Explore our dynamic panoramas

"White Mill" or "Town Mill"

The Town Mill, as the name implies, was a corporation enterprise, run for the benefit of the 'Commonality' of Southwold and leased to a succession of millers. The price which the lessees were permitted to charge the townsfolk for milling their grain was strictly controlled by the Town Bailiffs. This distinguishes it from Black Mill and New Mill which were privately owned and run. The Town Mill was an open trestle post mill, that is it was supported on an exposed timber framework. Southwold's two other post mills were mounted atop brick roundhouses. The date when the Town Mill was first constructed is not known.

Thomas Badrum - pays £4 - 6s - 8d to hire the mill (Source Ida Critten, Story of Southwold)

Robert Godeall (possibly Goodall) - hires the mill for one year for a rent of £5 (M)

Robert Allgar - takes the mill for a 15-year term, paying £2 - 13s - 4d per half year.(M)

George Nelson - rents the mill. (M)

Edward Allgar - hires the mill initially for one year for a rent of £10 but, in fact, retains it for 39 years, negotiating lower rentals of under £8 pa. (M)

The mill is virtually destroyed by a freak December storm, killing a woman called Rebecca Chilvers. (M) The structure is demolished and rebuilt from scratch by millwright John Pepper of Halesworth under contract to the corporation. (Source Ida Critten, Story of Southwold)

The Mill is blown down again. Maggs doesn't record its rebuilding but it presumably is made serviceable again. Both diisasters appear to have occurred during the tenancy of Edward Allgar.

Peregrine Edwards - takes a 40-year lease on the mill, initially for £10 pa. He actually keeps it for a total of 36 years, by the end of which time he is paying £25 pa. (M).

For most of this period Peregrine Edwards has a virtual monopoly of milling in the Town. He is the outright owner of the neighbouring Black Mill , the only other mill in Southwold until the Revd Rous-Birch opens his own so-called New Mill in 1841.

Peregrine Edwards is a town Chamberlain. His contract with the Bailiffs for his lease of Town Mill includes this clause:

"At all times to grind bread and corn for the poor inhabitants of the said town at the rate or price of 1/- per coom."

William Crisp - takes the unexpired term remaining in Peregrine Edwards' lease. (M)

William Crisp is the owner of Southwold Brewery (Later to become Adnams). He became Southwold's first mayor in 1836 after the Municiple Corporation Reform Act brought an end to the town's archaic and dysfunctional system of governance based on Bailiffs. The 1830s was a time when Southwold Corporation's conduct was held up to great public anger and ridicule, nationally as well as locally, to the extent that few people wished even to put themselves forward for office. There were only two candidates for mayor in 1836. Both received an equal number of votes. William Crisp, as chairman of the meeting, had the casting vote and duly appointed himself! William's residence was on the site where Barclay's Bank now stands

The lease is put up for auction by James Maggs following William Crisp's death this February, but is not let. After the auction, the outgoing tenant's son, Read Crisp makes a private offer and rents it for 8 years at £20 pa. A year later,in 1845, he purchases Black Mill and a year after that, takes a lease on New Mill from Revd Rous-Birch. (M)

Read Crisp - decides to give up milling altogether to become a bookseller and stationer in Beccles. The remaining two years of his lease are taken by William Boyden who also purchases from him the freehold of Black Mill for £1000. Wiliam Boyden then sub-lets Town Mill to Daniel Stammers who, very quickly has second thoughts. It goes to auction once more - unsuccessfully - but is eventually hired by the year for £12 pa by John J Goff who keeps renewing for the next six years. (M)

Charles M Marsden - Hires the Mill, taking over from John J Goff. In the same year he also takes over Black Mill from the same John J Goff

Charles Marsden publicises his acquisition of the two mills with a leaflet dated October 29, which reads:

"C M Marsden, Miller, Corn and Coal Merchant, Southwold, respectfully informs the inhabitants of Southwold that he has entered upon the mills lately in the occupation of Mr Goff and earnestly and respectfully solicits their patronage, support and recommendation."

The mill burns down in a fire during a storm.

Mill is demolished

An oak tree is planted on the site to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria.

















Do you have any memories or records about this address? Can you correct any of our information or fill in any of our blanks? If so, please email Barry Tolfree
or comment right here in our Forum. See below. ***

BSD - Bernard Segrave-Daly
BCS = Bygones & Characters of Southwold by Barrett Jenkins
C = Census
CP = Cinema Programme 1958
CSP = Coronation Souvenir Programme 1953
G = Gales Trade Directory
GRO = General Register Office
K = Kelly's Directory
LM = Local memory
M = James Maggs' Southwold Diary 1818-1876
MCG = Methodist Church Guide 1930
NA = National Archives
PP = Pantomime Programme 1933
PLR = Petrol Licence Records

POD = Post Office Directory
PPP = Pier Pavilion Programme 1924, 1926
RCE = Rotary Club Exhibition 1969
SCM = Southwold Catholic Magazine 1923
SCTG = Southwold Corporation Tourist Guide
SER = Southwold Electoral Register
SFP = Southwold Scouts Fete Programme 1947
SG = Southwold Guide
SGCH = Southwold Golf Club Handbook
SLHR = Southwold Local History Recorder 1980s 1990s (Mrs R. McDermot)
SMHS = Southwold Museum & Historical Society

SN = Southwold & Neighbourhood 1903
SPM = Southwold Parish Magazine 1895 -1954
SR = Southwold Recorder 1927, 1932, 1934, 1935
SRB = Southwold Rate Book
SRT = Southwold Railway Timetable 1915
SSAS = Southwold Sea Angling Society Handbook 1909
SST = Southwold Summer Theatre Programmes
SSW = Southwold Shopping Week Programme, June/July 1922
STG = Southwold Town Guide 1930
SVL = Southwold Visitors List 1907, 1930
SVCP = Southwold Victory Celebration Programme 1946
SWCG = Southwold Wesleyan Church Guide

TTR = 'The Town Revisited' - Portraits of Southwold by Stephen Wolfenden 2000
TTT = ''To The Town' - Portraits of Southwold by Stephen Wolfenden 1988
W = White’s History, Gazetteer and Directory of Suffolk 1874

Note on dates
Unless otherwise stated, dates given do not indicate the years in which the business started or finished but those for which there is firm evidence that it was trading at this address. Sources in brackets; key at bottom of page.

Site of Whitte Mil today

Drawing of White Mill, probably towards the end of its life. Artist unknown.
With grateful thanks to John (Wiggy) Goldsmith for providing a copy of this image from his collection.

Click the image to enlarge

William Crisp., first Mayor of Southwold in 1836, following the Municipal Corporation Act .
Reproduced from 'Bygones and Local Characters of Southwold' by Barrett Jenkins, with the kind permission of his daughter, Ann Thornton.

Four daughters of Walter Christmas Doy in front of the Jubilee Oak Tree, planted in 1897 on the site of the former Town or 'White' Mill. Left to right: Harriet, Gertrude, Ellen and Gladys. Photo , from Gertrude's album, probably dates from the 1920s. The RC church in the background was opened in 1916. Despite the formidable protective enclosure constructed by the Child Foundry, he oak tree, sadly, did not survive long.

Courtesy of Pat Peak (nee Doy)
Click photo to enlarge