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Sandy Watermill

Sandy Mill about 1900 [Z50/99/20]
Sandy Mill about 1900 [Z50/99/20]

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 Sandy Mill [HER 1111] states that the mill was built in 1857 and demolished in 1977. The 1857 date is supported by a vaulation carried out in 1927 (see below) but, if correct, the mill only replaced an earlier structure.

Domesday Book of 1086 records two mills at Sandy. This may have meant one mill with two pairs of stones, the meaning it would have had in later documents, or it may have meant two separate buildings, one perhaps in Sandy itself and another in the now lost settlement of Kinwick. It does not seem unreasonable to guess that a mill in Sandy itself was on or near the site of the later Sandy Mill.

This mill is glimpsed a few times during the Middle Ages. The calendar of fines for the county for 1219, held at The National Archives but translated and published by Bedfordshire Historical Record Society [BHRS] in 1919 includes a record of an assize of mort d’ancestor in which Henry, son of Guy conveyed two virgates of land and a mill in Sandy to Henry, son of Hugh. In the same volume Sandy mill is again recorded in 1240. In 1271 a man drowned whilst fishing at Sandy Mill, as recorded in Volume 41 produced by Bedfordshire Historical Record Society in 1961, devoted to 13th and 14th century coroner's rolls for Bedfordshire from the National Archives, edited and translated by R. F. Hunnisett.

The mill is mentioned in more recent times. In 1735 Humphrey Monoux conveyed a house near the water mill to Sir Humphrey Monoux, who also owned the mill [F423-424].

In 1850 the Sandy Place estate was put up for sale by auction and part of Lot 1 was described as follows [PM2957]: 


With great Water Power, WORKING FOUR PAIR OF STONES, Corn Chamber, Bran Loft &c.


Containing Six Bed Rooms, two Parlours, Kitchen, Wash-house and Cellar; enclosed FLOWER GARDEN and KITCHEN GARDEN.

A COTTAGE, with Three Bed Rooms and Kitchen.

Granary, Cow House for Four Cows, Piggery, small Farm Yard, Chaise House, Stabling for Eight Wagon Horses and for Three Nag Horses, Wagon Hovel with TWO MEADOWS, ISLAND &c.

In the Whole 6 acres, 3 roods, 27 poles

Let to and in the occupation of Mrs. SARAH POPE, yearly tenant, at an annual Rent of £130

Part of the Sandy Place Estate was again put up for sale by auction in 1853 [CCE824/13]. The mill was Lot 2 and was described as a water corn mill, residence and out-buildings. The mill had four working pairs of stones with a corn chamber and bran loft. The out-buildings comprised: a miller's cottage; a wagon lodge; a cart; nag stables; a chaise house and piggeries. The residence (later Park House) was described as "very substantially Stone Built, and Slated, and contains on the Ground Floor Entrance Porch and Hall, Dining Room, Drawing Room, Kitchen, Washhouse, Dairy, Larder and Knife House; a Yard and Garden in the Rear, and on the First Floor and Six Capital Bed Rooms". The mill was occupied by "Messrs Pope as yearly tenants".

Sandy Mill about 1920 [Z1306/99]
Sandy Mill about 1920 [Z1306/99]

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. Sandy, like most of the county, was assessed in 1927 and the valuer visiting the mill [Dv1/C28/16] found it owned and occupied by M. H. Walker and Sons.

The grist mill stood in a quarter of an acre. The valuer noted: “Power – breast water wheel, good head of water all the year”. There were four pairs of stones, each 4 feet in diameter, but power for only two pairs.

The brick and slate premises were dated 1857 and in good condition. The ground floor measured 39 feet 9 inches by 30 feet, the first floor 40 feet 6 inches by 31 feet and the second floor 41 feet 6 inches by 31 feet, the latter with a projection for a crane. The top floor was storage, the first floor contained the four pairs of stones, a store, a dressing machine and an oat crusher, whilst the ground floor contained a cock pit.

Outside lay two garages, a three stall stable (“not used”), a harness room used as a store, the water wheel house measuring 23 feet 6 inches by 22 feet by 15 feet, a brick and slate office measuring 13 feet by 12 feet. The valuer commented: “old but solid mill liable to be flooded, no land with it” and “Works most of the year, every day in winter”. Daily output was 2½ sacks from each the two pairs of working stones.

Directories for the county were produced every few years from the middle of the 19th to the middle of the 20th century. The following list of millers is taken from these:

  • Charles Pope 1847;
  • Mrs. Elizabeth Pope 1854;
  • Charles Pope 1862, 1864, 1869, 1877;
  • Fred Newbery 1885, 1890; 1894; 1898; 1903;
  • William and Ezra Garner 1906; 1910;
  • M. H. Walker & Son 1924; 1928; 1931;
  • Charles Sidney Banks 1936; 1940.
Sandy Mill about 1900 [Z1306/99]
Sandy Mill about 1900 [Z1306/99]