During the English dissolution of the monasteries (1536 to 1539) the Manor of Botley and hence the mills was given to one Thomas Wriothesly who was a commissioner of Henry VIII and later was made Earl of Southampton. It is believed that the oldest part of the existing buildings date from this time. The third Earl died without a male heir and the manor including Botley Mills passed by marriage to the Dukes of Portland. For about the next two hundred and fifty years the Portlands leased the mills to various tenant millers.
Britain’s involvement in the wars of Europe in the second half of the Eighteen Century caused a significant increase in the population along the south coast of England. The demand for flour in the area rose with the increase in population and in 1757 plans were drawn up for the expansion of “His Grace the Duke of Portlands Mills at Botley.” The present centre building gets its appearance from this date. At the end of the Napoleonic era peace in Europe resulted in a fall in population in the south coast region. The Portlands had sold the mills by this time and by 1819 they were put up for sale again. During this time at least one of its tenants had been made bankrupt.
In 1838 the site was bought by W and J Clarke and the mills traded under that name until 1921. As well as grinding and trading cereals the company also traded in coal, importing it in by barges which came up the River Hamble at high tide. Grain was also imported this way until 1914. For a short time between 1830 and 1848 paper was also manufactured on this site.
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