Issue No 285 DECEMBER 1994 Edited by Reva Brown
Tuesday, 6 December: Christmas dinner at “The Old Bank of England” – a Grade 1 listed building -opened as a hostelry in August this year. This date is full, BUT, as anticipated, we have a large overflow for the New Year dinner.
Tuesday, 3 January: New Year dinner. We have booked this second date, but have a few places
left. Late applications would be welcome. Price £23.00, includes coach out and return, a tour of the Temple Church opposite before the meal, dinner including a glass of wine (further drinks available at the bar) and a free raffle. If you would like to join us, please send a cheque for £23.00 (or £22.00 without transport) to Dorothy Newbury, 55 Sunningfields Road, Hendon NW4 0181 203 0950.
Our 1995 lecture and outing programme is well under way. Full details will follow later.
The LECTURE VENUE is changing for 1995, starting in February.
REPORT OF THE CITY WALK ON 29 OCTOBER Richard Nichols
It is remarkable what Londoners born and bred do not know about their own city, which is one of the joys of discovering more about it under the expert guidance of Mary O’Connell. Those members who attended this walk certainly found out some interesting items. Firstly, the pub at the corner of Cowcross Street and Turnmill Street, which has the pawnbroker’s sign of the three brass balls outside, as well as its pub sign. This is a reminder of an occasion when the Prince Regent ran out of cash when gambling nearby, and knocked up the publican to lend him five pounds, leaving his gold watch as surety. An equerry redeemed it the next morning.
The next stop was Clerkenwell Green with the former Sessions House on one side and the house where Lenin lodged on the other. This is now a museum to display his writings and other memorabilia. We looked in at the Clerken Well, which is still bubbling up ‘fresh’ water as it has for hundreds of years.
The highlight of the afternoon’s visit was the House of Correction. We entered the precincts through a doorway labelled ‘Girls’ Cookery’, or some such title, but the secret was soon revealed by the turnkey dressed in period costume of the mid-19th century. He first led us across what was later the boys’ playground to show us a 20 foot wall, which surrounded the former prison exercise yard. The former boys’ toilet had the most unusual memorial to be found in any convenience – a plaque
commemorating the attempt by Michael Barrett, a Fenian, to blow a hole through the wall and allow some of his fellow Fenians in gaol to escape. He rolled a large barrel filled with explosives up against the wall, but then realised that he hadn’t a match. He saw a young lad having a quiet smoke nearby, so asked him for a light. He then lit the fuse and retired to a safe distance. The explosion blew a hole in the wall, demolished a row of houses and injured the young lad. He lived until 1937, earning his living by selling matches, but Barrett was caught, tried and sentenced at the Old Bailey, and was the last person publicly hanged at Newgate.
This set the scene for our exploration of the former House of Correction, with its many passageways, cells, baths etc., all hidden since 1876, when it was flattened, and the Hugh Myddelton School built above it. The cells and passageways were used as air raid shelters during 1939-1945, but as the
warder informed us, there was only a two-foot layer of soil above those thinking they were safe from harm.
The original House of Correction was built in 1616, and underwent many changes during its existence. Once can read some of the records of those detained there, and their manner of incarceration. At one time, several were in one cell, but in Victorian times, they were in single cells and wearing hoods to prevent them knowing who their fellow prisoners were, or speaking to them.
It was a remarkable experience and well worth another visit.
NOVEMBER LECTURE: THE HOXNE HOARD Sheila Woodward
“Bootyful! Eric finds £10m Booty” screamed the Sun headline on what was allegedly the first occasion it had featured archaeology on its front page. Of course, the newly-found hoard had not then been valued and when it was, it achieved a mere eighth of the Sun’s estimate. But it deserved that sensational headline. What a find!
Using rather more measured tones than the Sun, Catherine Johns of the British Museum nevertheless conveyed the excitement created by the discovery and examination of this hoard. As a late-Roman treasure-hoard from East Anglia, it is not unique, but its apparent completeness and the opportunity for careful excavation enhance its importance. The sheer volume of some items is staggering: 15,000 (yes, thousand) coins, 29 pieces of jewellery, and 78 silver spoons, nearly doubling the total number of late-Roman silver spoons known from Britain.
It was on 16 November, 1992 that Eric Lawes, searching with his metal detector for a farmer friend’s lost hammer in a field at Hoxne, Suffolk, came upon the hoard. Most finders of gold and silver “go mad” and dig frantically on and on, destroying archaeological evidence wholesale. Mr Lawes kept his cool. He gathered up the first handful of coins, covered the site, and went home to lunch to think about it. He notified the farmer, and together they notified the landowners, the Suffolk County Council. The Council has its own archaeological tern, and the following day, the hoard was completely excavated. Speed was essential because of press coverage, so many items were lifted en bloc, detailed excavation and recording being completed by the British Museum.
This detailed work, made possible by Mr Lawes’ honesty and good sense, has produced fascinating information about the packing of the valuables. A large wooden box, 60 by 40 by 30 cms with iron fittings, contained smaller boxes, decorated with bone inlay and tiny silver padlocks, very modern in appearance. This was no panic-packing; items were wrapped in cloth, with hay used as packing between vessels. Perhaps a wealthy family, moving to another residence for a spell, stowed its valuables underground during its absence.
Most of the items in the hoard are beautiful as well as valuable, as Ms Johns’ excellent slides illustrated. The silver bust of a Roman Empress is a pepperpot with an ingenious rotating disc on the base to allow the pot to be filled and the pepper sprinkled. There are three more pepperpots in the hoard of similar construction. a 15 cms long prancing silver tigress with inlaid niello stripes is a handle from a large vase. Two tiny silver vases have raised leafy designs. The splendid array of spoons and ladles includes matching sets. The ladles with their deep round bowls and gracefully-wrought handles decorated with engraved scrolls are particularly satisfying. Some of the spoons are delightfully adorned with gilded dolphins and other sea creatures. A set of ten spoons engraved with the name Aurelius Ursicinus will enable research to be undertaken into the ownership of the hoard. The use of the Chi-Rho monogram and the monogram cross indicate Christian worship.
Personal belongings include silver toilet utensils and some very covetable jewellery. Of the 19 gold bracelets, the matching pair worked in reposse with hunting scenes were my favourite, but others of grooved and corrugated sheet-gold or fine pierced-work in geometric or foliate patterns are most attractive. One pierced-work bracelet incorporates in its design the message “Utere Felix Domina Juliane” (use this happily, Lady Juliana). The necklaces of fine chain have animal-head or monogram-cross terminals, but their pendants were not buried with them. The longest and most elaborate chain would have been worn as a body-harness, a fashion illustrated by clay statuettes of the period. It is a very rare find. The 3 finger-rings in the hoard had their glass or gem-stones removed before burial.
The coins (565 gold, 14,191 silver and 24 bronze) include two siliquae of the usurper Constantine Ill which can be dated to 407-8 AD, so the hoard was buried after that date. Much work remains to be done on the coins. and indeed, on other items in the hoard. Such work cannot be rushed nor can it be undertaken while the material remains on display. (It can currently be seen at Ipswich Museum.) We may have to resign ourselves to losing sight of it for a period. When it reappears, fully cleaned and restored, and properly displayed, our appreciation will be the keener, thanks to Ms Johns’ lively, informative and thoroughly enjoyable lecture.
THE DIARIES OF ROBERT HOOKE: The Leonardo of London 1635-1703 by Richard Nichols, published by The Book Guild Ltd, Lewes, £15.00
Richard Nichols’ celebration of the life of Robert Hooke is the result of years of study of the man’s diaries and painstaking background research. The result is a long-overdue recognition of a fascinating man. Without the publication of these diaries, Hooke might only be known for his classic illustration of the structure of a snowflake which was used on a postage stamp, and his picture of a flea used by London Transport in a campaign against fare-dodgers! His unique contributions to scientific development are all around us today; the universal joint, kitchen scales and the iris diaphragm in cameras – to name but a few.
A friend and colleague of Pepys and Wren, over the years Hooke embarked on an astonishing diversity of ingenious experiments, ranging from brick-making to blood transfusion; from meteorology to medicine. These simple experiments led directly to many of the scientific advances of this period. Not only did Hooke directly inspire many of Isaac Newton’s scientific breakthroughs, but he also devised the means by which Christopher Wren could build the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral. Richard Nichols’ book, with its striking reproductions of Hooke’s own illustrations and carefully selected diary extracts is a vivid evocation of domestic, social and scientific life in 17th century England.
Signed copies of the book are available direct from the author: 29 Maxwelton Avenue, Mill Hill, London NW7 3NB
The Westminster Corridor: The Anglo-Saxon story of Westminster Abbey and its lands in Middlesex by David Sullivan, published by Historical Publications, £17.00 Malcolm Stokes
As a visitor to Burgh House over the years, I have been aware that there have been among the permanent exhibits, items from the HADAS West Heath dig and a display about mediaeval Hampstead by David Sullivan. He has now published his findings, not only for Hampstead, but the whole corridor, in a well-presented book of 191 pages with 18 plates and 16 maps in colour, drawn by the author, and these alone provide a new and rich resource for those interested in the history of the area before the Norman Conquest and after. Indeed, the author pledges another volume cover another 350 years to the end of the 14th century. As the corridor includes Hampstead, Hendon, the West End, Westminster, Holborn, Soho, Covent Garden, the Strand, Pimlico, Chelsea, Knightsbridge and Paddington, the author presents himself with a challenging task.
It is the maps which first attract the reader, and these are based on the earliest known sources whether charter or parish boundaries, estate maps or the Victoria County History of Middlesex. These have limitations and the author makes clear to the reader where there are deficiencies in records or unreliable claims from earlier local historians. The author states that he aims to present a straightforward story in the main text and at the same time provides ‘detailed supporting footnotes, with appropriate explanations of issues, points of evidence and details of the sources relied on’ He succeeds in this twofold aim. While many do not like footnotes, I find them most valuable as they not only indicate the strength, or weakness, of specific points, but allow one to follow up references when wanting to pursue one’s own interest in a particular period or place. The first chapter deals with the settlement of Germanic tribes in Middlesex. This is a difficult subject and may lead to some critical examination. However, the author invites a dialogue and provides the opportunity to think and question in an area where few to tread. For example, earlier eminent local historians, such as Madge in 1939, have suggested that the church estates formed a continuous belt around London as deliberate policy by the king. These theories were offered to be questioned then, and are re-examined. It is in the questioning and thought that we are able to increase our awareness and knowledge of this challenging period. Similarly, the often repeated references in our local histories to the forest of Middlesex, so often taken for granted, are here questioned and re-examined.
In a chapter entitled Earth, Wood and Water, the author looks at the geology of the area, the evidence (where it exists) for woodland, and the streams. He traces the courses of the Holeboume or Fleet, the Tyburn and Westbourne and how they were exploited. The administration of the County of Middlesex is considered with an examination of the shire and hundred courts. Then the foundation of the Abbey with its charters, and the question of their being described as forgeries is re-examined.
The use of the Abbey’s Middlesex estates as a source of income as well as their boundaries are described before focussing on Hendon, of which Hampstead then formed a part. The questioning continues with the possible Saxon settlement of Bleccanham, which with Codahhlaw, appears to be ‘lost’ in Hendon.
The authors central interest in Hampstead leads to a re-examination of its charters which have been well publicised over the years in Park’s Topography of Hampstead in 1814 and Barratt’s Annals of Hampstead (1912). The charter boundaries of Hampstead have provided generations of Hampstead historians food for thought and rightly so. David Sullivan is pressing HADAS and English Heritage to investigate the ditch along the boundary of Kenwood and across the Heath and to attempt to date it to these early documents, as the ditch is referred to not only in the Anglo-Saxon charter of AD 986, granting Hampstead to Westminster Abbey, but again on 6 February, 1227, when the estate, now occupied by Kenwood and beyond, was granted to Holy Trinity Priory, Aldgate. Then it was described as ‘wood and heath enclosed on all sides with a ditch in the parish of St Pancras of “Kentisseton”, next the park of the Lord Bishop of London’. Traces of the ditch bounding the park may be seen outside the toilets at the stable block marked by parish boundary stones; two placed in the ditch which has since filled so that only their tops may be seen by English Heritage dog dirt bins. The author develops the story after the Conquest with the early mediaeval history of Hampstead, its demesne farm and land use, and then extends the area to include the whole corridor. The appendices, bibliography and index provide a good working tool for anyone wishing to research the area before the 14th century, and if that is your interest, this is an essential read.
TEMPLES OF SOUTHERN INDIA Peter Pickering
We have just returned from a trip to South-eastern India, led by Richard Blurton of the British
Museum, to see the amazing temples there. The architecture of Hindu temples is very strange to •••
Western eyes. The towers (gopuras) over the entrances to the temple complexes are much the
tallest constructions, those to inner enclosures being smaller than the outer ones; the vimana over the central shrine is lower still, though golden in the richest temples. Walls and pillars are covered with sculpture, sometimes painted with colours that seem garish when new, though they quickly fade in the sun and the monsoon rains. The iconography was very unfamiliar to start with (even though we had read some of the books suggested to us, and had visited the Hindu exhibition in the British Museum earlier in the year), but we came to recognise some of the main deities and the various manifestations of Shiva and of Vishnu, whether on buildings or on the beautiful bronzes in the museums of Madras and Tanjore.
The monuments in the area we visited start with the Pallava period in the 7th century AD, and reach their apogee in the 10th and 11th centuries under the Cholas, whose empire extended as far as Indonesia. Later came the Vijayanagaras, under whom the decoration really exploded, and the Nayaks. Temples are, however, still being built, and are very much in use – one vast pilgrimage centre we visited gets 40.00 a day – and even those which are preserved as ancient monuments often have a few Brahmins to tend the central shrine. Not all temples are grand. There are many naive village shrines, and simple stones striped rd and white mark sacred spots.
We did not see much secular architecture – South India had few maharajas. Most interesting was the palace at Tanjore which housed the library of a ruler at the beginning of the last century, who was very pro-Western and a patron of learning. There, in Dickensian circumstances, were Sanskrit pandits working on palm-leaf manuscripts; it was gratifying to see that they had a microfilm machine to help with their editions. Madras itself has many good buildings of the British period, including various churches like St Martin’s-in-the-Fields. Since you as, it was very hot; we enjoyed the food and did not get ill; and you Cannot catch the plague from reading something written by a person who has been to India.
PASSMORE EDWARDS MUSEUM AND HARLOW MUSEUM Bill Bass
For those members who were thinking of visiting the Passmore Edwards Museum and Harlow Museum in the near future, think again. Passmore Edwards closed (ironically) on National Archaeology Day (10th September). The Victorian building (leaky roof and all) and its collections now have a very uncertain future. Some of the archaeological displays will go to the Museum of London, the rest of it, together with their natural and local history collection, may be bought up by other boroughs. The museum’s archaeological section will now have to become a fully independent, self-financing unit, now known as the Newham Museum Service. It is hoped that they can carry on important work, including various excavations of Bronze/Iron Age brushwood trackways at Beckton, Rainham and Barking (see Newsletter 277), Neolithic sites and the St Mary’s Abbey site (founded 1135) at Stratford Langthorne, which has recently produced many burials, thought to be of monks.
It’s a great shame that a body of important research material (pottery etc) is to be split up, also that Passmore Edwards used to be one of the few units to involve volunteers – this had died the death as well.
Members of HADAS and Barnet Museum inspected a ‘vault’ at Monken Hadley Church. It had probably been rebuilt in the Victorian era as part of a heating system. Although this room was known, three were four graveslabs which had gone unobserved because they were reused for the vault ceiling, another was seen near to the bottom of a wall and may have been the original floor level. These were all duly recorded by members of the museum, some having evidence for brass attachments.
PLANNING APPLICATIONS IN THE NORTHERN AREA Bill Bass
English Heritage have indicated the following sites may be of possible archaeological interest: Hillcrest, Totteridge Village, N20 – near to medieval area
Church Farm, Church Hill Road, East Barnet – near medieval church
162 High Street, Barnet – near to medieval town
Other sites which may be of interest include 10-12 Tapster Street, Barnet and St Martha’s School, Camlet Way, Hadley.
The owner of Pymlico House on Hadley Green, Barnet has asked us to investigate a small mound in his back garden. The main building dates from c1740 and incorporates remains of an earlier structure. A resistance survey will be the first priority, then, depending on the results, perhaps a small excavation.
MORE MEMBER NEWS Vikki O’Connor
As part of the recent Barnet Libraries Week, Mary O’Connell gave a slide-talk at Osidge Library on London Oddities, conducting an armchair tour of the familiar sights – Marble Arch, Trafalgar Square, Lambeth, Westminster, the Tower of London, and (of course!) Clerkenwell. Mary’s ‘oddities’ included the man who used to walk Oxford Street denouncing protein, a Pearly Queen whose mother posed for an inn sign at the Lambeth Walk public house, and Dennis, the wandering cat who belongs to the Dean of St Paul’s. On a local note, Henry Croft, who first had the idea for Pearly Kings and Queens costumes, has a memorial at East Finchley. As for the rest of the talk, it was packed with facts which would make a superb London Quiz – any offers?
LECTURES – CHANGE OF VENUE
For a long time now, the Committee has been considering the high cost of hiring the Hendon Library lecture room. The charge has risen again, with a possible further increase in April. It is a splendid venue, but regrettably the cost forces us to try an alternative. We have booked the Stephens Room at Avenue House, Finchley for our February, March and April lectures, and we will see if it is a viable change.
The hire cost for one lecture at Hendon library is over £50.00 – the hire cost for three lectures at Avenue House will be £57.00. This figure includes a 40% concession reduction, available because of the nature of our society. For some reason, this concession is not applicable to Hendon library hire, though both venues are administered by Barnet Council.
We already rent the small garden room at Avenue House for our library and archives, which absorbs the whole of our fundraising effort at the minimart, plus a further few hundred pounds from subscriptions. The total garden room rent and service charge at present is approximately £1,600 per year. If any member knows of a suitable empty room/rooms or church, shop, industrial, school, social or domestic premises at a lower rent, will they please let us know?
THE SECOND WORLD WAR: SPECIAL EXHIBITIONS IN 1995 IN BARNET AND HENDON Liz Holliday
To mark the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second World War next year, Church Farmhouse Museum and Bamet Museum plan to hold special exhibitions to show how local people lived during the war years. The exhibitions will not be “celebrating” the War in any way – the aim is to show the impact it had on everyday life in the home and garden, at work and school, on travel and entertainment. Both museums will be showing material from their own collections, but if you have anything tucked away – photographs, ration books, cutlery, crockery, posters, booklets, packets, tins, etc – and would be prepared to lend them for display, please contact John Heathfield at Barnet Museum (0181 440 8066) or Gerrard Roots at Church Farmhouse Museum (0180 203 0130).
12th LOCAL HISTORY CONFERENCE, 1995
The theme is Families: People – great and small. The venue is the Winston Churchill Hall, Ruislip. The date is 25 February, 1995. And the tickets cost £4.00. Send a s.a.e to Geoff Saul, Rickmansworth, Herts WD3 2EN (I don’t have more details of the address – he’ll be in the phone book, no doubt (ed) and make the cheques payable to “Rickmansworth Historical Society”.
HAMTUNSCIR Andree Price-Davies
Further to the deritavation of hamtun, “A Natural History of Britain” by M.J. Fleure and M. Davies states that ‘Groups of Anglo-Saxon families often gave their chief’s name to their cluster of farmsteads, its fields and pastureland.” The authors also state that “Ingham and later -ington – “the homestead of the people of” are common names of Anglo-Saxon settlements. Ham went out of use in later centuries. … The commonest Anglo-Saxon suffix came to be -ton. It is possible that – and -ham were used by kinship groups who immigrated together and that -ton was used to describe the neighbourhood unit of less closely related families as settlement expanded and the population increased.” In view of this explanation, that -ham is the family or related group and that -ton is the groups of such families, could the modern derivation of hamtun be “hometown”?