Bayswater Mill, Bayswater Road
On the south side of Bayswater Brook just before it passes under the Bayswater Road is a track running eastwards through the Bayswater Farm mobile home park, where (a little higher than the brook) lies this eighteenth-century watermill, now converted into a house. It is built of coursed square limestone rubble, with an old plain tile roof. The front has two original entrances with a stable door.
At the time of the Domesday Book, two watermills belonged to the Manor of Headington, and one of them may well have been here at Bayswater. Between 1221 and 1229 two grants were made to Osney Abbey of land near a watercourse on which to build a mill: this again was probably near this site. In 1331 the miller here was presented for taking toll beyond the assize.
Bayswater Mill ceased functioning as a watermill in about 1898.
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.
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 was No. 44, comprising just over thirteen acres in Sandhill Field to the east of Bayswater Road. This land, which came under the Manor of Heddington based at Headington House, would have included the eighteenth-century watermill on the Bayswater Brook.
In 1795 the Manor of Heddington (including this land and mill) was inherited by Mary Jones; and in 1815 by Edward Latimer. In 1830 Latimer unsuccessfully prosecuted Joseph Simmonds, a labourer of Headington, for stealing a bushel of wheat from Bayswater Mill worth 2/-. In 1845, the Manor passed to his son, Digby Latimer.
In 1876, Digby Latimer, the son of Edward Latimer and the current Lord of the Manor of Heddington, went bankrupt. His estate at Sandhill and Bayswater was put up for sale, and and advertisement in Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 20 May 1976 described it as a “Water Corn Mill (with Ten-horse-power Auxiliary Steam Engine), working four pairs of stones, and known as ‘Bayswater Mill’”.
On 31 May 1876 the mill was auctioned at the Roebuck Hotel in Oxford by Jonas Paxton, Son & Castle, and 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.
It appears that the land was bought by Herbert Parsons, a banker of Elsfield, as in an Indenture of 1894 he conveys to his daughter Miss Mary Jane Parsons 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.”
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” in 1718.
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 of James Tagg senior in Headington is on 21 June 1833, when he has a son (also James) baptised at St Andrew’s Church: his occupation was recorded in the register as “miller”.
James Tagg senior was born in Kiddington in c.1795, and can be seen living with his family at Bayswater Mill at the time of the censuses from 1841 to 1871. 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) is described as retired.
The 1881 census for Forest Hill shows the farmer and miller William Tagg (with his age now given as 42) living at Bayswater Mill with his widowed mother and his two sisters.
By 1891 William Banting senior (who was born in Alvescot) was the occupier of “Bayswater Mill & Farm”. At the time of the census early that year, his sons Frederick (23) and William (22) were at home at the mill with their sister Annie Lucy (17) and their housekeeper. They were described as farmer’s sons; but curiously their father (50) as well as his wife Mary (47) were described as shopkeepers and living at 72 St Aldate’s Street in Oxford with four of their other children.
William Banting senior ceases to be listed in directories as a miller in 1898, which is probably when the mill shut down. Hence in the 1901 census he is described just as a farmer, and 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, who is described as a farmer’s son.
William Banting senior died in 1907, and by the time of the 1911 George Banting was running a shop at 36 Magdalen Road in east Oxford with his wife.
The Bayswater Brook, which powered the watermill, starts at a point to the north-east of Sandhills where three unnamed streams merge. It crosses Bayswater Road at the Bayswater Bridge, then flows westwards just north of Barton. It crosses the northern by-pass near Borrowmead Road, and then becomes known as the Peasmoor Brook, joining the River Cherwell at Mesopotamia. It marks the boundary of the city of Oxford for almost all its length.
As well as a watermill, there was also a windmill at Bayswater, situated on the site of the present Townsend House near the Green Road roundabout. It 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 the Oxford artist William Turner (1789–1862). As the picture is believed to date from c.1820, it is possible that Turner was painting from memory or copying an earlier picture.