HAMBLEDEN MILL

1910: Hambleden in Thames Villages by Charles Harper.

Hambleden Mill (and therefore weir) is in the Domesday Book

1870: Hambleden Mill, Henry Taunt -

Hambleden Mill, Henry Taunt, 1870
Hambleden Mill, Henry Taunt, 1870
© Oxfordshire County Council Photographic Archive; HT01498

1946: Hambleden Weir by Frank Runacres -

Hambleden Weir, 1946, Frank Runacres
Hambleden Weir, 1946, Frank Runacres

1950: Hambleden Mill in 'Buckinghamshire' by Alison Uttley -

HAMBLEDEN MILL
THE most beautiful place in the whole length of the long Thames valley is the white timbered water-mill at Hambleden.
Hambleden Mill has old traditions and ancient lineage, for it stands at an important place on the river and also at the foot of a deep valley which penetrates into the heart of the Chilterns. Up this Hambleden valley went the Romans and later the Danes.
There has been a mill in this place since the Norman Conquest. The rent of Hambleden Mill was worth £1 a year in 1086, and before 1235 the mill was granted to Keynsham Abbey, Somerset. Two water-mills were named in 1338, one of which is the mill now worked by Messrs Barnett at Hambleden.
We walked through a gap by some old cottages, part of the mill buildings, to this water-mill whose shining whiteness is reflected in the Thames. The willows and the little islands with tossing water rushing down the sluices, the mill garden with water running round it, all make an enchanting scene. We went along the narrow bridge over the water, glancing again at the white mill. It is a picturesque and beautiful sight with the wide waters in front of it and the turret with the weathervane on the summit of the building. ...
[On a stormy day] the white walls of Hambleden Mill were reflected in the river but the mirror surface was broken and brown. The yellow river was throwing itself under the bridge and sweeping down the weir, and on the islands the willows were silver in the wind. Through the open door of the mill we could see the belting of the machines and the white dusty miller's men working there.
One happy day we visited this mill and were taken over it. We saw the old bevelled gear with apple-wood teeth used long ago, hut now almost a museum piece. The mill has been made up to date in recent years with water-turbine instead of the water-wheel and steel rollers instead of the old millstones. The mill stream runs past the mill, through the turbine and round the little field where the ducks and willows enjoy the scene.
We saw the many processes through which the wheat goes in its transformation from the grain to fine flour, and we watched the moving belts and the intricate, and at the same time simple, changes in the separation of semolina and bran.
First the wheat is passed through a wheat-cleaning separator, when all the scraps of string and straw are removed. Then it goes through the barley and cockle cylinders. This is a remarkable machine, fascinating in its work, for the wheat ears are swept into one part, and the barley, slightly smaller, falls through another sifter. The process is repeated in another machine for the removal of cockle seeds. I held a handful of the little black seeds of kilvers, as they call them here, really cleavers, I think, which were in the cockle sifter. The wheat then goes through emery-scourers to break up any dirt.

When the wheat is clean the milling proper begins. At this modern mill they use a four-break roller system by which the bran is separated from the semolina. The bran, of course, is the outside sheath of the wheat, made from the thin layer under the husk, called the "bees wing”. I dipped my hand into the bran and tasted it. A most delicious food, thought I, and I envied the animals who would eat it.
We saw the old millstones, made of French burr, a stone imported from France. Before French burr was used Peak millstone came from Derbyshire, a hard grit-stone. The French burr is at metamorphic stone, harder than the millstone. These round millstones are cut by hand with a chisel into lines radiating from the centre. These grooves are called "furrows”, and the spaces between them are called "lands”, a metaphor from ploughing. An old Bucks labourer tells me that he used to cut these stones with a chisel-hammer when he was young. It is an art in itself. The "land" is in the shape of a harp, and "harp strings" or drills are often cut so finely that there are twenty of them to an inch. They are chipped out of the "land”. So these old millstones are covered with a most delicate design of lines radiating between the spaces.
The milling proper consists of breaking up the semolina and rolling it and dressing it through a machine with a silk cover. In old days men called boulter-men used to go round the farms to dress the flour when fine white flour was wanted. Now it is all done in the same mill.
The germ is separated from the wheat in the break-up of the grain. We tasted a pinch of the germ which fell in a heap from the grain. It is a very sweet and delicious thing, this centre of the wheat. This germ goes to Vitamins Ltd. for the manufacture of Vitamin foods.
The flour is sifted through silk cylinders, and I saw pieces of the fine white silk. This is called scalper separation. Smooth rolls grind the semolina into flour, which is dressed on centrifugal dressers in which there is a combination of air action and sieving action.
We went up flights of wooden stairs and down flights, and up flights again, following the course of the flour in its many journeys between the machines. It goes up hill and down, and a bucket carrier takes it along travelling bands. Some of the timbers of the mill are extremely heavy and very ancient, and it was a joy to walk in this old building. The top room of the mill under the cupola is a romantic room with stout roof beams and curving timbers, and windows looking out over the Thames.
In the wall of the mill by the water's edge there is an upper door and pulley by which the sacks of flour were lowered to boats. Now most of the flour is taken away by lorry. Close to the mill is the mill house, a pleasant looking dwelling place of old red brick with lawn and cedar tree.

1955: Grade II Listing -

Former mill, now 10 apartments.
Late C18 wing at S.E. end, with early C19 wing to N.W., altered c.1970.
Shiplap boarding, painted white, with brick plinth and brick wall to ground floor by former mill-race.
Late C18 wing has half-hipped plain tile roof, later wing is slated. Late C18 wing is of 3 storeys and attic, and 3 x 3 bays. C20 wooden windows, mostly tilting casements but with sashes to first floor of S.E. front, and horizontal sliding sashes to second floor and attic in S.W. end.
S.E. front also has 2 skylights, central C20 double doors with gabled hood, and lean-to to right. Rear wing is of 2 storeys and attic,and 9 bays. Similar tilting casements, one skylight. Third bay has double half-glazed doors to ground and first floors, the upper doors with wooden balcony. Passage entry in right bay. Central square lantern with pyramid lead roof and weathervane. Low wing with C20 sashes, skylights and doors along N.E. side.

1878: Recollection of Gustav Schwabe from OUR RIVER BY GEORGE D. LESLIE, R.A. -

In the spring of the year 1878 I renewed my acquaintance with the river by spending a week at my friend Mr. Schwabe's house, called Yewden, at Hambledon. Here also were Messrs. Calderon, Wells, Storey, Hodgson, and Yeames, and as we had all just got rid of our works for the Academy, our spirits were high.


'Friends at Yewden' by C.T. Wells shows a group of artists seated around G.C. Schwabe
who wears a hat, holds a newspaper, and is looking over his shoulder
at the artist P. Calderon, R.A. who is standing and leaning forward.
The figure in the boat holding the pole is G.D. Leslie, R.A.;
next to him is G.D. Storey, R.A.; and standing together are J.E. Hodgson, R.A. and W.F. Yeames, R.A.
The painting was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1882.

Mr. Schwabe's house is a very old one, with some modern additions to it of his own. These were executed in great taste, as it is almost impossible to distinguish which of the gables are old and which new.
The house takes its name from the very remarkable old clipped yew avenue, with a sort of nave and transept in it. The garden, lawns, and flower-beds are most admirably managed. Instead of the ordinary stripes of red, yellow, grey, and beet-root colour, with which the thick-headed Scotch gardener usually decorates the flower borders of the wealthy, here, at Mr. Schwabe's own direction, patchwork and ribbon borders are unknown, and two large sloping banks are planted in glorious profusion and irregularity with every sort of English flower. Pansies of every shade, masses of wallflowers, peonies, polyanthuses, poppies, campanulas, lilies, and a host of others, all growing and blowing in the greatest beauty, and filling the air with delicious perfume.
The little Hamble brook flows through the lawn in front of the house, reminding me a good deal of the one at Ewelme. It is not, however, quite as large as the Ewelme one, and has a nasty trick of running dry in some years.
I had some punting in Mr. Schwabe's punt, amusing myself by trying my skills in the eddies below the weir; and as there was a good stream on, found it most invigorating work. The river is not, however, very inviting in the early spring, especially when a backward one, as this was; the weeds and flowers have scarcely begun to show at all.
Mr. Schwabe is very fond of sailing boats, and has quite a little fleet of cutters moored off his boat-house; the reach from Hambledon to Henley is very well adapted for sailing, and in the summer time he gets up a sailing regatta here, which is a very pretty sight, especially when the wind blows fresh.

Lantern Slide (1883-1908) - Camping our near The River Thames
Pictures by W.C.Hughes. Thanks to Pat Furley, research by Dr Wilson.
I have a hunch this is near here - but there are several possibilities ...


Country Life September 1946