– – – EXPLORING THE COUNTRYSIDE AND LANES OF DORSET – – –
Time for a new theme for the week and this week I thought I would feature some Dorset mills. Every county had many of these, set up to harness the natural power that any river can provide and Dorset is no exception despite the fact that the county is not known for its mountains or raging rivers. This week, we will look at just a few.
White Mill sits on the banks of the River Stour near Sturminster Marshall, and the current building dates from 1776 although it was built on a site where a mill had stood for hundreds of years. In fact, it is known that there was a mill on this site as far back as 1175. This ancient corn mill was driven entirely by water until 1866 when a severe flood damaged the water channels beyond repair. The miller, one of the Joyce family, was able to continue some milling thanks to converting part of it to be steam driven, but it never again was a commercial mill. He was also a baker and converting to steam at least enabled him to continue to bake bread using his own flour. It was in the early 20th century and on retirement of the last miller that milling ceased completely and the building fell into disrepair.
Fortunately for us, the mill was restored in 1994 although the machinery, constructed from Elm and Apple Wood, was just too delicate to ever run again. No milling therefore takes place here but it is still possible to see how the mill operated.
So why the name ‘White Mill’? As you can see, the building is of red brick construction although the wheel chamber is of stone and predates the building. It is possible that it takes its name from the chalk quarry which stands behind it, or the fact that it stands on a chalk island, or it is possible that previous incarnations might have been lime washed as was often the practice. The fact is, we shall never know.
This is a delightful spot beside a gently flowing River Stour, and one that always rewards a visit.
Thanks for stopping by.
Your friend The Dorset Rambler
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