about the miller’s daughter

Tess Lister

I grew up living at Shipton Mill, so I have always felt very much a part of both the business and the place, even before I started working here. Hearing the reverberations and humming of the machinery when the Mill starts up in the morning was a part of every day life. My father, John, founded the Mill back in 1979. At the time, he and his friends were working on doing up people’s houses in London, and were looking for an alternative to city life in the form of a countryside business. The Arts and Crafts movement was at the heart of their philosophy, valuing and treasuring artisan skills, which run to the very core of our Mill.

They rebuilt the Mill from the tumbledown ruins left over from the Victorian era, and over the years, my father has worked tirelessly to turn it into the business it is today. It was done on a shoestring budget, sourcing all second-hand furniture and equipment. The Mill was recorded in the Domesday Book, so there is something special about the feeling of carrying on this tradition in the same exact spot. I have watched it grow from as far back as I can remember, and seen a lot of the hard work that has gone into it.

It was also the setting for a rather idyllic, and food-filled, childhood. As well as milling flour, we grow a lot of our own organic vegetables, and the garden today is better than it has ever been thanks to help from Emily and Debbie, as well as my mother’s efforts over the years. Growing up, my parents often held feasts and parties, even if it was just for the family. We took any opportunity to eat outside under the old ash tree, despite the frequently dire British summer weather. It was character building, and all that! We would just put another jumper on, knowing that protestations that it was too cold would fall on deaf ears.

Food was, and is, a reason to get everyone together, to sit down at the table with no other distractions and spend time enjoying each other’s company. The emphasis on what we eat at the Mill has always been on good quality, fresh, and where possible, organic ingredients. If it is something we can grow ourselves, we’ll always have a stab at it! The surrounding trees and hedgerows are also a rich source of ingredients, and my mother is a dab hand at whizzing them up into all sorts of jams, jellies, puddings, chutneys, cordials and countless other things. Some of these recipes I will be exploring here on the blog, as the seasons change.

It was not always the plan to join the family business. Upon finishing university, I worked as a lawyer for several years, before taking the decision to change direction. After getting my feet under the table, I decided to set myself the task of writing a cookbook, “A Handful Of Flour”, which was published in June 2016 with Headline. I’m a home cook, without any formal training, so I’m always learning as I go. This blog is a continuation of the journey I began with my book. I hope it will become a place to share recipes, as well as insights into life at the Mill, daily happenings, and some of our events. Above all, I want it to be about food that makes people happy. Time to don the apron and get stuck in!