Building lease for a mill at Eling, Hampshire

The manor of Eling, Hampshire, formed part of the original endowment Winchester College in 1385. A manorial corn-mill had anciently stood on a causeway crossing a tidal inlet at the head of Southampton Water, and the mill-wheels were driven by the ebb and flow of the tide to and from a reservoir formed by the causeway. This causeway and mill had long been in ruin and it was not until about 1415 that the Warden and Fellows, as Lords of the Manor, began to seek a means of arranging for rebuilding (T. F. Kirby, Annals Winchester College, (1892), 186-7). The building lease granted survives as an original and as a counterpart, the date being given as Christmas Day 1418 in the counterpart but as 1417 over an erasure in the lease (Winchester College Muniments nos. 26454-55). Below is an English abstract from the Latin original. [Eling Tide Mill was rebuilt again subsequently is still working today.]

This indenture made between Robert Thurbern Warden of the College called Seint Marie College of Wynchestre near the City of Winchester on the one part and Thomas Midlyngton burgess of the town of Southampton on the other part witnesses that the foresaid Warden by assent and consent of the fellows and scholars of the same College has let granted and demised to the foresaid Thomas all the site or ground with the pond and fishing adjoining on which of old the mill of Eling was set to have and to hold the whole ... to the foresaid Thomas his heirs and assigns from the day of the making of these presents to the end of the term of fifty years then next following ... And the foresaid Thomas his heirs or executors upon the said site or ground shall cause to be made anew at their own costs and expenses within two years now next following a good and competent watermill with all and singular necessaries that belong and are needful to such a mill together with a good and sufficient house competently covered with sclattes shingels or reede the foundations and walls of which mill on all sides shall be of hewn stones sufficiently laid and set with lime and sand both inside and out which walls shall be of competent thickness and so high that the sea at full flood shall not overflow the foresaid walls Rendering thence yearly after the first year of the foresaid term of fifty years to the foresaid Warden and his successors at the feast of the Lord's Nativity 13 shillings and 4 pence during the foresaid term And the foresaid Warden or his successors shall pay to the same Thomas his heirs or executors in aid of the making of the foresaid works 20 marks [13.6s.8d.] within the four first years after the building and final construction of the mill and of the foresaid works namely in each year at the feast of the Lord's Nativity 5 marks sterling without further delay and to this the foresaid Warden binds himself and his successors by these presents the which mill with all its necessaries when it shall have been built the foresaid Thomas his heirs and executors or assigns shall well and competently sustain maintain and repair from year to year and from time to time at their own costs and expenses during the foresaid term of fifty years and at the end of the same term shall render it up well and competently repaired with all its necessaries in good and competent state so that it may in all likelihood last for seven years then immediately following after the said term of fifty years le Goynggere [going gear] through sudden fire hostile invasion and reasonable use however excepted And if it shall happen that the foresaid rent ... should be in arrear wholly or in part for twenty-six weeks after the foresaid feast of the Nativity ... and shall be publicly demanded or the repair and due maintenance of the said mill with all its necessaries for twenty-six weeks after being required ... then it shall be lawful for the said Warden ... to re-enter ... and take back into his hands and possess it in peace this lease notwithstanding And the foresaid Warden and his successors warrant to the foresaid Thomas ... the foresaid site or ground with the pond and fishing adjoining ... against all people during the foresaid term Moreover the foresaid Thomas considering that a certain causeway and bridges in the same causeway for footmen and horsemen built of old lying between Eling and Totton has long been broken down and left in disrepair by the flow of the sea and by great storms to the serious damage of the people there passing across whose building and repair as it is said were wont to be made by the alms of the people of that country from a time beyond memory has to the honour of God by reason of charity of his own motion on behalf of the salvation of his soul and of the soul of Margaret late his wife and of the souls of their parents friends and benefactors granted and promised to make anew and repair the foresaid Causeway sufficiently for footmen and horsemen within two years next following after the date of these presents without placing timber in the same unless in places where timber must needs be placed so that the said Causeway according to human discretion shall be likely to last for a hundred years now to come Provided only that the workmen and craftsmen hired by the foresaid Thomas to make the foresaid works of the mill and of the foresaid Causeway be not arrested by the officers of the lord King or hindered or removed from that work and he shall not be able to find other workmen and craftsmen to make and complete those works within the foresaid two years from this cause then the same Thomas shall make and in all things complete the foresaid works in as short a time as he can And the foresaid Warden has granted for himself and his successors to the foresaid Thomas ... in aid of the repair and making of the foresaid Mill and Causeway licence to dig and take clay and sand sufficient within the soil of the manor of Eling where it may seem most convenient to the foresaid Thomas

In witness of which to the part of this indenture remaining with the foresaid Warden the foresaid Thomas has set his seal and because the seal of the foresaid Thomas is to many unknown the seal of the Mayoralty of the town of Southampton at the special request of the same Thomas is set to the same part and to the part of this indenture remaining with the foresaid Thomas the foresaid Warden by the assent and consent of the foresaid fellows and scholars has set their common seal to these presents Given in the foresaid College on the feast of the Lord's Nativity in the year of the reign of King Henry the fifth after the conquest of England the sixth and A. D. 1418.

Reproduced from John H. Harvey, Sources for the History of Houses, British Records Association (1972), pp.48-50.