It was the Eve of All Hallows way back in the dim and distant past when the miller of Hyner sat with his family around their huge wooden table. As the evening drew to a close the candles were lit and the miller’s wife began setting out the evening meal. There were two things very much out of the ordinary, firstly, it was the deathly quiet that hung around the mill which normally rang out with the sound of the huge millstones slowly grinding the corn. Secondly, the meal that was being served was abnormally scant as it simply consisted of milk and flour gruel. Not a fresh crusty loaf bread was to be seen nor a tasty morsel of meat lay on the plates not to mention the usual steaming bowl of fluffy mashed potatoes. The family solemnly sat around the table which seemed to be laid under a heavy, dark pall of misery.
Suddenly there came a knocking at the front door, the family nervously looked at each other, it was All Hallows Eve and they knew only too well what evils stalked that night. Slowly the miller made his way to the door and opening it just a fraction peered out into the dark night to see who had come a calling. Stood on the doorstep was a young woman and the miller could see a bright, friendly face lit with a warm glow coming from the candlelight. She explained that she had lost her way whilst trying to reach the nearby village of Hennock and was seeking shelter and some food. The miller warily invited her into the kitchen as the thought of the young lady being abroad on such a night was unthinkable.
The miller’s wife immediately laid another place at the table and nervously apologised for the meagre state of their dinner. The stranger smiled gracefully and sat herself down and gave her thanks for the offering. Feeling that the meal needed an explanation the miller related how because of that year’s severe drought the Beadon Brook had dried up which meant their was no water in the mill leat to power the mighty waterwheel which in turned the heavy granite millstones. He nervously raked his hands through his thinning hair and added this meant they had no income hence the pitiful slop on their plates.
The woman smiled kindly, and asked if the family went to church and if so how often. The miller replied that as a family they were but because of the demands of his work only his wife and children went to mass every week. He quickly added that if ever time allowed he too would attend. The lady once again smiled sweetly and nodded her head. She then suggested that they all kneel and say a prayer to the Lord and ask him to keep them all safe on that All Hallows Eve. Having praised the Lord the woman then said that if they continued with their weekly devotions the Lord their God would provide. At which she stood up, thanked the family for their hospitality and made for the door. As she passed their newborn daughter laid in her cradle she asked if the girl had been christened. The miller’s wife replied that she had not as they were still deciding on a name. Once again the woman smiled angelically and picked up the babe and kissed its forehead and to the families amazement the baby’s head was immediatly bathed in bright halo of light. As the lady passed through the door she turned and quietly said; “Call your baby girl Mary in remembrance of me.”
No sooner had the heavy wooden mill door closed than there was a mighty clap of thunder closely followed by a livid flash of lightening. Then came the pounding sound of rainwater on the mill’s roof and the splashing noise of it gushing into the gutters. The mighty storm seemed to last for ages and eventually the welcomed groan of the mighty waterwheel could be heard as it slowly began to turn. Faster and faster the wheel turned and then much to the miller’s relief the scraping of the grindstones rang out as they gradually began to turn.
The miller hugged his wife and solemnly said; “tonight we have been truly blessed as the Virgin Mary has visited us in our time of need.” For several generations of the miller’s family they remained devout Christians and never again did the Beadon Brook dry up and never again did the mighty waterwheel stop turning.
Well, that’s not exactly true as in much later years the mill was run by a less devoted soul who neither he or his family ever set foot into the local church. Call it coincidence or not but the Beadon Brook regularly ran dry, so much so that in the end the mill fell into ruins along with the miller’s fortune.
One of the earliest records of Hyner Mills appears in the recovery rolls of 1783, Gover et al, p.472. In 1875 it was sold to the Haldon Estate which was owned by the Palk family and between the years 1806 and 1889 was leased by various members of the Ball family. In 1897 the mill was in the possession of Lewis Pike but by 1898 was reported as being in financial difficulties. By the end of the 1800s the mill was grinding micaceous ore which was mined from the nearby mines, Great Rock Shining Ore mine being one such mine. Today the ruined walls of the mill still can be seen in the wood. Bodman, p.28.
The fateful mill leat drew it’s waters from the nearby Beadon Brook which flowed down from what is now Tottiford Reservoir before joining up with the river Teign.
Bodman, M. 2015. Mills on the Teign. Exeter: Leat Press.
Gover, J.E.B., Mawer, A., & Stenton, F. M. 1992 The Place-Names of Devon, Nottingham: The English Place Name Society