DiCamillo Companion

Turkey Court (Turkey Mill House)

  • House & Family History: Turkey Hill was the seat of the Whatmans, father and son (both named James), who formed one of the most important papermaking concerns in Britain in the 18th century. The paper mill, and adjacent house, Turkey Court, were located on the River Len, whose source rises at a spring in Bluebell Woods in Kent. The senior Whatman was an innovator who pioneered wove paper in 1757, and, by the time of his death in 1759, had made Turkey Mill the largest paper mill in Britain. His son, James, Jr., continued the trend. The younger Whatman used chlorine to bleach colored rags for high quality rag paper and developed many processes to improve the brightness of white paper. But Junior's most famous innovation was the 1773 development of the company's "antiquarian paper." Commissioned by the Society of Antiquaries in London, these were the largest sheets of paper ever made by hand. A "J. Whatman" or "J. Whatman/Turkey Mill" watermark was the sign of paper of the highest quality for centuries. Whatman paper was used by many notable people, including the artists J.M.W. Turner and William Blake (who used it for four of his illuminated books), George Washington, Napoleon (who wrote his will on Whatman paper), and Queen Victoria (who used the paper for her personal correspondence). The Whatman name carried forward into the 20th century – the Soviets used Whatman paper when they published their first five-year plan in the 1930s, and the treaty with Japan that ended World War II was signed on Whatman paper. The Whatman factory at Turkey Hill closed in 1976, ending over 280 years of paper production, a record unsurpassed by any other British paper manufacturer.

  • Country Life: CXXX, 1628, 1961.

  • House Listed: Grade II*

    Park Listed: Not Listed

  • Past Seat / Home of: George Gill, 1671-95. Richard Harris, 1736-39. James Whatman, Sr., 1740-59. Thomas Hollingworth, 1794-? Young family, 1977-97.

    Current Ownership Type: Corporation

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Offices

    Ownership Details: Since 1997 owned by Turkey Mill Investments, who let the Orangery for weddings and events. The House is let as office space and is not open to the public.

  • House Open to Public: Folly / Outbuildings Only - By Appointment

    Phone: 01622-765-511

    Fax: 01622-765-522

    Email: estate@turkeymill.co.uk

    Website: https://turkeymill.co.uk

    Historic Houses Member: No