River Pitt Mills

Two mills were recorded in 1086. One of those was probably east of the church and belonged to Pitcombe manor until the 19th century.  It was demolished before 1701 but had been rebuilt with a new house by 1703.  It was held with a small farm until 1803 when the mill, known as Pitcombe mill, was let separately to the Melhuish family who worked it until 1851 or later.  By 1854 it was in need of extensive repairs to both the building and machinery and in 1857 it was demolished as part of a scheme to build a new road. The mill house survived until the 1880s. 

There was a mill at Cole in the late 13th century, possibly the second Domesday mill, but it is not clear whether it was the predecessor of Cole or Gants mills.  Cole mill was recorded in 1503 and remained part of Pitcombe manor in 1651. The house was rebuilt in the 17th century and the mill in the 18th. In the late 18th century it belonged to John Pounsett who married Jane, sister of the Revd. James Woodforde, the diarist. The mill passed to their daughter Jane, wife of the Revd. William Grove. The mill was worked until 1939 or later and the undershot wheel survives.

John died in 1429 and his wife Amice before 1459. Amice’s son Richard Weston appears to have released Gants mills to John’s executors who in 1462 settled them on John Weston and his wife Edith. Before 1291 Hugh Lovel gave land at Cole north of the Brue to John le Gaunt with the right to make a sluice gate. John built mills including a fulling mill which he gave with land to his brother Walter. Walter had been succeeded by Thomas le Gaunt before 1333.  By 1351 the mill was known as Gaunt, later Gants, mill and was the property of Richard Prenche. Between 1356 and 1360 the fulling mill was rebuilt.  Richard gave the mill for life to his brother John Clark who granted it to Richard’s son Edward Prenche in 1383. In 1385 Edward sold it to Hugh Plomer of Bristol  who in 1391 conveyed it to Thomas Tanner. From Tanner it was acquired by John Gregory in 1400. John (d. c. 1476) was followed by his son Hugh (d. by 1546) and by Sir William Weston (d. 1594) who left a son Thomas under age. The mill and lands were said to be in the demesne of Cole and held of Castle Cary manor. Thomas (d. 1668) was followed by his son Thomas (d. 1669) and grandson William Weston. William’s son, also William (d. 1727), was succeeded by his second son Thomas who in 1733, after coming of age, sold the grist mill and fulling mill to William, Baron Berkeley.  It descended with Bruton manor.

The mill was repaired in 1779 and in 1781 a new wheel was installed. In 1783 it was let to the Melhuish family who bought it in 1799. In 1812 it was purchased by Theophilus Perceval, a silk throwster, who may have been responsible for converting it to a silk mill and building the seven-bay western extension, probably the new Denizen mill  recorded in 1824. Perceval worked it in partnership with successive silk throwsters. There were said to be 59 people living at the mill in 1821 but the business seems to have declined in the 1820s and by 1829 Perceval was bankrupt.  The Saxon family continued the business as tenants to the mortgagees until 1841. 

The building was vacated in 1842 and was put up for sale in 1844 as silk mills with grist mill. It was let by 1851 as a flour mill by Edward Dyne, solicitor, who held the mortgages, and from 1858 to 1949 it was worked by the Lockyer family who purchased it in 1924. In 1949 the mill was sold to the Shingler family and continued in use in 1996, mainly for animal feed.

The oldest part of the building, of uncertain date, lies across the stream and is now mostly occupied by the wheelhouse. A cross wing was added to the north in the later 18th century and it was remodelled early in the 19th when a long extension was built to the west. The miller’s house appears to have been rebuilt in the early 19th century. The upper part of the old mill was rebuilt in the later 19th century and in 1883 an engine house was built to the south. The mill leet runs eastwards for about 0.5 km. and the old wheel was overshot. A steam engine was installed in 1883 and a turbine in 1888 but the mill was converted to diesel power in the 20th century and the steam engine and its chimney have been removed. There are four sets of stones.

There was a mill at Honeywick in the later 17th century but it was not recorded again. 

In the 16th and 17th centuries there was a windmill near Godminster where the names Windmill field and Windmill Hill were later recorded. 

[ Extract from this article in British History online ]


Shepton Montague Mills

There were two mills on Shepton manor in 1086, one of which paid no rent, the other presumably working for the lord alone.  A mill was said to be in decay in 1354  and 1484-5, but was working in 1353 and 1405 and may have been in use in 1623 when it was conveyed to Richard Adams. In the late 18th century a millhouse at Stoke was associated with tanning. Fields called Millhams and Mill Pitch or Pits north-west of Shepton church and Millhams west of Stoney Stoke survived in 1839.

[ Extract from this article in British History online ]


The Somerset Historic Environment Record also records the evidence of two mills. The first is located near Knowle Rock Farm and the other north of Shepton Montague. You can access the records by clicking the following links:

Knowle Bottom Mill

Shepton Montague