Corfe Mullen's Namesake Mill Pond

Mullen means mill, but which mill? For years people believed it was the mill next to the Coventry Arms on the A31. Now John Palmer, who runs Bear Mead Nature Reserve, thinks it was another lost Mill near the big roundabout on the A31. Lake Mill is Saxon, while the mill by the Coventry Arms is 'only' medieval (and is dated 1714).

The Domesday Book (written in 1086) mentions only one mill in Corfe, valued at £1. This sounds ridiculously cheap, but in fact places Lake Mill in the top 5% of 282 mills in Dorset in those days. The nearby Coventry Arms mill is today valued at £750,000 by local auctioneers, the difference being 927 years of shrinking value of the pound.

Lake Mill has now vanished underground, but until recently the weir on the Stour could be seen (and Weir Lane is named after it). The leat (Mill Stream) still exists, is nearly 2 miles long, and forms the Parish boundary (laid out in Saxon times).

Old maps show where Lake Mill was, next to the old Wimborne-Bere Regis road, needed to take flour to customers by horse and wagon. Lake Mill is mentioned in 1606 in Kingston Lacy archives, run by William Gillingham (he paid 23 pence for water rent); and again in the Census 1841-51-61 being run by James Bradley.

About 1900 Lake Mill was closed down after 1,000 years, and the Mill Stream filled in over 100 yards. What is now needed is Tony Robinson and his 'Time-Team' to do an exploratory archeological dig. But first, opinion, permission and money is needed from the County, the Parish and the University. This may take some time. Meanwhile, the author has kept fact and supposition together on a webpage at

Anyone who can add to the Lake Mill story, please contact me:
John Palmer
Warden of Bear Mead Nature Reserve

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