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Alderford And Hovis Mill
Written By Pauline Day
Local mills were once of importance to the farming community but sadly the post mill at Cut Maple and the brick Tower mill in Lamb lane have been demolished. However the two watermills which were once so important can still be seen.
An early reference to Alderford mill dates back to 1597 when seven Sible Hedingham men broke the floodgates, let out the water and netted 100 Roach worth 40 shillings. They were prosecuted for poaching and fined one shilling each at the quarter sessions. At this time the mill was owned by The Earls of Oxford of Hedingham Castle. For most of the 20th. Century the mill was owned by the Rawlinson family who ground flour until the Second world war and then Animal feeds. During and post war many villagers kept poultry in their gardens some for eggs and some for 'fattening' for Christmas These were generally fed on household scraps but when extra feed of corn or meal was needed 'Rawlinsons' was convenient and able to supply them. Some people became quite fond of their poultry, as did one lady in Alexandra Road who purchased a chicken from the local butcher for her family Christmas dinner having refused to allow her husband to kill a Goose she had raised for the purpose.
Alderford mill is a medium sized timber building and one of the best preserved watermills in Essex. The mill is now owned by Essex County Council, is currently undergoing restoration to its former glory by their experts and will be open to the public on the second Sunday of the month through the summer. Visit www.alderfordmill.org.uk for details.
Rebuilt in its present form in 1848, there has been a mill here on the river Colne for many centuries. It was generally known as Hull's Mill and during the latter half of the nineteenth century was owned by the Metson family who also owned Tower mill and Cut Maple mill. After the First world war it was bought by Hovis Ltd. who installed an engine for flour milling but still used water power for grinding corn. When it was closed down in 1957 it wasone of the last country flour mills. More recently it has become known as Maplestead mill because although always considered a part of Sible Hedingham it is actually on the Great Maplestead side of the river. The mill building has been converted into a private dwelling but this attractive building and its mill pool can be seen from the public footpaths alongside the river and the road passing through.
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