History of Stanway Watermill
In 1291 the Abbey of Tewkesbury was recorded as owning three corn mills and one fulling mill in the parish of Stanway, all powered by the stream rising in Lidcombe wood.
The uppermost mill had by 1635 changed from a corn mill to a papermill, one of the earliest recorded in the country. The pond for the next mill down the stream still survives as the “Post Office Pond”, although all traces of a building have gone.
A building for the lowest, fourth mill on the stream survives, but withoug machinery or millpond.
However the third water mill, located in Church Stanway village, is very much alive and kicking. This mill was originally a fulling mill. Fulling was the process of beating and scouring with fullers’ earth cloth that had been woven from the local sheep wool.
When the cloth industry died out towards the end of the 17th century, this mill was converted to grind corn. In the mid 19th century a new, 24-foot diameter cast-iron waterwheel, made in Tewkesbury by James Savory, was installed and then the mill became the estate saw mill, processing timber from the surrounding area. A large circular saw,powered by an underground drive taken from the waterwheel was positioned outside the mill under a veranda. In 1913 a generator was added, so that the waterwheel could provide electric power to Church Stanway village.
The watermill fell into disuse in the 1950’s, all the machinery except the waterwheel was ripped out, the pond was filled in, and the building was modified to accommodate a number of craft workshops.
From 2002 the mill was restored as a corn mill by Chris Wallis and Dave Empringham and others, and was re-opened by the Prince of Wales on 30 October 2009. The waterwheel was provided with new galvanised steel buckets, the pond excavated and a complete set of cast iron and wooden machinery manufactured and fitted. New grain bins, a sack hoist, a flour elevatoar and a 3-grade flour-sieve, all water driven, have been installed. Wholemeal and sifted flour is now produced with a pair of French burr stones.
Thanks to the determination of the present Earl of Wemyss and the highly skilled team of millwrights, we now have a fully-operational restored watermill in Stanway which the public are able to visit and watch working.