Freshford Mill | 29 September 2016 |

The properties at Freshford Mill, 6 miles south-east of Bath, all come with names that relate to the history of the mill in former times. Environ Communities are regenerating the derelict Mill buildings into family homes and apartments that offer the best of contemporary country living. The history of the mill can be traced back to possibly Roman times but certainly it is mentioned in The Doomesday Book. In the mid 1600’s it enjoyed thriving times when upwards of a thousand men, ...

… women and children were employed in the manufacture of woollen cloth, declining to only 92 employees in 1816.

Sadly, the long association with wool and wool products ceased in the 1930’s but in the Second World War the buildings were used to store aircraft parts.

After damage by bombs to their factory in Trowbridge, Peradin, a rubber manufacturer, moved to the mill and remained until 1995 when a refusal to rebuild and extend the factory induced the decision to move back to Trowbridge. There were 400 employees working through 24 hours in three shift patterns!

In 2014 Environ Communities purchased the derelict site and a complicated regeneration commenced. Plans were drawn up and the plots were allocated names representing processes or ingredients in wool cloth manufacture or historical characters associated with the mill.

Buy one of these amazing properties and imagine the history of past times. Properties range from 2 to 5 bedrooms, and start at £625,000 for a two bedroom apartment.

Which one would you choose?

  • FULLING MILL: Fulling is a process in woollen clothmaking which involves the cleansing of cloth, particularly wool, to eliminate oils, dirt and other impurities, making it thicker.

The worker who does the job is a fuller, tucker or walker all of which have become common surnames.

In the fulling mill, the cloth was beaten with wooden hammers, known as fulling hammers or stocks

  • CARDING MILL: Carding is a mechanical process that disentangles, cleans and intermixes fibres to produce a continuous web or sliver suitable for subsequent processing. This is achieved by passing the fibres between differentially moving surfaces covered with carding cloth.

The word is derived from the Latin carduus meaning thistle or teasel.

  • TEASEL COTTAGE: Dried teasels were first used to comb the raw wool, raising the knap of the cloth after fulling. The teasels were grown in a field towards Iford called Teazel Ground.
  • WILLIAMS HOUSE: It is assumed the sixteenth century house, in ruins today, was built by William Long who was a tenant of Freshford Mill. It was probably a two gabled, three storied Jacobean house. In the late 18th century the old farmhouse was absorbed into the new mill complex and a tall chimney to service a steam engine was placed against the side of one gabled wing of the front elevation. At some time between 1884 and 1904 the major part of Williams House was demolished.
  • RACKHAM HOUSE: At one stage in the processing of woollen cloth, it was stretched on great frames known as tenters, to which it was attached by tenterhooks. The colourful cloths were dried on the tenterhooks in Rackham Close being the area of the mill to the east by the entrance
  • ASHE BARN: John Ashe was from a wealthy Somerset clothier family and arguably the most important and influential figure to be associated with Freshford Mill in its long history. He was a puritan sympathiser and for his efforts he was hauled before the Star Chamber but was released without punishment as he argued that thousands depended on him for their livlihoods. It is estimated that Ashe was employing up to a thousand people by 1637. In 1640 he became a Member of Parliament and became one of the leaders of the Parliamentary party in Somerset. John Ashe fled to London a year after the Civil War broke out, leaving his wife to manage the Mill.
  • GIBBS COTTAGES: The Gibbs family rented Freshford Mill for several years in the 17th
  • PERKINS COURT: In 1795 Freshford Mill was sold to Samuel Perkins who was a member of the remarkable and extended Perkins Family, wealthy investors and entrepreneurs. He undertook substantial rebuilding at the mill and in the new multi-storied buildings, machinery was installed for the preparation, spinning and dying of wool. Perkins did not retain the mill for long and it was advertised for sale in 1807
  • LETECOMBE LODGE: At the time of the Reformation in the 16th Century Freshford Mill was known as Letecombe Mill and later as Ladcombe.
  • DYE HOUSE: In Mediaevil times dye would have derived from plants or minerals available locally, particularly madder and woad which were grown in plantations. Many natural dyes required an additive to “fix” the dye – vinegar, tannin from oak bark, sumac or oak galls, ammonia and wood-ash liquor were commonly used. Many of the dyes or additives gave off strong and unpleasant odours, and the actual process of dyeing required a good supply of fresh water, storage for bulky plant materials, vats which could be kept heated along with the necessary fuel, and airy spaces to dry the dyed textile such as Rackham Close
  • MILLMANS COTTAGE: This name reminds us that in the 18th Century one of the mills was a flour mill and that a farm existed on the mill site until the end of the 1700’s