Today we found ourselves in the surrey area, around near Guildford and sitting inside the beautiful tillingbourne valley, it was to our delight that we came across the unspoilt woodlands that hide Chilworth Gunpowder Mills, A scheduled ancient monument with more than 100 buildings that were once one of the largest gunpowder mills in the country. The 17th century buildings are hidden amongst wet woodland where small wildlife roam and live in a peaceful setting of beautiful overgrown meadows and industrial heritage.
The mills were originally established in 1626 by the East India Company, a privately owned enterprise that was set up to trade with the east indies (south and east Asia) and they were awarded a royal charter by Elizabeth the first in 1600. They were in regular conflict with the Dutch and Portuguese east India companies, whom were also vying against one another, which led them to opening Chilworth in 1626 so it could supply its forces abroad.
One of the reasons why Chilworth was used as a site for the gunpowder works is because of the operating water mills and also that the valleys are full of alder trees that are ideal for making charcoal which is required to manufacture gunpowder. So originally invented in china, gunpowder is a concoction of charcoal, saltpetre and sulphur, each of those components have to be ground up before being mixed together. This normally has six different stages for the process of making them hence why all of the ruined buildings you see today have their own space and building area.
One of the great things about visiting Chilworth is that its free to roam. you are easily going to be able to spend an afternoon here discovering over 2km of site that is calm and relaxing and full of history. If you join the trail you will come across an information board and Guildford council have given people a leaflet about the site, grab one it definitely comes in use with a handy map on the inside letting you know the different heritage points along the way.
Points of interest on the way would be the large and heavy mill grinding stones that are placed around the site that were put there to prevent explosions from around the area as well as remnants of buildings . Perhaps the most prominent part of the walk are being able to wander up and around the steam powered mill buildings, where much recently the council have repaired the exposed metal work and made improvements to the three bridges which led to the steam mills.
We didn’t manage to cram all that is to be explored at chillworth in our explore today, but its left us room so that we can always pop back and discover more that is yet be discovered– but we recommend you to come along and see it for yourself and perhaps discover something hidden along the track.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading with us about Chilworth and look forward to sharing our next adventures with you shortly! As a taster for what’s next, we are heading to wales to explore and document the castles and beautiful landscapes it has to offer, Stay tuned for these from next week and keep a close eye on all of our social medias where we will be giving you sneak peaks about our latest videos on YouTube.
Take care all, till next time.