Acorn Bank Watermill Trust

Early History of Acorn Bank Milling

Knight's Templars

Knights's Templars

The early history of a mill at Acorn Bank or at least its vicinity is a little sketchy, but it is highly likely that milling was taking place on this part of Crowdundle Beck for at least 800 years. The Doomsday Book, completed in 1086, lists over 6,000 mills, but makes no mention of Sourebi, as Temple Sowerby was originally called; the name Acorn Bank appeared later. This doesn't mean there wasn't a mill, it's just that the Norman's took a further 10 plus years to reach this part of the country and then leased it to the Scottish Crown. Henry II took the region back in 1157 and by 1185 the manor of Sowerby was given to the Knights Templars, thus becoming Temple Sowerby.

Whilst there's no direct evidence of there being a corn mill at this time, the Knights Templars adopted a standard pattern to building their estates. Top priority was a chapel, quickly followed by a corn mill, so it's fair to assume that they built one, on Crowdundle Beck, before the end of the 12th Century.

The first written evidence of a mill at Acorn Bank is found in 1313. A couple of years earlier, the Pope had ordered the dissolution of the Knights Templars and their estates were taken over by the Crown. The manor of Temple Sowerby was granted to Robert de Clifford in 1312 and an inventory of the estate prepared in 1313 includes a corn mill valued at £4 per year.

The Knights Hospitallers may have taken the estate in 1323 as they were granted all 'the banned estates of the Templars' some 11 years after the Templars dissolution. However, documents from 1344, 1364 and 1379 indicate that de Clifford and his heirs held onto Temple Sowerby. The Knights Hospitallers did gain control eventually. Documentary evidence then goes cold until 1540 when Henry VIII orders the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

Henry granted the estates of Temple Sowerby to Thomas Dalston in 1543 and it remains with the Dalston's until 1771 when William, the last male heir, dies and the estate passes to his sister Mary. The name 'Acornbank' first appears in 1605 and in 1678 there is reference to one Thomas Bell of 'Accornbanck'; Thomas is believed to be our first referenced miller.