History of The Mill House - An Update
With all this time on my hands recently I have been doing some more research, discovering a little bit more about the history of residents of past of The Mill House, albeit still with some gaps.
Despite being a 17th Century house, there isn’t much of a trail prior to 1810 so we’ll start from there. The Mill House appears in records in 1810 when it was sold at auction along with the adjoining Mill, being described as “a dwelling house with large garden and offices, but with some alterations, may be made a very good family residence”.
In 1842 The Mill House was owned by Giles Hall. Giles ran the paper mill at Rickford for many years. He was also president of the Blagdon Patriotic Fraternity Benefit Society and a prominent businessman. William Hall, believed to have been Giles’ son, was the actual occupant of the house.
In 1851 the name of the property was listed as Rickford House, and the occupants were William, his wife Martha, their seven children, a nurse and a one servant – who I can only imagine would definitely would have had her hands full!
Through the 1870’s and 1880’s the house was owned by a Mr James King until his death, following which it appears once again at auction on the 5th August 1885.
It was at that auction, that The Mill House (along with some other properties locally) were acquired by the Wills family, becoming part of The Coombe Lodge & Langford Court Estate. The Mill House remains to this day part of that Estate. I even found a copy of that advert for the auction.
Records show that in 1891, Charles Merrick (the Baptist Minister) lived at The Mill House with his wife Blanche, and their five children. The household also included his wife’s grandmother and lady’s help.
There is then another small gap in the records.
But, then the trail picks up again. From 1914 to 1922 the house was occupied by Mrs J.H. Dewey.
From 1925 to 1928, Dr K.S. Melvin was the tenant. He vacated the property at Christmas in 1928 and the tenancy was passed to Reverend George Mitchell (the Curate of St. Andrew’s Church in Blagdon) who remained here until 1931.
This was followed by Colonel Estridge taking on the property in January of 1932 where he stayed for three and a half years.
Up on his departure in 1935 The Mill House was then occupied by a Mr M. Bell-Irving. Mr Bell-Irving was a riding instructor employed by the then Lady Wills. He stayed until 1937.
In March of 1937 the property was leased to Commander H.G.L Harvey (who has quite the service record). Commander Harvey remained the tenant until December 1952 though a good chunk of those years he was in active service (WWII) so it is questionable how much time he actually spent here as a whole, though I can imagine it would have been quite the ideal tranquil haven to return to for R&R.
In 1953 the lease was taken on by W.J. Corpe. He remained until 1968.
In 1968, Mr David Bryan Joll became the tenant. His tenancy was fairly short lived. News articles from the time show that The Mill House was raided by police in the latter end of 1969, during which they found a number of suits and fur coats which had been stolen from Tripp and Sons of Park Street, Bristol. Joll spent 6 weeks in jail for his handling of stolen goods. Joll gave up his tenancy.
In September of 1970 Commander William Woodhouse Haynes became the tenant with his wife. Though at some point Commander Haynes took on a property elsewhere, his wife remained here I believe until around 2002.
Following the departure of The Mill House’s longest remaining tenant’s to date, it remained empty for some time before undergoing some significant renovations in 2012 to bring the interior of the property more into the modern day.
If walls could speak, I bet this house would have some story’s to tell…
I am not done with researching yet, I’m hoping I’ll come across some old photos in local archives which would be amazing to share with you.
Keep smiling and stay well!