Mapledurham Watermill

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Mapledurham Watermill
Mapledurham Watermill.jpg
LocationMapledurham, Oxfordshire, England
Coordinates51°29′8.52″N 1°2′14.82″W / 51.4857000°N 1.0374500°W / 51.4857000; -1.0374500Coordinates: 51°29′8.52″N 1°2′14.82″W / 51.4857000°N 1.0374500°W / 51.4857000; -1.0374500
Built15th to 19th century
Governing bodyMapledurham Estate
Listed Building – Grade II*
Official nameThe Mill
Designated24 October 1951
Reference no.1059523
Mapledurham Watermill is located in Oxfordshire
Mapledurham Watermill
Location of Mapledurham Watermill in Oxfordshire

Mapledurham Watermill is a historic watermill in the civil parish of Mapledurham in the English county of Oxfordshire. It is driven by the head of water created by Mapledurham Lock and Weir, on the River Thames. The mill was built in the 15th century, and further extended in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. It is a Grade II* listed building and is preserved in an operational state.[1][2]

The mill also houses a micro hydro-electric power station, using a 3.6-metre (12 ft) Archimedes' screw turbine to generate electricity for sale to the National Grid. The turbine produces some 83.3 Kilowatts, which is sufficient to power about 140 homes.[3][4]


A mill was already present at Mapledurham at the time of the Domesday Book. The central section of the current mill building dates back to the 15th century. Originally the mill had a single water wheel on the river side of the building. The mill was increased in size in the 1670s, and a leat was constructed to drive a second water wheel on the village side. It is this second wheel which is still in use today.[5]

In 1690, the mill was leased to James Web for the sum of £60 per year. Around 1700, he expanded the mill again to allow him to install the equipment to produce the refined flour that was becoming popular. His son Daniel Webb took over from him in 1726 at a rent of £100. In 1747, Thomas Atrum took over the mill at a rent of £150, which was raised to £205 in 1776. In 1777 a barn was added on the mill island, and a wharf built to allow the mill to supply flour to the London market by barge. However, by 1784 Thomas Atrum was bankrupt.[5]

The mill continued to flourish, and as late as 1823 plans were drawn up to rebuild the mill in classical style. The advent of cheap imported flour from North America damaged the mill's prosperity, but it remained in use until just after the Second World War. On 24 October 1951, the watermill was designated as a Grade II* listed building. It was restored and brought back into use in 1980.[2][5]

In 2011, work started on the installation of a new Archimedes' screw turbine on the river side of the watermill in order to generate electricity. This was built to provide power to Mapledurham House, and replaced a turbine installed in the 1920s that was no longer functional. At the time the turbine was inaugurated in 2012, it was the most powerful turbine on the River Thames, and the largest of its type in the country.[3][4]

In 2022, the mill was vandalised with windows smashed and damage to wooden frames.[6]

Admission and access[edit]

The mill is located in the grounds of Mapledurham House, and like the house is open to visitors on weekend and bank holiday afternoons from April to September. The water mill is normally working on opening days, and visitors can visit both main floors of the mill, and see (and feel) its operation.[7]

Admission is charged, and joint tickets are available that allow admission to both house and mill. Access is by car down the narrow and steep lane that is Mapledurham village's only road connection, or by a boat service that runs from Thameside Promenade in Reading on all opening days.[7][8][9]

In media[edit]

The mill building is best known, and has gained worldwide recognition, for being featured on the cover of heavy metal band Black Sabbath's self-titled debut album in 1970.[10]

The watermill is also known for its starring role in the 1976 film of The Eagle Has Landed, where the mill leat is the scene of the dramatic rescue of a local girl by a German paratrooper that results in the unmasking of Steiner and his men.[11]

The mill was used as a filming location on the Children's Film Foundation's Exploits at West Poley (1985),[12] starring Jonathan Jackson, Charlie Condou, Brenda Fricker and Sean Bean.

The mill appears in the introductory credits to the BBC television programme, Richard Hammond's Blast Lab, as the supposed hidden location of the underground lab. The mill also appears in the Midsomer Murders episode The Fisher King (season 7; episode 3), as the scene for the discovery of a body.[13][14] The mill is also the location used for Mill Cottage in the Inspector Morse episode "The Day of The Devil"

The mill appears as a location in several episodes of the 2017 BBC series Taboo starring Tom Hardy. [15]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Explorer Map 159 - Reading (Map). Ordnance Survey. 2006.
  2. ^ a b "The Mill - 1059523". Historic England. Archived from the original on 21 October 2015. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  3. ^ a b "The Watermill at Mapledurham". Mapledurham Estate. Archived from the original on 20 October 2015. Retrieved 20 October 2015.
  4. ^ a b "About Us". Mapledurham Watermill. Archived from the original on 20 October 2015. Retrieved 20 October 2015.
  5. ^ a b c "The Old Watermill". Mapledurham Estate. Archived from the original on 9 October 2007. Retrieved 29 April 2007.
  6. ^ "Mapledurham Watermill: Black Sabbath album location vandalised". BBC News. 18 August 2022. Retrieved 18 August 2022.
  7. ^ a b "Admission". Mapledurham Estate. Archived from the original on 19 October 2015. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  8. ^ "Boat service from Reading to Mapledurham". Thames River Cruises. Archived from the original on 19 October 2015. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  9. ^ "Boat to Mapledurham House and Watermill". Thames River Cruises. Archived from the original on 18 January 2018. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  10. ^ Cope, Andrew L. (2010). Black Sabbath and the rise of heavy metal music. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 34. ISBN 978-0-7546-6881-7. Retrieved 26 October 2010.
  11. ^ "Film Locations". BBC. Archived from the original on 4 April 2009. Retrieved 12 November 2009.
  12. ^ Exploits at West Poley at IMDb
  13. ^ "Mapledurham and the Hollywood watermill". Visit Midsomer County (South Oxfordshire District Council). Archived from the original on 20 October 2015. Retrieved 20 October 2015.
  14. ^ "Events near London: It's Mills Weekend". Visit Midsomer County (South Oxfordshire District Council). Archived from the original on 20 October 2015. Retrieved 20 October 2015.
  15. ^ "Tom Hardy's new BBC One series Taboo filmed at Mapledurham House". BerkshireLive. 10 February 2017. Retrieved 21 May 2022.

External links[edit]