Matford Mills/Matford Barton Mills was recorded as a water corn mill in 1566. The mill race was shown as a widening of the Matford Brook on a 19th-Century map, another record describes a mill race from the Matford Brook. On a 20th-Century map a sluice is shown. The Alphington Tithe Map shows two water courses running side by side through Matford. One of these water courses forms an oblong pond upon reaching the mill. The two water courses eventually meet up. In 1838 the London Gazette recorded 'Jane Brown late of Matford Mills – out of business'. Jane Brown also appears in a list of insolvent debtors dated 1838. From the Tithe Map the land around the mill is owned by Sir Lawrence Vaughan Palk and occupied by William Nicks. This land was recorded as part of Great Meadow and Small Orchard.
In 1841 William Mallett and his wife Ann (nee Milford) were recorded at Matford Mills. William died of Typhus Fever on the 24th August 1850. A lease recorded dated 13th December 1850 for Matford Mills shows: 'Lease: Barton called lower Matford with Matford Mills, Gallants Bower and parts of Addlebury. Rent £310 for first seven years. £320 for last seven years of term. 1. Sir Lawrence Vaughan Palk of Haldon House bart. 2. Frederick Pitts of Kenton yeoman.' Records for 1851 show Ann Mallett as the flour miller. Her children were William Milford Mallett (b. 3/4/1842), Samuel Milford Mallett (b. 21/8/1843), Ann Roberts Mallett (b. 1845 d. 29/1/1848), Henry Milford Mallett (b.15/5/1846) and Bessie Mary Mallett (b. 1848). Also at the mill were George Mallett (William's father) a journeyman miller, and two servants William Gubb and Maria Litter.
In 1871 William Blanchford is recorded as the journeyman miller and in 1881 William is recorded as the miller.
In 1901 William D. Pitts is the miller but in 1911 no mill or miller are recorded. In 1938 Matford Mills is recorded as 'mill disused'. In 1946 and 1949 W. H. Hewitt lives at Matford Mill.
In 1815 the following was published: 'To be sold, pursuant to a decree of the High Court of Chancery, made in a cause ''Berry against Dyster,'' with the approbation of William Alexander Esq. one of the masters of the said court, sometime in the month of September 1815, in the City of Exeter, in several lots. A valuable leasehold estate situated at Alphington, within one mile of Exeter consisting of a capital messuage of dwelling house, a large garden, orchard, coach-house, three stalls, stable and a very extensive tan-yard, having upwards of 100 pits, well supplied with water, and a capital steam-engine for grinding bark, together with sundry drying lofts, warehouses, sheds and other necessary conveniences for carrying on an extensive tanning business; also a valuable set of corn and grist mills, with a messuage or dwelling house, buildings and a small garden, called Alphington Mills, together with several closes of rich arable, meadow and pasture land, situated near to the above premises, in the occupation of Mr Berry and William Batt. The working papers in British Book Trade History 1815 recorded William Berry Esq. as a tanner. Records from Alphington's Surveys show Alphington Mills leased to Henry Fisher in 1825 and 1835 and the Exeter Itinerary and General Directory dated 1828 confirms Henry Fisher as a miller living at 1, Alphington Place. Alphington's Tithe Map shows Henry Fisher as the occupier of the mill plus land and the Earl of Devon as the owner. Henry Fisher continued to rent the mill in 1844 and the 1841 Census records shows Henry living at 1, Alphington place but here he was recorded as a merchant.
In 1861 Ann Mallett, previously from Matford Mills, is residing and working as the miller at Alphington Mills. Her two eldest sons, William and Samuel, are also recorded as millers, they employed William Gilpin as a carter. In 1871 Ann and William continue to work as millers.
In 1881 William has taken over the mills and employs one man and one boy. He lives with his first wife, Helen, who he married in Alphington on the 18th March 1875. Their first son, Alfred William, is recorded in the Census but not their second son Ernest Frederick. William married his second wife, Ann Thomas Mager, on the 11th December 1887 and the 1891 Census shows them at the mill. William continues to work at the mill in 1901 and lives with his wife and six children.
In 1911 Thomas Weeks is recorded as the miller and lives with his wife Lucy. At auction in 1922 Thomas purchased, the dwelling house, the mills, mill meadow and water rights with leat for £850. Thomas died on the 22nd March 1934 and Lucy on the 11th August 1948.
In 1946 Prof. W. S. Lewis resided at The Old Mill and Rev. D. Lewtas at The Mill Cottage.
Records show other Alphington Millers or mill leaseholders as : 1770 and 1771 Wm Moxey; John Pearce; Thomas Collins. In 1850 Richard Brown was recorded in White's Directory as a corn miller, I would imagine this was at Alphington Mills.
Copyright © Rowena Kirkpatrick