There has been a mill on
this site for hundreds of years, one of many mills on the River Loddon.
There is evidence that a mill existed on this site 800 years ago. Records show
that a man called ‘John the Miller’ lived in Sherfield.
indicates that the building you see now housing the milling machinery is of 15th
century origin and the granary, now incorporated into the restaurant, was added
in the 16th
At the height of its
success, ‘Lodbridge Mill’ at ‘Shirefield upon Loddon’ was a major industry in
the area. There may have been two waterwheels powering the four sets of
milling stones. These produced a wide variety of milled products for both
humans and animals. The waterwheels also provided the power to pump water
to the manor house, over a mile away. (now Sherfield School). Heavy horses
hauled carts loaded with sacks of grain to the mill, where it was stored in the
granary until it was milled.
George Woodruffe was the
miller at Longbridge for most of his working life, in the 18th
century. He built a grain drying store in 1782 which was the last extension to
the mill. After Woodruffe the millers changed frequently until, in the
late 1880s, Charles and Fanny Lailey moved into the mill with their nine year
old son Charles Junior who even at that young age began to work with his father.
Four generations of the Lailey family lived at the mill for almost a century.
In 1977 milling at
Longbridge ceased although Harold Lailey remained there as water bailiff.
In 1991 a disastrous fire destroyed some of the buildings. The remainder
of the buildings lay abandoned until they were bought by Mill House Inns in
1996. A major restoration programme began on the derelict, breastshot
waterwheel and milling equipment. The mill is now fully restored and every
month since then, wholemeal flour has been milled for direct sale to the many
visitors. In 2006 the then owners, Whitbread plc, funded restoration and new
building to the sluices and bulwarks in the leat channel with a sturdy bridge
Members of the Hampshire
Mills Group helped in the mill’s restoration and have carried out the regular
milling since the mill reopened, under the stipulation by the Hampshire County
Council‘s Conservation Officer, that it must be used for milling at least 12
times a year. A good working relationship has been established with the
new owners, Mitchells & Butlers, who are keen to see the mill being well
utilised and visitors, restaurant customers, organized groups from
societies, colleges and schools are all. welcome.