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Great Barford Watermill

Old Mills October 2010
Old Mills October 2010

The Domesday Book entry for Great Barford mentions two watermills, which belonged to Hugh de Beauchamp. The first of these was tenanted by a man named Rhiwallon, the other by Ansketel the Priest.

A grant of land by Robert de Poutone of Great Barford to William Astel, also of Great Barford, made in 1332 referred to a small piece of land “on Schaldefordhul between land of Richard de Laci, knight and Simon the miller” [X80/60]. In 1535 William Cranfield the elder of Great Barford made his will [X80/87] which included a clause leaving “the mills in Barford that I lease to the Abbot of Pypwell” to his son William, son-in-law William carter and his daughter Elizabeth.

Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service has no further record of the watermill at Great Barford other than the name of the area around the island in the river near the point at which its course alters from running broadly west-east to broadly south-north - Old Mills. The Bedfordshire Historic Environment Record [HER] contains information on the county’s historic buildings and landscapes and summaries of each entry can now be found online as part of the Heritage Gateway website.

The entry for a watermill at Great Barford, at Old Mills [HER2608] reads: “The site of a medieval watermill recorded in Domesday Book. The latest mill was probably demolished in the 19th century, prior to the construction of a navigation lock. Its foundations, including the wheel-pit, were revealed during navigation improvements in 1974”.