Tempsford Mill about 1900 [X758/1/12/63]
Watermills are mentioned in entries for Tempsford in the Domesday Book of 1086. In 1607 the jurors of the Manor of Tempsford ordered that a stake should be set in the river and called the “Lawe Stake” showing how high and how deep the miller ought to set the river to rise by adjusting the sluices [BS1276].
In 1742 the mill was made leasehold with a lease for 199 years from Henry Bendysh of Tempsford to Henry Blows of Tempsford, mealman [HF41/2/16/49]. The lease included: “A River called Little River from the ford at end of Mill Lane leading into Mill Green up to the boundary of Blunham with Tempsford and the foundation of an old mill and floodgates belonging lying on the river called the Old Mills with little slip of ground on the south side of said river next to and adjoining old foundations containing 54 feet in length from the outward sell below stream upwards and 54 in breadth from the water southward with free liberty of the tenant to repair support, sustain and uphold a water corn mill or seat of water corn mills on the foundations and other outhouses including profits of fishing and of rushes and reed growing in the stream or on the bank”.
In 1829 [X1/41 and WY1036/12] the mill, on the River Ivel, was part of the Tempsford Estate of William Stuart. The residue of this long lease was assigned by William Peppercorn (presumably the previous tenant) to Charles Powers in 1838 [HF41/2/16/50].
By the 20th century the mill no longer ground corn, but had become a saw mill. In the 1911 census the occupier appears to be estate steward William Abney with his wife, granddaughter and a servant. Mill Lodge was occupied by Miss Mary Ann Elizabeth Lawrence, aged 63 and her servant whilst the mill house was in occupation of John Scrivener, bricklayer.
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 the mill [DV1/C162/29] found it still owned by the Tempsford Estate and in hand, that is, with no tenant. The valuer opined: “Big. Good.” The mill included a cottage (“3 up 2 down”), a cart shed and a barn, “not used for years”. There were also a stable, a store and a carpenters shop. “Water wheel provides all the power, say about 50 hp. Later: saw Mr Simms, says wheel might do 40 hp but seldom more than 15hp. “
The Mill House [DV1/C162/26] was vacant and was known as The Lodge. The valuer stated: “This house has not been occupied since Belgian refugees were in residence during the war. Left about 1919. Mrs. Stuart, I understand, has had several offers to let this house but she will not do so, the reason being she thinks she may require the house some time for a friend. The house is down Mill Lane. Could be most attractive if done up.”
In 2017 the old mill and mill house, now joined into one huge residence were for sale. The particulars noted that the mill house dated from 1812, the mill being more recent.