Ham Mill or Mills?

Thatcham once covered a much larger area than it does today (a future post will detail the changing boundary) and until the 20th century Ham Mill was part of Thatcham and NOT Newbury. Ham Mill was once part of a large estate known simply as Ham. The original Ham Mill was located to the north of the present mill, near where Newbury Manor Hotel is today. This mill, lets call it the north mill, was powered by the River Lambourn and is confirmed in Willis’ map of 1768. A mill at Ham can be dated back to the early 14th century with certanty, however this Ham was not mentioned in Domesday and presumably just fell under Thatcham. This begs the question is Ham Mill one of the Domesday mills of Thatcham?

It would appear that the name started to change during the 18th century, many documents simply referred to Ham Mill before this. An agreement from 1764 records Ham Mills whilst Willis’ map of 1768 has Ham Mill. In the case of many mills this is likely that this is because a mill had more than one grind stone, or perhaps more than one water wheel, and hence the plural mills. This chopped and changed only settling around 1826 when most documents refer to Ham Mills. The 1815 enclosure map clearly shows two separate mills, the north mill and one on the River Kennet, lets call this the south mill. It is assumed the two together are collectively called Ham Mills. Each have their own buildings including millers cottages.

The south mill building dates to the 19th century, but may be built on the site of an earlier mill. The millers house, known as Stowers, is to the left and dates to the 17th or 18th century. A mill was probably first erected here sometime between 1700 and 1815.

The first Ordnance Survey map of 1881 clearly identifies Ham Mill as the south mill and simply records the north mill as “Corn Mill, disused.” Today the original Ham Mill (north) has gone and it is the south mill, which still stands, that is referred to as Ham Mill.