Tuesday 28 April 2020

The Saxon Mill

Another walk in Old Milverton. We started at St James' church

and then took the path that leads to the Saxon Mill.

We could see the ruin of Guy Cliffe's house in the distance.

Guy's Cliffe has been occupied since Saxon times and derives its name from the legendary Guy of Warwick. Guy is supposed to have retired to a hermitage on this site. This legend led to the founding of a chantry. The chantry was established in 1423 as the Chapel of St Mary Magdalene and the rock-carved stables and storehouses still remain. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henvy VIII the site passed into private hands.

The current, ruined house dates from 1751 and was started by Samuel Greatheed, a West India merchant and Member of Parliament for Coventry, 1747-1461. He was one of the most prominent slave traders in the Caribbean and later received the large sum of £25,000 in compensation from the government following the abolition of the slave trade. The estate also comprised a mill, stables, kitchen garden and land. The house was used as a hospital during WWI and in WWII became a school for evacuated children.
Guy's Cliffe estate was broken up and sold in 1947. The mill became a pub and restaurant and was named Saxon Mill, the stables became a riding school, and kitchen garden became a nursery, all of which still exist today.
 In 1955 the house was purchased by Aldwyn Porter and the chapel leased to the Freemasons, establishing a connection with the masons that remains today. The roof had fallen in by 1966. In 1992 during the filming of the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (The Last Vampyre) a fire scene got out of control and seriously damaged the building.

Some believe
that the house is haunted, and regular Ghost Tours take place. The site for the Ghost Tours claims: 'The location is rich with local folklore and ghost stories, after the nearby execution of the King's lover, Piers Gaveston, it was said that a phantom procession still walks near Guy's Cliffe House. On moonlit, windless nights - you will hear the ring of bells.... A phantom procession, an evil black figure and spectres of WWII soldiers wander its catacombs and rooms'. 

We walked to the end of the long path that cuts through the fields and reached this bridge

beyond the bridge is this pond.

and beyond it, the weir.

First sighting of the Saxon Mill, the bridge, and the weir

The bridge,

the weir

the water rushing down not as plentiful as some times, given that we have not had much rain in the last few days

Two swans nesting on a small island

and a view of Guy's Cliffe House

view from the other side of the bridge

The Saxon Mill

We used to like coming here for a drink and meal, but it's now temporarily closed of course, given the lockdown

Where the wheel is situated

and a closer look

The second building of the pub/restaurant

We walked round to the front of the building, the main entrance, where the car park is

turned right to the back of the building

From here we could see the bridge we had crossed earlier 

We retraced our steps

Left the Mill behind us and started walking up the path

towards St James' church

It's one of my favourite walks in our area.

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