Our Heritage

Laverstoke Mill has a long and intriguing history spanning 1000 years which we are delighted to share with you.

The History of Laverstoke Mill

From the Domesday Book to present day

The proud history of Laverstoke Mill is recorded as far back as the 1086 Doomsday Book, in which a mill is noted on the site. Laverstoke Mill has been under the ownership of William the Conqueror, Henry VIII and enjoyed four royal visits, most recently Queen Elizabeth in 1962.

In 1719, having acquired the lease for Laverstoke Mill, printer Henry Portal expanded the site enabling him to begin manufacturing bank notes for the British Empire in 1724.

In the mid-18th century Laverstoke Mill saw increasing prosperity; manufacturing the bank notes during Queen Victoria’s long reign. The site was expanded by the Portal family in 1842, and again in 1881, introducing further elegant architecture to allow for increased production.

Bombay Sapphire’s heritage begins in 1761 when Thomas Dakin purchased a site in Warrington, England, with the intention of distilling gin. In 1831, the Dakin family purchased a still, and adapted it to separate the exotic botanicals from the neutral grain spirit, capturing the flavours of the botanicals in the vapour – an artisanal distillation process now known as Vapour Infusion, and still faithfully used by Bombay Sapphire today.

Timeline

  • c. 903 – Laverstoke Mill is in possession of the Abbey of St Peter, Winchester
  • 1086 – William the Conqueror’s Domesday Book records two mills in Laverstoke
  • 1538 – Dissolution of the monasteries, Henry VIII acquires Laverstoke Manor
  • 1689 – Henri de Portal born 8th July in Poitiers, France, to a French Huguenot family
  • 1699-1700 – Henri de Portal arrives in Southampton
  • 1711 – Henri de Portal naturalised at the Winchester Quarter Sessions and changes his name to Henry Portal
  • 1712 – Henry begins his papermaking enterprise at Bere Mill, Whitchurch
  • 1718 – In need of expansion, Henry obtains the lease of Laverstoke Mill at an annual rent of £5 plus a ream of foolscap paper
  • 1724 – Contract with the Bank of England for the exclusive supply of banknote paper
  • 1759 – Joseph Portal (Henry’s son) becomes the first Portal to own Laverstoke Manor
  • 1850s – Cottages are built on site to accommodate mill workers
  • 1854 – First phase of major rebuilding work to include a water turbine and new buildings
  • 1860 – Contract with the Government of India to produce Indian Rupee paper
  • 1861-2 – Banknote paper robbery at the Mill, police constable takes up residence on site
  • 1880 – Paper for the world’s first postal order made at Laverstoke Mill and issued the following year
  • 1896 – HRH Edward Prince of Wales visits the Mill, the first of five royal visits over the next century
  • 1906 – Turbine erected at Bere Mill, Whitchurch, to transmit electrical power to Laverstoke Mill
  • 1916 – A cylinder mould machine house built to contain two paper machines from Zurich
  • 1919 – Fete held in Laverstoke Park to celebrate the bicentenary of Laverstoke Mill as a paper mill
  • 1940s – Cargo ships carrying banknote paper from Laverstoke Mill to India are torpedoed
  • 1962 – Last royal visit, Queen Elizabeth II
  • 1963 – Papermaking at Laverstoke Mill ceased
  • 1970s – Paterson Candy water treatment arrive at Laverstoke Mill
  • 1995 – De La Rue acquired the Portals Group PLC
  • 2005 – Laverstoke Mill becomes vacant
  • 2009 – St James housing group propose to develop the site to accommodate 72 dwellings
  • 2010 – Bombay Spirits Company purchases Laverstoke Mill
  • 2014 – The Bombay Sapphire Distillery opens its doors to the public
Experiences

Tours & Experiences

Discover the home of Bombay Sapphire gin on an experience to suit your interests. Choose from one of the many experiences we have on offer, don’t forget that gift vouchers are available from the online shop.

meetings & events

Meetings & Events

The Bombay Sapphire Distillery is available for hire for corporate events, meetings, banquets, private parties, wedding receptions and more. Soak up the unique atmosphere of the Bombay Sapphire Distillery for your event, and enjoy our delicious cocktail range as part of your experience.

While production of Bombay Sapphire gin continues as normal, we are sorry to announce that until Sunday 19th July 2020 inclusive, the Bombay Sapphire Visitor Centre will be cancelling all tours and events as well as closing our shop, bar and café due to the evolving coronavirus/COVID-19 situation. All tickets purchased for visits up to and including 19th July 2020 will be refunded back to the original purchase method or rebooked. We are constantly evaluating the situation and in contact with local officials, and we will update you when tours resume. Any extension to this closure date will be communicated with at least one week’s notice. The safety of our guests and staff is our highest priority, and we thank you for your patience.