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When the Manor of Drayford was sold in 1632 by Scipio Stucley to Sir Edward Chichester, the schedule of properties in Drayford itself, consisted of four tenements, two cottages, a house, and the Mill, which is described as a "Tuck Mill". It was not therefore used for grinding corn, but for driving a wheel studded with wooden hammers used in pounding cloth. Previously, woven cloth had to be pounded or "tucked" by being trodden in troughs, but by the early 1500s, some watermills had been converted to play their part in the cloth industry, which was well established in North Devon. But the cloth trade did not thrive forever, and by the early 19th century many mills were being re-converted to grinding corn, and Drayford Mill may have changed at that time.

In 1632, the miller was Hugh Moore, but no other name has been traced for the next 180 years. However, there is a document dated 1811, which lists the properties charged a special rate for the repair of Drayford and Worlington Bridges. Drayford Mill was one of these, and the miller was William White. The next reference is the Schedule to the 1840 Tithe Map, which shows the Mill as having seven acres of ground, and John Moss as the Miller. The 1851 census shows that he was followed by George Phillips, who came to Drayford in 1845, when he was 27. His family would run the Mill until the arrival of the Stonemans in the 1890s. In 1871 George was still there, and the land had grown to 15 acres. Before the next census George died, for in 1881 his widow Anne was miller, assisted by her daughter Jane as "dairyman" and by her brother Thomas Stoneman, also a miller. Ten years later there is no mention of Anne, and Jane is now miller, with her 14-year old son William as "Assistant Miller", and Thomas Stoneman is still there. The attached copies of accounts for grinding done for Smyths at Town show Thomas receipting a bill dated 1885, and William's signature on one of 1891.

By 1889 the old Mill House attached to the barn had been demolished and the present house built. This allowed for a second wheel to be attached to the east side of the barn, and the mill leat to be divided so that both wheels could be used, as the map indicates. Loveday Venner remembers no barn wheel or barn leat, and thinks that this was covered in with the spoil when Mill Quarry was opened up. She is sure however that the barn machinery was still in use, linked across to that in the Mill itself.

The following Newspaper advertisement was recently discovered in the archives of the Exeter Flying Post. Dated 24th February 1818, and it related to the chance to negotiate a lease of Drayford Mill.

To be LEASED, for Three Lives, all those well known and accustomed Mills, called DREYFORD MILLS, situate about 1 mile from the town of Witheridge, comprising a dwelling-house, mill-house, and every requisite out-building, with about 8 acres of arable, meadow, orchard, and pasture land, now in the occupation of Mr William White. For leasing of the same, a public survey will be held in the Hare and Hounds Inn, Witheridge, on Monday the 2d of March next, at four o'clock in the afternoon. For viewing of the above, apply to the Tenant, and for further particulars, to Mr Croote, Lapford.

By the turn of the century Richard Stoneman was Miller, and he was followed by his son, also Richard. The Mill ceased work at some time in the 1930s. (A.B) Drayford Mill stopped the day Dick Stoneman died.

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Last Edited 05/08/2006    Copyright © 2000-2006 Witheridge

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