A potted history of Trevillett Mill

Trevillett Mill derives its name from the Trevillett River that flows by and for centuries has powered its impressive water wheel and its proximity to Trevillett, a hamlet located within the parish of Tintagel.

Trevillett Mill from the south

Situated in the picturesque Rocky Valley, a short hop downstream are the ruins of Trewethet Mill (a former cloth mill), the renown and alleged Bronze Age ‘Labyrinths’ and of course, the dark slate gorge that dramatically descends to the sea and is the inspiration for the valley’s name.

Many believe that the mill dates from 1472, when the ‘War of the Roses’ would have been in full swing.  However, Father Canner[1]  reports that the mill was moved here some time before and so it may be rather older. 

1856 Map of the Trevillett River valley

It’s likely that there have been several mill buildings on the site of Trevillett Mill.  The latest iteration will have probably been completed around 300 years ago, with the cottage on the side a little after that and the foyer and utility extension being 20th century.

A close inspection of some of the larger beams will reveal builders marks.  These were made by the carpenters who likely created the structure offsite, then dismantled it, brought it down Rocky Valley and reassembled it by matching their unique notches. 

Other beams have distinctive curves and are likely to have been salvaged from former boats, possibly shipwrecks on the nearby treacherous coast.

1860 Painting by Charles Napier-Hemy

The mill was constructed with an overshot water wheel – that is the water pours down onto the wheel from above – which is the most efficient type.  The launder[2] can still be seen over the water wheel.  

However, the river would not directly power the wheel due to the variations in flow, ranging from insufficient water during droughts, to too much water when the river was in full spate. Instead, a controlled amount of water will have flowed down the leat, that followed down the left-hand edge of the drive, coming from a former mill pond that was somewhere in front of Trout Beck cottage.

In simple terms, the rotating water wheel on the outside of the building rotated the connected pit wheel on the inside, which through a series of levers, cogwheels and gears, could rotate the millstones that are still seen on the first floor. The current millstones are significantly different in composition with the granite producing a coarser grind and the composite a finer flour.

The current water wheel was cast at a foundry in Wadebridge where they made mine pumping engines and the like.  They became Oatey & Martin in 1887 and so the wheel must be post this date.  It was renovated by Tom Read in 1983 and again in April 2023 by Ian Clarke Restoration.

At one stage, the mill had two over-shot water wheels, which made it highly unusual.  The second, thought to have been removed at some time in the 19th century would have been where the utility room is now.

Trevillett Mill was made famous by a painting, “Valley View’ by Thomas Creswick RA, which was first put on show at the Great Exhibition in 1851.  It has occasionally been known as Creswick’s Mill since.

In 1880s a man called ‘Bluett’ was the miller and bought out another local mill at ‘Mill Floor’, to ‘get all the grinding to his own mill’[3].

Mill House from north showing water wheel

Trevillett Mill continued as a working flour mill up to the 1930s.  Three generations of the Brown family where millers and maintained a small holding in Rocky Valley – very common at the time.

After the water wheel stopped spinning, Trevillett Mill became a Trout Farm – hence the names of the cottages.  A large pond and some fry ponds were constructed (and exist today) just across the bridge from Trout Beck in an area currently being re-wilded.

Like Boscastle in the next valley over, Rocky Valley was flooded in the ‘biblical’ flood of August 2004 in which all foot bridges were swept away and the ground floor of the mill was flooded.  Since then, the course of the river has been slightly diverted away and the riverbanks strengthened and raised – most noticeable at the footbridge by the back door to the mill.

Painting by Henry Charles Millar early 1900s

Trevillett Mill featured in the BBC Changing Rooms Christmas Special of 2004, that featured properties affected by the ‘Boscastle’ floods.

The mill building has seen various changes of use, including family home, a Tea Room and a locally renown fish restaurant.

It is now available as a holiday let which allows many more people to enjoy this fine building and its beautiful setting and helps its preservation for future generations.

[1] WWII curate of Tintagel and historian

[2] A shoot to carry and guide water from the leat to drop on the water wheel

[3] From a letter from John Jenkin 18th October 1880.

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