River Mill in Eaton Socon
The village is mentioned as “Eaton” in the Domesday Book commissioned by William the Conqueror and completed in 1086, when the manor belonged to Eudo Dapfier. There were 55 households in the village comprising 38 villagers, 7 smallholders, 8 slaves and 2 freemen. 12 plough teams, 400 pigs and two mills are recorded on the site at that time.
In that time land in the UK was divided into Hundreds which is an area based loosely on a measure of land of 100 Hides. The unit of a Hide comes from the the Anglo-Saxon word for family and one hide was enough land to support a family thought to be about 30 acres. The Hundreds were collected into groups to form a Shire. The administrative centre for Eaton Socon was Barford and a court was held there roughly monthly (the Barford Hundred Court) to arbitrate over disputes and generally run the area. In the 13th century the Eaton village became a “Soke”, which meant it was independent of this local Hundred Court at Barford. In time, “Soke” became “Socon”.
The Mill as you see it today was built in 1847 and was operated by the Jordan and Addington families who milled animal feed here. Having merged with Ryvita, the Jordon name continues to be associated with cereals today as a brand of museli and also cereal bars as part of Associated British Foods. The mill ended its working life in the 1950’s when all the equipment was removed and after being used for a raft of different purposes for a number of years fell into decay and disrepair.
In the 1970’s it was restored and converted into a public house with the millers house next door used variously as the marina office, a chandlery and tea shop. In the early 2000’s the house was restored to a residential home and the marina removed from the lower mill pond. The current owners bought the site in 2007. The old Rivermill Tavern closed after Christmas in 2015 and after a much needed major refurbishment the new River Mill public house and restaurant was opened in March 2016.
Also in 1847
Brigham Young lead 148 Mormon pioneers into Salt Lake Valley where they established Salt Lake City
Samuel colt sold his first revolver pistol to the US Government
Thomas Edison inventor of the light bulb was born
Emily Bronte published Wuthering Heights
Charlotte Bronte published Jane Eyre
Bram Stoker creator of Dracula was born
Carlsberg beer was first brewed
Alexander Graham Bell was born
The composer Felix Mendelssohn died aged just 38
Events around the end of the 19th Century
James W Marshall found gold at Sutters Mill in California in January 1848 sparking the California Gold Rush.
The Great Exhibition took place with the famous Crystal Palace in Hyde Park in 1851 attended by 6 million visitors (around one third of the entire population of Britain at the time) including Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, Lewis Carroll and Alfred Tennyson. It founded the Victoria and Albert Museum, The Science Museum and the Natural History Museum.
The cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco were incorporated in 1850 and California became the 31st US state in September 1850.
The American civil war would begin in 1861 leading to the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 end slavery in the US almost 30 years after Wilberforce had led the campaign to abolish slavery across the British Empire with the Act of 1833.
It would be another 32 years until 1879 before the first electric light bulb would be demonstrated.