Saturday 28 September 2013

Houghton Mill

I've wanted to visit Houghton Mill near Huntingdon for ages. When I started this blog I asked for suggestions on where I could find the best National Trust scones and Houghton got in touch to say "We do scones. We make them using flour that we mill ourselves."

I'm going to rewind right there and correct the good people of Houghton because what they should have said is; "We are a mill that has existed since the 900s. We used to be run by a man with the very awesome name of Potto Brown. We nearly got demolished in the 1930s but our local community saved us and gave us to the National Trust. We renovated the place and now every Sunday we start up the mill and WE MAKE ACTUAL PROPER FLOUR THAT YOU CAN ACTUALLY PROPERLY EAT."

Any Bagpuss fans may be thinking what I was thinking. There is a famous episode when the mice had a chocolate biscuit factory and paraded the chocolate digestives that they were making in front of bemused old Baggers. Except they weren't making anything - it was the same biscuit going round and round. They had me fooled, although in my defence I was only three at the time.

So I had this image of the mill selling bags of Tesco Value wholemeal that had been hastily emptied into something more rustic. 

But no - they really do mill their own flour at Houghton from locally grown wheat, and then they use it to make scones. How awesome is that? 

The problem is that I wanted to give them five out of five before I even got there, just for the sheer effort. What if the scone tasted like sawdust? 

The Houghton Mill scone
Luckily for me the scone was ruddy lovely. Chewy, moist, it was quite delicious. The photo doesn't do it justice I'm afraid - it looks flat whereas it reality it was quite tall: 

National Trust Scones Houghton Mill
My sconeing sidekick agreed. The Dr Wat-scone to my Holmes this week was my sister, who agreed to accompany me even though she finds my scone blogging a bit baffling. However, she was quickly converted to the cause and left with a bag of flour and an apron. She also fell in love with one of the exhibits - a thing called a rotary quern where you pour grain into a hole and then turn the handle on the millstones to see the flour emerge. She would still be there now going "look it's FLOUR!" if I had let her but she was driving and Strictly was on at 7. 

Houghton Mill Rotary Querry
So I encourage you to go and visit Houghton Mill and its lovely miller, who probably wins my award for most passionate National Trust staff member ever. And I leave you with a picture of Potto Brown who ran the mill in the 1800s, just because he looks so fab:
Potto Brown Houghton Mill

Scones: 5 out of 5!
Houghton Mill: 4 out of 5

1 comment:

  1. You are so right! Of all the scones we sampled while we were in England this last July, and we sampled as many as we could, those served us in the tearoom at the Houghton Mill were the very best. Maybe because the flour was so fresh? Maybe it's the recipe? I'm going to try to make them myself, using the Houghton Mill recipe, but lacking freshly milled flour and a sure idea of what I'm doing, I have concerns about the results. And, sadly, there is no equivalent to clotted cream this side of the Atlantic. Signed, NOT Lorne, but his wife, Esther