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Houghton Mill
Photos by Joe Bridge - www.joebridge.co.uk
e-mail :
joebridge@gmail.com

Houghton Mill - National Trust Website Link
 
Houghton Mill National Trust - Working Mill with paddle and Lock Gates
Houghton Mill National Trust - Working Mill with workng paddle and Lock Gates
 

Houghton Mill is located near Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire, in the village of Houghton, signposted off A1123 Huntingdon to St Ives. It is a large fully working Water Mill of brick and timber construction, dating back to 1310. There is also a caravan park, tea rooms and walks along the River Great Ouse with a working Lock in regular use. Its a great day out, with Punts and Rowing Boats, cycle paths and plenty of character in a relaxed atmosphere.

History:
Houghton Mill is the only working watermill left on the Great Ouse. The present building probably dates from the 18th century and was substantially altered and extended in the 19th century. In its mid-19th century heyday, the mill ran 10 pairs of stones, powered by three separate waterwheels. Much of the internal machinery remains intact although the wheels were removed in the 1930s when the mill stopped production. Today, corn is ground by a pair of millstones powered by the north waterwheel which was re-instated in 1999.

In the Middle Ages, the mill and the village were owned by the great Benedictine Abbey of Ramsey, 10 miles from Houghton. All the villagers worked for the Abbey, the majority growing crops and tending livestock. The miller ground the Abbey's corn which was then either sold or used to feed the monks. Villagers had to grind their corn in the Abbey's mill or pay a heavy fine. The Abbey then claimed a proportion of the flour, usually one seventeenth, in a tax known as 'multure'. Disputes between the Abbey and the village arose when the flow of water to the mill was obstructed. In 1500, the abbot blocked the river in order to power the mill and flooded the village. Angered by the actions of the Abbey, the villagers 'assembled themselves in a riotous manner ... and ... with great violence and might, took and carried away the floodgates of the mills at Houghton'.

Fifteen years later, the villagers were granted permission to open the gates, in times of flood, and remove any obstruction placed in the river which diverted the water from its natural course. In Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (c1400), we are told of several dishonest millers who swindled their customers out of extra multure. The artful miller '... was a master-hand at stealing grain. He felt it with his thumb and thus he knew. Its quality and took three times his due. A thumb of gold, by God, to gauge an Oat!' Villagers tried to avoid multure by grinding their own corn or by taking it to a mill with a lower charge. In 1310, Richard Plombe of Houghton was fined sixpence for having his corn ground in the wrong mill. This was a large sum, for the average daily wage was only one or two pence.

Address:
Houghton Mill
Houghton, nr Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire PE28 2AZ
Telephone: 01480 301494

Contact details:
01480 301494
01480 466716 (Caravan Club/campsite)
01480 462413 (Tea-room)

Admission prices:
£3.20, child £1.50, family £7.00. Groups £2.00, child £1.00

   
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Houghton Mill Lock
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Houghton Mill Lock
Houghton Mill Lock

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