Thorpe Thewles History Group

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Carlton Mill ???

The following is the entry for Carlton in the Boldon Book, the so-called Domesday Book of the North.

In Carlton there are 23 lease holders who hold 46 bovates, and they pay 10s for every 2 bovates, and provide from every 2 bovates 1 cart for corn or hay for 6 days, do 4 obligatory days in the autumn with all the establishment of the household except for the housewife, and render for every 2 bovates 2 hens and 20 eggs. Gerobod holds in the same township 4 bovates and pays 20s. He is exempt from work while he is in the service of the Bishop, but, if he should be out of his service, he will work like the aforesaid leaseholders at the Bishop's mercy. Elias holds 2 bovates and pays 10s, to be let out to another when the Lord Bishop wishes. Walter the miller holds 2 bovates and returns 10s for rent and 2s for his works.

Summa, a widow, holds 2 bovates and is exempt from rent and from all services in her lifetime and after her death it reverts to the Bishop's lordship. William son of Orm holds 1 carucate, pays 10s and is exempt from all other services except that he should come to the Bishop's Great Chase with 1 greyhound. The mill yields 20 skips of corn by the measure of Yarm.


The Boldon Book contains the results of a survey of the bishopric of Durham. It was completed in 1183 on the orders of Hugh du Puiset, the then Prince Bishop of Durham and was designed to assist in the administration of the vast diocesan estates. Only those estates and manors from which the bishop was able to levy rents, taxes and customery services were listed in this survey. As such the Boldon Book doesn’t present a full picture of the communities north of the Tees at the time of its compilation. Notable local exceptions from the Boldon Book include serval of the villages north-east of Stockton. These include Billingham, Redmarshall, Bishopton, and Wolviston. While Grindon is listed there is no mention of other settlements in the parish such as Thorpe, Fulthorpe, Whitton, or Wynyard which, by evidence of their pre-conquest place names must have been established prior to 1183 and presumably had not all been totally obliterated during the “Harrying of the North” by William the Conquerer in 1069-70.

The entry for Carlton is interesting in that it makes reference to a corn mill. At this early date it is almost certain that this would have been a water as apposed to a post type wind mill. Given this the most obvious question is where would such a mill have been located? I do not know of any substantial becks or streams in the Carlton area today that would be suitable for powering such a mill. So if this mill wasn’t located in Carlton where else in the vicinity of the village could it have been located?

There are two known medieval water mills sites close to Carlton village. Both of these are on the Billingham Beck and both are exactly 1 mile (as the crow flys) from the centre of the village. The most northerly of these is Bishopton Mill which is situated on the Bishopton side of the beck where its defines the boundry between the parishes of Grindon and Bishopton. The second mill site, to the east of Carlton, is that of Thorpe Thewles. This mill is located on the Grindon side of the beck on the parish boundry between Redmarshall and Grindon. Neither of these two mills can claim to be in the township of Carlton but that at Thorpe is on the eastern boundry of the latter. So if this mill wasn’t located in Carlton itself could it have been at Thorpe? If in 1183 Thorpe was still less than a hamlet or possibly still hadn’t recovered from the results of King William’s “Harrying of the North” then maybe it is possible that its mill could have been temporarily associated with the neighbouring township of Carlton. If this is the case then it would make the water mill at Thorpe Thewles one of the earliest recorded for County Durham and would push back the first mention of a mill at this location by nearly a century.

If anyone has any other views about the mill of Carlton which is mentioned in the Boldon Book I would be interesting to hear them.

Thanks in anticipation.

Mark Smith

Re: Carlton Mill ???

i will have to look back through some of my older books but im sure the people of carlton ground there corn at the bishops mill wich was located on thorpe beck...coming from billingham direction there was blakeston mill,bishops mill,thorpe mill then bishopton mill and beyond....the only other place i could think of were the missing mill may be?? is on the south side of thorpe beck on the top of the bank were i belive the to be horses stabled just befor you go over the railway line, its were letch beck starts its steep decline down to thorpe beck. I will get back to you on this once i can find the infomation im looking for. dave

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