Chesapeake Mill

Chesapeake Mill
There has been a mill in Wickham at least since the time of the Domesday survey in 1086. The present building dates from 1820. It was built using timbers salvaged from the USS Chesapeake which was captured by the English frigate HMS Shannon in 1813 off Boston. Although the chief timbers of the mill came from this American ship, beneath the ground floor remain beams from a previous mill.

After being used by the Royal Navy, USS Chesapeake was broken up in 1819 and sold at auction in Portsmouth where it was bought by John Prior to build a new corn mill at Wickham. The mill was designed around the length of the deck beams from the ship. Many of the timbers still bear the battle scars along with American carpenters’ marks.

Can you see the stone plaque inscribed ‘ERECTED AD 1820 J PRIOR’?

By the 1880s, the mill was in the hands of the Edney family – you can see ‘T and J Edney’ on the building. In 1919 the mill passed to their nephew, Tom Tappenden. During the 20th century, the original water wheels were replaced by a water turbine, followed by a steam-powered engine.

By the 1970s the mill was used to produce animal feed. Grinding ceased in 1986 and then, being used only for grain and fertiliser storage, the mill closed in 1991.Bruce Tappenden, the last miller and a local historian, continued to live in the Mill House until his death in 2002.

There is a heritage room inside the mill – please visit for more of the history of the USS Chesapeake and Wickham, including old photographs and memorabilia.

The dip-hole
When the mill was built, the river on the north side of the bridge was filled in and the water ran through culverts.

A short flight of steps was built allowing villagers to draw water safely from the river. The dip-hole was popular with drivers, who used it to fill their steam tractors, and with children who used to fish and play.

The dip-hole was restored by public subscription.

Bridge House
This was the home of Captain William Brereton and his wife Elizabeth in the late 1700s. In 1761 Captain Brereton rescued Casario Rodorigo – a Madagascan slave – and brought him to live in Wickham. Rodorigo was baptised at his own request at St Nicholas Church under the name ‘John Helton’. He was under Brereton’s protection for 40 years until his death in 1801. Both he and Captain Brereton are buried in West Meon.

During the Second World War, Bridge House sheltered expectant mothers and their young children. There have been reports of hearing children’s voices and other ghostly sightings in the house.

The brewery and the Victory Club
The brewery opened in the 1830s and was rebuilt in 1887. The brewers included the Hammond family who lived in Wentworth house and later owned the garage, both in the Square. It was offered for auction in 1910 along with 3 public houses, including the King’s Head. Trading ceased when it was purchased by Gale & Co. in 1912.

To commemorate the end of the Great War, a group of villagers subscribed to the ‘Victory Club’ to be used by local organisations for recreational purposes. The former brewery was converted and, from 1921 to 1988, was the home of the Victory Hall, predecessor of the Wickham Community Centre. The buildings were redeveloped as Riverside Mews.

William of Wykeham (circa 1324–1404)
Son of a local family who were “poor but of creditable descent and reputable character”, Wykeham was thought to have been the protegee of Sir John Scures – Lord of the Manor of Wickham. He was schooled at Winchester Cathedral Priory. William was twice Chancellor of England, the most powerful man in the land after the King. He had a long – and at times a turbulent – career but at the time of his death in 1404, he was one of the richest men in England. William was Bishop of Winchester, Chancellor to both Edward III and Richard II, and founder of Winchester College and New College, Oxford.

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