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The Last Commercially Working Watermill On The River Thames

Fifteenth century Watermill

In the framework of the present mill the fifteenth century mill can be clearly seen, its walls, timbers and roof trusses form the centre of the building. At this time the wheel operated two pairs of stones. Mapledurham Gurney, Chawsey and Purley relied entirely on the mill. Records show that Sir Thomas de Hurskaal (Lord of Purley) provided chalk to make roads and bridges so his corn could cross the river to the mill.

The Watermill In The Late Seventeenth Century

The plague of 1677 drove the wealthy out of London and the royal court moved to Abingdon. The millers were eager to profit from this situation and so added a second waterwheel and two more pairs of stones. They also added bins in the roof space and a chain hoist  to haul sacks up inside the mill. A further extension was built to house flour dressers to separate fine white flour from bran that the affluent customers demanded.


William de Warrene holds Mapledurham of the King.  There is a mill worth 20 shillings and 10 acres of meadow.  It was worth in the time of the King Edward and afterwards 8 pounds, now 12 pounds.

Mapledurham Mill in the Domesday Book

The Mills History

The business of the mill had continued to prosper and, at last, London had aroused from the lethargy which followed the Plague and the Great Fire, and became a great city once more. Yet again the miller saw his opportunity. London needed flour for its people, and bran and crushed oats  for its cab horses and its dray horses. Thus a barn was built with a wharf on the island bank of the upper mill pond. This served as a short term store for the flour which was then transferred onto barges and then sent to London.

The New Barn 1777

The farmers prospered greatly. The land no longer lay fallow for one year in every three, and its enhanced fertility filled many more sacks with good wheat and other grains to sell to the mill.

It was only with the opening of the resources of the American continent that the business of the mill fell into decline.

The mill continued in work until just after the Second World War and was restored and brought back into use in 1980. Currently we have one waterwheel running two pairs of stones.