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Farnham Mills

page created by Peter Tipton, The Yateley Society, 15 Oct 2006


At his death in 1573 Sir John White MP held two leases in reversion on three different mills in Farnham:

1. the boorne myll

2. the malte myll

3. the willen myll


I can indentify positively the first listed as Bourne Mill. Father Etienne Robo says that Bourne Mill was pone of the six mills listed in the Domesday Book in the entry for Farnham. Much of Bourne Mill remained in tact in 1968 by the side of the Guildford Road. One of the two others he throught could have existed in 1086 was Willey Mill, still standing on the side of the Farnham-Alton road. In view of the fact that there is only one letter difference between Willey and my transcription of willen, as written in Sir John's will of 1573, I have carefully rechecked the original will. The final letter is definitely n and not y since y occurs in myll three times. I therefore stand by my original transcription of willen meaning woollen.


There is an excellent 11 page monograph La Medmulle: the story of Weydon Mill, Farnham, Surrey by F W Simmonds, published by the Farnham Museum, September 1968. This remains copyright, so anyone interested can purchase a copy, directly from Farnham Museum, priced currently at 25p. Since the mills are important to understanding Sir John White's commercial activities I have scanned this monograph and put it on this site. However it is in a password protected area available only to members of the Heathland History Forum who have been given the password -- as a closed user group specifically for research purposes. The location of Weydon Mill was southsouthwest of the town centre in the water meadows, not far from the railway line.


F W Simmonds was the great grandson of George Simmonds the miller of Weydon Mill for 40 years in the early 19th century. His research clearly identifies Weydon Mill as having passed to the Vernon family from Sir Thomas White (d.1641). Sir Thomas was the second son of Sir John White. So it seems that Weydon Mill was one of the three mills mentioned in Sir John's will. The fact that Weydon Mill was always accounted for in the Bishop's accounts together with Bourne Mill, the lease of which was also owned by Sir John, makes it doubly likely that Sir John operated both mills.


Mr Simmonds also comments on 'something of a puzzle' that Weydon Mill (earlier called La Medmulle) was in fact three mills, and eventually perhaps four. One of these mills at Weydon Mill was a fulling mill. It seems likely therefore the 'willen mill' mentioned in Sir John White's will was Weydon Mill.


I originally thought that the third mill mentioned in Sir John's will -- the malt mill -- might be the building now known as Farnham Maltings. However, having read Nick Channer's book Farnham: a History and Celebration of the Town, published by The Francis Frith Collection exclusively for Ottakar's, 2004, I discover that the Maltings was originally a tannery before becoming a malthouse and a brewery. Perhaps someone from Farnham can through further light on the possible location of Sir John's third mill.


Further study of Sir John White's commercial interests in Farnham is likely to reveal a considerable amount of knowledge about the woollen and brewing trades in Farnham in Tudor times.


Click here to return to the biography of Sir John White

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