Frog Mill or Paper Mill ?
A few months ago I mentioned in the Parish News that Frogmill Track – off Wangfield Lane – is so-called because it leads, by footpath, to the now derelict Frog Mill. This was a paper mill, not a corn mill. Rumour says that it used to make paper for Bank of England bank notes, or for the Morning Post newspaper. After my comment appeared I received a phone call from Miss Katherine Stone, formerly of `The Elms’, Outlands Lane, now living in Botley. She was keen to tell me that the correct name of the mill is Paper Mill, not Frog Mill. Her grandfather lived there and always called it by that name.
Here was a mystery. It is certainly known as Frog Mill, or Frogmill, nowadays, and is named as such on OS maps. But even within living memory it was also, it seems, known as Paper Mill. I immediately contacted Dennis Stokes of the Botley and Curdridge Local history Society to see if he could help solve the conundrum. He sent me a paper from the Society’s archives, researched and written by John Hammond , which tells the following story :
Just a quarter of a mile upstream from Frog/Paper Mill sits Durley Mill. In the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries this mill was owned by a family called Frogge. Furthermore the deeds of this mill called it `Frogmill’ right up to the 20th century. Our mill, meanwhile, was, from its earliest record, in 1648, `called a Papermill’ and it was not until 1738 that it is first referred to as Frog Mill. By 1834 it is clearly referred to as `a paper mill known as Frogmill’.
There was obviously some confusion over the centuries and the name Frog transferred from Durley Mill to the Paper Mill, despite the name Frogge remaining on the former’s deeds. John Hammond suggests that Durley Mill `was, no doubt, referred to generally by the name of whoever the owner at that time might be’. This would explain at least why it lost the Frog name over time, leaving the name free to float downstream.
By 1862 Paper Mill was, according to its deeds, `long since disused’, although people continued to live in its associated cottage. John Hammond reports that Jesse Bannell (who was Ms Stone’s Grandfather) and his family lived there from 1871 until at least 1891 and that Walter Henry Elliott and family lived there from 1901 until the 1920s. By 1938 the cottage was no longer occupied and by 1965 the building were all derelict.
It remains a minor mystery how it was that while everyone else followed the confusing of the names and mills, those who lived there still knew very well that the `correct’ name was in fact Paper Mill. We must thank Miss Stone for keeping this knowledge alive !