Whitchurch Silk Mill
Whitchurch Silk Mill is the oldest silk mill in the country and is a small but captivating piece of living heritage - as the mill is still in operation today. The history of the Whitchurch Silk Mill dates back to 1815 when the mill was built on the banks of the River Test in Whitchurch. Two years later the mill was bought by William Maddick; a silk manufacturer from Spitalfields.
The mill has had a number of different owners and also went through some decline during the mid-19th century, but by the first half of the 20th century it was still in operation and weaving for the likes of Thomas Burberry, Thomas Wardle and Warners. It was also famous for weaving legal gowns and perhaps more unusually even made insulation for electric cables during WWII. In the 1950s, the mill became powered by electricity rather than the via the water mill wheel.
The Whitchurch Silk Mill was bought by the Hampshire Buildings Preservation Trust in 1985 and the building was restored and opened to the public in 1990.
Today, the Whitchurch Silk Mill is a delightful place to visit and part of the attraction is its quaint setting overlooking the River Test and surrounding gardens. It won’t take you too long to look around the mill but after your visit you can browse in the shop where you can buy a variety of silk products made on the premises. If you’re in need of some refreshment there is also a lovely little café where you can enjoy a pot of tea with some homemade cakes - or you’re welcome to bring a picnic and enjoy it in the garden!
The Mill is also popular with school visits where children learn about the Victorians or about machinery in general. In fact, the mill used to have its own school room as some of its early employees were children! The school room is likely to have been established following the 1844 Factory Act which limited the hours children could work.
Where to Stay
If you are planning a visit to the Whitchurch Silk Mill please check their website for opening times and admission costs. And if you need some accommodation in the area, why not stay at the Holiday Inn Salisbury-Stonehenge which is just 22 miles along the A303. We have plenty of top quality rooms making us suitable for couples, families or larger groups alike. The Solstice Bar & Grill also comes highly recommended. Offering a range of delicious meals, it’s a great place to sit back and unwind. Order a glass of your favourite beer or wine and simply relax.