Coggeshall Abbey Mill

The present mill from the air

1910 when it was still in use

An avenue of ten lime trees, recalling the ten sons of Robert Bridge Appleford, who owned the mill in 1879, leads to Abbey Mill which stands where the monks diverted the River Blackwater not long after the Abbey was founded in 1140. Whether the monastic houses always founded their mills for grinding corn, or whether the mills were sometimes set up to serve the clothing trade, we do not know. However, we do know that a fulling mill (for treating the woven cloth) stood on this site after the Dissolution of the monasteries.

The present mill, over 100 feet of white weatherboard with a mansard crown of rose-red tiles, may date back to the 17th century. Because it was a textile works for many years, the front Abbey Mill is patterned by "weaver's windows" which tell the story of cottage rooms used for weaving and spinning throughout the Eastern Counties. In about 1820 it became a silk throwing mill for John Hall, who had set up a branch of his Coventry ribbon-making business in Coggeshall in 1818. Finding plenty of labour made redundant by the decline of the cottage wool trade, and willing to work 72 hours for 1s. 6d (8p) per week. Around 1840 it was equipped as a four-stone corn mill by the Applefords.


Wyatt Appleford (R) with companions in 1900 - the picture was called 'The Three Disciples'  

Wyatt Appleford in his punt on the river near Abbey Mill

The last of Robert's ten sons, Wyatt Appleford (who was a noted local sportsman) died in 1947 at the age of 82, leaving the mill to be run for a dozen years by Mr Bonner. It closed in 1960 and was acquired by its present owner, Mr Roy Ward, who after fighting off a River Board plan to rob it of its water, has succeeded in keeping the wheel and its millstream in working order. The mill is not open to the public at present.


Swimming party at the mill, probably 1920s


The mill today

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