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Description: The Chesapeake Mill
Date Listed: 7 February 1952
English Heritage Building ID: 146254
OS Grid Reference: SU5741911521
OS Grid Coordinates: 457419, 111521
Latitude/Longitude: 50.9003, -1.1848
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1879/10/30 BRIDGE STREET
29-SEP-03 (North side)
THE CHESAPEAKE MILL
Former corn mill, in working order although the water power no longer exists. Built in 1820 with some late C19 replacement windows and early C20 extension. A stone plaque is inscribed 'ERECTED AD 1820 J PRIOR'. Red brick walls in English bond, slightly-cambered rubbed arches with flat extrados (many plastered), other cambered arches, brick dentilled eaves. Flat roof, with steeply-formed tiled sides, hipped at the corners. Rectangular block of three storeys, with symmetrical treatment of facades: the south front with doorways at ground and 1st floor levels and overhanging boarded hoist at the top, with a window at each side at each level (being small dormers at the top): the rear of two windows: the longer west side of two windows and a central doorway at the 2nd floor. Casements. Plain doorways. A two-storeyed wing extends northwards from the north east corner, with weatherboarding (above the stream) and brick walls, and a C20 single extension, with wide entrance is at the east side. Related to the mill is a pattern of water channels, and the remains of the bearing supports for the water wheels.
INTERIOR: Internally the five main spine beams to each floor, the floor joists, the roof timbers and most of the window lintels are of American longleaf pine, known to have originated in the American warship Chesapeake, captured by HMS Shannon 1st June 1813, brought to Portsmouth in 1819 and dismantled. The main spine beams give the width dimensions of the ship and both these and many of the floor joists are recognisable by their beaded moulding. The second spine beam from the front on the ground floor has rebates for the mast partners and carlings. Many timbers bear American carpenters'marks. An office on the ground floor has a partition of wood from The Chesapeake. Some timbers have evidence for canvas partitions. Burn marks on the first floor timber are the marks made firing cannon. A timber on the second floor has the evidence of repaired damage which occurred during a naval engagement and suggests the timber came from the quarterdeck. There is a "ghost" image of a carling on the second floor. The unusual roof shape was dictated by the reused timbers from The Chesapeake which came from the ship's hold and are therefore not decorated. Deck and ceiling planks from The Chesapeake were reused at the sides of the roof under the tiles and have a number of repairs. The interior also includes some reused beams under the ground floor from a previous mill on the site, reused cast iron columns, a 1920s or 1930s turbine which is in working order and all the machinery necessary for the working of a corn mill.
HISTORY: The Chesapeake was one of four American frigates of 44 guns built at Gosport naval yard in Virginia and launched on February 28th 1799. She was finally captured after a famous duel with HMS Shannon in 1813 and served with the Royal Navy from 1814 to 1819 when the ship was sold to Joshua Holmes,a ship breaker in Portsmouth. Timbers from The Chesapeake were bought by John Prior who was preparing to build a new mill at Wickham. The corn mill was in use until the 1970s.
Considered the best survival of C18 reused ship's timbers in any building in Britain apart from the royal dockyards.The survival of old ship's timbers is very rare in America. The capture of The Chesapeake was a famous naval action for the Royal Navy and was famous in the United States for the dying words of Captain James Lawrence "Don't give up the ship".
[Unpublished report of 2003 by the Scottish Institute of Maritime Studies,University of St Andrews "The ship within the mill."]
Listing NGR: SU5741411521
This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.