The Uffelsen mill

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in Haler-Uffelsen

Lord’s mill

The first and oldest lord’s mill - the mill of Uffelsen – of the land of Kessenich lay in the Bronshorn region. The basic administrative and judicial unit in Bronshorn was Bronshorn "castle", probably a half-timbered residential tower on a brickwork basement amidst moats. Undoubtedly a farm with tithe barn, watermill and the like stood in the immediate vicinity. Uffelsen mill presumably dates from this era. The village of Hunsel was the principle town in the region. An old register of the year 1307 mentions a castle with moats. Not much is known about the castle. In any case, it didn’t exist for very long. In the 1370s there was a major plague epidemic in the region of Hunsel, which depopulated the whole Bronshorn area. The old centre of the basic administrative and judicial unit the Bronshorn “castle” was then probably abandoned, all the more because Jan II van Bronshorn - Reifferscheid started using Op den Berg castle in Kesssenich as a residence through his marriage in 1402 to the heiress of Kessenich. The residential tower of Hunsel became increasingly dilapidated and was probably considered by returning farmers, after having fled the region due to the plague, as a condemned building and the material they could still use was probably used for the construction or renovation of their abandoned homes. The gentlemen of Bronshorn probably didn’t mind the relocation of the old Court of Bronshorn to Kessenich as the stone dwellings in Kessenich were more comfortable than the half-timbered residential tower. Due to the aforementioned marriage of Jan II and heiress Kessenich Johanna van Schoonvorst, Kessenich and Bronshorn once again became a basic administrative and judicial unit. In 1400 a dispute broke out between Jülich and Liège. Louis van Reifferscheid sided with Jülich as its vassal. But Jülich lost the battle and the Prince-Bishop took the castle of Kessenich from him and donated it to his relative Jan II van Bronshorn, who was also married to the daughter of Louis Reifferscheid. The centre of the new united basic administrative and judicial unit was developed on “the Hill” opposite the church of Kessenich. Here the house of Bronshorn and the Court of Bronshorn, the old large castle farm was built. The basic administrative and judicial unit was subject to just one Bench of Aldermen – except for between 1655 and 1711 – when Hunsel had its own Bench of Aldermen. The old centre of power of Bronshorn, which was probably near Hunsel, is completely lost. Jan II of Bronshorn had two sons, namely Arnold II and Jan, about whom more is to follow. Situated on the Aa river, formerly also known as Ghoor river, was the Uffelsen mill - undershot grain mill - the only lord’s mill in this area in early 1400. With the arrival of the watermill near Borgitter castle, the Uffelsen mill was declared trivial for half the land of Kessenich and Kinrooi. This means to say that people were obliged to have grain ground in the Uffelsen mill.

Owners and leaseholders

The son of Jan II van Bronshorn Reifferscheid - Arnold II van Horne – married Elisabeth van Heinsberg, the natural daughter of Jan van Loon, lord of Heinsberg, Jülich (pledger) and Leeuwenberg and a countess of Solms in 1429. The first time that there is mention of the Uffelsen mill can be found in the deed of 1429 in which Jan van Loon - aka Jan van Jülich – renounced the region of Kessenich and Bronshorn with all lands, folk, vassals, meadows and watermill for the benefit of his son-in-law Arnold II. Because there was never a mill in Kessenich before this time, it has to be the Uffelsen mill, although it isn’t mentioned by name in the said deed. How long Arnold II remained the owner isn’t known. In 1604 the mill was in the possession of the van Uffelsen family from Neeritter.

Guido van Malsen, who had become landlord due to his marriage to Johanna van Kessenich, dreamt of regaining the old estate including the mill. Van Malsen’s plan didn’t succeed as his widow had to mortgage the entire property to Hendrik van Bocholt, bailiff of Weert, in January 1626. At the time the estate consisted of the Uffelsen watermill with house, orchards, farming fields, meadows and two farms: Grouwelshof and Ingenhof. After the death of Ms van Malsen their daughter Maria van Malsen, abbes in the monastery in Susteren, became entitled to the estate. When she passed away her brother-in-law Walrave van Waes became the owner of the mill and other property on 22 April 1645. The division of the inheritance however caused a battle between the two brothers-in-law Walrave van Waes and baron Ferdinand van Vogelsanck lasting many years. Eventually the mill was assigned to the baron, but as he didn’t pay any arrears, the property with all appurtenances was publically sold following a prior church proclamation after legal action. For 3,080 guilders and payment of the outstanding costs, Karel Croll became the new owner. We recognise this name in the anchors in the courtyard. After several years the rights of ownership were bequeathed to relatives. The mill remained in possession of the Verschuyl family until 1826. The mill was passed on to esquire de Vlodorp of Roermond and after his death to baron Scherpenseel -Heusch, who sold it publically to Jan van Ratingen from Kinrooi for the sum of 13,000 Dutch guilders in 1857. The mill then came into the hands of Margaretha van Ratingen, who was married to Cormelis van Esser, miller in Ophoven (B). The leaseholders of the Uffelsen mill were successively H. Linsen, the widow of H. Linsen, J. Gielen and L. Verstappen who -being the highest bidder- became the mill’s new owner in 1921. In turn, Louis Verstappen sold the mill to leaseholder Johannes Hubertus Gerardus Peeters (Sjeng) in 1953. His brothers, farmer Sjir and miller Wiel and sister Suzanne Maria Jacoba (Jeanne) became co- owners. Louis Verstappen died in 1957 and lodged with the Peeters family at the time. Miller Wiel Peeters died on 31 August 1997. On 28 April 2003 the miller’s widow Fien Peeters - Smeets sold the mill and appurtenances to John Klerkx, who was originally from Maastricht.

Conflicts

The Uffelsen mill has regularly been a source of conflict over the centuries because the banality – having grain ground compulsory – frequently came under discussion. Price, quantity and quality of these enforced grindings (mill law) and the height of the water in the brook (damming rights) were the stake of many a dispute. It isn’t clear to which extent the malicious fire in 1726 was the consequence of one of these disputes. In 1742 and in 1879 the mill and the now added residential home were again stricken by fire and partially destroyed.

Building

The complex of buildings consists of a mill, farm and residential part and chapel (since 1901). There is also an attractive barn and an old bakery, developed into a pigsty. Originally the walls of the mill and the farm consisted of bricks, alternated with marl bands or alternating stone bands. This is still slightly visible on the outside of the mill’s wall. This building system with marl bands gave the mill a unique look and confirms its rich past. The façade above the waterwheel is made of wood. The residential part of the current complex was built against the farm on the street side. The Uffelsen mill has an undershot waterwheel and had a truss with four sluices that was demolished in 1963. The original wooden wheel had a diameter of 4.54 metres. The watermill had three couples of stones, which lay on the stone bedding in a circle around the crown gear of the wooden driving gear.

The buying off of water rights in 1961 meant the definitive end of the mill being driven by waterpower. The four sluices of the mill were broken off, the brook slightly elongated and the mill’s wheel stopped, after which the waterwheel came onto dry land. The existing grinder was removed and replaced by a hammer mill with a fast Güldner diesel engine, two stirring devices and an elevator (bucket elevator).

The current furnishing of the mill. There was professional grinding in the mill until the end of 1983. Since then the present installations have been barely used, because of which they have become increasingly dilapidated. Thanks to the expert help of volunteers the hammer mill could be restored in 2005; the bucket elevator was again oriented and tightened in 2006; and in 2007 experts of the open-air museum Eynderhoof in Nederweert Eynd managed to get the diesel engine to work again. After the major restoration of the complex of buildings, the engine was reconnected to the hammer mill in the summer of 2011. From this moment on grinding is possible once more, but unfortunately not on waterpower as it is no longer possible to get the water level to its original height. Various organisations including the Maas and Peelvallei Water Authority did, however, agree to help work on the reorganisation of the Uffelsen brook and the surrounding area. Several things are being realised over the next few years. The exterior of the mill will be getting back its original character. The setting will become even more picturesque than it is now. Future With such a rich history and central role in everyday life in the past it’s logical to give the mill an active social, cultural role in the future for residents, associations and organisations of the municipality of Leudal - Hunsel as well as for those interested from further away. The intention is that the buildings and the vicinity - in close cooperation with the municipality of Leudal, preservation of monuments and historic buildings, restoration architect Teun Dorrepaal of architect agency Dorrepaal - De Winter and historian Leon Dentener – will be restored to its original form as much as possible. At the end of August 2008 Tom Loven Aannemingsbedrijf in cooperation with Theunissen Timmerwerken and Peter Deckers Installatiewerken started with the major restoration of the complex of buildings. We hope to have brought the restoration project to a favourable conclusion by 2015.

Restoration fund

The restoration is very expensive. By no means all work is subsidised and the work that is, is reimbursed for 30%. To still enable restoration, especially for the restoration of the furnishing of the mill, dating from the 1930s and 1960s, a restoration fund was created. Your contribution is also welcome on account number 48.58.75.217 mentioning restoration fund Uffelsen mill. The intended result: a beautiful setting and hospitable accommodation for fans of Limburg’s history.

© Text written by John Klerkx, owner of the Uffelsen mill and placed with his permission.

Opening times: The dining room is open from Pentecost until the first weekend of October, daily from 12:00 to 19:00 clock and by appointment. Restaurant concession available.

Adress: Uffelsestraat 5, 6012 RM Haler-Uffelsen, Phone: (+31) (0)475-568954