© Combe Mill Society 2016

Registered Charity Number 1111029

…….a place to discover

Combe Mill

Combe Mill is a sawmill belonging to the Blenheim Estate of the Duke of Marlborough.  There has been a mill on this site since Saxon times; the Domesday survey of 1086 refers to a mill at ‘Cube’, which is known to be Combe, and it is reasonable to assume that the mill had existed for some time before that. In those days the village of Combe was also in the valley, east of the mill, but it was deserted in the fourteenth century, possibly as a result of the Black Death, and now stands at the top of the hill about a mile from the mill, around the fourteenth century church. The present sawmill dates from the mid-nineteenth century and was originally powered by a water wheel and a beam engine, both of which survive, both having been restored to working order.

The beam engine bears the date 1852, but it has been suggested that blocked windows on the east side of the building indicate avoidance of window tax, thus dating the building prior to 1851. At the same time as the engine was installed a new breast shot water wheel was fitted at the opposite end on the existing wooden spindle remaining from an earlier wheel.  The mill machinery, including the forge blower and the whetstone on the ground floor and a band saw and lathes in the upper workshop, was driven via flat belts from pulleys on the line shafting, which could now be turned by either water or the mill machinery. The two sources of power allowed work to continue regardless of the state of the river, and the increased reliability meant that other processes could be carried out here also.

 In 2003 English Heritage recommended that Combe Mill be raised from GRADE II Listing to GRADE II*. The Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport authorized this.  See the statement on the next page.

History of the Mill

Heritage status