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Newnham Priory Mill

Newnham Mill House [X581-1]
Newnham Mill House [X581/1]

Domesday Book describes two mills in Goldington, these were watermills because windmills were unknown in England until the last quarter of the 12th century. Goldington Manor was acquired by Newnham Priory and in 1574 a man named Robert Goodale made his will in which he states that he leased Newnham Mill [ABP/W1574/45].

The Goldington Parish rates of 1649 and of 1651 have William Grant of Newnham owning the mill and paying 5/8. In 1660 William Grant made his will bequeathing £6 to “William Goody my Miller” [ABP/W1660/55]. In 1672 John Savage of London conveyed an estate in Goldington and Bedford to Sir Roger Martin, baronet [X380/1]. This estate comprised much of the land of the former Newnham Priory, including two watermills. The following year Martin conveyed it to John Petre of Ingatestone [Essex], a son of Lord Petre.

In 1674 John Petre mortgaged his Bedfordshire estates to John Caryll and John Peter. His elder brother had a daughter named Mary who married George Heneage, and they had a son named George. In 1724 Thomas Brown was miller [WL437]. He was still miller in 1732 when the owner was stated to be George Heneage of Hainton [Lincolnshire], a Roman Catholic [QSR1732/116-118] who also had a house in Newnham tenanted by Thomas Faldo and a windmill at Goldington which was also leased by Thomas Brown.

In 1761 Heneage’s nephew George Fieschi Heneage, together with trustees and mortgagees conveyed Heneage’s Bedfordshire estates to Christopher Metcalfe [X380/1]. In 1771 William Snow was bound apprentice miller to William Favier or Farrer of Newnham Mills [X109/1/16]. By 1780 William Farrer junior was miller [WJ307] but in 1782 owner Thomas Hornbuckle of Bedford, yeoman, leased the watermill and six acres of arable land in Bedford, Saint Cuthbert, both late in Farrer’s occupation to William Biggs of Kempston, miller, for eight years at £30 per annum [CRT130Goldington12]. Hornbuckle made his will two years later [ABP/W1784/40] in which he gave his real estate to trustees for sale, which took place in 1788 to Edward Wells, owner of Duck Mill, Bedford [CRT130Goldington12]. His executors sold the mill to Benjamin and Ebenezer Malden in 1805.

In 1841 Ebenezer Malden made his will [BorBE8/3] devising his real estate, including Newnham Mill, to trustees for his daughter Sarah, wife of William Harrison for their lives. Sarah Harrison died in 1868 and William Harrison died in 1877 leaving one surviving child, Benjamin. In his will of 1883 Benjamin Harrison devised all his real estate to trustees for sale [BorBE8/3].

In 1883 Benjamin Harrison’s trustees agreed to sell property including Newnham Mill to Luke Cherry of Bedford, gentleman [BorBE6/2].  Also included in the sale were Duck Mill and two houses in Potter Street (now Cardington Road). The sale price was £6,750. Newnham Mill is described as: the site of a water mill and two cottages, formerly a mill and mill house at Goldington known as Newnham Mill”.

In 1885 Bedford Corporation purchased Newnham Priory Mill from Luke Cherry for £6,500 [BorBJ2/64]. In that year T S Porter of Bedford Urban Sanitary Authority wrote to the town clerk of Bedford that Newnham Mill had been acquired and it was intended to use the water power from the mill to pump sewage to the sewage farm, which lay adjacent to the mill and where at the time of wriring [2017] Aspects leisure Centre stands [BorBE6/4]. The mill pool was later used as Newnham Baths and the mill house seems to have survived, as part of the pool complex, until the Second World War, a note on the back of a photograph [X561/2] stating that it was demolished about 1941 or shortly thereafter because children played in it and it had become unsafe.