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King's Mill, Granta Place

King’s Mill and Bishop’s Mill, Granta Place

History of King's Mill site

The King’s Mill can be seen on Richard Lyne’s 1574 map, straddling the eastern tributary of the river.

Richard Lyne map of Cambridge 1574

In the 1575 map by George Braun, the mill can be seen from a different perspective.

Braun map of Cambridge 1574

The mill is visible in the Speed 1610 map.

Speed 1610 map of Cambridge

It is labelled King’s Mill in Custance’s 1789 map.

Custance 1789 map of Cambridge

The editor of Romilly’s Cambridge Diary (May 1846) notes that there were two medieval watermills on the Cam at the end of Mill Lane. The King’s miller had had first claim in time of drought and if at other times he had no corn to grind the Bishop’s miller could use the supply on payment of a portion.

c.1850 ‘Bird Eye’ view

Water Mills (1)

Water Mills (2)

H.P.Stokes relates the story of the Cambridge mills in The Old Mills of Cambridge, PCAS vol.14. Two shared the same roof. One, the Bishop’s Mill, had belonged to the Abbot of Ely at the time of the Domesday survey. The other, the King’s Mill, had been erected soon afterwards. Both were acquired by Ebenezer Foster in 1842 but when the railway arrived he built new mills in Station Road.

The following description of the old mill comes from Period Piece (pub 1952) by Gwen Raverat who lived nearby:

In those days both the mills were in use. I still now feel that there is an unnatural gap in the landscape where Foster’s Mill used to stand before it was pulled down; and I find it hard to believe that the boys, who sit fishing on the parapet, have no idea that there once was a
great mill behind them. We used to spend many hours watching the fat corn-sacks being hauled up by a pulley into the overhanging gable, sometimes from a barge, but more often from the great yellow four-horse wagons, which stood beneath the trapdoor. The sacks butted the trapdoors open with their own noses, and the doors fell to, with a loud clap, behind them.

Painting by J Sutton (©R Lilley) believed to be early 20th century

King’s Mill & Bishop’s Mill c1890 (MoC354/54)

King’s and Bishop’s Mill (MoC)

King’s and Bishop’s Mill (MoC)

1871 Foster’s Yard

William Prime, 44, labourer, b Barton


King’s and Bishop’s Mill, 1924 (photo Scott and Wilkinson)


King’s and Bishop’s Mill, site clearance 1928 (photo J Palmer Clarke)(MoC355.54)(MoC562/85)

The site was originally going to be cleared to make a new bridge. This scheme collapsed and the Council decided just to clear the area and reconstruct the sluices and slipway. The cottages in the background were replaced by the University Centre in 1967.

King’s Mill site (MoC)



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