PROPERTY Old Mill Reveals an Ancient History; Marsya Lennox Unearths a Lovingly Restored Treasure on the Welsh Border

By Lennox, Marsya | The Birmingham Post (England), July 22, 2000 | Go to article overview

PROPERTY Old Mill Reveals an Ancient History; Marsya Lennox Unearths a Lovingly Restored Treasure on the Welsh Border


Lennox, Marsya, The Birmingham Post (England)


A converted mill on the Midland border with Wales is the historian's dream buy - with footings in the first millennium and enough in the archives to fill its own book.

Pentre Mill at Pentre near Churchstoke has a Montgomery address and is close to the Shropshire town of Bishops Castle, newly on the market with the local office of Norman Lloyd & Co.

The conservation body, CADW, Welsh Historic Monuments has done its homework on the building, now converted for residential use with the utmost respect for its architectural origins.

Listed only in 1996, the mill dates to around 1620 but with much earlier origins, believed to have been built or adapted from a medieval moated site.

It is small but tall, of two bays over three storeys to the front and two storeys to the back, constructed of large masonry blocks, randomly laid with large stone quoins.

The top level was added later and though no mill machinery survives, the remains of a wheel pit can be seen to the east, there is a well preserved culverted tailrace with stone arched top and some interior sockets indicate original placing.

In 1709, it was mentioned in a marriage settlement as a water corn mill and although described in 1702 as a 'very ancient mill', it was still in use in 1907.

The social history would fascinate any romantic. Finds of pottery and artefacts on the site date from the Roman period. Remnants of Anglo Saxon times around the 6th century include a loom weight and a stone fragment from a coffin lid with dog tooth ornamentation and an inscription in the old stroke alphabet.

The property has had several names including Melin-y-Cwm and Chapel Croft, a reference to an important part of its early history.

The stonework is said to be 13th century and a chapel is recorded as being in existence on the site in the 14th century. Yet it is believed that the property could be one of the earliest Christian sites in Wales.

The mill occupies only one part of the footprint of a much larger complex, once defended to the east by a wide flat-bottomed ditch.

To the west is another, partly encircling the site and with a 15ft deep V-shape and it is said that a motte and bailey once existed where the mill ponds were sited later.

Most colourful is the mention in the Hereford Archives, the 'Red Books' of the Bishops of Hereford, of Swydd Wynogion, a Saxon Lord.

Research suggests that Pentre Mill was once part of his territories and the scene of a battle against the Welsh in which he was aided by a Cadwallon ap Madog. This took place in 1140 following which a letter was written by the Bishop to Cadwallon. Still on record, it states that he would be re-consecrating the church, destroyed after being set alight by the Welsh as villagers sought sanctuary inside.

Swydd Wynogion granted the Bishop the Manors of Pentre, Hyssington and Aston in gratitude for his support and they remained under the control of successive bishops until Elizabeth l took them for the Crown.

In 1560 they were sold off at which time the property was probably a priest's house with chapel attached.

Today's Pentre Mill is a lovingly converted home, completely individual and with potential to further extend. Details are already in place for additions to the north and east which could create more flexible living space. …

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PROPERTY Old Mill Reveals an Ancient History; Marsya Lennox Unearths a Lovingly Restored Treasure on the Welsh Border
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