You may recall that a while ago I posted a blog entry describing a walk I had done around the Witchampton area which also took in the now privately owned Stanbridge Mill – if you missed it, it is here. In that blog post I described how I got talking to the gardener who told me that the mill was going to be part of the Garden Open Scheme this year to raise funds for charity. Well, the garden was open to the public last week so I completed the walk again, but this time I got to look round this very beautiful mill and garden on the way.
Stanbridge Mill was actually mentioned in the Doomsday Book in 1084 as a Saxon crossing place across the River Allen. Naturally there has been various changes and rebuilds over the centuries, the present mill dating from 1790 with additions being made in the 18th and 19th centuries. Originally there was a much larger, four story, granary building attached to the mill which would have stretched out almost to where I am stood taking the picture above, but this fell into disrepair and was demolished in the 1960’s. Prior to that time the mill was owned by the Shaftesbury Estates, based at Wimborne St Giles.
Back in the 18th century, the mill was part of Stanbridge Mill Farm which employed 14 labourers. It was run by the Atkins family until 1924 when milling ceased and by 1959, the mill was registered as derelict. It was in the 1980’s that it became a private house and the first owner was Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake and Palmer fame. Since then, it has changed hands a number of times, with each subsequent owner making improvements, including landscaping the gardens. It is now owned by Lord and Lady Phillimore who opened it to the public just for one day last week for the first time since they took ownership.
The Mill Race is still flowing under the building and still drives the waterwheel, although the machinery does not now operate. The wheel itself was running on the day I visited and could be viewed from the doorway at the end of the building. The large drive cog is the main visible wheel in the picture below, with the undershot waterwheel itself visible through the ‘doorway’ beyond.
The gardens are magnificent, with formal gardens, woodlands, meadows, riverside walks and so on. The mill itself had the most beautiful wisteria growing up it – always a spring favourite of mine.
The formal gardens included the lovely pleached lime tree area pictured below, complete with statues.
The walks around the gardens were delightful and led to a lovely thatched summerhouse overlooking the river and the meadows beyond. Of course, a garden is always improved by good weather, and this day just couldn’t have been more prefect.
It is interesting because for many years I have walked the area around Stanbridge Mill, and I have always wondered what it was like but have never had a chance to find out until this year. Being interested in mills generally, I am so glad that Lord and Lady Phillimore opened their garden this year and I really hope they will do it again in future years.
What is most interesting is that I feel like I have a vague connection with this mill. Many years ago I remember my father in law telling me that the engineering company he worked for were refurbishing the waterwheel at an old mill owned by Greg Lake but I never knew until last week that it was Stanbridge Mill. Its a small world!
This was just a brilliant day. The weather was perfect, the walk was awesome, and visiting this old mill was the icing on the cake! I was a happy man 🙂 !
Thanks for stopping by.
Until next time,
The Dorset Rambler
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