Posts Tagged ‘Russell Mill’

Russell Mill

April 2, 2016

Just recently we featured a delightful oil painting of the building known as Russell Mill and you can see it here.

Now we have been given a book entitled Russell Mill.

Cover of Russell Mill book

Cover of Russell Mill book

This was written by Ann Saunders in 1881. Ann was the daughter of Amram and had been born in 1818.

Title Page

Title Page

We do not know how many of these books were printed. Printing was done by the Eastern Morning News of Hull, a paper which belonged to Ann’s brother, William.

The book is a real mixture. Much of it is a diatribe against the evils of drink. This extract comes from a page headed, ‘Benighted Lavington’.


Much of this does not make for easy reading – particularly in the section of the book where Ann is describing the area around Paddington where she appears to have tried to save the people from their drunken ways.

But there are sections of local interest, albeit not always as well described as one might like.


Of course, Neighbour Smith remains an enigma – a man with a common surname and no forename given. But he sounds an interesting character with his Ceylonese cinnamon estates.

We had a very poor photocopy of this book previously but it is a real treasure, now, to have the real thing.

Russell Mill

February 15, 2016

A few days ago a lovely photo of a watercolour painting popped into our Curator’s in-box. Actually, it wasn’t captioned and Carey, who sent it, wasn’t sure where it was but Russell Mill is well known at the museum and it was recognised immediately. Here is that image.

Russell Mill from a 1921 water colour

Russell Mill from a 1921 watercolour

The painting is dated at 1921 but we can’t yet make out the artist’s name. Can anybody help there?

What is the artist's name?

What is the artist’s name?

Let’s deal with a bit of history. In 1961 Russell Mill was ‘transferred’ from Market Lavington to West Lavington. The picture shows the house from the West Lavington side and we can see a decent level route way leading to it. The track from the mill into Market Lavington is deep, rutted and muddy – not usable by motor vehicles and in the 50s residents spoke of the absurdity of having to go past the West Lavington polling station on their way to vote in Market Lavington. Eventually, the residents won and the parish boundary was altered.

On our 1926 electoral roll, close in time to the painting, Ruth and Herbert Draper, William and Mabel Helps, Tom Lye and Thomas and Emily Matthews all lived at properties at Russell Mill. James Topp owned land there and was qualified to vote in Market Lavington.

But back now to the nineteenth century. The most famous residents were the Saunders family for whom this was home and also one of many business interests. Amram Saunders, the head of the family, was very active in local affairs and also nationally. He was non-conformist in religion and very much on side with working people. Amongst his children, raised at the mill, one became a British MP and one a member of the New Zealand Parliament. All of the children were full of radical and reforming zeal. They had quite an impact in the Lavingtons as well as further afield.

Many thanks to Carey for sending us this wonderful image.