Along the Frome
The mill was not always known by this name, at one time it was called Whitwood Mills. There is no evidence of it ever being used to grind snuff, though records show that it was used for corn. You can still see the last water wheel ever used. In its last years, it was steam powered. A very curious boiler was used, it was double egg ended, one of only three in the country. You can also see a large millstone, a smaller grindstone and various millstone fragments. Just beyond the mill, you can see the weir. The original sluice is still in action. Note the sheer overgrown quarry faces as you walk along.
Kynge's Mill Weir
This weir is quite a dramatic feature. The mill stood on the opposite bank of the river. Nothing remains but a millstone next to the river just below this point. The mill was closely connected with Oldbury Court Estate. A little further along, a rather exotic looking bamboo plantation can be seen on the far side of the river. The path crosses the stream here, and the path which follows it to the river leads back to Oldbury Court Estate.
This is a pleasant diversion. To take it, follow the path that leads off to the right. It will take you to a small arboretum where the visitor can enjoy the many beautiful conifers and flowering shrubs. The autumn colours are particularly worth a visit. Oldbury Court itself no longer exists. It occupied the site of the hunting lodge belonging to Kingswood Chase. It was occupied by the Powell family who were renowned for their altruism. In 1770, when food was scarce, they arranged for corn to be ground at the nearby mills. This corn was then made available to the poor at affordable prices. Bristol Corporation acquired the estate from Mr. H C Vassall in 1937. The grounds were laid out as a public park (Vassall's Park) and the Court was eventually demolished.
Frenchay is a corruption of 'Fromeshaw' (small wood by the Frome). A community of millers and quarrymen in the 17th and 18th centuries lived there. Note how the river narrows and hurries as you approach the weir. The path, too, changes, becoming rougher and rising up steps to ascend a steep bank. Frenchay Mill stood nearby. Its final dispatch of corn was ground in 1905, and the building was eventually demolished in 1958. A building with arches can be seen on the far side of the river. This was probably a stable.
Frenchay Lower Weir
Over the past 200 years, this mill has been used for a variety of activities. Iron farm tools have been produced here and the building was also used for grinding and file cutting. At one time, wool flock and cotton waste were brought here for preparation as furniture stuffing. More recently, it has been a site for light engineering.
Edwards Higgins, a well known Highwayman, made this his residence in 1763 after his return from America, where he had been sent as a punishment for his crimes. He was accepted in the higher circles of Bristolian society for a while. However, he was still a guilty man and despite attempts to forge a reprieve, he was eventually executed in Carmarthenshire (Dyfed).
This was originally a grist mill, parts of it dating back to the 15 century. It later became an iron age forge and specialised in agricultural tools. Many of these tools were exported to the colonies.
This mansion was built in the 18th century. Paths threaded through its landscaped grounds and an elegant bridge spanned the river. Sadly the bridge was destroyed recently. Only the buttresses remain and can be found just to the south of the M4.
When you reach Rock Cottage, note a public footpath marked by a gate post made from stone. This path once led into a stone pound, where stray animals were kept till their owners could collect them.
This was originally two cottages. Neighbouring Faber Farm is much older, the newer wing was built in 1698 by Bess and Tom Bailey, and the original building may have been constructed a century earlier. This farm and much of Hambrook were originally owned by Mr. Muir who lived at the Grove. The road was the original coaching route between Bristol and Gloucester.
A place where the three parishes joined, Stoke Gifford, Winterbourne and Frenchay. On the original map, the boundary fines were not quite accurate. 1f this is not in any of the other parishes, it must be nowhere; was the quote. Future maps were drawn correctly, but the name stuck.
St Michael's Church
St Michael's Church, Stoke Gifford: the early church records from 1508 were kept in the vestry and are now in the safe hands of Bristol City Archives. The square font under St Michael's window may be Norman. The 10 commandments are on the west wall.
© Stoke Gifford Parish Council