Lot 83
Sold for £360 (US$ 605) inc. premium
Lot Details
Counterpart of a mortgage in fee whereby "Richard Eaves of Sarehole in the Parish of Yardley in the County of Worcester Gentleman" grants to "Richard Horsman the Elder of Campden in the County of Gloucester Fruiterer" for £800 "all that Water Corn Mill with the Appurtenances called by the Name of Biddles Mill otherwise the little Mill which said Mill with the Appurtenances hath been lately taken down and new built by the said Richard Eaves" together with other property nearby (specified), signed and sealed by Richard Horsman, on two skins of vellum, duty-stamps, usual light dust-staining, especially to verso, but overall in fine condition, 25 May 1769


  • Sarehole Mill occupies a central place in the story of J.R.R. Tolkien. He was to tell the journalist John Ezard: "It was a kind of lost paradise. There was an old mill that really did grind corn with two millers, a great big pond with swans on it, a sandpit, a wonderful dell with flowers, a few old-fashioned village houses and, further away, a stream with another mill. I always knew it would go - and it did" ('Tolkien's Shire', Guardian, 28 December 1991).

    It was originally built by John Beddell in 1542, and called Beddell or Biddle's Mill (the latter being the name it retains in the present document). In 1756 it was rented with Sarehole Farm by Matthew Boulton's father, and used for making buttons and for metal rolling. Matthew Boulton himself took it over on his father's death in 1759, using it as a factory until transferring his operations to Soho in 1761. In the eighteenth century it was owned by three generations of the Eaves family, the last of whom, Richard, rebuilt it in 1765-68. This is the building that Tolkien knew and that stands today. No doubt financially embarrassed by his outlay, Richard raised £800 by way of mortgage on the mill and other property in 1769, the year after its rebuilding. His copy of this mortgage is the deed presently being offered for sale. He was clearly unable to repay Horsman his £800 and in 1775 was declared bankrupt. The mill passed into other hands, but, despite Tolkien's fears, it has in fact survived.