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Water mills and quarry at Mortimer's Cross

A Scheduled Monument in Lucton, Herefordshire,

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Latitude: 52.2698 / 52°16'11"N

Longitude: -2.8427 / 2°50'33"W

OS Eastings: 342593.601457

OS Northings: 263848.541122

OS Grid: SO425638

Mapcode National: GBR BD.Z4TZ

Mapcode Global: VH775.P61T

Entry Name: Water mills and quarry at Mortimer's Cross

Scheduled Date: 8 October 1981

Last Amended: 8 April 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016252

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27526

County: Herefordshire,

Civil Parish: Lucton

Traditional County: Herefordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Herefordshire

Church of England Parish: Croft with Yarpole and Lucton

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The monument includes the standing, earthwork, and buried remains of a working
water mill and its associated water management system, and the earthwork and
buried remains of a now vanished paper mill to the north. It also includes a
series of quarries and their associated features along the eastern side of the
mill leat. The monument is situated on the River Lugg, where the valley opens
out into broad floodplain at Kingsland, north of the site of the Battle of
Mortimer's Cross of 1461. The present mill building dates from the 18th
century, and occupies the site of an earlier paper mill which itself stood on
or near the site of a fulling mill. It is the last working structure remaining
from a succession of mills which have sat on either side of the substantial
leat which flows from north west to south east through the site.

Early documentary references to these mills include two deeds dated 1748 and
1760, referring to agreements between the landowners and the papermaker,
Thomas Jones of Lucton. The 1748 document mentions land belonging to the
former fulling mill, or `Walk Mill', a name derived from the medieval practice
of treading cloth in troughs of water to bind and shrink the fibres. The land
to the south east of the present mill is known as Walk Mill Grounds, and is
probably the area where the cloth was laid out to dry. The second deed refers
to a `stock of water grist mills together with the said mills', implying there
were a number of wheels operating, one of which will have been the former
paper mill to the north of the standing building. Originally part of the Croft
Castle Estate, the present mill was owned by the Kevill-Davies family between
1785 and 1923, and continued producing paper at least until 1830 when the
paper maker was one John Wade. Sometime after this it was converted to a grain
mill, and from around 1870 (when the present machinery was installed) it
continued grinding animal feed commercially until the 1940s.

The present three-storeyed mill building at Mortimer's Cross is principally
constructered of local Aymestrey limestone with wooden-framed windows, a flag
floor, and slate roof. It is in the care of the Secretary of State and is
Listed Grade II. The wooden wheel with metal paddles is middle breast shot and
the water supply is controlled by a penstock which can be operated from within
the mill. The wheel has eight wooden spokes, iron hub-plates and iron vanes.
It drives a system of modern, bevelled iron gear wheels, the pit wheel and
wallower, which convert the power to a vertical axle. From here power is
distributed by three wheels with shock-resistant wooden teeth, known as stone
nuts, to vertical spindles which pass up to the first floor and through
the lower millstones, known as bedstones, to rotate the upper stones. The
mill retains three of its original sets of stones, in well-preserved octagonal
wooden casings or tuns. A separate bevel gear powers a horizontal drive
working three leather belt pulleys. These operate a winnowing drum with a fan,
a flour machine for grading the meal (both at first floor level) and the sack
hoist (on the second floor). The dust extraction fan was necessary to reduce
the risk of flour explosion caused by sparks coming off the wheel. Between the
first and second floors is a storage area known as the garner floor, from
which the grain was shovelled through chutes, into hoppers and thus into the
millstone. The mechanism could be worked by one man, however only one
millstone and a single accessory could be operated at once. The millstones
used varied according to the raw material; softer stones for beans or peas,
harder for wheat. Amongst the flags on the mill house floor are several old
millstones, one of which has a square socket and was probably reused in a
cider mill before being set into the floor. The mill building incorporates
several reused structural timbers, and some elements of the pulley mechanism
were clearly originally designed for another purpose, probably paper-making.
The sack shed at the north east end of the building has been rebuilt and is
now in use as a museum.

Some 200m north of the mill building is a stone weir, extending for c.27m
across the river and allowing water to be diverted south eastwards into the
leat. Flow through the leat is regulated by a sluice at the east end of the
weir, which allows water to rejoin the river. The sluice has stone rubble
footings and two modern wooden slides, which are adjusted by means of iron
cogs on toothed iron racks. Beyond the sluice the leat extends southwards for
c.200m. It has straight sides and a flat bottom which is partly stone lined.
Low mounds on both banks represent spoil from episodes of cleaning. Some 35m
north west of the mill are the remains of a now disused sluice, represented by
an infilled east-west channel which drains back into the river. Some masonry
is visible in this channel, and the west bank of the main north-south leat has
a stone revetment which extends for 3m-4m to either side of the sluice. This
feature was probably a flood relief mechanism for the now vanished paper mill,
which was situated approximately 15m further south. The site of this paper
mill is now partly occupied by a wood and iron sluice with stone rubble
footings, which controls water flow into a partly stone-lined east-west wheel-
pit flowing into the river. Modern access across the pit is provided by a
ground-level timber walkway. Evidence for the mill building and wheel
mechanism will survive here as buried features.

The main leat is crossed by a wooden footbridge before flowing under the
surviving mill wheel. The wheel itself is surrounded by a wooden fence on all
sides. South of the wheel the first c.10m of the tailrace runs through a
stone-lined, brick-roofed tunnel, then continues as a straight, open
watercourse, c.2m wide and 50m long, towards the north eastern arch of the
road bridge.

Some 20m east of the leat are a succession of small quarries, which have at
least three distinct working faces. The most northerly of these clearly shows
the development of the face, the deposition of successive spoil heaps, and the
line of tracks and paths providing access to the face. There is also some
earthwork evidence for the locations of various temporary buildings used, no
doubt, in association with the quarry working. The deeds relating to the mill
mention the landowner's right to quarry here, and the present mill building
was undoubtedly constructed from this local stone, as were most of the other
contemporary buildings in the adjacent settlement. The proximity of the quarry
to the mill contributes to the impression of Mortimer's Cross as an industrial
hamlet, where milling, quarrying, forestry and agricultural activities served
the local community.

All fences along the mill leat, the paved path along the north east bank of
the tailrace and the modern wooden extension in use as a museum at the north
east end of the mill building are excluded from the scheduling, but the ground
beneath them is included; the objects displayed within the museum, and the
owner's objects displayed in the mill, are excluded from the scheduling.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A watermill uses the gravitational force of water to turn a paddled wheel, the
energy thus generated in the axle of the wheel enabling the operation of
varying kinds of machinery. The waterwheel can be set directly into a stream,
with a simple `shut' to control water flow, or may be spring fed or use tidal
waters. More usually, however, an artificial channel, or leat, is diverted
from the main watercourse and its flow to the wheel regulated by sluices.
Depending on the height at which water is supplied, the wheel is described as
overshot, breastshot, or undershot. The spent water returns to the main stream
via a tailrace which may be straightened to increase efficiency. Where the
natural flow of water is inadequate, a millpond may be constructed to increase
the body of water (and thus the flow) behind the wheel.
Simple vertical waterwheels used for irrigation had been in use in the Roman
period, although the earliest mill so far identified was dated from its
timbers to the late 7th century AD. Early medieval mills could have wheels set
horizontally or vertically. By the time of the Domesday Book an estimated 6000
mills were in existence, and the number increased steadily over the next three
centuries. During the medieval period, mills, usually used for corn grinding,
were a sign of status, and an important source of income to the lord of the
manor who usually leased the mill and its land to the miller. With
technological improvements, an increasing range of equipment including fulling
stocks, tilt hammers, bellows, and textile machinery could be powered by
watermills, and they became increasingly important to urban and rural life and
industry. With the advent of steam power and the introduction of iron gears in
the 18th century, waterpower eventually became obsolete for major industry,
although many smaller rural mills continued in use.
As a common feature of the rural and urban landscape, watermills played an
important role in the development of technology and economy. Many of those
retaining significant original features or of particularly early date will
merit protection.

Mortimer's Cross Mill is a fine example of a post-medieval water mill in
working order. The mill building will preserve evidence for its method of
construction and any subsequent adaptations, as well as information about
former buildings and activities on the site in the form of reused structural
and mechanical timbers and buried foundations. The main mill leat will also
preserve details of its construction, including revetments and linings, as
will the weir and sluices. Waterlogged deposits in these features will contain
environmental evidence for activities which took place at and around the mill,
and for land use in the surrounding area, and there is a high likelihood of
organic remains surviving. Evidence for the now vanished paper mill and its
flood relief sluice to the north will be preserved below ground, unmodified by
later construction, increasing our understanding of this earlier phase of
activity. Information relating to post-medieval quarrying methods will be
preserved at the stone face and spoil heaps to the east of the leat, and the
old ground surface sealed beneath the spoil will retain evidence for land use
before quarrying began. Documentary evidence enhances our understanding of the
role of this industrial hamlet in the local society and economy. All these
elements enhance interest in the site as a whole. The working mill mechanism,
with three pairs of well-preserved original millstones, provides a rare
opportunity to observe a process which has continued here essentially
unchanged since before the Industrial Revolution. The mill is open to the
public at regular intervals, and is occasionally operated.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Delaney, D, Deeds, (1991)
background information to research, Hereford Records Office,
guide book to mill, Delaney, D, (1991)
information compiled for research, Herefordshire Records Office,

Source: Historic England

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