I just met the man who is updating the authoritative book on Wiltshire's historic buildings. He came to look at the outside wall of our kitchen, specifically to photograph this stone which stands from the ground to about chest height on me. I'd always thought it had been taken from the ruins of the old manor house and just added into some repairs here for decorative value. Wrong. The truth is much more interesting.
I'd already known that where our house stands there was an old mill that was recorded in the Domesday Book almost a thousand years ago. I'd also assumed that our building had replaced it some hundreds of years later. But no! It seems this building - though now heavily repaired (not so heavily in some parts, I have to say) - was the mill. This stone was actually a decorative overflow because the mill was an 'undercut mill'. This means that the water came from the manor's moat, at that time running further than its current position and along in front of our house (which is built on a slope), and ran beneath our front garden and under our kitchen where the mill wheel sat. Exactly where I'm sitting right now! If the water rose too fast or too high, this stone would allow the building to drain. Obviously when the mill closed for business, it was bricked up from the inside forming the wall behind our kitchen sink. Hence the ugly plastic grey pipe in the middle photo. Our visitor told me that our corner of the building - which makes up our home and our neighbours' - with its higgledy piggledy stone wall, is more than a thousand years old. The rest has been patched and repaired and is probably 'only a few hundred years old'. The manor itself was rebuilt in the 15th Century. Virtually a New Build.
The geopathic and feng shui take on living above underground water is pretty much all bad. I don't think that applies to us. We have none of the telltale signs - in fact life flourishes here - and I believe the underwater stream that fed the mill was manmade and blocked when the moat was filled back.
We recently had a friend of Charlie's visit - he's a scientist and ecological consultant who is, as far as I'm aware, not given to metaphysical musings. He declared that our house has 'a lovely feel to it, spiritually.' Probably the nicest thing anyone has ever said about our home. And one I'm not about to disgree with. Discovering this new part of its story makes me love it even more.