Combining tradition with innovation
Flour from W & H Marriage & Sons has been trusted by both professional and amateur bakers for generations, as the family-run business has been milling flour in Chelmsford for nearly 200 years.
Twin brothers William and Henry Marriage originally founded the business in 1824 when they were only seventeen. But even before that the Marriage family had been farming and milling in mid-Essex since the seventeenth century.
Today, the company is run by the fifth and sixth generations of the Marriage family, with flour milling under the watchful eye of current flour director, George Marriage.
The range of flours, suitable for home baking and bread making, is milled using the best possible grains for consistent quality. There is even an onsite baker who tests the flours by baking up to 100 loaves a week!
The family believe that Essex is the best wheat-growing area in the country and keeps its food miles down by sourcing much of its grain from farms within a 30 mile radius of the historic Chelmer Mills. Many local farmers, all of whom are members of the Assured Crops Scheme, have been supplying Marriages for generations. The family also uses wheat from its own arable farms, just a few miles away from the mill.
Over the years new innovations have been introduced by the family. But while the majority of the company’s flour is now produced using more modern methods, it does continue to make some of its flours in the old-fashioned way.
The stone ground varieties are still milled by grinding the whole grain between horizontal Victorian millstones made of French Burr stones. These stones are re-sharpened every three months to prevent them from running smooth and not grinding properly. This is a highly skilled job which is still done by hand using time honored techniques which have remained unchanged since the earliest days of milling
The way in which samples of the grain are tested before being milled has also evolved. Traditionally, as the grain arrived at the mill, it would have been bitten to test the quality. Now there is an onsite laboratory carrying out tests to ensure all the wheat used meets the high standards the company, and the region’s bakers, expect.
As master millers for over two centuries, the Marriage family has been testing its flour in numerous different cake recipes for generations. One of the family’s favourites is the classic British creation, named after the Queen who was on the throne in the early years of the family business.