Friday, 23 March 2018

Little Hallingbury Mill Walk 23.03.2018

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On Friday the 23rd March 2018 I set off  from home and after 45 minutes I arrived and parked up at Gaston Green CM22 7QT. I park in a lay-by opposite Mill Lane by a village pond.

I Cross the road and walk down Mill Lane.

I reach Little Hallingbury Mill, a beautiful converted flour mill.

Little Hallingbury Mill is quoted as early as 1086 in the Domesday Book. A very unique location which is steeped in history and intrigue. Little Hallingbury Mill, recorded from 1641, was originally called Tednam mill because it was near Tednambury manor in Sawbridgeworth.
In 1693 Charterhouse leased the mill to Edward Ettrick and John Barlstead, London merchants, who rebuilt it as a silk mill.  Silk manufacture, employing many local women, continued until c. 1770. In 1778 the mill was converted by James Pavitt and Richard Martin for corn grinding. It was sold in 1800 to George Pavitt, whose family owned it in 1838, and may have closed soon after.
A new mill was built in 1874, and in 1885 the old mill, on the site of the present granary, was demolished. The mill of 1874 was used as a corn mill until 1952. In 1966 it became the headquarters of Lea and Stort Cruises Ltd.  The building and machinery were restored between 1967 and 1971.  A windmill, which stood south-east of the water-mill, was apparently worked with it for a short time in the 19th century.
The Mill was converted from a working flour mill to a restaurant and then to a hotel in the late 1960’s and has been open as a wedding venue, hotel and restaurant for the past 25 years.

I leave the mill behind and cross a bridge over the River Stort Navigation and into a muddy water logged field.

I now reach the navigation at Tednambury Lock No.4,Little Hallingbury Mill.

With the growth of the malt trade in Bishop's Stortford in the early eighteenth century, attention turned to providing better transport facilities. The River Stort joined the River Lea, and the malt trade at Ware had benefitted from improvements made on that river. A similar solution was therefore sought for the Stort, and a public meeting was held on 11 December 1758. The chief promoter seems to have been Thomas Adderley. A bill was duly submitted to parliament, and became an Act of Parliament in March 1759. It was entitled An Act for making the River Stort navigable, in the counties of Hertford and Essex, from the New Bridge, in the town of Bishop Stortford, into the River Lea, near a Place called the Rye, in the county of Hertford. Commissioners were appointed to oversee the work and to raise the capital to fund the project. They failed in this duty, and the powers of the first act lapsed, as it imposed time limits during which the work had to be completed.
A second Act of Parliament was sought after three men proposed to the Commissioners that they would fund the scheme in return for the tolls. This met with the Commissioners' approval, and the new Act was obtained on 30 March 1766.  It was entitled An Act for making and continuing navigable the River Stort, in the counties of Hertford and Essex, and it empowered Charles Dingley, George Jackson and William Masterson to build the Navigation and to collect tolls. They had five years to complete the work, and the powers of the first Act were repealed by the second. Work began on 24 September, under the direction of Thomas Yeoman, who was also the surveyor for the Lee Navigation, and was completed in autumn 1769. The navigation, which included fifteen locks, was officially opened on 24 October 1769.
In 1796, Jackson issued a Stort halfpenny token for use on the Navigation. The reverse shows the course of the river with a horse-drawn barge in the foreground. It was struck by Matthew Boulton in mid-1796, despite the date on the piece (1795). Conrad Heinrich K├╝chler was the designer.
Because the navigation was privately funded, there is no record of the actual cost, but Jackson, speaking in 1812 and by then named Sir George Duckett, stated that it had not been a good business proposition. The Lee Navigation paid the proprietors £105 in 1774, for improvements made to the junction between the two rivers. Trade increased gradually, rising from around 18,000 or 19,000 tons in 1791 to 40,000 tons in 1811.

Looking back To Little Hallingbury Mill

The 15 locks  are built to take boats 86 feet (26 m) by 13.25 feet (4.0 m), which means that they are not quite wide enough to take two narrow boats at a time. The Navigation is now managed by the Canal & River Trust as successor to British Waterways.

Little Hallingbury Marina

I follow the canal for quite a way along.
Daffodils blooming, hopefully Spring isn't far behind.

Mallard Ducks

A young Cormorant up high in a tree

Although pleasant enough walk, there is some noise from the nearby train track and busy skies with planes from nearby Stansted Airport.

Bridge over to Thorley Street Railway station.

I leave the towpath and onto a road, now I  need to turn right to continue the walk, but I cross over instead to have a cup of tea from my flask by the Twyford Lock 2 before heading back to the road.

The ancient name Twyford means ‘double ford’, and in this case is derived from two fords once used to cross the river Stort and a small stream that had its origins in Birchanger. Twyford was (and still is) a hamlet of Thorley and today encompasses Twyford Bury, Twyford Lock, Twyford Mill (now residential) and Twyford House; a large Queen Anne style building from the mid to late 1700s that will forever be associated with just two families of Thorley – the Freres and the Rapers.

After a very short stretch of road I turn onto a footpath through Twyford Livery.
Now the path runs through the garden of a beautiful thatched cottage.

I walk across farmland at Latchmore Bank and to the sound of a skylark singing high overhead.

I walk into Little Hallingbury and up to The George Public House, had it been later in the day, I'd have stopped for an ale.

The George is believed to date from the mid-17th century. There is a sad story that during the 1840s, when times were hard, two local lads broke into the pub through the daub walls and stole some wine, bread, cheese and cash. The noise they made woke the landlady and she woke the guests and residents, who went down to the cellar to see what was going on. By the time the landlady got down there, one of the miscreants was half way out of the hole in the wall with one of the guests hanging on to his legs. His accomplice had apparently been outside the pub, trying and failing to drag his friend free. Both lads were sentenced to deportation to Australia for 10 years, and at least one of them never came back, dying there in 1910.

Opposite the pub is the lovely George Green Cottage. A small cottage C17 with C20 addition to rear.

I walk down the road for a short distance before taking a footpath on my left across the road and across more farmland.

One of two Llamas in someones rear garden.

The path almost meets the busy and noisy M11 motorway.

I head out onto a road turn left before turning right again down a track and taking a footpath on my left behind some houses and pass another livery centre.

I pop out onto a track that leads me to Motts Green.
Woodside Green, as well as the smaller Wright's Green and Mott's Green in Little Hallingbury (just to the west of the M11), were given to the National Trust by Major Archer Houblon, in 1935.  It is now a registered common with recognised grazing rights.
It is a large area of open grassland, of about 27 hectares (66 acres), bounded on two sides by minor roads. Cattle graze on the green in summer, with the road exits protected by cattle grids. Woodside Green Farm, houses and cottages line the western fringe, forming a linear hamlet.

I pass Motts Green cottage, where a grumpy man comes and asks what I'm doing. I said I was taking photographs, he asked why. I told him because its a beautiful cottage and is that alright. He said I suppose it has to be , you've done so already and just glared at me. Miserable sod!

Mott's Green Cottage is the west wing, probably the solar wing, of a late medieval house.

I have gone off track here and added a 1/2 mile more than needed, I track back and back on the path.

I cross more farmland, here my GPS shows the path straight ahead on a ploughed and seeded field. I track around the field and end up rejoining the path further around.

Now again the path shows straight across a seeded field, this time I follow the GPS and across I go.

I see signs that the farmer has tried to re-route the Public footpaths on his farm, I think not! I walk across where the footpaths should be regardless!

I walk out onto Sawbridgeworth Road opposite  Long Bar Hall.
I walk along the road back towards Gaston Green, where I parked.

The Hop Poles inn, Gaston Green, recorded as a beerhouse from the 1830s, was closed in the 1960s.
Cottage of 3 builds C19, C18 and C16 or earlier. Mainly 2 storeys. The Victorian build with brick walls and grey slate roof, C18 with plain red tile roof and the earlier building is thatched, the latter two have timber frames. The whole is plastered or painted white throughout. 1/4 paned sliding sashes of 2:1:2 range. Plain, recessed wooden door. Square red brick chimney stack.

On my left I pass Little Hallingbury Free Church. 
 Situated in the hamlet of Gaston Green a few metres from the Hertfordshire border, the origins of this humble little building are indicated above the entrance where a rather battered plaque records that this Mission Hall was built in 1877. The building was used by local community groups as well as by the congregation, but by 2008 the size of the congregation had fallen to such a low that they moved in with Bishop's Stortford Baptist church, bringing this little chapel with them. The building has a curious air of being maintained but not actually used as church, which is more or less right because the community groups still using it are secular, apart from the Portugese Baptist services which are held here monthly by the mother church while they seek a new use for it.

I am now back at the car after a 6.5 mile walk.

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