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Greenfield Mill

Greenfield Mill on a map of 1881
Greenfield Mill on a map of 1881

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 Greenfield Mill [HER 2624] reads as follows: "The site of a watermill documented since c.1200. Both Dunstable Priory and Woburn Abbey had mills here and agreed not to disrupt each other's water supply. From 1234 to 1535 Woburn rented the Dunstable mill for an annual payment. A few documentary references indicate that the mill was in operation during the 17th century; it is shown on the Ordnance Survey map for 1960. By 1967 only the miller's house and the dam remained, and these had been demolished by 1976.

Until 1933 this part of Greenfield was a detached part of the parish of Pulloxhill having been part of two Pulloxhill manors, the Manor of Pulloxhill and Greenfield and the Manor of Beeches alias Upbury in the Middle Ages. The site is today part of the civil parish of Flitton and Greenfield.

The cartulary (list of legal documents showing ownership of land etc.) of Dunstable Priory was published by Bedfordshire Historical Record Society as its Volume 10 of 1926. There are a number of references to Greenfield Mill. The first is between 1200 and 1230. The entry reads: "Henry de Northwd grants a moiety [a half] of the mill which he has of Henry Boinon [Lord of the Manor of Pulloxhill and Greenfield] in Greenfield, with pond, fishery and meadow, and with right of multure over the rustics of the said Henry; also three roods of meadow of the fee of Nicholas de Worthinge [Worthy End] next the mill". Right of Multure [Latin secta mulcture] was the right of the miller to a proportion of the grain he ground for the manorial tenants. About 1230 the other half of the mill was leased to the priory: "William Pirot [tenant of the Manor of Beeches alias Upbury in Pulloxhill owned by the priory] grants his share in the mill of Greenfield for a half mark of silver yearly and six marks in gersumma". A mark was two thirds of a pound sterling (thirteen shillings and fourpence). Gersumma was money paid at the end of a bargain, in this case the lease of the mill. The agreement between Dunstable Priory and Woburn Abbey not to disrupt each others water supply, to Greenfield Mill and to Yppewelle Mill in Husborne Crawley was made in 1227.

The next mention of the mill was in 1542 when a survey was made of the various manors which King Henry VIII (1509-1547) grouped together as the Honour of Ampthill. The mill was part of the manor of Pulloxhill and Greenfield and was leased by Thomas Johnson. The rental was £1/6/8 rent per annum [CRT100/25].

In 1562 Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603) leased the watermill "called the tyld [tiled] mill in Greenfield" in the occupation of Thomas Johnson to George Gredyman for twenty one years for an annual rent of £1/6/8. Gredyman seems to have been the tenant and Johnson the sub-tenant. The lease was renewed in 1581 to his widow Edith Gredyman for twenty one years on the same terms [X91/2].

By 1618, when he made his will, Greenfield Mill was owned by Giles Blofeld of Meppershall and he devised it to his nephew Edward Blofeld. The will was proved in 1622 [ABP/W1622/60]. He described the mill as two mills, meaning not two separate buildings but two pairs of mill stones under the same roof.

By 1677 the mill was owned by Thomas Arnald of Ampthill, gentleman. The mill was still called the Tiled Mill and now contained four pairs of stones as well as having a cottage, presumably for the miller, and four acres of meadow adjoining. The mill was then in the occupation of Thomas Tomalin. Arnald had acquired the mill in that year from Samuel Rhodes [WE434].

Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service is lucky in having a deed packet relating to the mill [X216]. The deeds begin in 1694 and end in 1845. The first deed is a conveyance of 1694 when Thomas Arnald sold the mill to John Manfield of Greenfield, the miller for £305 [X216/1]. As well as the four mills and the adjoining cottage the Tiled Mill now also included an acre of adjoining millbank and five acres of meadow in Millmead.

In 1708 Manfield mortgaged the mill and its land for £120 [X216/2]. By 1710 his son, John the younger, joined him in assigning the mortgage to Matthew Woodward of Flitton, mealman [X216/3]. A few months earlier the mill had formed part of a marriage settlement before the wedding of John junior with Elizabeth Woodward, John Woodward's daughter. In 1710 another mortgage was taken out, with John Green of Dorset, clerk, for £200 [X216/6].

In 1733 the mortgages of £120 and £200 together with another £30 making £350 in all were assigned to Thomas Haines of Middlesex, tallow chandler (candlemaker) [X216/8]. In 1735 John Manfield conveyed the mill and its adjoining lands to Haines for £401/1/- [X216/9] and two years later Haines conveyed them for £410 to trustees for Elizabeth Hurst of Luton, spinster and William Clark of Flitton, miller [X216/10-11]. Elizabeth Hurst had loaned William Clark the money for the purchase of the mill [X216/12].  When Elizabeth made her will in 1744 she conveyed the mortgage debt to Samuel Marsom the elder of Luton [X216/13]. The will was proved in 1745. In 1749 Marsom's daughter Sarah married James Gutteridge of Luton, maltster [X216/14]. In his will of 1748 Marsom had bequeathed the £350 mortgage on the mill, together with a number of other mortgages on various properties, to Sarah and her sister Elizabeth. In 1750 the sisters divided their inheritance between them, Sarah taking the mortgage on the mill.

In 1774 the mill was conveyed to Philip Fowler of Chalton, Toddington, for £550 [X216/16]. Fowler made his will in 1799 (it was proved the following year) and in it devised Greenfield Mill to his daughter Mary [X216/22]. In 1802 Mary converted the five acres of meadow in Millmead from a freehold into a leasehold property and granted it to Joseph Clark of Greenfield, miller and Sarah Clark of Greenfield, spinster at no rent so long as they allowed Mary to live with them at the mill and provided for her [X216/23]. She then conveyed half the mill, miller's cottage and acre on the millbank to Joseph Clark and half to Sarah, reserving a parlour on the ground floor and a little room on the second floor of the cottage and Sue of the garden to herself and charging the entire property with £15 per annum for her use during her life [X216/24-25].

In 1807 Joseph Clark purchased one rood, twenty poles of land in Flitwick near Greenfield Mill (presumably on the other side of the river) from Thomas Philips of Flitwick, tailor for £18/8/2 [X216/26]. Mary Fowler was buried on 22nd November 1818 as proved by an entry in the Maulden chapel minister's preaching book since he preached the sermon at the funeral. In 1825 Joseph Clark mortgaged the mill and millbank for £300 [X216/29-30].

In January 1830 Joseph Clark made his will, which was proved six months later. He devised the mill to his sons Joseph (then the miller) and William, to be divided equally. He was evidently a wealthy man as he also owned a copyhold cottage in Greenfield and four other copyhold cottages lying together in the same village [X215/32]. William died the following year, leaving his half share in the mill to his sister Mary Horley [GT110]. In 1835 the Tiled Mill at Greenfield, together with six acres, 2 roods, 18 poles of land was sold to Abraham Fossey of Hertfordshire, farmer for £1,850m [X216/35-36]. Less than two months later Fossey sold the mill and land for £1,900 to William Claridge of Ampthill, grocer [X216/41-42]. The last Claridge connected with the mill was George Claridge who was listed as miller in Kelly's Directory for 1906. In 1910 the owner, as well as the miller was Charles John Rosson [DBV1/70]. He had, presumably, purchased the mill fro George Claridge or his executors.

The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every building and piece of land in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. The valuer visiting Greenfield Mill [DV1/C269/77] found owned and occupied by J. H Sibley & Company. They first appear in Kelly's Directory in 1914 and they presumably bought the mill from Rosson or his executors between 1910 and 1914.

The mill comprised four floors, These included stores, plant, rollers and two pairs of stones, of which only one set was used. Four men were employed. The total output in six months from stones was 3,608 pounds of flour.

In addition to the mill building there were outbuildings built of brick, slate and tile. They comprised: a stable for two horses with a loft over; a hen house; a harness room with a loft over; a corn barn with a cement floor; a garage with a cement floor; a wood and slate corn store with a cement floor and two corrugated iron pigsties.

Directories for Bedfordshire, which were not published annually but every few years, give the names of the tenants of the Mill from 1847 until 1936. With other information we than thus put together the following names of millers. The dates are a spread of when the name is mentioned and not the full range of occupation of the mill:

1542-1562: Thomas Johnson;
1677: Thomas Tomalin;
1694-1710: John Manfield senior;
1710-1735: John Manfield junior;
1737: William Clark;
1802: Joseph Clark senior;
1830: Joseph Clark junior;
1831: William Clark;
1847-1869: John Randall;
1877: Richard Randall;
1894-1906: George Claridge;
1910: Charles John Rosson;
1914-1936: Copping and Sibley.

Greenfield Mill about 1900 [Z50/49/8]
Greenfield Mill about 1900 [Z50/49/8]