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The Parish Magazine

Berwick St James Parish The Parish Magazine

February 2024


We are delighted to welcome several new villagers -welcome to Alice and Ed Faulkner, and Benjie, Rollo, and Ottilie. And Dave and Amanda Northway, and Bill Moore. We do hope all of you enjoy living in Berwick.

Many thanks to everyone who helped make the Christmas services such a success. Very special thanks to Stephen Bush for organising the Candlelit Carol service – his 19th. As ever, it was supremely well organised and the church looked lovely (thank you flower arrangers), the children read beautifully and the church was full. These services take many hours of work in preparation, so we are particularly grateful to Stephen for having taken on this task.
Our second service in January was held on Plough Sunday, and to mark the start of the farming year we bless the plough so thank you once again to Charles and David Street for supplying it.
Turning to next month, in February, we have our normal Holy Communion service at 9.30am on 4th February and Matins at 10.00am on Sunday 18th, the first Sunday of Lent. With Easter falling this year in March, next month will inevitable be busier.

TEA and CAKE and CHAT.
A full Reading Room welcomed in the New Year with the Tea and Chat on 9th January despite the cold weather (we turned the heating on early!), it was lovely to see so many villagers.
The next Tea and Cake and Chat will be on Tuesday 6th February, come anytime between 2.30 and 4pm for free tea or coffee, and cakes and biscuits, and a lovely chat with friends.
The March Tea and Chat will be on Tuesday 5th March.

For January we are reading “The Transit of Venus” by Shirley Hazzard. Our first meeting in the New Year will be on Wednesday 31st of January, and we will be welcoming another two new members to our group of thirteen. Should you like to pop along for a taster session you will be warmly received.
Please email [email protected] or contact me (Hayley) on 07774 926567 for further details.

Local History  

A couple of months ago, the cover of this magazine had a lovely picture of Berwick Mill. I thought you might be interested in the history of this building.
This Grade 2 listed Mill is built of flint and clunch with brick dressings and a slate roof. It is a bridge mill, straddling the river Till which is some twelve to eighteen feet wide at this point.
The mill was built in about 1845 to grind animal feed and to power machinery in the farm yard. It replaced the old mill beside Mill House.  As there had been a mill there from at least 1478, and probably 1250, if the river had been diverted to power the mill that long ago then this has become the main stream.  
There are two brick arches over the river on the south side, the eastern one has two hatches to hold back water for the wheel and to regulate the water flow, and the western one contains the water wheel.
The breast-shot cast-iron water wheel and associated machinery was put in by P Curtis of Shrewton. The wheel is 10ft in diameter, 7ft wide with 32 nine inch vanes around its circumference. Some of the original gearing remains, along with one set of grinding stones on the first floor and grain bins on the second. The ladders and flooring on the upper floors are unsafe.
The Mill was operated as part of Berwick Farm. In 1891 Jacob Rolfe (29) was the miller, but he lived in the northern end of the village. In 1910 the Mill was operated from the Dairy House by the dairyman David Draper.
On 12th November 1910 Harry Christopher Furness aged 28 was visiting his father at The Manor House (now Berwick House). He came down to the Mill and put the wheel on, and was caught and dragged through, he struggled to the Dairy House and died shortly after.
From 1921 the mill provided (rather dim) electricity to Berwick House as well as pumping water for the whole of Berwick from a borehole up to reservoirs above the village. It continued powering the pump for many years, and was restored in 1978/9. The wooden hatches were replaced with steel in 1974, and the Environment Agency replaced those, and the joists and beams of the hatches in 2010.
The Mill is owned by Berwick Hill Farm, and pumped water for the stock and for the farmhouse until recently. The hatches are operated now to maintain the water level above and below the mill under Environment Agency instructions.
Written and researched by Nicky Street.

Regular views of a Kingfisher flying to and from the river above the mill in Berwick.
A Muntjac deer on Stapleford Car park on 9th January. Also a Reeves muntjac on the floodwater over the bridge to Great Wishford.  On 6th January a 2nd winter Caspian Gull (Larus cachinnans) which breeds mostly in Eastern Europe into Western Asia, also seen on the floodwater by the bridge to Great Wishford.
All reports very welcome – from all our villages. Nicky Street [email protected] The Dairy House Berwick St James.