Family History Notebook

Bolingbroke House
and the Horizontal Windmill

Bolingbroke House was built by the St John family on part of the site of the medieval manor house of Battersea, probably in the early 17th century. a  (Grid reference TQ 268 769)

Bolenbroke House, Battersea
Trustees of the British Museum   Registration number: 1922,1116.27  Probable date 1840-1860

 "In 1763 the estate was alienated and about the year 1775 the greater part of Bolingbroke house was taken down. A few of the rooms remain among which is one wainscotted with cedar said to house have been Lord Bolingbroke's favourite apartment.  ...

On the site of Bolingbroke house was erected about the year 1788 a horizontal air mill of a new construction and of very large dimensions the shape of the dome or case which contains the moveable machine is that of a truncated cone being circular of fifty two feet diameter at the bottom and forty five feet at the top. The height of the main shaft is 120 feet that is forty feet from the floor to the bottom of the dome and eighty feet thence to the top. The moveable machine is of the same shape and nearly of the same dimensions as the dome having just space to turn round within it. The extremities of this machine are called floats as in the wheel of a water mill. The pieces of wood which connect them with the main shaft are called the arms. There are ninety six floats and the same number of shutters in the dome which when open admit even when there is little wind a sufficient current of air to turn the machine and by a particular contrivance shut when the wind is so violent as to endanger the structure This mill at its first erection was used for preparing of oil it is now used as a corn mill and is occupied by Messrs Hodgson and Co."

The Environs of London by the Rev Daniel Lysons 2nd Edition 1811 pages 31, 31

Fowler's Mill

Engraved by William Henry Prior (1812-1882) an original and published in "Old and New London" about 1880; the colouring is modern. "Old Battersea Mill, about 1800. (From a Contemporary Drawing)"

"In 1788, another [horizontal windmill] was built for the malster, Hodgson, on part of the site of Bolinbroke House at Battersea, then in Surrey. It was designed for grinding linseed but by 1808 was used to grind malt for a distillery. Some figures given for its dimensions, which may not be quite correct, are a total height of 55 m (140ft.) and diameter of the wheel casing tapering from 21.2 m (54 ft.) at the bottom to 17.7 m (45 ft.) at the top. There were 96 movable shutters 31.5 m (80 ft.) long and 22.86 cm (9 in.) wide which could be operated by a cord rather like Venetion blinds.

The wind rushing through the openings of these shutters acts with great power upon the sails, and when it blows fresh, turns the mill with prodigious rapidity; but this may be moderated in an instant, by lessening the apertures between the shutters, which is effected like the entire stopping of the mill, as before observed, by the pulling on a rope.

There were six pairs of stones with provision for a further two. The expense of the upkeep was very high and, after falling into disrepair, it was taken down in 1849."

Power from the wind: A History of Windmill Technology by Richard Leslie Hills  Cambridge University Press 1996
(with more information on Captain Stephen Hooper's horizontal windmills, including a diagram of 1819)

The mill was built by Thomas Fowler to Stephen Hooper's design. It worked by wind until 1825, when the windmill was dismantled, leaving the substructure, which was used for milling as late as 1882.b

The management of the mill changed from Hodgson to James and Thomas Dives, probably coincident with the change from wind to steam power, which occurred before 18335.

1850 map showing site of Horizontal Mill
This map of 1850 shows the Horizontal Mill.

The remains of Bolinbroke House were retained within the mill complex - the miller Thomas Dives was living there in 1841 - and remained even after the new mill was built in 1884. Pictures of the rooms as they survived in 1911 can be seen on Wandsworth Heritage Service's pages on flickr - ]

In 1876 Bolinbroke House was acquired by Canon John Erskine Clarke, Vicar of Saint Mary, Battersea and became Bolinbroke Hospital. The Hospital moved to Wakehurst Road by 1901 and Bolinbroke House became derelict.

Bolingbroke House c1900 Battersea Church Road, Bolingbroke House, derelict, 1900

Click on this link to see larger images City of London

Thomas Dives was succeeded by his son Frederick on his death in 1880. Frederick took James William Mayhew into partership some time before 1890 and the Mayhew family eventually took over control (1894?) though Frederick Dives retained an interest until at least 1901.

The Victorian flour mill was replaced in the early 20th century. Often known as the Battersea Flour Mills, they should not be confused with the mills at Albert Bridge, Battersea.

The Mark Mayhew mill mill was purchased by Rowland Rank and the business was later incorporated into the Rank Company, which in 1962 acquired Hovis McDougal to become Rank Hovis McDougal.

Battersea Flour Mills on 1951 map
1951 map

BATTERSEA riverside, Hovis mills behind St.Mary's Church,c.1981
Mayhew's Flour Mills built on the site of the manor house were demolished in 1997 to be replaced with flats by Richard Rogers .

Article in The Independent 1997
Montevetro development on site of Battersea Flour Mills


a    Wessex Archeology - investigations on the site of Battersea Flour Mills

b    Wikipedia -


1    Hodgson at Bolingbroke House

MARRIED JP Hodgson esq second son of JH of Bolingbroke House Battersea esq to the only daughter of Shuckburgh How esq
The Monthly Magazine 1811

I passed from the premises of Mr. Brunel, to the nearly adjoining ones of Mr. Hodgson, an intelligent maltster and distiller, and the proprietor of the elevated horizontal air-mill, which serves as a landmark for many miles round. But his mill, its elevated shaft, its vanes, and weather or wind boards, curious as they would have been on any other scite, lost their interest on premises once the residence of the illustrious Bolingbroke, and the resort of the philosophers of his day. In ascending the winding flights of its tottering galleries, I could not help wondering at the caprice of events which had converted the dwelling of Bolingbroke into a malting-house and a mill. This house, once sacred to philosophy and poetry, long sanctified by the residence of the noblest genius of his age, honoured by the frequent visits of Pope, and the birthplace of the immortal Essay on Man, is now appropriated to the lowest uses! The house of Bolingbroke become a windmill! The spot on which the Essay on Man was concocted and produced, converted into a distillery of pernicious spirits! Such are the lessons of time! Such are the means by which an eternal agency sets at nought the ephemeral importance of man! But yesterday, this spot was the resort, the hope, and the seat of enjoyment of Bolingbroke, Pope, Swift, Arbuthnot, Thomson, Mallet, and all the contemporary genius of England--yet a few whirls of the earth round the sun, the change of a figure in the date of the year, and the groupe have vanished; while in their place I behold hogs and horses, malt-bags and barrels, stills and machinery!

Alas, said I, to the occupier, and have these things become the representatives of more human genius than England may ever witness on one spot again--have you thus satirized the transitory fate of humanity,--do you thus become a party with the bigotted enemies of that philosophy which was personified in a Bolingbroke and a Pope? No, he rejoined, I love the name and character of Bolingbroke, and I preserve the house as well as I can with religious veneration; I often smoke my pipe in Mr. Pope's parlour, and think of him with due respect as I walk the part of the terrace opposite his room. He then conducted me to this interesting parlour, which is of brown polished oak, with a grate and ornaments of the age of George the First; and before its window stood the portion of the terrace upon which the malt-house had not encroached, with the Thames moving majestically under its wall. I was on holy ground!--I did not take off my shoes--but I doubtless felt what pilgrims feel as they approach the temples of Jerusalem, Mecca, or Jaggernaut! Of all poems, and of all codes of wisdom, I admire the Essay on Man, and its doctrines, the most; and in this room, I exclaimed, it was probably planned, discussed, and written!

Mr. Hodgson assured me, this had always been called "Pope's room," and he had no doubt it was the apartment usually occupied by that great poet, in his visits to his friend Bolingbroke. Other parts of the original house remain, and are occupied and kept in good order. He told me, however, that this is but a wing of the mansion, which extended in Lord Bolingbroke's time to the church-yard, and is now appropriated to the malting-house and its warehouses.


Brief Description: Land lease for riverside industry at the Morgan Crucible site
Subject Date: 20/09/1819
Creator: Not known
Owner: Wandsworth Borough Council
Contributor: Wandsworth Borough Council Local History Service  
Full Description: Lease contains the following information: (i) Thomas Hodgson of Battersea, Co. Surrey - Malt Distiller (ii) Chatles Chabot of Battersea - Coal Merchant - Under lease a piece of ground abutting north on the Thames, and south on a private road leading from Battersea Church. Consideration 200; yearly rent 10 for 51 years. Plan in the margin. Recites indenture of 4th September 1782: Thomas Rhodes of Battersea leased Manor or Mansion House of Battersea, called Bolingbroke House, with several pieces of land. Plan shows a pond and Lucern Field.  

Battersea Normal College

The following passage suggests that Battersea Normal College was initially established in Bollingbroke House:-

Among the warehouses on the river bank stands the Battersea College, the first English training college for elementary teachers, instituted in 1840 by Sir James P. Kay-Shuttleworth.  It is on the site of Bolingbroke House and includes part of the house in which Viscount Bolingbroke lived.
'Parishes: Battersea with Penge', A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 4 (1912), pp. 8-17. URL: Date accessed: 07 July 2012.

In 1840, [Sir James Kay-Shuttleworth] founded with E. Carleton Tufnell, the Battersea Normal College for the training of teachers of pauper children.[3] This became the College of St Mark and St John at Battersea, London and is now University College Plymouth St Mark & St John. This was the first training college for school teachers; today's system of national school education, with public inspection, trained teachers and its support by state as well as local funds, is largely due to their initiative. (Wikipedia)

Battersea Training College, from the Illustrated London News Vol 2, June 1843
The picture and description of the training college, however, bears little resemblance to the building at the top of this page and the derelict building of 1900.

In fact the college was built a quarter mile south of the church.
Bolingbroke House c1900 Battersea Church Road, Bolingbroke House, derelict, 1900

Click on this link to see larger images City of London

See also

4     Bolingbroke Hospital

"Canon Clarke oversaw negotiations to buy an old mansion named Bolingbroke House in 1876 and after much improvement and investment from philanthropic sources, the Bolingbroke Hospital first opened in 1880 under the control of a managing committee, to which Canon Clarke was appointed President."

"Bolingbroke Hospital opened in 1880 at Bolingbroke House, Battersea. It was founded by Canon John Erskine Clarke, Vicar of Saint Mary, Battersea. Originally a voluntary hospital, it provided treatment to members of the public who preferred to pay for some or part of their care rather than attend Poor Law Institutions. During the Second World War, it became affiliated to Saint Thomas' Hospital and acted as an emergency hospital for war casualties. In 1948, despite some misgivings, the hospital became part of the new National Health Service and consequently was administered by the Battersea and Putney Hospital Management Group of the South West Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board. The hospital experienced mixed fortunes in the following years, including the opening of a coronary care unit in 1967 and the closure of the casualty department in 1974. The reorganisation of the National Health Service in 1974 saw the hospital pass to the Merton, Sutton and Wandsworth Area Health Authority of South West Thames Regional Hospital Board. In the 1980s, the hospital was redeveloped to focus on services for the elderly. In 1993, it became part of the newly formed Saint George's Healthcare NHS Trust. With the building deteriorating, the issue of fire safety at the hospital became a concern. In 2004, the NHS trust transferred the inpatient services to surrounding nursing homes and other community hospitals. Bolingbroke continued to act as a community hospital with extensive outpatient services and a day hospital. However in 2008 the entire hospital was closed and the remaining services were relocated to Saint John's Therapy Centre, Battersea."



1833 Report of the death of a worker Thomas Beale in an accident at the mills

Glasgow Herald Jan 11 1833.

1841 Sale of the Mills as part of a larger estate and currently occupied by Mr Dives. [James or Thomas?]

c1884 New mills built.

Lt. Col. Mark James Mayhew (1871-1944) 1871 Born the son of James William Mayhew. He was educated at Harrow.
1891 Living at 1 Spencer Park, Wandsworth (age 19 born Battersea), Miller's Assistant. With his parents James W. (age 52 born Little Bentley, Essex), Miller and Mary (age 51 born Finton, Essex). Plus three servants.
1894 At the age of 23, he inherited great wealth and became the proprietor of the Battersea Flour Mills.

1897 Mayhew and Son(s) reduce the working week from 59 to 53 hours for the same wages.

1913 The mills and the business offered for sale by order of the Chancery Division but were not sold.

1921 Advertised as Mark Mayhew Ltd.

Grace's Guide to British Industrial History

Most of the manor house was demolished in 1793, and later became the site of flour mills.

Dives' Flour Mills cover a portion of the site where once stood this venerable mansion.  
All About Battersea 1882