Our History - Eight Generations of Matthews Cotswold Flour

Our History - Eight Generations of Matthews Cotswold Flour


The Matthews family have farmed and milled in the heart of the Cotswolds across three centuries, from the banks of the river Evenlode. Their story begins with Marmaduke Matthews, and his 18th century seed-selling business, and continues to this day, where father-and-son-team Paul and Bertie Matthews continue their ancestors’ legacy from the family’s 100-year-old flour mill.


A farming family stretching back generations, it all began with Marmaduke Matthews I and his small business in the 1860s. Selling seeds from his barn in Fifield, Oxfordshire, he set the tone for a family love affair with local produce and quality grain.



His son, Marmaduke Matthews II continued it. He would ride along the Cotswold hills, sourcing grains and collecting samples from local farmers. Testing and feeling the quality of the wheat by hand, he developed an in-depth, intuitive knowledge and feel for superior grain. And so began the family’s centuries old dedication to high-quality, local produce.



Two more generations followed. Frederick Matthews expanded the business to wheat and barley selling for several years. His son, Frederick William Powell (FWP) Matthews – the man FWP Matthews Cotswold Flour is named after – began to explore options for a new mill with his father. Together, they realised that milling locally grown wheat, instead of importing it by rail, made far more sense.



After a very active part in planning the building of the mill, Frederick sadly did not live to see its completion. So FWP Matthews developed the grain business and oversaw the building of the family's now iconic mill, built in 1912 by local builder Alfred Groves. Overlooking the picturesque Cotswold village of Shipton-Under-Wychwood, all flour has been milled from this traditional setting since.

In the early years, FWP Matthews concentrated on milling biscuit flour for UK bakers, using the soft wheat grown locally in the Cotswold hills. Customers included Huntley and Palmers in Reading, Peek Frean in Bermondsey (a world-renowned biscuit maker which gave Bermondsey the name of ‘Biscuit Town’) and Jacobs in Dublin, who used the flour to create their iconic cream crackers. The flour was transported by rail in eight dedicated vans, with horse and cart each pulling eight sacks (one tonne) of flour the 25-yard journey between the mill and Shipton Station.



As Britain entered the war years, two further generations of Matthews boys took it from strength to strength – despite the economic uncertainty in Britain. After a stint as a soldier in WWI, where he was shot down by a German fighter jet over France and held prisoner for 18 months, Frederick Eric Matthews returned to Cotswold soil and came to work at the mill in the 1930s, alongside his father.

He resided over the mill during the challenging post-war years and was responsible for transforming it from gas-turbine powered to electric in the 1950s. A decade later, he also shifted the business to its current model – changing it from milling biscuit flour to bread flour – its modern-day speciality.


GORDON MATTHEWS (1922 - 2020)

Frederick Eric Matthews had two sons: Frederick “Gordon” and Ian, who continued the traditions of grain and corn trading, while continually pushing for more. Between them, they commissioned new offices, sought out new local farmers to supply the very best quality grain, and developed new milling methods in the 1960s.

This setup, where time-honoured methods meet innovative modern techniques, is what the company prides itself on to this day.



Now the fifth generation of Matthews family to run the business from its Cotswold mill, Paul Matthews joined in 1973. With this in-depth knowledge of what to look for in quality grain, he went on to run it during the 1990s, transforming it from a feed and grain model to the speciality flour business it is today.

Paul put total focus on quality flour to make incredible bread, naming each variety of flour after the rivers and villages which surrounded the mill. He also fell in love with Organic, and was a pioneer of the UK Organic movement in the 1990s. Alongside his cousin, Graham Matthews, Paul led the charge to focus on Organic, Speciality and Stoneground flour. The business grew exponentially under their vision and leadership. With their dedication to quality and passion for provenance, Matthews Cotswold Flour became Britain’s artisan flour choice for professional and home bakers as the company headed into the 21st century.



Today, Matthews Cotswold Flour is led by father-and-son-team Paul and Bertie Matthews, who are the Great, Great Grandsons of Frederick William Powell Matthews. They continue to combine traditional stoneground milling methods with modern roller milling from the original 1912 building.

Having grown up in a house overlooking the Cotswold Mill, Bertie Matthews is the fifth of Paul’s eight children. Before returning to the mill he worked in New York and London for 5 years in Marketing & Advertising and then Tech consultancy. He joined the family business during a very challenging time in 2017 as Commercial and Operations Director, with his marketing and advertising background proving a valuable asset to drive the business forward in a digital age. Working in the mill throughout his teens, his in-depth knowledge of the business allows him to focus on building the next generation, through milling apprenticeship schemes and the Cotswold Baking Club. Meanwhile, Paul draws on his 45 years’ experience sourcing quality grain in the Cotswold Grain Partnership.


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