Tucked away in the small Oxfordshire town of Wantage sits Wessex Mill, run by father and daughter team, Paul and Emily Munsey. Tiny in comparison to many of the UK's flour mills, the award-winning establishment holds a strong milling history, with Emily joining in 2017 to continue a heritage that spans five generations.
The story begins in 1895 with Emily's great great-grandfather William Henry who was forced to relocate from Cambridge to Oxford following a devastating outbreak of foot and mouth, consequently moving from farming into flour milling. Originally starting as a partnership with Archer Cowley, the mill situated in Osney in Oxford became W.H. Munsey Ltd with William Henry taking complete ownership of the business in 1911. The family venture continued as sons Ellis and Keith joined the workforce but with the outbreak of World War I and milling not being essential work, Henry's sons both left Oxford to fight in The Great War.
Surviving the war, the brothers returned and settled back into milling, but in 1927 with the country in post-war depression, land owners Christ Church issued an ultimatum meaning the Munseys must purchase the land or vacate the mill. They managed to borrow the money and shortly after buying the mill, William Henry died.
This picture was taken in 1911 at Osney Mill. In the car is Bill Muffin (Flour Salesman), behind his left shoulder is WH Munsey to his left his son Ellis.
Ellis and Keith continued to run the mill through the 1930s and, now too old, avoided having to fight in World War II. The war ended and the business continued, but in 1946 disaster struck with a fire that burned the Osney mill to the ground. With the country short of building supplies after the war, permission to rebuild the mill in Oxford was denied, so the brothers purchased Mr Clark's biscuit flour mill in Wantage to continue milling.
The mill carried on into its third generation with cousins Dick and Bill (sons of Ellis and Keith, respectively), and with a more stable global economic and political landscape for the remainder of the 20th century, Bill's son Paul joined the business in 1982. Today Tony, Bill's younger son runs the old mill site in Osney which in 2010 was converted into housing and includes a marina and hydroelectric screw.
With Emily and Paul at the helm, Wessex Mill has continued to succeed and grow as the quality producer of artisan flour it is today, shipping throughout the UK, and beyond.