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Mill Farm Toddington

The waterfall at Mill Farm about 1910 [Z1130/126/11]
The waterfall at Mill Farm about 1910 [Z1130/126/11]

Mill Farmhouse was listed by English Heritage in October 1991 as Grade II, of special interest. It probably dates from the 17th century, though remodelled and extended in the 19th century. It is constructed of painted brick, though the house may contain some timber-framing. The roof is composed of slate. The house was built on a two-room plan originally and at the right-hand end the watermill forms a cross-wing with an overshot wheel at the back. In the 19th century a wing was added to the rear of the house. The listing states: "There is said to have been a water mill on this site since 1581". The last is a reference to a drawing of a mill on Ralp Agas' map of 1581 where it is labelled

The mill stands on a tributary of the River Flit, north-east of the road to Fancott. Unlike the Harlington Mill which remained freehold for the majority of its working life, the Water Mill remained part of the Manor Estate until it was no longer in use. In the majority of circumstances, those who owned the Harlington Road windmill leased the watermill enabling a more stable income for the miller as it meant they would be less dependent on the elements.

In 1631 the Manor gave Richard Gurney a 21 year lease for the water mill and over the years it passed to Jane Gurney, Thomas Gurney (who was recorded as the miller of the water mill in the 1654 Common wealth Survey) Anne Symmonds, James Symmonds, John Potts, George Drinkwater and finally James Maxey Pearson.

When the mill was first built it was likely to have had a thatched roof, however in a picture painted by Fisher the Mill is portrayed to have a tiled roof. All original elm timbers in the the roof were replaced by pine and a slate roof added.

Mill Farm was occupied by the Cleaver family from 1830-1877 in the 1881 census it was recorded that it was in the occupancy of Ezra Bright who employed Albert Gudgeon. During this time the mill had been adapted so it could be run by either steam or water. According to the census Albert Gudgeon and his wife Keturah actually lived in the mill, they stayed for less than two years before moving to Cardington. When Albert moved away Ezra Bright was left running both the farm and the mill alone and by the 1901 census the mill had changed hands to George and Susan Marlow.

George Marlow had only been running the mill for a few years when it ceased to operate by 1904. In 1906 Toddington Manor put up 1,624 acres for sale, including Mill Farm. The farm was still however being let to the Marlows at an annual rental of £90-00-00. The mill did not reach the reserve and later a price was agreed with the Manor and Mill Farm was sold to George Marlow.

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 farm [DV1/H4/50] found that it comprised 80 acres: "Buildings much too large for farm many unused. Water from well". A colleague remarked: "House and Homestead in a hole, not good".

The house comprised two reception rooms, a kitchen and a dairy and pantry with four bedrooms and a boxroom above. A brick and tiled washhouse and earth closet and a timber and tiled wood shed both stood outside. The homestead was in five blocks:

  • the old brick and tiled mill buildings ("disused");
  • a timber and corrugated iron six-bay cart hovel and trap house;
  • a timber and tiled hen house and three pigsties; a brick and tiled loose box, two-bay open hovel with a manger and hay rack and another loose box; a timber and corrugated iron loose box, two-bay hovel, large barn with a concrete floor, six horsepower Lester engine and shafting and root-pulper; four timber and thatched calf pens;
  • a large timber and thatched barn, stable for three with a loft, chaff place and calf pen; a timber and tiled tool place; a brick, timber and corrugated iron open hovel and cow houses for twelve; a timber and corrugated iron loose box and two timber and corrugated iron two-bay open hovels;
  • a large timber and corrugated iron cart hovel and lean-to cart shed and hen house.

In 1935 George sold it on to Gordon Wild who continued to run the farm until 1966 and Wild's son who continued until 1992. In December 1940 four high explosive bombs fell at the farm [WW2/AR/CO/2/2].