thinner timber lintel (indicating later rebuilding or alteration). To the south of the fireplace is a cupboard set under the stairs with posts, a lintel, flanking mid-rails and splayed struts above; this is a later insertion although it appears to have reused early timbers from elsewhere. The floor is laid with red bricks throughout, with a ‘1683’ date stone set into the floor on the north side of the stack (in what appears to have been the original lobby entrance area; suggesting that the reconfiguration of the floor arrangement was undertaken at this date).
The stairs to the upper floors (to both the first floor and the attic level) occupy the area to the south of the stack in the central bay, these take the form of a timber winder with a newel post; likely to be original, albeit with some repair work. The first floor is also divided by the central stack, although the east room has been subdivided into two separate bedrooms with a corridor to a modern bathroom set into the area north of the stack. Timber wall posts, mid-rails and corner bracing along with spine beams and several original joists are retained and exposed throughout on this floor (although the westernmost post supporting the tie beam on this floor is evidently a later insertion). The attic storey is divided into two rooms. The roof structure is comprised of four queen-post roof trusses with exposed purlins to the eaves. The upper floors have thin, machine-sawn floorboards. The doors and cupboards in the main range are solid, timber replacements of the C20.
The connected east block retains a chamfered and stopped spine beam and joists with carpenter’s numbering marks to the southern C16 bay. A substantial fireplace with brick jambs and a timber lintel is set to the north side of the room; this has a later, curved brick back. Given the size of the fireplace, it is probable that this would have had some baking function or possibly was built to serve a larger building which has since been truncated (in the absence of conclusive fabric evidence, this remains speculation). The northern section of the eastern wing was added in the C19, but has been modernised internally, with a bedroom with an en suite bathroom occupying this section. The roof structure in the attic space above was not inspected, but it is clear that this was rebuilt in the C19. The mid-C19 north wing, which was extended to join the east range, is partitioned to provide a modern kitchen, toilet and a lean-to entrance lobby; no features of note are retained here.
SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: set to the south of the house is an exposed and severely degraded iron breast-shot water wheel with a heavy wooden shaft set in brick pit, probably of early-C19 date. The mill retains its wheel race channel, a narrow bypass channel and the remnants of a sluice gate. Running to the north-west of the wheel the lower portion of the wall of an earlier structure remains. The Mill Brook which feeds the mill flows in from the south-west, with a tailrace and brick-bounded millpond below the wheel to the north-east. The mill has been mapped schematically, all elements of the brick mill structure to the south of the house are covered by this listing.
Books and journals
Ditchfield, P H, Page, William (eds), A History of the County of Berkshire Volume 3, (1923), 280-291; 475-81
Foreman, W, Oxfordshire Mills, (1983), 102
Blewbury - 100 Years of Photographs, accessed 19 June 2018 from http://blewbury.co.uk/bip/p37.htm
Mills Archive: Blewbury Mill, Blewbury, accessed 30 April 2018 from https://millsarchive.org/explore/mills/entry/3509/blewbury-mill-blewbury#.WubthXqBw_t
Blewberry Tithe Map and Apportionment (1839)
This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.
The listed buildings are shown coloured blue on the attached map. Pursuant to s1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) structures attached to or within the curtilage of the listed building but not coloured blue on the map (in this case the simple C20 timber outbuilding to the north of the house), are not to be treated as part of the listed building for the purposes of the Act. However, any works to these structures which have the potential to affect the character of the listed building as a building of special architectural or historic interest may still require Listed Building Consent (LBC) and this is a matter for the Local Planning Authority (LPA) to determine.
End of official listing