Record Details

NHER Number:5931
Type of record:Monument
Name:Bishop's Mill or St Audrey's Mill and site of early cloth mill

Summary

This is the site of one of the three Thetford mills mentioned in Domesday. Cloth was produced here throughout the early medieval period and the mill continued to produce cloth and possibly corn until the 17th century, when it was converted to produce paper. It continued to produce paper throughout the 18th and 19th centuries when it was known as Bishop's Mill or St Audrey's Mill. In the first decade of the 19th century the business was significantly enlarged (see NHER 51706), covering 3.5-4 acres and incorporating the land previously known as Small Bridges Common. In 1869 the mill began to carry out hat-felting and from 1873 to 1879 hats, paper and pulp products were produced here by Charles Vickers and Co. (later Vickers and Knowles). This business failed in 1879 and the Thetford Patent Pulp Manufacturing Co. was subsequently established, making Pulp Ware by steam engine as well as water (see NHER 51706). The mill burnt in 1897 and was rebuilt in part with a Gilkes 30hp water turbine which worked until about 1958 when Paxman diesels were inserted. The last true Pulp Ware was produced in the 1950's, but by this time the company had already begun to switch to plastics and fibreglass for making injection-moulded products. The company changed its name to Thetford Moulded Products in 1961 when it complety converted to the production of plastics. Although no longer in use, the mill building remained under the care of Thetford Moulded Products (later Centurion Safety Products) until 1990, when the company moved its premises to Howlett Way. Sometime between 1990 and 2000 the mill was restored and converted for residential use.

Images - none

Location

Grid Reference:TL 8703 8270
Map Sheet:TL88SE
Parish:THETFORD, BRECKLAND, NORFOLK

Full description

Site of mill.
Information from (S1).
R. R. Clarke (NCM).

A mill is marked on Faden's 1797 map (S2). It's marked as a Paper Mill on the 1st edition 1in Ordnance Survey 1838 (S3) and some sort of building is still present on the site on the 1975 Ordnance Survey 1:25000 (S4).
An article by D. Stoker (S5) states that the first reference to a paper mill in Thetford was in 1753, when William Holmes insured his goods and stock. Correspondence from 1785 states that the Thetford mill was the only one 'in this part of the world' producing white instead of brown paper, but this is likely incorrect as a directory of the book trade from the same year lists both Thetford and Stoke Holy Cross as producers of white paper.
Mentioned as Bishop's Mill as late as 1865.
E. Rose (NAU) 1 June 1984.
Updated H. Hamilton (NLA), 16 July 2008.

Early Cloth Mill
This is the site of one of the three mills in Thetford mentioned in Domesday. Throughout the early medieval period it was owned by the Abbot of Ely and produced cloth. Blomefield (S8) describes it as a 12th century fulling mill, but it likely did not carry out this process until slightly later. The mill continued to produce cloth and possibly corn until the 17th century.
See (S6) and (S7) for further details.
H. Hamilton (NLA), 16 July 2008.

17th century: Paper Mill
The mill was converted to produce paper in the 17th century. In the 18th and 19th century it was known as Bishop's Mill or St Audrey's Mill. Paper production continued throughout the 18th century when it was owned by William Holmes and in the first decade of the 19th century it was enlarged, covering 3.5-4 acres and incorporating the land previously known as Small Bridges Common. In 1869 the mill began to carry out hat-felting and from 1873 to 1879 hats, paper and pulp products were produced here by the Charles Vickers and Co. (later Vickers and Knowles). See NHER 51706 for information on pulp ware and the Thetford Patent Pulp Manufacturing Co.
See (S6) and (S7) for further details.
H. Hamilton (NLA), 17 July 2008.

1879. Establishment of the Thetford Patent Pulp Manufacturing Co. (see also NHER 51706)
The Thetford Patent Pulp Manufacturing Co. was established here in 1879 (see NHER 51706) in what at that time was said to be a fulling mill, converted to paper making. In 1875 Vickers and Knowles had tried unsuccessfully to make pulp hats here. Pulp ware was then made by steam engine as well as water. The mill burnt in 1897 and was rebuilt and enlarged. At this time a Gilkes 30hp water turbine was installed, which worked until about 1958 when Paxman diesels were inserted. By this time the mill building itself had gone out of use. The last true pulp ware was produced in the 1950's, but by this time the company had already begun to switch to plastics and fibregalss for making injection-moulded products (see NHER 51706).
See (S9).
E. Rose (NAU) 20 November 1984.
See (S7) for further details.
E. Rose (NAU).

1961. Change of name to Thetford Moulded Products.
The Thetford Patent Pulp Manufacturing Co. changed its name to Thetford Moulded Products in 1961 when it complety converted to the production of plastics. Although no longer in use, the mill building remained under the care of Thetford Moulded Products (later Centurion Safety Products) until 1990, when the company moved its premises to Howlett Way.
See (S6) and (S7) for further details.
H. Hamilton (NLA), 16 July 2008.

1985. Site Visit.
One 1897 water turbine remains in its original position in the mill on the Little Ouse.
See (S6) for further details.
H. Hamilton (NLA), 17 July 2008.

1995.
Extensive restoration work is to be carried out at the mill.
See (S10) and (S11) for further details.
H. Hamilton (NLA), 17 July 2008.

October 1998. Excavation.RECORDED UNDER NHER 33902.
Excavation of three trial trenches in the area south of the river recorded the foundations of a late medieval to post medieval structure which may have been associated with the mill or other river activity.
See NHER 33902 for further details.
H. Hamilton (NLA), 17 July 2008.

Monument Types

  • WATERMILL (Medieval to Post Medieval - 1066 AD to 1600 AD)
  • PAPER MILL (Post Medieval - 1600 AD to 1879 AD)
  • PULP MILL (Post Medieval to Cold War - 1879 AD to 1955 AD)
  • HOUSE (Modern - 1995 AD? to 2050 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---(No record type): Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Medieval. Thetford.
---Secondary File: Secondary file.
---Fiche: Exists.
<S1>Archive: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
<S2>Publication: Faden, W. and Barringer, J. C. 1989. Faden's Map of Norfolk in 1797.
<S3>Map: Ordnance Survey. 1824-1836. Ordnance Survey First Edition 1 inch..
<S4>Map: Ordnance Survey. Ordnance Survey 1: 25 000 map.
<S5>Article in serial: Stoker, D. 1976. The Early History of Paper-making in Norfolk. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XXXVI Pt III pp 241-252. pp 247-248.
<S6>Article in serial: Goodwin, C.. 1985. Thetford Pulp Ware IN Norfolk Industrial Archaeology Society Journal.. Vol 3, No 5, Pp 164-9. Pp 164-9.
<S7>Website: Neville, J.. 2004. http://www.norfolkmills.co.uk/Watermills/thetford.html.
<S8>Serial: Blomefield, F.. 1805. An Essay Towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk.. Vol II.
<S9>Serial: November 198. NIAS Newsletter.
<S10>Graphic material: Various. Various. Architectural plans.. 1993/1995.
<S11>Photograph: 1995. Bishop's Mill, Thetford, Prior to repair and restoration work.. Inkjet Printout.

Related records

33902Related to: Medieval building remnants and multi period pottery sherds, Mill Lane East (Monument)
51706Related to: Site of the Thetford Paper Mill and the Thetford Patent Pulp Manufacturing Co (later Thetford Moulded Products) (Monument)

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