The Dream House


Regarde. Mon rêve.

Walk just a few hundred yards away from Alresford town in Hampshire, past the quaint Georgian facades, and you will find the river Alre.Take the right path, along the river, and very soon you will find this; a gingerbread cottage, a chocolate-box dwelling, a wattle-and-daub confection actually straddling the river.

The house of many of our dreams. A stone’s throw from Winchester, a short drive down the M3 from London, this house inhabits another time. Its tiny leaded windows peep out from under the thatch; its white plaster pristine against the black beams. It has a stunning traditional English garden. It is a fairytale, built centuries ago on the Alre.

It has a sign on the side:


And I can tell you today that it is for sale; though the amount is undisclosed.

The house over the River Alre is, in fact, not a house, but a mill.

In mediaeval times the fields surrounding the mill would be packed with sheep, and the sheep would generate wool. And it would be spun, and woven into cloth; but that was not the end.

Because cloth needed to be fulled. Cleaned, and whitened; but most importantly matted to draw the fibres closer together. For this the Romans used urine and the feet of slaves, but the mill would have been a more sanitary option by far.

Water driven mechanical paddles beat the cloth once it was soaked in water. Fuller’s earth – a sort of pale clay – served to whiten it.

The 19th century, and the event of large industrial mills, put paid to the activities here, and the mill was left derelict for many years until, in the fifties, it was bought privately and renovated.

And now, it is being sold. You can download the brochure here.

With every fibre in my body I will myself to win the lottery and bag this incredible place, gift-wrapped in sunlight. But if one of you gets there first I shall not hold it against you. I shall simply cadge an invitation.

Imagine, if the mill worked once more.

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44 thoughts on “The Dream House

  1. You’re ok Kate, OH has his sights on a manor house near us. Not only is it up for sale but it’s right near the airport so he can watch his planes. Now all we have to do is win the lottery. Where’d I put me TARDIS?

    1. I think I might hitch a lift with you. They wouldn’t notice two eensy-wincy lottery wins of £30 million a time going to a couple of time tourists, would they?

  2. Wow, that is gorgeous 🙂 but I don’t understand the rivers in your country – how do they not flood with all that rain you get and who the hell would live on top of a river – hahaha – we would call that waterway a creek in Australia 😉

    1. They do flood, Gabrielle. And it’s not pretty; I am not sure how this little mill has fared in the worst times- they have been pretty hairy. The flood map shows most ares of that stretch are subject to some flooding.

  3. I have been able to visit some old working mills in Europe and they are just a delight. Since my lotto tickets are mere confetti-in-waiting, I do hope that you snag the pile of loot and buy this lovely place.

  4. It does look like a dream, but I should imagine it would be quite cold, straddling the river. And as a previous reader commented; alarming in times of flood.

  5. I love mills, as you may recall; the older they are, the stronger the love. When you win the lottery, can I come visit you at the mill? I’ll be as quiet as a church mouse. I keep meaning to read The Mill on the Floss, by George Elliot.

  6. If you can’t buy it . . . perhaps you can arrange to rent it for a short time? (And then surprise them all by becoming a squatter and refusing to leave!)

    Or, perhaps, you can befriend the current or the soon-to-be-new owners and encourage them to invite you to tea so that you can share wayfaring tales with them while soaking up the peaceful ambiance of their cottage mill?

    Keep dreaming about spending an idyllic stretch of time there and see what transpires. 😀

      1. Oh good. I thought I was strange because it ought to calm my heart to see this, but it’s so exciting!

    1. Wonderful idea, Tammy. And you can find rafts of new recipes for watercress, the staple crop of those rivers and the surrounding beds, Tammy. A steam railway runs through the area called The Watercress Line.

  7. Kate, I like the idea of using the TARDIS to win the lottery, but remember that it turned out badly for the computer nerd in Doctor Who’s “The Long Game.” (I’m just getting into the show.)

    But, I’d encourage you by any means possible – legal, of course – to claim that lovely place by the stream. Stunning!

  8. I want it! I yearn for it with a deep and abiding yearning. But maybe the Pooch Pack would miss the beach too much. There is also the tiny problem of not having sufficient GBP.

  9. As you pass through Welwyn – not the Garden City but the older town in the shadow of the GNR viaduct – and head up the B656 towards Codicote you will see Fulling Mill Lane. It parallels the B656 almost all the way to Codicote but on the west side of the River Mimram which it crosses at a bridge-cum-ford at the probable location of the original Fulling Mill. I sometimes wonder how many of the locals know the origin of the name! Nice post Kate 🙂

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