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Mill and house B&W
Mill and house c1890

Contact from Bob Love – a descendant of some of the people in this photo has studied it closely and cross referenced to other photos and suggests;

Marion Douglas – far left, white dress; Mary Douglas – seated on grass; Hilda Douglas – in arms; James Douglas – standing

Also recorded as 1909 with the following names (Joe Ody):

Nellie (Douglas) Belcher – far left, white dress; Marian Douglas – mid left; Mary Douglas – seated on grass; Hilda Douglas – in arms; James Douglas – standing

Charney Bassett has had a watermill since the 12th century, but apart from a mention in the 16th century, little is known of its past history. The first miller mentioned in Bruce Hedge’s book is Robert atte Mulle, 1327 on the Lay subsidy rolls.

For some time the Manor had been part of the Pusey Estates which, on being sold in 1909 to Berkshire County Council, was divided into smallholdings, the Mill with its attached cottage and land being one. The present building on the site near the church dates from the 19th century but the Mill has not been used since about 1915.

Mr Jim Douglas and his father (Charles) before him used to be millers, c1896 – c1907. ‘Young Jim’ was born and brought up at the mill. The waterwheel was also latterly aided by a steam engine.

Northampton Mercury – Monday 12 April 1773

Northampton Mercury – Monday 12 April 1773

Last Thursday Morning, about Eight o’Clock, a terrible Fire happened at the Village of Charney, near Wantage, Berkshire, occasioned by the Carelessness of not putting out Fire that had sin?ed [singed?] a Hog: While the Hog was carrying within Doors, ’tis supposed the Wind, which at that Time was very high, blew some of the lighted Straw about the Farm-Yard, which instantly caught Fire, and the Flames spreading With the greatest Rapidity, the Barns, Stables, and Outhouses belonging to Mr. Dew, were immediately consumed, and all his Stock Corn, &c. with the Dwelling House, Barns, &c. of Mr. John Bunce, a Farmer, together with a Mill upon River Ock. The Fire raged so very furiously, that the unhappy Sufferers could hardly save any Thing. The loss altogether is supposed to amount to 3000l.[£3000] G.

This fire and the newspaper articles below, appear to explain the dereliction followed by a new mill in 1807, and also why there are bits remaining from the earlier building.

Oxford Journal – Saturday 20 April 1782

Oxford Journal – Saturday 20 April 1782

TO be LETT, upon reasonable Terms, for the Term of Twenty-one Years, – A Water Course, at Charney, Berks, to build a Corn Mill upon; with a few Acres of Land, if required. – Enquire of Mr Thomas Woodbridge, of Charney; or of the Printer hereof. – The Charney Fishery may be rented by the Miller, if desired.

Oxford Journal – Saturday 15 January 1803

Oxford Journal – Saturday 15 January 1803

To be SOLD by AUCTION, early in the Month of February, 1803, (unless previously disposed of by Private Contract, of which Notice will be given) – MANOR of CHARNEY, in the County of Berks, and Four very valuable Freehold DAIRY and ARABLE FARMS, situate at Charney, in the several Occupations of William Dewe, James Keep, Richard Beesley, and Mrs. Woodbridge, Tenants at Will. Also, the Site of a WATER CORN MILL, well supplied with Water by the River Ock and two small Quantities of MEADOW GROUND thereto belonging. A well-accustomed PUBLIC HOUSE, situate in Charney,with the Garden and Orchard thereto belonging; and several COTTAGES, situate in Charney.

The Estates will be fold in Lots, and Possession may be had at Lady-Day next.

Charney is pleasantly situated about five Miles from Wantage, six from Faringdon, twelve from Oxford, ten from Abingdon, and within the Distance of two Miles from the Turnpike Road leading from Oxford and Abingdon to Faringdon.-Printed Particulars, and Conditions of Sale, will be ready to be delivered fourteen Days previous to the Auction. For further Particulars, and to treat by Private Contract, apply to Mess. Crowdy and Son, Solicitors, Highworth, Wilts; or Mr. Pinder, Solicitor, Wantage.

Oxford Journal – Saturday 15 August 1807

Oxford Journal – Saturday 15 August 1807

To be S0LD by AUCTION, by Mr. RAMSEY, on Tuesday the 5th Day of August, at Three o’clock in the Afternoon, at Mr. Ballard’s, at the Sign of the Chequers, at Charney aforesaid, (unless previously disposed of by Private Contract, of which timely Notice will be given) subject to Conditions of Sale then to be produced, – All that Freehold, substantial new erected WATER CORN MILL, on the River Ock, situate at Charney, in the County of Berks, the property of Mr. Froud, Millwright;. Consisting two Pair of French Stones, Dressing Mills, & complete driving with Spur Gears capable of breaking seven or eight Loads of Corn per Week, and good Storage for 50 Loads of Corn occasionally; together with a small Dwelling House and Stable adjoining, and an excellent Orchard, planted with choice Fruit Trees. The Whole contains, by Estimation, one Acre.

The above Mill is well situated for the Mealing and Corn Trade, being within four Miles of Wantage, six of Faringdon, eight of Abingdon, and eleven of Oxford, all good Market Towns, and very near to the Berks and Wilts Canal.

May be viewed any Day previous to the Sale.

For further Particulars and to treat by Private Contract, apply to Mr. Froud; Millwright, Charlow Hill, Berks, or the Auctioneer, in Abingdon.

Charles Beesley, Miller – sues George Wood, Miller, for non-payment of wages

Charles Beesley and George Wood 19 Sept 1857 Stroud Journal
Charles Beesley (not to be confused with the other Beesley family in Charney – one of whom was also called Charles) was in Westgate Street, Gloucester at the time of the 1841 Census, with his wife Emma, née Jones, and daughter Emma. This Charles was born in Wiltshire in 1804 to Issac and Hannah.
By 1846 he had moved to Charney where his son Charles Jones Beesley was born on 2nd August 1846 – father’s occupation ‘Miller’.  They had no other children anywhere.
By the time of the 1851 Census the family had moved to East Hanney where he worked at Dandridge’s Mill.  After that they moved to Steventon.
The newspaper extract dated 1857 shows Charles Beesley suing George Wood (the Miller 1845-1849) for non-payment of wages. He was owed £51 3s 2d. It makes interesting reading about George Wood.
Charles Jones Beesley married Sarah Hawkins and Charles and Sarah Beesley were in Charney at the same time.  
[Information provided from contact by a descendant]

Stephen Allen (Miller) 1861

Information provided by Jacqui Gately (Sept 2022 – a descendant in Australia)

At the 1861 Census, my 4xGreat-Grandparents Stephen and Fanny ALLEN were living at Charney Mill, with Stephen listed as Miller. Fanny passed away 1 September 1870 (aged 64) and was buried at Charney on 4 Sept 1870.

At the 1871 Census, Stephen was the Inn-Keeper at the Chequers Inn, and at the same time was a Miller’s labourer at Charney Mill. He lived at Chequers Inn with his 32yo daughter Elizabeth ALLEN, and a 9yo grandson Richard William ALLEN (his son Charles’ son).

Stephen passed away in 1874.

He had been a Miller all his life. At the 1851 Census he and his 11yo son William were living in Ducklington, where Stephen was Miller at Ducklington Mill, and William was listed as “Miller’s boy”. They were living away from Fanny and the rest of the children who were back home in Cassington. In the 1831 Census, Stephen was at home in Cassington, but was again listed as “Miller”.

Charney Mill 1871 Census
Mill and house
Mill and house
Inside the mill
Inside the mill
The Waterwheel (from St Helen's - Abingdon)
The Waterwheel (obtained from St Helen’s – Abingdon)
The Grindstones
The Grindstones

Engineering drawings from May 1974, W Foreman

Click on drawing to enlarge and scroll. Higher resolution files are available.

The mill, at least latterly, was seen as having a market further afield as the sale by auction documents of 1807 note the proximity of the ‘Wilts and Berks Canal’ for onward transport of the flour (there being wharves at Challow and Grove as well as Wantage and Abingdon). 

The mill passed into the ownership of Berkshire County Council as part of the sale of the Pusey Estate. They placed a ‘Contract for repairs to machinery and fitting of a new water wheel at Charney Mill’ with Messers Phillips & Son of Kings Road, Reading, dated 30 May 1910:

Messrs Phillips & Son with the Berks County Council Contract for repairs to machinery and fitting of a new water wheel at Charney Mill.

Supply and fix one of our special Cast Iron Breast-shot Water Wheels, with wrot. Iron Starts and Elm Float & Back Boards, fitted to present Oak shaft, completed £89 0s 0d

Remove remains of old wheel, taking off Arm Sockets, and re-dressing present Shaft down to sound wood £3 10s 0d.

Supply and fix one new Gudgeon Brass £2 0s 0d

Re-dress the two pairs of French Millstones £2 0s 0d

Supply and fix 2 new Hackle Plates to Stone Boxes and 1 set of Neck Brasses & re-fix Boxes £2 10s 0d.

Supply and fix 2 new Steel Nipples to Stone Spindles, turn up Neck of one Spindle, fit a new Neck to other £3 0s 0d.

Two new C.I. Maces & fit same to Stone Spindles £1 0s 0d.

Take out Cross Bars, bore to fit Nipples and let in Bars to Stones, lead in and balance Stones £2 0s 0d.

Supply and fix two new Wood Casings to Stones £7 0s 0d

            Do.      One set new Hopper, Harness £4 0s 0d

            Do.      Two sets of Curbs £3 0s 0d

Turn ends of 2 Damsels, fit new Brasses, repair old Harness £1 0s 0d.

Overhaul Pit Wheel Cogs, ease off shoulders, fit 6 new Cogs 10s 0d

Tighten Cogs in Crown Wheel, fit new Cogs where necessary and ease off shoulders £1 10s 0d

Raise Upright Shaft, supply and fix new Step Brass £1 0s 0d

Supply and fix 1 new pair Brasses to top of Up-Shaft 15s 0d

Take down Lay Shaft, supply and fit 2 new pairs Brasses, if required turn up Necks £1 13s 0d

Supply & fix 1 piece of Pitch Pine Timber 8’ x 9” x 4” £1 10s 0d

Supply new Wood Thruff, repair & grind 10 Mill Bills 15s 0d

Plane and re-surface Stone Staff, supply two new Elm Chocks with Handles complete and one new Jack Stick 15d 0d

Supply & fix new Spindle & Handle to Drawing Gear 15s 0d.

Overhaul present Kibbling Mill £1 0s 0d

Overhaul Cogs to spur wheel 10s 0d

Railway Charges, travelling expenses, supervision &c £7 7s 0d

Total £138 0s 0d

Signed: Phillips & Son

The mill is owned by Oxfordshire County Council and leased to Charney Bassett Parish Council. The group that restore and maintain the Mill are always looking for new members and support. If you would like to help please contact Bruce Hedge who has also written a history and description of the mill which is available for purchase.

The mill is opened for visits from time to time.

Click to enlarge and scroll the following news articles.

Click here for a PDF of Charney-Bassett-Watermill by Daphne Jones. Part of the Vale and Downland Museum – Local History Series.

Painting by Abraham Hulk Jnr

Artist: Abraham Hulk (Jr.) (British, 1851-1922)

Charney, near Wantage
signed and inscribed verso, oil on canvas
34 x 24cm (13 3/8 x 9 7/16in).

This painting was for sale by Bonhams https://www.bonhams.com/auction/20699/lot/138/abraham-hulk-jr-british-1851-1922-charney-near-wantage/

It appears to be looking across the mill pond towards the mill and mill cottage with Charney Manor behind and possibly the church to the left. There is a person in a boat on the pond. 

In 1911 he was residing in Henley on Thames, perhaps it was around this time he painted this scene? Or there is an entry in The Commercial Gazette (London) 20 Feb 1895, showing  a court judgement that he and his wife, Blanche, owed Charney Manor £14.7s.6d, or maybe £11.7s.6d, (see below) so maybe it is more likely that it was then that he did the painting.

Abraham Hulk Junior (1851-1922), also known as Abraham Hulk the Younger, was a British artist known for his charming paintings of the English countryside. He was taught by his father, a famed maritime painter, Abraham Hulk the Elder.