John Tate's paper mill

25th May 1498

By Mark Haward

Chaucers Canterbury Tales

The first recorded reference to a paper mill in Britain was in the reign of Henry VII of England in a book printed by Caxton referring to a paper milll near Stevenage belonging to John Tate.

King Henry VII visited the mill on 25th May 1498 and gave Tate a reward of 16s 8d and the following year visited again giving him a reward of 6s 8d.Tate was the first to make paper in England for commercial sale.

The mill was established around 1488 and ran until approx 1507. Paper from John Tate’s mill was used to print Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

John Tate died in 1507 and his will shows that his paper mill had gone out of production. His executors were directed to sell the mill and equipment.

This page was added on 25/05/2011.

Comments about this page

  • I have the same comment as the previous commenter. Why do none of the many web sites about the history of paper in England mention what the paper was made from? That’s a pretty basic part of the story. It certainly wasn’t wood pulp or the books would be dust by now!

    By Raymond Cushing (22/02/2017)
  • Was the paper used made from cannabis hemp?

    By Dr Dick Breeze (17/06/2016)

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