Today marks the 250th anniversary of papermaking at Frogmore Mill. Most are familiar with our much lauded date of 1803 and the first Fourdrinier papermaking machine. Less well known is that papermaking commenced on our site in 1774, when it was purchased by Edward Holme and converted from a fulling mill (felted cloth) for the production of paper. The mill produced handmade papers long before the first machine was installed.
The site is first mentioned in the 1283 charter of Ashridge Monastery, as a Felling Mill. English hand papermaking first began in Hertfordshire, at Sele Mill, Hertford (1495) The clear chalk streams along the Gade Valley gave rise to numerous mills, many later converted to papermaking in our local stretch.
The production of paper at Frogmore is unbroken and the successes, inventions and associated heroes of Apsley End and Two Waters End transformed the area. Paper workers needed homes, sustenance and transport, often entire families were involved in papermaking in some way.
The Apsley Paper Trail maintains this legacy. Until 2020 Frogmore still made handmade paper for sale to artists. The construction of No.5 machine to meet the demand for Meadow Mix (the seed paper that grows) has caused a temporary pause but will return in the future.
In 250 years, from the first papermakers such as Marchant Warrell, hand papermaking apprentice aged 14 in the late 18th century (later chosen as the first machineman) to present day papermaker Gary Fuller, the heritage continues.