The Mill, The Street

Charmouth Mill
The first record of a Mill in this district is found in the Domesday Book of 1086, which mentions that the value of the mill was threepence, but whether the site of that mill was the same as that of the present Charmouth mill is impossible to say. In 1295 William, Abbot of Forde, required each burgess of Charmouth to have his corn ground at his mill. The original document can still be seen in a Cartulary held at the Abbey. It records that each tenant “will owe suit to the monks' court twice a year on the Tuesday following Hockday and on the Tuesday following Michaelmas in the guildhall of Charmouth and not at other times unless an unforeseen event occurs. The burgesses owe suit to the monks' mill at Charmouth and will have priority at the millafter the corn of the miller”.
After the dissolution of the Abbey in 1539, the Mill was bought with the rest of the Manor by Sir William Petre. A Survey of the village in 1564 records that “Joan, Payne, widow of John Paine, holds, during her widowhood, a cottage and grist mill with 30 acres (a); viz; curtilage, garden and orchard (½ a), Brodemede (10 a), mydell Wellesleye (5 a), Mydell mead (3 a), Wellesley pasture (4 a), Dollyns mead (2 d), Ryver mead (3 d), Le moore (1 d), and Le Common close (1 d) by copy 22 Apr 1509; fine £6 13 s 4d, rent 64s 5 ½ d.
 It was his son John who sold a number of properties in the village in 1565. William Pole who lived nearby at Shute, near Axminster was to buy the Manor and its lands including the Mill.
It is interesting to see that when they sold their holdings to William Ellesdon from Lyme Regis in 1648 they retained the Mill and its surrounding 30 acres of fields. A Poor Rates list for 1754 shows that the honourable Sir John Pole was paying £2 -10-0d Tax, the second highest after Richard Henvill. They were to finally sell it in 1780 to Robert Knight, a wealthy land owner from Chideock. The record book of a map that has since disappeared supplies valuable information about the village in 1783. In it is the Mill and its surrounding fields listed as follows:
135. Mill, House & garden (£5-0-0d) 1r 10p,136. Home Close (£1-2-10d) 3r 2p,137. Mill Hams (£3-3-3d) 1a 3r 32p,138. Mill Meadow (£5-13-11d) 3a 2r 13p,139. Westley`s Close (£4-9-6d) 3a 2r 13p,140. Charmouth Meadow (£6-10-5d) 4a 1r 16p,141. Middle Meadow (£5-1-7d) 3a 1r 22p,142. Moor (£6-3-0d) 4a 16p,143. Higher Marsh (£5-6-3d) 3a 2r 7p
144. Lower Marsh (£12-5-0d) 8a 29p,145. A Common (£1-15-7d) 1a 30p,146. Langmoor Wood (7s-10d) 3r 30p, total - 35a 3 r 16p.

It would seem from this that the total acreage was only slightly more than the earlier 16th century survey and no doubt the fields such as Westleys and Middle Meadow were the same. Robert Knight was to enjoy the income derived from the Mill estate. The Land Tax and Poor Rates lists show that Samuel Legg rented it until Robert died in 1790. It then passed to his wife, Ann who let it to Uriah Dare. On her death in 1798 it passed to her son in law, Doctor Robert Graves from Bridport, who had married her daughter, Maria. He in turn was to Rent the Mill to Uriah and later to Henry Smith, who with his son was to be his tenant for many years. An advert has come to light when in 1815 he advertised for a new tenant. 
Mills to be let, and entered upon at Lady's Day next - the long established Water Grist and Flour Mills, situated at Charmouth, in the county of Dorset, together with an exceedingly good dwelling house, large stables, and other requisite buildings, and upwards of six acres of rich Meadow Ground immediately adjoining The house is sufficiently large to admit of letting a great part to lodgings in the bathing season, which the present tenant has been accustomed to do, and possesses also convenience for carrying on the business of baking. These premises will be let for a year, and more land may be had if required.
For viewing the premises apply to Mr. Smith, the present tenant, and for particulars to Dr.Graves, Allington, Bridport".

The advert does not seem to have been successful as Henry was to renew his lease and bring his family up there. It was his son Henry who married in 1837 Sarah, the youngest daughter of Joel Spiller of Colyford and was to continue his fathers work on his retirement. The 1841 Census has him, aged 25 as living there with his wife, aged 25 and daughter, Elizabeth, aged 1. This is also the year of the Tithe Map for the village The List below of approximate acreage is that for Dr. Robert Graves who is leasing the Mill to Henry Smith, the son of the previous owner.
The Mill House, yard and Garden (1/2 acre), Plot (1/2 acre), The Ham (1 acre), Millers Mead (4 acres), Westleys Close (3 acres), Plantation (1 acre), Common (1 acre), First Lears (4 acres), Second Lears (3 acres), Third Lears (3 acres). Forth Lears (3 acres), Fifth Lear (5 acres), Sixth Lear (1 acre).
The total is just over 35 acres, almost exactly the same as that owned by Robert Knight in 1783 and Sir William Petre in 1564.
In the same year Henry`s fortunes were take a turn for the worse and he was be made bankrupt by Robert Graves. At the same time his brother, Edward was to join him in Dorchester prison as his Ale house, where the Star Inn formerly stood at the rear of Nisa lost money. There is little to go on about the facts behind this terrible setback for the family. Henry never recovered and the census for 1851 shows him as a labourer. He died in 1864 and the grave of him, his wife and daughter, Elizabeth can still be seen in St. Andrews churchyard. After his departure the Mill was once again placed on the market and was advertised as:
A Dwelling House, Offices, and garden, and a flour and Grist Mill, called “ Charmouth Mill”, and about seven acres of excellent meadow or pasture land, situate at Charmouth, in the county of Dorset, lately in the occupation of Mr. Henry Smith, as tenant, and also five closes of excellent meadow or pasture land, containing about twenty two acres, situated near the dwelling house and Mill, and extending to the Sea Shore.Further particulars may be known on applying to Mr. Nicholetts, of Bridport, to whom Tenders, in writing, must be delivered or sent on or before the first day of March next. 22 February 1845 - Salisbury and Winchester Journal.
The next tenant was William Fooks who appears in the 1851 Census aged 35, living there with his wife, Jane and daughter, Mary. His life was cut short and by the time of the next census in 1861, his wife is a widow living in a cottage near to the Mill which is being run by Edward Henry Chilcott, aged 35 and his wife Louisa. He is described as a Farmer and Miller employing 2 men and a boy. The local paper records a year later that Mrs. Fooks has remarried the Charmouth Butcher, John Hodges.
We now jump a decade and find that the Mill had been sold by the Graves family and was owned and being run by Wallis and Sons who also operated Mills in Lyme Regis and Axminster. There manager was John Toms, who later became the proprietor and worked the mill successfully for many years until the competition of the larger mills became too heavy and it was bought by Colonel John Bullen Symes Bullen, of Catherston Manor who put John Gillingham in as miller.
The famous historian, Reginald Pavey writes “Some hundred yards south of Paradise Bridge, at the foot of Catherston fields, the river used to flow over a weir and could be turned into the mill dam, which took a course as far as the mill, where it turned a water wheel which was on the north side of the building. Since the mill became idle the dam has gradually silted up and the weir only exists as a trickle. The mill building was converted into two cottages when it was no longer a paying proposition; the mill yard became a farmyard and the mill house was occupied by the farmer. During alterations necessitated by the front of the house collapsing in 1947 Dutch tiles and bricks, which had been used as rubble many years ago, were discovered. An archaeologist, who was staying in the village at the time, told me that they had been made of London clay and were fourteenth century”.
In November 1958 the entire Catherston Estate was put up for auction. It consisted of two farms and valuable coastal land in all about 969 acres. Included in this was the original Mill, farmhouse and surrounding fields. With these were three Farm cottage and a number of farm buildings. These were rented at that time by the Loosemore family who were successful in purchasing them in the auction. The original Mill buildings can be seen much altered as part of the Manor Farm estate. In 1957 a new bridge was built by the Mill House and the road level and pavement rose obscuring part of the front, which was made worse with a bus shelter directly outside the entrance. It is difficult today to visualise what once have been such an idyllic area of Charmouth when the old Mill was operating over a century ago.

John Gillingham, Farm Bailiff to the Bullens at Catherston stands outside Mill Cottage, in 1911.
The same view today. Almost unrecognisable with the road height raised and a Bus Shelter now obscuring the doorway.

SURVEY OF THE MANOR OF CHARMOUTH : made October 1564
Customary tenants:
Joan, Payne, widow of John Paine, holds, during her widowhood, a cottage and grist mill with 30 acres (a); viz; curtilage, garden and orchard (½ a), Brodemede (10 a), mydell Wellesleye (5 a), Mydell mead (3 a), Wellesley pasture (4 a), Dollyns mead (2 d), Ryver mead (3 d), Le moore (1 d), and Le Common close (1 d) by copy 22 Apr 1509; fine £6 13 s 4d, rent 64s 5 ½ d. The reversion of the premises granted to Alice Speringe, dau of Roger Garlande and John Speringe, Alice’s son, by copy 15 Sep 1573; fine £10.

SURVEY OF THE MANOR OF CHARMOUTH 1783
Sir John Pole

135. Mill, House & garden (£5-0-0d) 1r 10p
136. Home Close (£1-2-10d) 3r 2p
137. Mill Hams (£3-3-3d) 1a 3r 32p
138. Mill Meadow (£5-13-11d) 3a 2r 13p
139. Westley`s Close (£4-9-6d) 3a 2r 13p
140. Charmouth Meadow (£6-10-5d) 4a 1r 16p
141. Middle Meadow (£5-1-7d) 3a 1r 22p
142. Moor (£6-3-0d) 4a 16p
143. Higher Marsh (£5-6-3d) 3a 2r 7p
144. Lower Marsh (£12-5-0d) 8a 29p
145. A Common (£1-15-7d) 1a 30p
146. Langmoor Wood (7s-10d) 3r 30p
Total - 35a 3 r 16p

The Land Tax for 1789 show Robert Knight owning the Mill Lands and Samuel Legg renting them from him and paying £6-12-0d tax.
The Land Tax for 1791 show Ann Knight,Roberts widow owning the Mill Lands and Samuel Legg renting them from him and paying £6-12-0d tax.
The Land Tax for 1792 show Ann Knight,Roberts widow owning the Mill Lands and Uriah Dare renting them from him and paying £6-12-0d tax.
Land Tax for 1804 shows Dr Graves renting Mill Lands to Uriah Dare and paying £6-12-1in Land Tax.
1805 Poor Rates with P.Dare paying 3/9d for House and W. Dare £1/8/0d for Mill Lands and 1/0 for a field.
Henry is born to Henry and Sarah Smith in 1814. He was to later continue his fathers business at Charmouth Mill.
Land Tax for 1824 shows Dr Graves renting Mill Lands to Henry Smith and paying £6-12-1in Land Tax.
1815 Mills to be let, and entered upon at Lady's Day next - the long established Water Grist and Flour Mills, situated at Charmouth, in the county of Dorset, together with an exceedingly good dwelling house, large stables, and other requisite buildings, and upwards of six acres of rich Meadow Ground immediately adjoining The house is sufficiently large to admit of letting a great part to lodgings in the bathing season, which the present tenant has been accustomed to do, and possesses also conveniency for carrying on the business of baking.These premises will be let for a year, and more land may be had if required.
For viewing the premises apply to Mr. Smith, the present tenant, and for particulars to Dr.Graves, Allington, Bridport"
. 16th March 1815
1832 Land Tax show Henry Smith renting from Doctor Graves.
August 31, at Colyton, Henry Smith, Esq., of Charmouth, to Sarah, youngest daughter of Joel Spiller, Esq., of Colyford, Devon. 14 September 1837 - Dorset County Chronicle -
1841 Census has Henry Smith aged 25 as renting Charmouth Mills
Name description Acre Rood Perch Tithe no.
The Ham Meadow 1 1 36 34
Millers Mead Meadow 4 - 9 35
Westleys Close Meadow 3 1 30 36
House, Yard & Garden - - 1 20 38
Plot Meadow - 2 13 39
Plantation Plantation 1 1 9 127
Common Meadow 1 1 6 218
Sixth Lears Pasture 1 1 19 227
Fifth Lears Pasture 5 1 9 228
Fourth Lears Pasture 3 2 19 229
Second Lears Meadow 3 1 33 230
First Lears Meadow 4 1 7 231
Third Lears Meadow 3 3 13 232
The List above is that for Dr. Robert Graves who is leasing the Mill to Henry Smith, the son of the previous owner, his father, Henry. The total acreage is 35 acre 3 rood,3 perches, almost exactly the same as that owned by Robert Knight in 1783 and Sir William Petre in 1564.
Smith Henry, Charmouth, miller; No. 56,363 Assignee, Robert Graves - 21 August 1841 - Perry's Bankrupt Gazette - London, London, England
Smith Edward, of Charmouth, beer housekeeper Smith Henry, of Charmouth. miller and baker. 17 July 1841 - Perry's Bankrupt Gazette

Charmouth, Dorset.
Capital Flour & Grist Mill, Dwelling House, Offices, and garden, and a flour and Grist Mill, called “ Charmouth Mill”, and about seven acres of excellent meadow or pasture land, situate at Charmouth, in the county of Dorset, lately in the occupation of Mr. Henry Smith, as tenant, and also five closes of excellent meadow or pasture land, containing about twenty two acres, situated near the dwelling house and Mill, and extending to the Sea Shore.
The premises are near to several market towns, and within moderate distances of the Harbours of Bridport and Lyme Regis.
Persons desirous of taking the whole of the premises, or the dwelling house, garden, Mill, and the Lands which have been let and occupied there with only, or the five closes of meadow or pasture land only, may tender accordingly.
Further particulars may be known on applying to Mr. Nicholetts, of Bridport, to whom Tenders, in writing, must be delivered or sent on or before the first day of March next. 22 February 1845 - Salisbury and Winchester Journal

Grave stone in St. Andrews Church|:
Displaced, Upright Curved Top with Cross on in Top.
Sacred/to the memory of/HENRY SMITH/who departed this life April 17 th 1864/aged 49 years/6 lines of Verse/Also of ANNE wife of the above/who died July xx 1883/aged 67 years/Also to ELIZABETH their daughter/who died May 20 th xxxx/aged xx xxxxx/Verse.
1851 Census has William Fooks, aged 35 as renting Charmouth Mills
1861 Census has Edward Henry Chilcott, aged 35 as renting Charmouth Mills
Rev. E.C Adams, the Rector, Mr. John Hodges, butcher of Charmouth. to Mrs. Fooks. widow of the late William Fooks, of Charmouth Mills.
23 September 1862 - Sherborne Mercury - Sherborne, Dorset, England
CHARMOtTTH. —During the night of Tuesday week, a valuable horse, belonging to Mr.G.Shellcott (Chilcott), of the Charmouth Mills, was stolen from the Mill-house stable. It appears that the night of the theft, the stable door had been left unlocked—but... 18 January 1855 - Dorset County Chronicle
Wanted a steady, honest, active yourg man as SECOND HAND.—Apply to WALLIS AND Sons, Lyme.and Charmouth Mills.28 March 1871 - Western Times
1874 Directory has William Wallis and Son running Charmouth Mills as well as others at Lyme and Axminster.
The 1881 Census has George Aplin, aged 58 living with his wife, Margaret aged 58 and their daughter Julia at The Mill.
1891 Census has John and Rosina Toms at the Mill
1901 Census shows John Toms, aged 40 with his wife Rosina aged 38 are shown living at Charmouth Flower Mills.
1911 Census shows John Toms, aged 50 with his wife Rosina aged 48 are shown living at Charmouth Flower Mills.
John and Rose Toms with Madge Smith are shown outside Firland's House in the left picture. He was a Farmer and Corn Dealer at the neighbouring Mill which he rented off the Bullens. 
Picnic at Lamberts Castle. John Toms by dog. Mrs Toms with umbrella lived at Firlands.Mr. & Mrs. Wilfred Smith sat in front they lived at 2 Firlands., Frank Coles in cap with his sister lived at Sunnyside (now Devonedge), Miss Nichols far right. John Toms was living at Firlands in 1911 with his wife, Rose. He is described as a Corn dealer and worked at the Mill then owned by the Bullens. Wilfred and Edith Smith lived at 2 Firlands in that year. Frank Coles ran the Bakery where Devonedge is today, whilst his wife operated a Boarding House above it.
John Toms with his workers by his cart laden with sacks of corn. The Mill went into decline and vestiges of it can still be seen by the County Bridge.
The same view today with raised road and extensive alterations compared with earlier photo.
Mrs. Toms feeding Geese on the Mill Pond.
The same view today
 
 
A drawing of the Old Bridge in 1826 with the Mill buildings in the distance.

Time line for Mill and lands originally owned by William Pole when he bought the Manor from Sir John Petre. It then was bought by Robert Knight about 1770 and was passed on to his son in law, Robert Graves on his death in 1790.
1754 Poor Rates The Honorable Sir John Pole  £2-10-0
1775 Robert Knight married Ann Knight in 1775 in Chideock.
1776 Ann born to Ann and Robert Knight in Chideock
1778 Robert born to Ann and Robert Knight in Chideock
1780 Highways Tax Mr. Knight (Late Sir John Pole Lands) – £0-17-0d
1780 Poor Rates Mr. Knight (Late Sir John Pole Lands) – £0-2-10d
1780 Poor Rates Mr. Robert Knight for Charmouth Meads or occupier – £0-1-2d
1780 Land Tax Mr. Knight – £4-7-10d
1780 Land Tax Mr. Knight for Charmouth Meads – £2-0-5d
1780 Yearly Rents Robert Knight - £20 & £40
1781 Robert Knight & Mr Bulmer - Mill tenement - £4 -7-10d Charmouth Meads - £2-0-5
1782 Robert Knight still owns Mill, but Mr. William Gray now owner of Charmouth Meads.
1784 it is Rose Drewe who now owns Meads and rents to William Grey.
1789 Robert Knight paying £6.12-0 Land Tax and Thomas Rose Drewe £2-12-0 on Meads which he is renting to Farmer.
1790 Robert Knight buried at Bridport
1790 Late Knight renting to Samuel Legg.
1793 Ann Knight renting
1798 Ann Knight dies
1799 Ann knight marries Robert Graves
1800 Dr. Graves for Mill Lands.
1803 Dr. Graves for Mill Lands & Coombes for Meads rented to Wakely,