No. 313 Edited by Liz Sagues APRIL 1997
Tuesday April 8: Lecture: Claude Grahame-White and Hendon Aerodrome, by Bill Firth. Bill is a HADAS member and for many years has fought hard to have some of the Aerodrome’s original buildings retained. Flying began at Hendon in 1910, when Claude Grahame-White purchased the field and established a flying school. Grahame-White, Engand’s first certificated pilot, is one of the unsung pioneers of aviation, and among his innovations were navigation methods which proved, for the time, entirely practical — he advised following railway lines and dropping low to read the station names! Between the wars, he even persuaded the railway companies to paint the stations’ names on their roofs! In 1911 the first official Air Mail was flown from Hendon to Windsor. Come to the lecture and learn more…
Tuesday May 13: Morning tour of the Garrick Club, with Mary O’Connell.
Tuesday May 13: Annual General Meeting. Attractions beyond the boring business are planned:
Bill Firth’s lecture and the AGM are in the Drawing Room (ground floor) at Avenue House, East End Road, Finchley, N3, starting at 8pm for 8.30pm. Members can also take the opportunity to visit the HADAS library.
Saturday June 7: Outing to Chedworth Roman Villa and Cirencester.
September 4 – 7: Weekend in York. We are fully booked for this, with a short waiting list. Members are welcome to add their names to this list if they wish.
News of members
Among the welcome rush of membership renewals was a note from Louise de Launay, widow of Jules, who left Edgware in 1977 and in recent months moved to just outside Canterbury from whence she sends her best wishes to HADAS. We reciprocate with just a tinge of envy as she describes her surroundings in glowing terms — the magnolia and fruit trees, nearby river and birdlife…
Helen Gordon is now back home from hospital and recovering after a third fall. She has broken a shoulder, one hip and then the other — there can’t be too many more bones left to break. Seriously, though, we wish her all the very best ‘and hope she will be mobile soon.
Ted Sammes is getting stronger and is taking part in a few local archaeological meetings and events when friends can give him a lift.
Victor Jones is also progressing and can now do his own shopping with the aid of an ingenious three-wheeled support which he can steer and brake. Believe it or not, he has started driving again.
Miss Sheldon (Shelley) moved away several years ago but will be remembered by many members for her happy disposition on nearly all our outings and lectures. She is a great age now but still writes interesting letters to Renata Feldman, sometimes with suggestions for HADAS outings.
Julius Baker, probably our most senior member —in his 90th year — should be in the Guinness Book of Records. He is an energetic participant at lectures and on outings, and is at present on a three-month trip to Africa. He was born in South Africa, and now after many years exile in England he has returned to his native continent to see many places he has never visited.
Flying to Johannesburg, he is going on to the Okavango delta and anticipates paddling a boat down the streams. Then it’s on to Chobe, Angola and Botswana. Etopsha, north of Namibia, is a wet area swarming with birds and wild animals. In the desert sands of Namibia and Angola he will see the tallest sand dunes in the world and large canyons second only to the American Grand Canyon. Basutoland and Swaziland are also on his itinerary, then he will go down to the Cape coast where the largest diamond deposits are mined.
We admire his enthusiasm and look forward to his safe return in time for our own archaeological excursions in the summer.
Following in the footsteps of the late Brigid Grafton Green, whose contributions to HADAS and to preserving and promoting the history of Hampstead Garden Suburb will be ever remembered, another HADAS member, Ann Saunders, has become chair- man of the Suburb Archive Trust. Harry Cobb, CBE, has taken on the duties of archivist.
The Trust was founded in 1979 to collect and preserve documents and other items relating to the history of the Suburb. Since then it has built up an extensive and valuable collection of material and objects, much of which has been transferred to the Greater London Record Office for professional conservation, protection and cataloguing. The Trust will retain ownership of, and control over, the material, which will be available either in original form or copy for display on special occasions on the Suburb and elsewhere.
The Archive Trust remains committed to its original task, and invites Suburb residents and others to contribute, or make available for copying, relevant material. The Trust has a limited budget and gratefully receives gifts of books, etc, connected with the Suburb’s history and architecture.
Enquiries, addressed to The Institute, Central Square, NW11, will receive careful attention.
The great outdoors
There may just still be time to catch the spring exhibition at Church Farmhouse Museum, Greyhound Hill, Hendon. “Hidden places and secret spaces in Barnet” is the theme of Our Suburban Countryside, which runs until April 6. Information has been drawn from the surprisingly large number of local organisations with interests in the countryside to provide details of walks, trails, nature reserves, bird-watching and other more esoteric activities such as bat-counting.
Coming next at the museum is The Splendour of Heraldry, a display put together by the North East Middlesex Heraldry Society. If you thought heraldry concerned only those whose names are in Debrett’s, this exhibition — which takes in pub signs and company logos as well as more formal armorial bearings — should be a revelation. For more details, ring the museum on 0181-203 0130.
Back in order
Numerate members will have spotted that this Newsletter and its predecessor do not carry successive numbers. We’ve skipped over No. 312. The reason is — as those same members no doubt also noticed —that two issues appeared last summer with the same number, and we’re now putting the sequence right.
To those members who added a little extra to their fee this year, thank you (on behalf of all).
Our total membership for 96/ 97 passed the 300 mark, and we welcome those who have joined since Christmas — Robert and Eveleen Wright, Pauline Plant and Susan Whitford.
We would very much like to hear from members pursuing research of any type for, possibly, a new item or short article in the Newsletter, or purely for information should other members be involved in a similar project.
By the way, Andy Simpson’s publication of the cartoon of an irate female, together with a warning about getting your renewals in, appears to have worked! So I’ve hung up the ceremonial sword for another 12 months. On the other hand, if we don’t see a good attendance at lectures, it can always come vs” down again.
Vikki (don’t call me Salome) O’Connor
Even the impeccably efficient Dorothy Newbury is a victim of printing and other gremlins occasionally. So she offers her apologies to the member whose Newsletter had two blank pages, and another whose envelope failed to contain the promised 1997 programme card. Anyone suffering similar problems should ring Dorothy (0181-203 0950) and matters will be promptly put right.
A commemorative role …
Wanted: a member with time on his or her hands to update the HADAS publication Blue Plaques in Barnet. A list of the additions has already been made, with details. Some need a black and white picture to accompany the text. If necessary, there is a member who could help with the photography. If you’re interested and don’t have a copy of Blue Plaques, one can be supplied for your guidance. Anyone willing to volunteer should phone Dorothy Newbury on 0181-203 0950.
Janet Faraday, a very long-standing member and a regular at lectures, outings and Christmas dinners, died on March 11 at the Royal Free Hospital. Although she had been receiving medical treatment for a year or so she entered hospital only a few days before her death. We shall all miss her happy, friendly, helpful disposition. She was a descendant of pioneer electrical engineer Michael Faraday (pictured on the £20 note) and arranged a HADAS visit to the Royal Institution last year in commemoration of her illustrious relative.
Sacred sites, ancient on modern
Andy Simpson reports on the February lecture, A History of Hertfordshire
An audience of some 30 members enjoyed a typically entertaining Tony Rook presentation and took the opportunity to browse through some of Tony’s excellent publications. Indeed, these notes are based in part on one of his Nutshell Notebook series — a splendid 50p-worth if ever there was one, covering the salient points of the lecture and illustrated with maps.
Tony, of course, excavated the Roman bathhouse now displayed under the Al at Welwyn visited in the past by HADAS — and after describing himself as “archaeology’s foremost fornacator” (a bath-house slave) launched into his lecture, with his motto “entertain, amuse, inform” to the fore. This he certainly did.
For much of its history Hertfordshire was a place that grew things for use elsewhere or provided services for people travelling through. Tony pointed out how radial routes to London cut the county north-south. Moving east-west across it was much harder. County Council meetings used to be held in London as it was the easiest place for everyone to get to!
Until very recently Hertfordshire was entirely agricultural. Earliest occupation had been on the chalk uplands, with the heavy, forested clay lowlands mainly in the south of the county cleared and ploughed only in the Iron Age. London breweries were once supplied by malt grown in the “champagne country” of southern Hertfordshire.
The county’s early occupiers are represented by Britain’s easternmost long barrow, at Royston Therfield Heath, this religious monument of pre-
historic times now surviving on a “sacred site” of the modern age —a golf course. The county also has many ring-ditched barrows, frequently ploughed out. The Iron Age Belgae had a fortified place — a 120-acre plateau fort — at Wheathampstead, where Caesar may have fought Cassivellaunus in 54BC, with a boundary ditch to the north of their territory 100 feet across and 30 feet deep even today. After 43BC the Belgae spread their settlement to the gravel plateaux, represented by Tony’s effort with his Nikon, “2,000 years at f22”, to photograph the Iron
Age Welwyn Garden City (aka Butser). There are 15 Iron Age farms known in Welwyn — as always, Tony remarked, distribution maps plot active archaeologists!
Then came the Romans: “with poor steering gear on their chariots, hence the straight roads”. Most villas were on the light, chalky soils around Verulamium, with parts of the county not cultivated until the Dark Ages. A slide of a reconstructed settlement from that period illustrated the “biodegradable Saxons” with their timber and thatch leaving little evidence. The 1086 Domesday survey, however, provides a snapshot of late Saxon Hertfordshire, with an explosion of settlement in the north east of the county, quite empty in Roman times.
The Normans imposed control with castles such as Berkhamsted, while south of St Albans many stretches of forest took over previously cultivated ground. After the Black Death, wages and rent replaced feudal dues. Later, the first-ever toll road was built in Hertfordshire, with Rodwell having the first turnpike stretch. Most roads remained as radial routes. The Reading road was known as the “gout track” as sufferers headed for the healing waters of Bath.
The first canal, the New River, took drinking water—not boats—from Amwell Spring to London in the 17th century. The Grand Union (later Grand Junction) Canal and, from 1838, the London to Birmingham Railway, brought the industrial revolution to the west of the county first. The mills and maltings have all now gone or have been converted into desirable commuter homes. The 19th century saw women attain financial independence as straw hat-makers, earning more than their agricultural labourer menfolk. Later Ebenezer Howard suggested bringing housing and industry together in Garden Cities such as Letchworth and Welwyn to avoid commuting. Post-war, the Government introduced new towns such as Stevenage.
All in all this was a fascinating and enjoyable lecture — Tony certainly did “entertain, amuse, inform”.
Whither archaeology in the 21st century?
Sheila Woodward, HADAS representative on the CBA, reports on a crucial discussion
At the Winter General Meeting of the Council for British Archaeology, held in York on February 2.7, there was a wide-ranging discussion on British archaeology’s future and what the CBA should be doing to publicise its needs. It is difficult to summarise such a lengthy and comprehensive debate (a full report will be published by the CBA in due course) but the matters discussed were grouped under five main headings.
National policy and sustainability
There was considerable criticism of lack of coordination and consequent variation of standards of facilities, expertise and funding between different areas. Growing archiving problems must also be tackled.
Quality of work being done
Archaeology still lacks adequate status. The growing commercialisation (competitive tendering) can result in excavation by teams with good technical skills but a lack of local knowledge. The increasing range of technologies is complicating training. There was also criticism of the lack of monitoring of excavations, and of the whimsicality of Lottery funding!
Attenuation of local government archive services Local government reorganisation has often proved disastrous for archaeology, and the importance of “educating” local councillors was stressed. The future of archaeology in universities
There was some difference of opinion about the content of university archaeology courses as many students do not intend to become practical excavators.
Public participation and communication
These were recognised as increasingly important and could be valuable assets in improving the status of archaeology.
There was some criticism of the general tone of the debate as being too pessimistic and failing to appreciate the enormous improvements achieved in recent years. The final resolution accepted that criticism.
The wording of the resolution, passed in great haste as time had run out, was amended so often that I cannot transcribe it accurately! However, the gist of it was that, while recognising the large advances made in archaeology in the last 30 years and welcoming the prospects offered by new sources of funding, the Council must press for increased visibility of the subject, draw public attention to threats, refocus the understanding of the needs for studying the subject, and seek to re-establish a common sense of purpose within the discipline.
A window on Victorian attitudes to philanthropy
HADAS member Douglas Morgan has moved south in his study of great stained glass windows. Following his monograph Windows on Crathie (the Deeside church where Queen Victoria was a frequent worshipper), reviewed in the March 1995 Newsletter, comes Great West Window, a study — with fine coloured illustrations — of the Victorian west window in the chapel of King’s College, Cambridge.
Douglas Morgan explains that the west window had been included in the original Tudor plan for stained glass throughout the chapel, depicting scenes from the Old and New Testaments. But for some reason — and debate still rages over quite what that reason was — work stopped short, and plain glass was inserted instead.
Even when the offer of a 19th century benefactor Francis Edmund Stacey, a former Fellow of the college, to complete what had been intended was accepted, realisation of his generosity was no simple or easy matter. There was the question of the initial design, on “a triumphant hymn of praise”, by the respected firm of Clayton and Bell. The Provost and Fellows of King’s found it too modern, incorporating events which post-dated the Bible.
Even the replacement design, on Stacey’s original favoured theme of the Last Judgement, had its problems— nudity among the condemned souls was disapproved of, and was the Archangel not overarmed? Finally, after revisions, it was approved, but the disputes and delays carried on, particularly as a result of Clayton and Bell’s request to display the window, before installing it in Cambridge, at the Paris Exhibition of 1878.
The detailed story of all this makes intriguing reading, and opens its own window on the complications of Victorian philanthropy — not a million miles away from those which surround today’s Lottery benefactions.
Great West Window is offered to HADAS members at the special price of £2, plus 75p post and packing. 6° Cheques to Arabesque Publications, 12 Wildwood Grove, NW3 71111 (0181-455 3513).Happy birthday, Hampstead’s saviours
April 7 1897 was an important day for local history in North London. It saw the formation of the Hampstead Heath Protection Society (now the Heath and Old Hampstead Society) and marked the beginning of a magnificent, continuing effort to protect, preserve and enhance a very special part of North London.
Since that day the society has extended its protective role beyond the boundaries of the Heath —now four times its original area, largely thanks to the society — to cover Hampstead Town (“Village” is a description applied by newcomers!) and has dedicated enormous effort to save the area from sacrifice to the god car, to fight ugly and unneeded development, to support useful shops, to restore appropriate street furniture and generally to keep Hampstead and the Heath the way everyone loves them.
A programme of events is under way to celebrate the birthday, with highlights including exhibitions at Burgh House (now on) and Kenwood (opening in June), lectures and concerts. And in September the restoration of the Chalybeate Well in Well Walk— one of the famous wells of Hampstead, which brought the Town its initial repute — will be marked by a ceremony in honour of Christopher Wade, Hampstead’s best-known local historian, founder with his late wife Diana of Hampstead Museum, and for many years a HADAS member.
The centenary is being marked, too, by publication of a book, A Constant Vigil, which features selections from 100 years of the society’s annual reports, a fascinating insight into the issues which have made the headlines in Hampstead. Proceeds from sales of the book will help the society continue its work. Copies cost £9.95 from Burgh House or local bookshops.
There was industrial activity on Hampstead Heath after mesolithic man’s tool-making —brick-making in the 19th century. In this article, reproduced from the Heath and Old Hampstead Society’s Newsletter, geologist Eric Robinson explains where and why.
A source of bricks for building the terraces
It. may be difficult to believe that between 1866 and the end of the century there was an extensive brickfield on the west side of the Heath, stretching from the Viaduct down the valley of the Hampstead Ponds. It was an enterprise generated by Sir Thomas Maryon Wilson to allow John Culverhouse, a local builder, to make the bricks needed for the extended terraces of the Village.
Geologically, the ground of the brickfield was underlain by London Clay overlain by silts and clays of the Claygate Beds. Together they make an excellent blend of materials for brick-making. When fresh and unweathered, London Clay is rich in iron pyrites (sulphide) which changes to sulphate on exposure to air. Sulphate takes the form of crystals of gypsum—liable to cause bricks to burst when they are fired in a kiln.
On the Heath, the clay was dug by hand, and cut from terraces notching the hillslopes below the Viaduct. It was then left to be washed by rain to flush out the gypsum. Then it could be blended with the fine silts of the Claygate Beds together with the brickearth (wind-blown silt from the top surface of the Heath).
Many of the bricks were fired in very simple kilns. if the wind was in the east, the reek of sulphur smoke must have hung heavily over Hampstead.
The product was a yellowish stock brick. The outer bricks of the kiln often fused together to form distorted blocks with glazed surfaces which we often see in garden walls in Hampstead.A well-known photograph of 1880 makes it clear that clay was cut over both sides of the valley (really the headwaters of the River Fleet) at the height of the workings. It would be difficult to identify the area in the present landscape. The benches and terraces have been levelled; the football field occupies the uppermost level. Elsewhere, the thick and tangled vegetation of the valley above the Mixed Bathing Pond and again towards the Vale of Health may indicate deep disturbance of the ground. Like the sand-pits of Sandy Heath and the Spaniards Road, the disappearance of the brickfield is evidence of the speed with which nature colonises open space and broken ground. Ecologically, this is an area of the Heath given over to invasive species.
· Next lecture in the Barnet and District Local History Society programme is Sir John Soane and His Collection, by Helen Dorey. The amazing “cabinet of curiosities” put together by Sir John, architect of the Bank of England and other notable buildings, is preserved for the nation by the Act of Parliament he instigated, and can be seen at his home in Lincoln’s Inn Fields — one of the most fascinating small museums in London. The lecture is in the Wyburn Room, Wesley Hall, Staplyton Road, Barnet, at 7.45 for 8pm.
· Enfield Archaeological Society holds its AGM on April 18, with reports of fieldwork and research following the business. The meeting is at Jubilee Hall, junction of Chase Side and Parsonage Lane, Enfield, 8pm. Visitors are asked to contribute 50p.
· Industrial Archaeology, described by John Boyes, will be the subject of the Finchley Society’s April meeting, on the 24th. The location is the same as for HADAS meetings — the Drawing Room at Avenue House — and the start time is 7.45pm.
Calling all juniors
Junior members are invited by the British Museum to attend its Archaeological Open Day on April 23. The subject is Archaeology in the Near East, and the day which is free — is intended for sixth formers and interested year 11 students. It offers an introduction to the archaeology of Mesopotamia and Western Asia in general. There will be lectures, workshops and gallery visits, plus presentations by universities offering degree courses in Near Eastern archaeology. For tickets, apply to the British Museum Education Service, London WC1B 3LA (0171-323 8511/8854).
What the papers say…
“Archaeologists have located the site of the ‘forgotten battle of 1066.” The battle for London, almost three months after William’s victory at Hastings, is thought to have been fought just within the walls of the Roman city, at the junction of Cheapside and the Folkmoot, a meeting place long buried under the northern edge of St Paul’s Cathedral. (Sunday Times)
“The fossilised skeleton of an carnivorous amphibian dating from the Triassic Period has been hailed by palaeontologists as one of the most significant finds in Australia this century.” The fossil, of a fearsome creature more than 6ft long and equipped with enormous teeth, has been dated at 220 million years old, about 10 million years older than the earliest dinosaur. (Daily Telegraph)
“The Mildenhall treasure, a magnificent hoard of Roman silver plate supposedly dug up 50 years ago in East Anglia, may have been illegally imported by American troops immediately afterthe second world war.” Dr Paul Ashbee, formerly a lecturer in archaeology at the University of East Anglia, suggests it may have been looted by American troops in Europe, flown to the Mildenhall airbase, passed to a local antiquities dealer and declared to the authorities only under pressure, the dealer claiming to have dug it up locally. Dr Ashbee claims British Museum curators knew of the treasure’s doubtful provenance, but were unable to question it to for fear of instigating a diplomatic row and risking their jobs. (Sunday Tim–es)
“Two-thousand-year old graves containing daggers and long swords may be proof that the legendary women warriors, the Amazons, existed on the Russian steppes.” The archaeologists’ find fits with the location and date of Herodotus’s identification of the Amazons. (The Independent)
Notice of AGM
The Annual General Meeting of the society will be held at 8.30pm on Tuesday May 13, 1997 at Avenue House, East End Road, Finchley, N3. Coffee will be available from 8pm.
Nominations for officers and members of the committee must be submitted to me on the nomination form below, to reach me no later than May 6, 1997. The consent of your nominee(s) must be obtained in writing before submitting their name(s).
Resolutions submitted by members for consideration at the AGM must be received by me not later than April 22, 1997.
The ‘traitor’ who found sanctuary in Mill Hill
When the War of Independence broke out in 1775 three brothers who held large landed estates in York County, Pennsylvania, sided with the loyalists, supporting the British. When a year later independence was achieved they found themselves held to be traitors. All had their property confiscated. William Rankin, a colonel, was arrested and imprisoned in York jail, from which he escaped and fled to England, as did his other brother.
A few weeks before the Declaration of Independence in 1776 the third brother, James Rankin, aged 45, had been elected to the Pennsylvania Assembly. Now he was accused of misrepresenting and insulting the Whig Committee of York County. Though he is said to have confessed, asked forgiveness, and promised to behave as a good citizen, he too was deprived of his property and fled to New York. There he served as chairman of the Board of Refugees which dealt with the large numbers then emigrating from America to Canada and to this country.
When James Rankin himself crossed to England we do not know, but in 1787 he came to live in Mill Hill. Perhaps he had met his neighbour Michael Collinson, Peter’s son, who is said to have strongly condemned the “unnatural ingratitude of America”. Despite his losses he must still have been a man of means, for he purchased the substantial residence of Littleberries on the Ridgeway with the neighbouring house of Jeannettes, with a total estate of 22 acres. He would seem to have let Littleberries soon afterwards to Thomas Kerr, while he lived with his wife Ann in Jeannettes.
For the year 1793 Rankin took the office of an Overseer of the Poor for Hendon and it is interesting to note that in that year £3 18s Vzd was spent on repairing the windows, roof, floors and plaster of the almshouses at the top of Milespit Hill.
While James Rankin was in Mill Hill a small part of his estate in America was restored to a son and daughter, and it is said that the British Government compensated the brothers for their losses. James Rankin died in 1803, aged 72, but his widow continued to live in Jeannettes for another 27 years, dying there at the age of 83 in 1830. They were both buried in St Mary’s churchyard, Hendon.
• Mill Hill Historical Society member Wendy Davis has produced a poster illustrating the doorways of all the listed buildings in Mill Hill. Copies are available from her at 41 Victoria Road, NW7 4BA (0181-959 7126) for £3.90 plus postage.