Headington history: Listed Buildings/Structures

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Bayswater Mill, Bayswater Road

Bayswater Mill


List entry for Bayswater Mill: 1182201

Photograph of Bayswater Mill in the 1980s
(showing the door on the upper storey still in place and before the extension on the right was added)

On the south side of the Bayswater Brook just before it passes under the Bayswater Road is a track running eastwards through the Bayswater Farm home park to this watermill, which now converted into a house.

It probably dates from the eighteenth century, and is built of coursed square limestone rubble, with an old plain tile roof.

The Domesday Book of 1086 lists two watermills in the Manor of Headington, and one of them was probably this one at Bayswater, and the other the King's Mill on the Cherwell.

Between 1221 and 1229 two grants were made to Osney Abbey of land near a watercourse on which to build a mill: this probably relates to the original watermill on this site. In 1331 the miller was presented for taking toll beyond the assize.


Right: The chimney of Bayswater Mill

Map of 1830Map of 1830 showing the position of Bayswater Mill in relation to Sandhill Farm,
the village of Headington, Stafford/Stowford Farm, and Headington Wick Farm

There is a good description of Sandhills Farm and Bayswater Mill In Jackson's Oxford Journal of 20 May 1876 when the current owner, Digby Latimer, put them up for sale:

Sandhill and Bayswater, near Oxford.

Comprising an attractive Estate of 59A. 2R. 12P. of excellent Arable and Pasture Land, with good Farm House and numerous Agricultural Buildings thereon, known as “Sandhill Farm,” now in the occupation of Mr. James Tagg; also the Water Corn Mill (with Ten-horse-power Auxiliary Steam Engine), working four pairs of stones, and known as “Bayswater Mill,” and a Piece of Orchard and Meadow Land, together 5A. 2R. 34P., situate in the parish of Forest Hill, Oxon, occupied by Mr. W. Tagg; and Four Freehold Cottages, with Barn, Stable, and Piece of Garden Ground, near to Sandhill, but in the parish of Headington, Oxon, tenanted by Mrs. Ing and others;

At the Roebuck Hotel, Oxford, on Wednesday, May 31, 1876, at Three o'clock in the afternoon (by direction of the Trustees of the late Mr. James Tagg.)

To gentlemen desirous of purchasing for occupation this compact little Estate presents great attractions, as the soil is particularly heathy in character, the elevation high, and affording excellent sites for the erection of another residence if required. The estate commands extensive and charming views of the neighbourhood of Oxford, and it is thickly studded with fine timber trees, alike ornamental and valuable. The land is undulating, and comprises a considerable extent of pasture, and with the stream of water, pond, and fruit trees has only to be seen to be admired.

Its situation with respect to Oxford gives it the conveniences and advantages of close intercourse with that University and City without losing the pleasures and charms of country life. Several Meets of Lord Macclesfield's Fox Hounds are within three or four miles.

It also offers an excellent opportunity for investment, as the situation of the property being a comparatively short distance from the City will always command a choice of tenants at a good rental.

Mr. Tagg, at Sandhill Farm, will show the property at any time previous to the auction….

The relevant lot in the auction was described thus:

Lot 2: A Valuable Freehold Water and Steam “Corn Mill”, known as “Bayswater Mill”…. It is substantially built of stone and slated, possessing Store Room for about 500 Quarters of Corn, and is well fitted with good Machinery, including Bolting, Dressing, and Smut Machines, and Hoisting Gear. Two Pairs of Stones are worked by Water Power and driven by an Iron Wheel of 21ft. diameter, and Two Pairs of Stones are worked by Steam. The Engine is of 10-Horse Power, with Cornish Boiler nearly new, and fitted by Lampitt of Banbury and is in capital condition.
     Also a Two-Stall Stable and Piece of Orchard Ground, and an Inclosure of Meadow Land, the whole being together 5a. 2r. 34p…. The Mill is situate in a business district, and for many years a good trade has been carried on by the late Proprietor and his Son, the present tenant, Mr. W. Tagg. Possession can be had at Michaelmas.

The auction catalogue, which includes plans, is available in the Oxfordshire History Centre
(SB Stack box shelving (strongroom) FORE/621.21 (Paxton no.120)) and also in the Bodleian Library
(G.A. Oxon b. 85 b(42)).

The site is on the borderline of Headington and Forest Hill parishes, and appears in the nineteenth-century censuses under Forest Hill & Shotover rather than Headington, even though it lay in the ecclesiastical parish of St Andrew's in Old Headington.

Owners of the mill

Before the Dissolution Osney Abbey owned the mill.

Under the Headington Enclosure Award of 1804, one of the many plots awarded to William Jackson of Headington House was No. 44, comprising just over thirteen acres in Sandhill Field to the east of Bayswater Road and including the eighteenth-century watermill on the Bayswater Brook:

One Other Plot of Land or Ground numbered 44 containing thirteen acres two roods and twenty nine perches situate in Sandhill Field bounded on the North East and South East by lands in the Parish of Foresthill on the South by the Road numbered XIII on part of the North West [a lane from the London Road to Sandhills] and on part of the South West by certain cottages and Gardens near Sandhill on the remaining part of the South West by the Allotment numbered 43 and on the remaining part of the North West by the Road numbered IV [Bayswater Road].

In 1795 on the death of William Jackson, the Manor of Heddington (including this land and mill) was inherited by Mary Jones, and when she died in 1815 she left it to her niece Elizabeth Latimer and her husband Edward Latimer took charge. In 1830 Latimer unsuccessfully prosecuted Joseph Simmonds, a labourer of Headington, for stealing a bushel of wheat from Bayswater Mill worth 2/-. On Edward Latimer's death In 1845, the Manor of Heddington passed to his son, Digby Latimer, who became the new Lord of the Manor.

Digby Latimer went bankrupt in 1876 and had to put his estate at Sandhills and Bayswater up for sale, and it appears that both Sandhill Farm and Bayswater Mill were bought by Herbert Parsons (1822–1911), a banker who was the tenant of Elsfield Manor and the owner of Forest Farm there. In an Indenture of 1894 he conveyed the farm and mill to his daughter Miss Mary Jane Parsons, also of Elsfield:

All that messuage or farmhouse and farm with the several outbuildings and parcels of land belonging thereto known as “Sandhill Farm” in the parish of Forest Hill within the County of Oxford And also All that water and steam mill known as “Bayswater” Mill with the stable Orchard and Meadowland belonging thereto situate in the Parish of Forest Hill … All of which said lands messuages hereditaments and premises were then in the occupation of William Banting.

Some tenants of the mill

Before the Dissolution, Osney Abbey leased the mill site for a rent of 3s. 4d.

In 1670 John Goodgame paid a rent of £14 for the mill and “grounds”, and in 1718 Richard Hayes leased the “overshute water corn mill”.

John Hawkes then leased the mill, and he is probably responsible for rebuilding it, as it has a stone marked “I.H. 1726”. Sarah Hawkes, wife of John, was buried at Forest Hill on 6 March 1859, and John Hawkes on 13 February 1861.

Henry Norris was the tenant here from at least 1762 to 1790. On 12 February 1755 Henry Norris, described as a miller of Forest Hill, married Jane Godfrey at St Andrew's Church in Headington, and they had seven children baptised there: Elizabeth (1755), Henry (1757), Richard (1759), Sarah (1760), Thomas (1766), Martha (1772), and Anne (1777). His wife Jane died at the age of 70 and was buried in St Andrew's churchyard on 8 May 1788.

For many years in the nineteenth century the Taggs lived here and worked the mill. The first appearance in Headington of James Tagg senior is on 21 June 1833, when he has a son, James Tagg junior, baptised at St Andrew’s Church: his occupation was recorded in the register as “miller”. James Tagg senior, who was born in Kiddington in Oxfordshire inn 1790, can be seen living at Bayswater Mill in the five censuses from 1841 to 1881. In 1851 he is described as a mealman and farmer of 80 acres employing seven labourers, and in 1861 as a farmer and miller. His farm was Sandhills Farm (now renamed Bayswater Farm). By 1871 his son William Tagg (28) had taken over as miller, and James (76) was described as retired. The 1881 census for Forest Hill shows the farmer and miller William Tagg (with his age now given as 42) still living at Bayswater Mill with his widowed mother and his two sisters, while Henry Luker, a labourer at his mill, was living nearby at Sandhills.

At the time of the 1891 census William Banting senior (who was born in Alvescot) was the official occupier of “Bayswater Mill & Farm” but only three of his children, Frederick (23) and William (22), who were described as farmer’s sons, and his daughter Annie Lucy (17) were living at the mill, together with a housekeeper. Curiously both William Banting (50) and his wife Mary (47) were described as shopkeepers and living at 72 St Aldate’s Street in Oxford with four of their other children.

In 1898 William Banting senior ceased being listed in directories as a miller, and in the 1901 census he was described just as a farmer, although he was still living at Bayswater Mill with his son George (20); meanwhile his wife Mary was still living at 72 St Aldate’s Street and working as a greengrocer with two of her daughters and her son Garnet, described as a farmer’s son.

William Banting senior died in 1907, and by 1911 George Banting was running a shop at 36 Magdalen Road in east Oxford with his wife.

The 1911 census shows William Parsons Guy, a bachelor of 50, living at Bayswater Mill: he described himself as both a farmer and miller, and was still listed with that description in Kelly's Directory for 1915/16.

Bayswater Brook

For details of the course of the brook, which runs from Forest Hill to join the River Cherwell to the east of Cutteslowe, see separate page.

The two Headington windmills

Headington also had two windmills:

  • Windmill Road windmill: Details here.
  • Bayswater Road windmill: This was up the hill from the water mill on the Bayswater Brook, on the site of the present Townsend House near the Headington roundabout. It was a wooden post mill and had already disappeared in 1804, as the Headington Enclosure Award of that year describes the Bayswater Road as “branching out of the said new Turnpike Road near to the spot where the windmill formerly stood”. This windmill was the subject of a painting by William Turner of Oxford (1789–1862), but as this is believed to date from c.1820, it is possible that he was painting from memory or copying an earlier picture. A photograph of the painting can be seen at the Oxfordshire History Centre (POX0136596) and this is reproduced in The Changing Faces of Headington: Book 1 (p. 61).

© Stephanie Jenkins

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