1. A thousand years from East to West

Paper as we know it today first appeared in China nearly two thousand years ago. Although the word paper is derived from the papyrus used over 5000 years ago in Egypt, the two are only loosely connected. Read more

2. Paper moves westward

It wasn’t until the 3rd century that the secret art of papermaking began to creep out of China, first to Vietnam and then Tibet. It was introduced into Korea in the 4th century and spread to Japan by the 6th century where, during the 8th century, the Empress Shotoku undertook a massive project to print a million prayers on individual sheets of paper, each mounted in its own pagoda. Read more

3. The 'secret' spreads north

From its introduction into Europe, the 'secret' of papermaking slowly made its way northward hampered by a variety of political, economic and religious vested interests and protectionism. Read more

4. The Fourdrinier Paper Machine

With the ever increasing demands that the new Industrial Revolution was creating for communication, the mechanisation of papermaking became a priority - in keeping with the spirit of the new age. Read more

5. The cylinder mould machine

Meanwhile, in 1809 at Apsley Mill next door to Frogmore Mill, John Dickinson installed and patented a different kind of paper machine. Instead of pouring a dilute pulp suspension on to an endlessly revolving flat wire as in the Fourdrinier process, this machine used a cylinder covered in wire as a mould. Read more

6. Papermaking in the UK

The earliest know English document written on paper is dated 1309. However, paper was not to be made in England until over 150 years later. The first recorded paper mill in the United Kingdom was Sele Mill near Hertford owned by John Tate. Founded around 1488, this mill was visited by King Henry VII some 10 years later and a report of it was printed by Wynken de Worde. Sheets bearing John Tate’s watermark have been found in books printed in 1494. Read more

7. From Rags to Riches

The increasing demands for more paper during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries led to shortages of the rags needed to produce the paper. Part of the problem was that no satisfactory method of bleaching pulp had yet been devised, and so only white rags could be used to produce white paper. Chlorine bleaching was being used by the end of the eighteenth century, but excessive use produced papers that were of poor quality and deteriorated quickly Read more

8. Frogmore Mill & The British Paper Company

For a place that might justifiably be said to have truly 'changed the world', there is not a great deal of information documenting its early history or even its immediate, post paper-machine history although its history has been a long one...... Read more