I have been researching many areas of the history of Thatcham, farms, pubs and so on. One that fascinates me is that of the mills. I wrote about one specific, Ham Mill, a few months ago but to carry this post on now; Thatcham has had several mills but has this always been the case? The Domesday book of 1086 notes Thatcham has two mills. This does not include mills that are in other parts of Thatcham Hundred such as Shaw, Greenham, Midgham or Donnington. No one has been able to say exactly where these two Thatcham mills were/are so lets examine what we know.
I have previously posted about Ham Mill(s) which can be firmley dated back to the early 14th century. Ham was not mentioned in Domesday, did it exist then? If it did presumably just fell under Thatcham.
Chamberhouse Mill was originally Crookham Mill or at least that is what I believe. In c.1446 John Pury became owner of Chamberhouse and started buying land and property around, eventually this formed what became the Chamberhouse Estate, a sub-manor of Crookham. Within it he had purchased a mill from Crookham. Crookham was mentioned in Domesday but no mention is made of a mill. Does that mean the mill didn’t exist? Was the mill part of Thatcham rather than Crookham?
Colthrop Mill has a history that could fill a book, having been a corn mill, fulling and paper mill with two mills at the site in its latter history. For many years it was assumed Colthrop was in Domesday and that it was under the entry Crochestrope1. The first problem is that the entry comes under Bucklebury and so people assumed this was wrong and it should be Thatcham or that indeed Colthrop was once part of Bucklebury. While both are plausible more recently it has been argued that Crochestrope is actually Westrop2, 3, a place between Cold Ash and Bucklebury on Bucklebury Alley. Assuming this to be correct that then means Colthrop did not appear in Domesday. Could this mean the mill was part of Thatcham, if it existed?
Putting it together
All of these can be firmly dated to the 14th century and are possibly older. Thus any of them could be the Domesday mills, or perhaps none of them and there are two long lost mills somewhere in Thatcham. The latter is still a possibility. Crookham Mill doesn’t appear in Domesday so first assumption is that Crookham (Chamberhouse) Mill is not one of the Thatcham mills, however it could be that the area that included the mill was simply not part of the Crookham estate at the time. The same could also be said of Colthrop Mill and Ham Mill. Basically we have three contenders for being the two Domesday mills of Thatcham and as to which they are, well that is the topic of further research to come.
- Barfield, S., Thatcham, Berkshire and its manors, 1901
- Domesday Tables, 1909