NEWSLETTER 276 Edited by Liz Sagues MARCH 1994
Tuesday, March 1 The Moated Manor Project at Wood Hall
Lecture by Simon Tomson, Excavation Director for North Yorks Council.
This slide-lecture on a current excavation should be of particular interest, as it is it largely within the same period as some of our own excavations. In conjunction with National Power, Simon Tomson and his team are involved in a long-term excavation at Gale Common ash disposal site near Knottingley. Wood Hall was first mentioned in 1328 when it was the property of Queen Isabella, who was known as the she-wolf of France and is thought to have ordered the murder of her husband Edward II in 1327. Bridges across the moat, a very fine gatehouse, and evidence and artifacts of earlier occupation have been found. This is that rare thing, an excavation with no time limit, as it will take up to 20 years to cover the site with the ash from nearby power stations.
Saturday, March 19 LAMAS Conference
At this, the 31st Conference of London Archaeologists, our own Brian Wrigley will be among the speakers in the morning session, on recent archaeological research in the London area. Brian will describe last year’s HADAS dig at Church Farmhouse Museum, Hendon. The afternoon session will be on Roman public building in London. Tickets are £4 from Jon Cotton, Museum of London, London Wall, EC2Y 5HN (071-600 3688 ext 259). HADAS will have an exhibition stand at the Conference.
Tuesday, April 5 Archaeology at St Bride’s Church 1952-1993
Lecture by Gustav Milne.
The church was originally investigated in the 1950s by the late Professor W. F. Grimes, former President of HADAS. Last year, before the replacement of the crypt display, Gustav Milne led a team from University College London to re-examine the standing structure. Some of the results were surprising.
HADAS lectures are held at Hendon Library, The Burroughs, NW4, at 8pm for 8.30pm. Tuesday, May 3 HADAS Annual General Meeting: location to be announced.
Apologies… Apologies… Apologies…
Dorothy Newbury writes:
I hope there were not too many members arriving at the Library on Tuesday February 1 to find it closed. I must admit it was my fault. For 20 years Liz Holliday has nursed me by sending the application form for the year’s booking on the due date. Liz has been promoted and now, working from Friern Barnet, has no connection with the Hendon bookings, and I failed to send for the form.It was only by chance I phoned the porter at 4pm that day on another matter and was staggered to find we were not booked in. The lecture room was occupied by an exhibition and the Library closed for the evening. Several members rallied round and we phoned as many people as we could think of. The poor lecturer was on the train halfway down from Chester — if he has forgiven us we hope we can arrange an alternative date. I hang my head in shame.
What the papers say…
About old Beirut and new technology
John Schofield, well known to HADAS members for his lectures on London, has been delving into a past rather more distant, as the Independent on Sunday recently reported in a fascinating article on how computer-generated mapping is helping to trace the history of Beirut.
UNESCO provided funding to allow John Shofield to act as an archaeological consultant to the Lebanese as they excavate their civil-war-damaged capital city in an exercise somewhat reminiscent of the digging out of post-Blitz London.
Computer mapping was used in the investigation of the Roman amphitheatre in Guildhall Yard, but the Beirut exercise is on a very much larger scale.
Using as a basis a map of the city drawn by a British naval map-maker in 1841, and underlaying that map with one of the modern city, centuries of history over an area of 160 hectares are being seen on screen. The 1841 map was drawn when Beirut still had two Crusader castles and most of its medieval walls, features shown in a near-contemporary sketch of the city’s seashore which also indicates a waterfront apparently constructed of reused Roman columns.
Much earlier structures may also be incorporated into the multi-layer computer imaging, by adding a map — partly conjecture, but still valuable — of Beirut’s Roman remains, drawn following French excavations between the two World Wars.
The Romans’ great port of Berytus was destroyed by an earthquake in 551, and finds from that period have already been made in the current archaeological programme, but the high-tech mapping should help the international team currently at work to uncover more.
The intention is that these should be seen eventually in the city-centre archaeological park planned as part of Beirut’s reconstruction. A treat in store for adventurous HADAS travellers!
· Rather nearer history concerned The Independent a couple of weeks earlier, when it reported on a survey of dry stone walls in the Lake District. Each valley, the National Trust study concluded, has a “ring garth”, built to divide agricultural land from the rough fellside and thus stop animals grazing on the former. These walls, originally up to five feet high, are thought to date from the 10th-11th centu-
ries. As a result of these findings, the National Trust is to give priority to repairing the ring garths, rather than more recent walls.
· Bizarre news from the Daily Telegraph, of the biggest known dog cemetery in the ancient world, found at Ashkelon in Israel. It dates from the late 5th century BC, and during the 50 years it was in use more than 1,200 dogs (two-thirds of them puppies) were buried there.
“Buried” is the appropriate term — “each carcass was placed in its own shallow pit, lying on its side, with legs flexed and its tail tucked in around the hindlegs”, the report continues. There were no grave goods, however, (not even bones?) nor any marking of the graves.
Analysis shows that the dogs were not killed, butchered or eaten, and they appear to have died of natural causes. The dig director, Professor Lawrence Stager, of Harvard University, speculates that the dogs were part of a healing cult, common in parts of the Mediterranean and the Near East at the time.
· Dinosaur-mania has provoked a new interest in matters archaeological in the more popular press. The Daily Mail, in particular (thank you, the HADAS member who reads and snips so assiduously), has been particularly enthusiastic.
It has recently reported, for example, on the “Monster that put the bite on Wight”, a 120-millionyea r-old nasty almost as big as a London bus, and has even highlighted, in its property column, homes where there might be the possibility of finding a fossil in the back garden.
Not only dinosaurs, however, attract the Mail’s writers. They have tackled the possible present whereabouts of the gold Schliemann uncovered at Troy, the variety of beers made available to the workers who built the Pyramids, a 5,500-year-old poison arrow “factory” in West Africa, and the ultimate treasure-for-tuppence story, of a woman who bought a Pre-dynastic Egyptian pot at a car boot sale.
And one very recent snippet reveals that people in Biblical times suffered just as badly from backache as we do today. The evidence comes from the skeletons excavated at a cemetery near Wadi Haifa, Sudan. The bones also showed that the Sudanese of 350BC – 350AD were a long-lived lot, many surviving to the age of 70.
Choosing this illustration to publicise the Church Farmhouse Museum shop as an excellent source of local history publications is purely an exercise of the Editor’s prerogative — I spend many weekends afloat on the Welsh Harp, pictured here in 1870 during the London Swimming Club’s Aquatic Festival. The illustration is one of the many in Hendon, Childs Hill, Golders Green and Mill Hill, the splendid compilation by Stewart Gillies and Pamela Taylor of fact and views from the borough’s archives. The book is, of course, on sale in the shop-.
Counting out a republic’s history
The fascinating history of Venice can currently be studied at the British Museum — through the city’s coins.
A small display in the lobby outside the Coins & Medals Department entrance covers a millennium of minting, illustrating the development of the ducat, showing how the Venetians were slow to introduce machine-made coins and incorporating such oddities as coins with fractional values.
Included, too, is a fascinating section on osellas, the coin-medals struck each year by the Doge as gifts to members of the Great Council — they replaced the former presents of wildfowl, by the time of the osellas’ introduction in the 1520s hunted to extinction, and provide a potted history of the Republic, recording events of particular note.
These splendid coins are part of a much larger collection which has been given to the Museum by HADAS member Stella Greenall at the wish of her late husband Philip, who had also belonged to the society. Mr Greenall was well known for his interest in North London trade tokens as well as in the coinage of Venice.
His Venice collection was built up over some 30 years. As a mathematician as well as a numismatist, he enjoyed the elaborate denominations favoured by the Venetians — particularly, says Mrs Greenall, given the numerical conservatism of modern European coinage. He was interested, too, in the techniques of minting, in the Venetian Mint — a beautiful and prominent building — itself, and in the coinage of the only Doge who had a full profile portrait of himself on his city’s coinage: when his period of office ended, such personal promotion was stopped.
The British Museum is delighted to receive the gift, and a catalogue combining both the Greenall Gift and its own Venetian material is planned. Venice Preserv’d: the Greenall Gift continues at the British Museum until May 15 .
The doors to Sutton House open at last
Many HADAS members are familiar with Sutton House, the oldest surviving domesticbuilding inEast London and subject of both an outing and a lecture for the society.
Now the good news is that the house, damaged by fire while a major restoration programme was under way, is finally open to the public.
Visitors can see some of the fruits of the ambitious partnership between the National Trust and local people, which is turning into an arts and community centre what was once a family home, later became a girls’ boarding school, and later still housed a social services office, then a trades union headquarters and finally squatters. The Young National Trust Theatre is based in the building, there is a café-bar and shop, rooms are available for hire. Historical displays trace the story of the house, built in 1535, and introduce some of the characters associated with it, including its builder, the poor-boy-made-good Sir Ralf Sadleir, and silk merchant Captain John Milward, who added to its decoration.
While some of the past is revealed to visitors through such means as peel-back panels, research continues to unveil more. Meanwhile, a visit is already rewarding.
Sutton House is at 2 Homerton High Street, E9 (081-986 2264). It is open to the public every Wednesday and Sunday from 11.30am to 5.30pm, admission £1.50 (free to National Trust members),
Bill Firth reports that:
At last, there’s action on the Aerodrome
The buildings at Hendon Aerodrome have been suffering from neglect since the RAF left in 1987, and the recession has meant that the site has not been of interest to developers.
Now, one of our local MPs, John Gorst, has taken up the safeguarding of buildings of national interest with the Department of National Heritage during the inquiry of the Parliamentary Select Committee into English Heritage.
As a result the Select Committee recently visited Hendon where they were shown round by Mr Gorst and Dr Michael Fopp, Director of the RAF Museum, and saw the way the buildings are being allowed to deteriorate.
Mr Jocelyn Stevens, Chairman of English Heritage, who has given evidence to the committee on the neglect by the Ministry of Defence not only of Hendon but also of our military heritage generally, was also in the party.
There is hope that the site may become part of the neighbouring RAF Museum as an aviation theme park.
Mr Gorst has referred to six years of neglect since the RAF left Hendon, but the historic, listed buildings have been neglected for more than 15 years. When permission was sought to demolish the Grahame-White hangar in 1979 the RAF admitted that it was then in a poor state of repair.
This has been brought to Mr Gorst’s attention, but it is a pity that neither our MPs nor English Heritage took any action when we and other interested parties drew their attention to the situation in 1980.
Bill Bass reveals:
The cuts may be mere ruts
Excavations at the Victoria Maternity Hospital, Wood Street, Barnet, were completed on February 12 with final digging and recording of the east-west silted linear feature in trench two.
Previously we’ve been calling this a ditch possibly associated with an earlier alignment of the road, but as the “ditch” in trench one seems to have one “cut” although heavily truncated, the same feature in trench two appears as several “cuts” or possibly “ruts”, perhaps churned up by carts, etc. So a second theory is that it may be a back lane or track behind the 15th century cottages.
We hope to throw some more light on this in the post-excavation stage currently taking place, which will be closely followed by a report. This will enable Oliver & Saunders (site developers) to carry on developing.
The medieval pottery although not large in quantity has produced several interesting examples including a rim and handle sherd from a jug — this has a thumb impressed decoration characteristic of locally-made Herts Grey Ware from Arkley, Elstree and elsewhere. Another sherd may be a “bunghole” from a 15th century cistern of jug form of late London Ware-type fabric, but this needs confirmation.
These examples appear to fit date-wise with others in the area, eg finds opposite the site (now in Barnet Museum) when it was known as the Victoria Cottage Hospital.
Thanks to all the diggers for braving the elements, and to the Black Horse for letting a muddy rabble warm up in their hostelry.
News in Brief:
· Is there a gremlin working his mischief somewhere? Two members living in West Hendon failed to receive their copies of the February Newsletter — strange that it should happen twice in the same area. If anyone else, in West Hendon or elsewhere, is not receiving Newsletters, please let Dorothy Newbury (081-203 0950) know, so she can take up the problem with the Post Office.
· The Institute of Field Archaeologists holds its eighth annual conference on April 13-15, at the University of Bradford. A programme and application form is available from: The Assistant Secretary, Institute of Field Archaeologists, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham BI5 2TT. Early booking is advised.
· The current display at Church Farmhouse Museum (Until March 27th) is hardly archaeological, but should appeal to any members of theatrical bent. It charts the 50-year-plus stage career of actor Donald Sinden. Some of the items have come from the collection of playbills, photographs and other ephemera stashed away in the loft of his home in Hampstead Garden Suburb; other items — such as costumes and paintings—have been loaned by the likes of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
· Something to look forward to: on July 27 the British Museum will open two new galleries devoted to Europe from the 15th to the 19th centuries. Part of the display will examine the influence on design of the major archaeological discoveries of the late 18th and 19th centuries.
‘The roof, roller-skating and cold baths’
For members who joined in the HADAS visit to St Paul’s last November and enjoyed coffee or lunch at the City of London Youth Hostel, Mary O’Connell has provided further information on the building’s original use —as the Cathedral Choir School. The following is summarised from an article by Paul Ward, of the Guild of the Companions of St Paul, in the City of London Guides Association Newsletter.
Mr Ward traces the history of the school from its medieval foundation, noting that in the years immediately before the construction of the Carter Lane school the 16 boys in the choir had attended No 1 Amen Court — a building still in existence — for their education.
The larger school had become necessary when, with the removal of the organ screen in the Cathedral in 1860, a much more numerous choir was required. The new building, designed by Francis Cramer Penrose, went up on land that had formerly been part of the Deanery garden.
He describes the internal arrangements of the school, including its dormitories, lobby where the boys’ mortarboards were hung, carpenter’s shop and fine wood-panelled Prayer Room, but also focusses on what went on outside.
He writes: Ask any old boy of the Choir School during most of its life in Carter Lane what he specially remembers about the School, and the answer would probably be “the roof, roller-skating and cold baths”!
Cold baths every morning, followed by a brisk walk down to the Embankment towards Waterloo Bridge. Roller-skating along Carter Lane after Evensong on Saturday afternoon in the summer, when the cars and carthorses had gone home and that splendid apparatus which we called “Caesar’s chariot” had cleaned up.
“A playground of considerable dimensions on
the roof, wired in, like a bird-cage”, is how “the roof ” was described by another headmaster, the Rev. William Russell. In the summer there was room for cricket nets and in the winter five-a-side football. The school was organised into four forms which would take it in turns to have a period on the roof each day.
Another roof activity was “cradle fives”. A cricket cradle, for catching practice, had been presented to the school during the First World War in recognition of the boys having continued to sing Matins one morning when there was an air raid and one bomb fell only 150 yeards from the Cathedral. This game, rather like five-a-side tennis, was played by throwing and catching the ball, using the cradle instead of a net.
Mr Ward describes, too, the school work demanded of the boys, the time spent in choir practice — five afternoons a week — and on instrumental music— most boys learned one instrument, some of them two. He lists some famous old boys, including Walter de la Mare, Sir Charles Groves and Jimmy Edwards, and notes that during all or nearly all of the 93 years during which the school was in the Carter Lane building all the boys received board, lodging and education free.
Mary O’Connell adds, for members who have not already tried the Youth Hostel’s refreshments, that it welcomes visitors to good food at reasonable prices.
An invitation to:
Garibaldi… and coffee
The Secretary of the Hampstead and N.W. London Branch of the Historical Association has contacted HADAS to invite our members to their meetings as guests, (if attending, by way of courtesy, one should make a modest donation).
They recently changed venue to Fellowship House, Willifield Way, NW1I. Their next talk, on March 10, will be given by Professor Harry Hearder on the subject of ‘Garibaldi’, commencing at 8pm. Coffee is served after meetings.
If, in the meantime, you would like further information on the Association, please contact: Mrs Joyce Wheatley, 177 Hampstead Way, NW11 7YA, tel: 081-455 2820.
Brigid Grafton Green: memorial delayed
As there is still no definite news of what form the memorial being organised in Hampstead Garden Suburb for Brigid Grafton Green will take, HADAS is concerned that members who contributed towards it should know that their gifts are being kept safely aside.
However, to avoid further time-limit problems on cheques, the society would like to bank these contributions (accounting for them separately, with their intended use clearly identified).
If any members who contributed are unhappy with this arrangement and would like their gifts handled in a different way, could they please contact Dorothy Newbury by the end of March.
This is something for readers to puzzle over for the next month… What is this, and where was it? The answer will be in the April Newsletter. A hint: if you follow the suggestion at the top of page 3, you should find the answer.
News of members
Sadly, this month’s news is of members who are no longer with us.
Mr Alf Mendel, from Hampstead Garden Suburb, had been a member for many, many years. He and Mrs Mendel participated fully in our lectures, meetings and minimarts, and they were both with us for the weekend in Chester and Wales in September. Mr Mendel died suddenly while holidaying with his daughter in South Africa in late January. Our sympathy goes to Mrs Mendel.
Mr Ferris was a member, with his wife, back in 1978. Their membership lapsed for a while, then after Mrs Ferris died Mr Ferris rejoined and was a regular at lectures and outings. He also was with us for our September weekend. He died suddenly in his doctor’s surgery on December 17. He lived with his daughter and our sympathy goes to her.
The HADAS weekend away:
Once again the Isle of Man is proving difficult to arrange, and expensive — in the region of £250 minimum for five days. Jackie Brooks has been researching the possibilities. School accommodation was located, but mostly in dormitories, and with limited date availability.
Will any member who might still be interested please let Dorothy Newbury know — if there is enough interest, plans will be pursued. Ten passengers are needed for cheap rail travel.
Suggestions for an alternative destination will be welcomed. Ideas put forward so far include Cardiff University and South Wales, and Scotland, but others could be investigated.
The Christmas Dinner
Our principal annual social event is also causing problems this year. Prices have risen, with steep charges for rooms, and as much as £5 per person for cutlery and table linen — and those are before the meal is mentioned! Among examples are £480 for the room at Brentford Steam Museum, plus £100 for an engine steaming; £1,000 at the Bank of England; £350 at both the Honorable Artillery Company and Canonbury Academy.
So any suggestions — of places where there is historical or archaeological interest as well as the possibility of eating will be welcomed by Dorothy.
Ideas on both these, please, to Dorothy Newbury on 081-203 0950.
Time to pay up
Subscriptions will be due on April 1. The rates, as last year, are: Adult £8; Second member of same family £2.50; Over 60/Student £5; Institution £8.
A payment slip is enclosed with this Newsletter. Please complete it and send it back to Vikki O’Connor, Hon Membership Secretary, as soon as possible.