A History of Thorrington Tide Mill

There was a mill at Thorrington at the time of Domesday Book when the area was included as part of the lands owned by Odo, the Bishop of Bayeux, and half-brother to William the Conqueror, in the Hundred of Tendring:

Æthelstan held Thorrington as one manor and as four hides. Now Ralph FitzTurold holds it of the Bishop as the same and Turold of Rochester appropriated this land. Then as now, there were three villans, nine bordars, and five slaves. There were then two ploughs in demesne, now 1 ½, but a third could be employed. Among the men there were then 2 ½ ploughs, now 1 ½. There is woodland for 100 pigs. There is one acre of meadow, pasture for 100 sheep. There is now one mill, one salt-pan. Then as now it was worth £4.

Williams and Martin 2003, 988

and mention of a mill in a Will of 1558 in the neighbouring parish of Alresford. Two mills are advertised for sale in 1810 and again in 1836, while the present tidemill was built in 1831. There was a postmill on the hill-top behind the tidemill that was blown down in 1869; the tidemill was last worked by water in 1926, when a photo shows two Thames barges moored nearby, but the creek was silting up and rail transport was available close by to carry the flour up to London: Thorrington station was opened in 1867 and closed in 1957.  One pair of stones were worked by steam for a short while after 1926.

The first known miller in this area was James Brand in1668 who owned “Barfleet Mill” in 1675, while he was renting that mill in 1708. In 1740 William Walker or Samuel Holditch built the windmill up the lane, which one of them transferred to his son-in-law Daniel Clapton in 1757-59. Daniel’s son John leased both wind and tide mills to Daniel Poole in 1790, when there were:-

“Two pairs of excellent French stones to drive with spar gears. Four flour mills [sic]. Convenient stage [?]. New water wheel and all other necessary machinery. The two mills together could grind 100 quarters per week. Wharf for barges to discharge or take on cargo. Miller’s house.” There was also a bakery in Brightlingsea attached to the business.

After the sale in 1814 the miller was William Eve, whose son William jnr. took over in 1816. Henry Henley was there in 1824, Elizabeth Henley in 1826, and rebuilding took place in 1831. Charles Bones and John Pyman were running it in 1832, while George Cooper took over in 1841 and his descendants continued until 1926. On the plan attached to a Conveyance dated 11th October, 1871, the tidal mill is shown as building 278 while the windmill stands in parcel 278 next to the road from Brightlingsea to Colchester.

The Mill Farm property was bought in 1941 by T A Glover and used during World War II for the storage and drying of seeds. He had it repaired in the years 1948-49, and it was purchased in 1974 by Essex County Council as a Public Recreational amenity. The waterwheel was restored in the 1990s and it opened to the Public again in 1993 [1996?].

The Mill was included in a List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest in the Rural District of Tendring, drawn up in May 1952, and notified to Mr Glover on the 28th.

In 2019, the mill changed ownership and is once again owned and cared for by the Glover family at Mill Farm.

2 thoughts on “A History of Thorrington Tide Mill

  1. Hello I’m writing my dissertation for final year on the Colne estuary, Is this dam still in proper use? i.e. are the sluice gates opened regularly or is it more for of an attraction and so the reservoir is mainly fresh water? that flows into the creek during heavy rain. Thanks for any help you can provide!

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    1. The reservoir is part of the working farm, with freshwater flowing into Alresford Creek. The sluice can be opened further to relieve the pressure of excess water and reduce water levels as needed, but at the moment not used to run the water wheel of the mill. I hope this is helpful.

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