Northover Mill

A medieval fulling mill built by Glastonbury Abbey, Northover Mill is currently rented out commercially bringing the BIRT project much needed regular income.

Figure 1. Plan of Northover Mill

Figure 3. Plan of Northover Mill superimposed on the estate
map of 1869, with newly-discovered features sketched on.

The building itself is a medieval fulling mill built by Glastonbury Abbey (Listed Grade II, English Heritage Listed Building Number: 265998). The most recent survey of Northover Milli (Figure 1) resulted in an interpretive plan showing the development of the building. In order to clarify the relationship of the building to the millstream, and in an effort to understand the way in which the building functioned, the RPS plan was superimposed upon a map of the site drawn in 1869 (sale map, Figure 3). A detail of the 1869 map is shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2. Sale map of 1869.

A small shed attached to the back of the property is colour-coded purple in Figure 1. During renovations, this building was found to contain a flight of steps leading down to the mill stream below the northern wall of the wheel room. This feature, which would facilitate servicing of the mill wheel, was probably a primary element of the original design of the mill.

Figure 4. Stone steps lead to the millstream below the wheel room.

Figure 5. Tithe map of 1844.

The strip of land coloured blue in Figure 5a appears to enter into the millstream while the wheel room of the mill is not shown. The only explanation for this is that the strip of land includes the stone steps down to the millstream, below the wheel room. 

This interpretation clarifies several issues:

  • It explains why the strip coloured blue appears to enter the millstream and ignores the Mill’s wheel room: it includes the stone steps as access into the millstream.
  • It explains Clause 5 in the deeds: the Vendor wished to retain the right of way because the steps made access to the millstream easier when it became necessary to carry out maintenance of the stone walls of the millstream and/or the foundations of the factory buildings. Before the invention of the JCB maintenance works would have been undertaken from the millstream itself.
  • It explains the stone settings revealed during renovations on the northern side of the Mill: the long stones forming a curve are one side of the the ‘accessway’ mentioned in Clause 5 (Figure 3 and Figure 6). 

i Conservation Statement for Listed Buildings, Morlands Enterprise Park, Glastonbury, unpubl. Client report for South West Regional Development Agency, 2005.

Figure 2 above shows no sign of the strip of land or the accessway. There are boundaries to the north of the Mill recorded on the tithe map (Figure 5), which predates the acquisition of the property by Clark, Son and Morland.

Figure 5a. Tithe map annotated: mill stream outlined in green, Northover Mill outlined in orange, strip of land 7 metres wide (see above) coloured blue.

Figure 6. – Cobbles and stone settings uncovered to the north of Northover Mill. See Figure 3 for location plan.

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