Redbournbury Mill Flour
Redbournbury Mill lies two miles north of St.Albans (in Hertfordshire, 20 miles north of London) in the hamlet of Redbournbury. The mill produces a variety of stoneground flours all milled from Organic grain.
The Redbournbury Flour Mill Exterior
The farmhouse and surrounding buildings at the end of the lane date back to the fifteenth century which, together with the mill, create an area of historical interest. The Ver Valley Walk, a public footpath from the river's source to its confluence with the Colne and views of the Ver Valley‚ a circular walk around Redbournbury, run past the mill.
The Redbournbury Flour Mill Interior
The mill buildings you can see are built of mellow red brick and are roofed in Welsh slate and hand-made clay peg-tiles. The mill has four floors and, like the house, would originally have been a timber-framed building. Last used for milling in the 1950's, the mill is at the end of a massive rebuilding and restoration project, which took over ten years to complete. It is now established as a museum, working mill and artisan bakery.
The buildings have no single date because the original mill has been extended at different times. There was a mill recorded possibly on this site in the Domesday Book of 1087 and the present buildings may well stand on those original foundations. Parts of the building date from the sixteenth century but much of the mill was rebuilt and extended in 1790. This can be seen on a dated brick in the south wall.
At the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539, the Abbey lands, including the mill, were seized by Henry VIII. On his death, these passed to Princess Elizabeth, later Queen. It then passed on to James I who, through the Treasury, leased the mill in trust into successive private hands.
In 1653 the mill was bought by Sir Harbottle Grimston for £200. Grimstone is the family name of the present Earls of Verulam so the mill became part of what we now know as the Gorhambury Estate. It remained in the estate until 1936 when much was sold by the 4th Earl. The Crown Estate Commissioners bought the Gorhambury Estate, thus returning the mill to Crown hands after a gap of about 350 years.
By 1841 the mill was held by Edward Hawkins, whose family continued - with only one gap - to hold the mill for the next one hundred and forty four years. Ivy Hawkins, grand-daughter of Edward, was the "only lady miller in England". She finally left the mill in 1985, aged 89, to retire to a home in Redbourn. The Crown then put the mill on the market when it was bought by the present owners.
On Ivy Hawkins' departure the Crown Estate Commissioners offered the mill for sale with a variety of possible uses. To their great credit, they accepted the only offer to restore the mill to full working order. English Heritage also offered a major grant to restore the mill, reclassifying it to Listed Grade 2*. This means that both the mill and house are protected historic buildings.
The mill bakery was opened on 20th July 2006. The bakery has been built in one of the converted barns at the front of the mill - Ivy Hawkins' old cow byre! The structure of the building has been carefully preserved and many of the internal features can still be seen, but it has been fitted-out to meet the rigorous requirements of modern environmental health regulations. Into this traditional building has been installed a variety of modern baking equipment including a five deck oven, a retarder-prover, mixers and even a bun divider moulder!
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