Time seems to stand still at Redbournbury Watermill and Bakery.
There has been a mill on the site for something like 1,000 years, and in generations gone by it was powered by water from the River Ver, which flowed powerfully from its source in the chalk aquifer in Kensworth through St Albans and on to the sea.
But now the Ver is a shadow of its former self and the only way the mill, the last one working on the Ver, can guarantee to work regularly is with power supplied from a 4.5 tonne diesel engine built in 1932.
A team of dedicated volunteers works to look after this hidden tourist attraction, not least when they extensively restored the old place following a fire in 1987.
Thanks to their dedication, visitors can get a real sense of how bread was made for hundreds of years before the supermarkets and their cheap supply chains began to dominate the market.
There’s a real sense of natural processes as the mill wheels turn and stones grind the grain, much of which comes from within two miles of the mill.
The stoneground organic flours produced at Redbournbury Mill find their way to the onsite bakery, farmers’ markets and to craft bakers in the area.
The mill bakery was built in 2005 within one of the barns in front of the mill.
Redbournbury offers full day baking experiences, classes for up to six people. It looks at different baking techniques including yeasted breads and sourdough breads. Participants make a variety of breads to take home.
The mill aims to give visitors an experience of bread from crop to crust.
Redbournbury Watermill has four floors to explore and comprehensive displays on how the mill works. The millers try to have the machinery working and producing flour on Sunday afternoons.
As the mill is situated in idyllic rural surroundings with water meadows to the north and south it could form the basis of a museum trip and a walk. There are a number of signed walks around the mill. Kingfishers, herons, water voles, little egret and red kites have been seen in the vicinity.
For somewhere so close to the hustle and bustle of Hemel Hempstead, Redbourn, Harpenden and St Albans, a trip to the mill, in Redbournbury Lane, off the Redbourn Road into St Albans, gives the chance to step back in time.
The mill is open on Saturdays from 10am - 1pm and Sundays from 2.30pm - 5pm (winter 4.30pm). The Mill Museum is free to enter during 2013. The Bakery is open on Saturdays 8.30am - 1pm. The mill shop is also normally open on Tuesday and Friday mornings from 9am - 12pm for flour sales but telephone first to check. 01582 792874, www.redbournburymill.co.uk