The Norman Mill Tower of The Priest House on the river, and the water wheels, are all that is left of a mill complex which dates back to the time of the Doomsday Book, when it was valued at “Ten Shillings and a Penny”.
The crown owned it until 1581 when Queen Elizabeth I granted the land to Edward Ferrers and Francis Phillips.
The area became known as ‘Kings Mills’ when, for a brief time, the power of the water wheels was used to “stamp” coins of realm.
There were originally five water mills, which were used for “Fulling” (removing greasiness from woollen cloth) and for grinding corn. When a windmill was built in Castle Donington in 1672 trade suffered, which in 1680 meant one of the mills becoming a paper mill. Later, a second became a plaster mill and then a third began trade as a button factory. Only three mills remained in business.
Loyalist garrisons in the Civil War, the mills were besieged on February 15th 1664 and it seems likely that the main defending forces were in The Priest House. After taking the cliff, the Roundheads “beat down the windows and stormed in”.
The mills were destroyed by fire in 1927 when the tenants were “Bass, Ratcliffe and Gretton”. By the time the Burton-on-Trent Fire Brigade arrived it was too late to save anything but The Norman Tower of The Priest House today.