We believe that there was a very old building covering what is now the three houses, 1a, 1 and 3 St John Street. This building was on a large plot of land which covered what is now The Georgian House. Then around 1759 we think that the building was converted into a Must Mill and Toft. We have copies of indentures which refer to this Mill. A plan showing the Must Mill and adjacent buildings can be seen clearly on an indenture dated 1839 which is shown on The Georgian House page. This clearly shows that the Mill covered the site of 1a, 1 and 3 St John Street.
The image above shows houses in St John Street. The stone faced house is number 1a, the pink house further away is number 1, and the next number 3. It is easy to imagine that they were all part of a single property.
The Must Mill appears to have been attached to a large ancient walled-garden which is mentioned in the deeds of number 5 St John Street. A must mill is usually concerned with the pressing of fruit. In this case we feel it is most likely to have been for the pressing of cider apples from the nearby orchard.
We know that in 1767 the property was purchased by George Rolph from Thomas Clark. Following George Rolph’s death the property was inherited by his son, Thomas Rolph. When Thomas died in 1814 his widow Frances conveyed the property to her son, also called George Rolph. We assume that it was he who built a smart new town house, now known as The Georgian House, overlooking The Plain. We believe that George may have closed the Must Mill around that time, although at the present time we don’t know what he used the buildings for. Click here to read about the Rolph family
In 1839 when William Knapp acquired the property, he converted the old must mill buildings into his blacksmith’s forge and workshop.
It would appear from the census records that when William Knapp died in 1862, the buildings were re-developed, creating the two dwellings which became known as numbers 1 & 3 St John Street. The remaining section (the part where 1a now stands) was retained as part of the ‘Georgian House’.
Numbers 1 and 3 St John Street were both owned by Mark Crossman Meredith according to the Rate Books of 1867, 1876, 1880, 1885 and 1890. Mark Crossman Meredith died in 1984 and the rate book of that year shows that his wife then became owner of the properties. On 24th August 1895 there was a notice for the sale of what was then Gloucester Villa but is now called the Georgian House and its neighbouring properties including 1 St John Street all these properties were at the time owned by the estate of Mark Crossman Meredith. The Rate Book of 1899 shows that Alfred Sealy owned the property and he was still listed as the owner in the 1926 Rate Book which shows he was also living there.
We understand that when the house was gutted in 1988, the rafters in the roof were exposed a date, believed to be 1783, was clearly visible as being carved into the wood. We are not sure of the significance of this date. The photos below were taken at the time of the work being done on the house by the owners Donald and Helen Sparling. Click on any thumbnail to enlarge and view the image.