12. Gunpowder Mills

Below the vineyard, the woodland hides the site a hugely significant industry in Chilworth Manor’s history. If you look down from the fence line, you can just about make out the remnants of buildings that were once part of the gunpowder mills along the Tillingbourne river.

The Chilworth Gunpowder Mills were established in 1626 by the East India Company which was licensed to manufacture gunpowder for its own use. It was the ownership of these mills that brought the Randyll family to Chilworth in the mid-17th century and helped to finance the building of a fine manor house and the life of a country gentleman.

In 1885 Chilworth was at the forefront of the development of a new type of powder for the use of heavy guns. The Chilworth Gunpowder Company was formed to manufacture the new product; however, this phase was short-lived due to the emergence of new chemical technology. After the First World War, most gunpowder factories closed. Chilworth ceased production in 1920 and in 1922 the landowner, Duke of Northumberland, sold the site.

The ruins have now evolved into a watery woodland habitat of ponds and watercourses fed by the Tillingbourne as well as the natural springs and runoff from the hills to the north that pass through the vineyard. If you are interested in learning more about the history of the Gunpowder Mills, tours are available. If you would like to read more about them, please click here.

Stones used to grind the gunpowder in the mills


Main site of the Gunpowder Mills in Chilworth


For Children:

Q: What event do we celebrate on the 5th of November which involves gunpowder?  

CLUE: We celebrate it by watching fireworks and lighting bonfires.  

A: Guy Fawkes Night. In 1605 Guy Fawkes attempted to blow up Parliament and assassinate James I of England using thirty-six barrels of gunpowder.


Corrugated iron roofs and walls of storage locations for the gunpowder



Continue past the Watch House on your left and just past the Cellar Door. You will see the final stop of the walk to the left of the Pillbox where you started the tour.