22. Nunn Mills

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Joan of Navarre

People have been using the power of the river Nene for milling here since Anglo Saxon times. It is thought that the site was part of a Royal estate before being passed to the Nuns of Delapre in 1135. By 1196 the Mills reverted to the Crown, and they were gifted as to Joan of Navarre as part of her dowry when she became second wife of Henry IV in 1403. As a result they became known as “Queen Joan’s Mills.” Queen Joan presented the mills back to the Cluniac nuns of Delapre Abbey, hence the name still used for the area today, Nunn Mills. In 1591 the mills were composed of three mills under one roof and of a wheat mill standing by itself, with a further gig mill (a mill used for cloth production)  between them and the south bridge.

When Henry VIII broke from the Catholic Church and dissolved its religious houses in 1538, the land reverted to the crown. In 1550 the estate, including the mills, was sold to the Tate family. The Tate’s were staunch Puritans and Parliamentarians, with several generations of the family representing Northamptonshire in the House of Commons. They owned the estate until 1756, when it was sold to Edward Bouverie for £20,000 pounds. Bouverie also represented Northampton in Parliament. The Mills were leased out to a series of tenants, including Joseph Westley & Sons of Blistworth a company founded in 1847. In 1864 the mill was modernised with the instillation of a steam engine and, later, roller mill equipment.

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Insurance Plan of Nunn Mills in 1899
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Postcard of Nunn Mills looking west (1906)

In 1945 the Mills became part of Hovis and ground wholemeal flour until 1961 when they switched to the production of animal feedstuffs. The mills were demolished in 1968 when Avon Cosmetics bought the land.

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The mills around the time the closed in the late 1960s.

 

 

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Nunn Mills today
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Two millstones sunk into the ground, marked by a plaque erected by Avon in the 1970’s, are all that remain of the mills
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Nunn Mills island viewed from the south bank of the river