Volume 8 : 2005 – 2009

Newsletter-464-November-2009 – HADAS Newsletter Archive

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Tuesday, 10th November 2009, Bricks and Skeletons: St John the Evangelist Stanmore – 1932 Brick Church Ruin. Lecture by Dr Frederick Hicks.

The Domesday Book of 1086 lists Stanmore as having a priest with half a hyde of land, so presumably there was a church. It is known that there was a Saxon-medieval church, the first church, called St Mary’s. Increase in population led to a second church in 1632, built entirely of brick and named St John the Evangelist after John Wolstenholme, Farmer of Customs to King Charles I. Further increase in population led to a third church in 1850, which is still in current use.

Demolition of the brick church, to sell materials to offset the cost of the new church, was stopped in 1851 after a public outcry. It was left as a roofless ruin, described by Pevsner as “the finest ruin in Middlesex”. Historically involved are John Wolstenholme, Archbishop William Laud, Marquess of Abercorn (Hamilton), Fourth Earl of Aberdeen (Gordon), Prime Minister, Dowager Queen Adelaide and others buried in the churchyard such as W S Gilbert.

Dr Frederick Hicks is a retired GP and Vice-Chairman of the Stanmore & Harrow Historical Society.

Sunday 6th December 2009, 6.30 for 7pm. HADAS has booked the CASA DI LINO restaurant (see in North Finchley for the evening. Apart from a meal (from a special menu), we will have a guest lecturer and/or slides of this year’s trips. Details of the menu are being discussed but will include a choice of starters and main courses. To keep the cost down to around £20 per head, we will not be providing transport to what will be a local event.

Because of possible postal disruption, if you would like to take part, please email or phone Jim Nelhams –, 020 8449 7076, as soon as possible, and not later than 21st November. Details of the menu will be circulated to those responding. The invitation is open to HADAS members and their friends, and we hope that as many as possible will support this celebratory event.

Tuesday 12th January 2010. The Achaeology of Anglo-Jewry in London 1066-1290 and 1656-c.1850.

Lecture by Ken Marks.

Tuesday 9th February 2010. The Trendles Project. Lecture by William Cumber.

Tuesday 9th March 2010. The History of RAF Bentley Priory. Lecture by Erica Ferguson.

Tuesday 13th April 2010. The GWR comes to the Thames Valley. Lecture by John Chapman.

Tuesday 11th May 2010. Graeco-Roman Period Funerary Practices in Egypt. Lecture by John Johnson.

Lectures start at 7.45 for 8.00pm in the Drawing Room, Avenue House, 17 East End Road, Finchley N3 3QE.

Buses 82, 143, 326 & 460 pass close by, and it is five to ten minutes walk from Finchley Central Station (Northern Line).

Hereford Trip DAY 2 Jim Nelhams

Day 2 saw us heading for Worcester. After our first stop at the Royal Worcester Porcelain Museum, people were free to visit a number of places within walking distance. Museum tickets allowed half price admission to several of these, and “pocket money” was distributed on the coach to go towards the remaining costs.

Worcester Porcelain Museum by Sylvia Javes

When we arrived at the museum, we were served with coffee: served, of course in Worcester porcelain cups.

The museum is adjacent to the old Worcester Royal Porcelain factory, which, sadly, had closed down in June, a few weeks before our visit. The factory had been a major employer in Worcester, with crafts being passed down through generations. The museum was originally a reference and resource centre for the factory, with an archive of pattern books as well as collections of porcelain. Fortunately it is an independent trust and owns its own site, so there was no danger to its valuable collections when the factory went into liquidation.

In the mid 18th century, porcelain was imported from China. It was expensive, and the designs were not always suitable for the western market. Worcester Porcelain began in 1751, when Dr John Wall and his partner William Davis, a chemist, produced a fine porcelain in Worcester (porcelain = pure kaolin). A factory was established close to the river, with good transport connections for raw materials and shipping out the products. Early designs copied Chinese products, blue and white porcelain, but this was coarser than the Chinese product, and not durable. Then a better formula was developed, and the company began to prosper. New designs copied English silver: sauce and cream jugs, decorated with coloured Chinese prints. In the mid 1750s painted designs moved away from the Chinese prints. Influenced by Meissen designs, the artists painted flower sprays in soft colours.

The most fashionable background colour was blue, but it was difficult to achieve a perfect solid ground colour, so ‘scale blue’ was developed, tiny blue brush strokes forming the background. This job was done by children. Panels were left white, then filled with flowers, fruit, birds and insects by artists. Among the artists employed were engravers who made the patterns for transfer prints that were used for decoration. The transfers were inked papers that were applied to the porcelain, and then fired, to leave the design behind, and could be left monochrome or filled with colour by artists. Other experts included gilders: much Worcester porcelain is richly embellished with gold.

The museum is a treasure house of Worcester porcelain from the earliest pieces right up to modern ovenware. There are sumptuous dinner services, gilded and painted by skilled artists. In some services, each piece has a different design, for example a tea service with a different British bird on each piece. There are decorative vases and figurines, produced to grace mantelpieces, including a whole series of set pieces depicting American birds. The oven-to-table ware was originally made with gilding, but this was changed to green edging so the porcelain is microwave and dishwasher safe. This is a delightful museum, and would be well worth another visit.

Worcester Cathedral by Sigrid Padel

After our tour of the Worcester Porcelain Museum and lunch al fresco, but in warm sunshine, many of the group assembled for a guided tour of the cathedral. This began in the south transept, where we were joined by our guide, a rather elegant lady whose name, Faith Mountain, seemed very appropriate to her function. Though fairly advanced in years, she impressed us with her knowledge of this building and the love and enthusiasm with which she guided us.

Oswald, Bishop of Worcester from 961, built the first cathedral here, but this was destroyed by the Danes. The next building phase, under Wulfstan, began in 1084. Little of this remains, but we were able to visit the Norman crypt with its four aisles of seven narrow bays divided by a forest of slim round pillars, creating a space which emanates sanctity and peace, even today. Originally an ambulatory encircled the east end. This enabled pilgrims to file round the shrine of St. Oswald, just in front of the altar. Later on Oswald’s body was removed and the east end was blocked off. Though traces of the Norman cathedral survive here and there, the crypt and the chapter house are the only structures which show strong evidence of this style.

Most of the cathedral dates from the 13th and 14th centuries and is remarkable for a feeling of harmony created by its unity of style. Because we could not enter the nave, which was being used for an exhibition, we rather missed out on getting a view of the whole length and magnificence of this Gothic building, but we were able to see some of the remarkable detail and beautiful workmanship in the choir and ambulatory. Our guide pointed out some fine carving in the spandrels, especially in the Lady Chapel. The stained glass, some of it very beautiful, is mainly Victorian.

In the Choir there were some intriguing carved misericords, but unfortunately the lighting was poor and we did not have time to study them in detail. King John’s tomb is in a prominent position here. (Died 1216) He chose to be buried in this cathedral, which he visited often. Though we tend to think of him mainly as the king who had to sign Magna Carta, he appears here in a different light. He was fond of hunting in the nearby forests and loved Worcester. It is known that he venerated St. Wulfstan. A codicil to his will asked that he should be buried in this cathedral. On the north side of the chancel stands the highly decorated chantry chapel of Prince Arthur, elder brother of Henry VIII and first husband of Catharine of Aragon. Aged only 15, he had died at Ludlow Castle and was buried here with great pomp. English history might have run a very different course had he succeeded instead of Henry VIII!

We also visited the 14th century cloister and the Chapter House, the latter sadly being used as a cafe at the moment. It is unique for being the only circular Chapter House in England. The lower half is Norman, with beautiful blind arcading. Traces of paint still visible in places indicate the probably very vividly coloured decoration in its original state. The vaulting is supported by a single column, a design also to be found at Wells and Lincoln. This and the many later windows in the Perpendicular style create a wonderfully light space.

Drama in the Cathedral by Tessa Smith

In the magnificent setting of the Nave of Worcester Cathedral an exhibition of theatrical costume caught my eye. Excavated from the Royal Shakespeare Company, the V&A and film and TV costumiers’ archives, the clothes ranged from those worn by Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh in Macbeth to those worn by Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean

On entering the Nave a procession of slim and modest wedding gowns greeted the eye. Made in light and delicate fabrics of fawn and beige they were dainty and modest. However on closer inspection, and every model deserved close inspection, the needlework involved revealed pleats and plackets, ribbons and bows, embroidery and stitch work, the styles echoing the styles of each period. Costumes worn by Emma Thompson as Elinor Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility, Billie Piper as Fanny Price in Mansfield Park, Charlotte Gainsbourg as Jane Eyre, and even Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice processed down the Nave

The next display was of Royal costumes arranged regally on the steps leading up to the Quire of the Cathedral Rich and colourful clothes worn by some of our most well loved actresses as Queen Elizabeth1, Helen Mirren, Cate Blanchett and Judy Dench displayed huge collars, tightly pointed waists, long and heavy trains, panniers of gold and silver and bodices flashing with jewels. King II, the Duke of Norfolk, Ann Boleyn and Queen Victoria were resplendent in rich embroidery at collar, cuff and hem.

Picking out a few from the next display (over 200 costumes altogether): outfits worn by Renee Zellweger as Beatrix Potter, Meryl Streep as Karen Blixen in Out of Africa, Madonna as Eva Peron and Minnie Driver as Carlotta in Phantom of the Opera made up quite an international cast, “all the world’s a stage”, and somehow the fact that the clothes were displayed on mannequins did not detract from the theatrical atmosphere in the Cathedral. Music from some of these played quietly, enhancing the spirit of the place.

Below the magnificent West Window a dramatic tableau of costumes from Shakespearean plays worn by Kenneth Branagh as Hamlet, Derek Jacobi as Prospero, Donald Sinden as Henry VIII, Glenda Jackson as Cleopatra, Juliet Stevenson as Titania. and Vanessa Redgrave in Taming of the Shrew held the stage Crimson velvet, yellow silk brocade and the occasional twinkle and flash of sequin on Titania’s costume contrasted with sombre leather and dull coarse weave, some clothes being quite subdued, after all the costumes are only props to help the actors portray their characters

A final motley crew from Pirates of the Caribbean and Robin Hood led me towards the exit of this superb exhibition of theatrical costume set in the dignified atmosphere of Worcester Cathedral.

A Chance Meeting in Worcester by Emma and David Robinson

One of the fascinating things about the study trip was how we each have our own stories to tell. Here are a few words from one of ours.

It was mid-afternoon. We were standing near St George’s Square after the funeral service of Private Jason Williams of the Mercian Regiment (who had given his life in the Afghanistan conflict), waiting for the cortege to go by. As it passed everyone began to clap to show their appreciation. It was an impressive and moving civic experience of a community marking their respect and affection for one of their own. Bystanders volunteered their own thoughts to us of what the ceremony had meant to them – remembering young people dear to them who had died young often in tragic circumstances.

Musing on this we walked on towards the High Street. On reaching Worcester Guildhall we encountered two others of our group who said that the mayor had just returned and had spoken with them. We were keen to make a visit to the building since guidebooks had enthused on the subject and not without reason.

The present Guildhall is a splendid Queen Anne building, begun in 1722 by Thomas White, a pupil of Sir Christopher Wren. White was not paid promptly for his efforts. He died in poverty in 1738, however not before assigning the debt owed him to the Worcester Royal Infirmary in his will. This debt was finally fulfilled when the city paid up in 1753. Rather to our surprise as we were looking around the magnificent entrance gallery the Mayor, Councillor Andrew Roberts, emerged from his parlour – and on hearing us exclaim about the splendour of the building invited us into his private rooms to meet the mayoress and for a closer look – particularly at the city regalia. These included the fine 18th century city maces and a 17th century ceremonial sword. He demonstrated how the maces were held and explained that tradition dictates how the position of the mace has to be reversed if the monarch has touched it. Since he had been wearing the mayoral chain this was not yet back in its safe. It is particularly fine and the chain consists of interlinked solid gold ingots. The Mayor and his partner were taking tea – naturally from a Royal Worcester Porcelain tea service.

The Mayor recounted the history of items amongst the earlier regalia which had to be sold to satisfy city debts. The city is lucky to still have this magnificent building since, as the Mayor added, in the 19th century there were plans to demolish the entire building and replace it rather in the style of Manchester’s Gothic Revival Town Hall. The earlier building was apparently retained solely because the Mayor at the time used his casting vote to defeat the proposal. After this the city simply ran out of money so the original Guildhall remains. By chance we had visited Manchester Town Hall – including the Mayor’s Parlour – in May 2009 on the occasion of the investiture of the Lord Mayor. The differences in style (including the regalia and tea services used) were, to say the least, striking.

The Mayor also showed us how Worcester had remembered all of those who had served in the First Wold War – not just those who had made the ultimate sacrifice – this great roll of honour being accommodated behind panelled doors in the entrance gallery. Having thanked the Mayor we then continued with our visit. Of particular note is the Assembly Room occupying almost the whole second floor, veryimpressive with fine decorated ceilings. However, it was the surprise element of the visit that impressed us most, enabling us to get a real feeling for the hospitality and traditions of the city.

The Commandery, Worcester by Vicki Baldwin

When we visited The Commandery, Sigrid Padel and I were not sure quite what to expect. From the outside it didn’t appear to be a particularly large building. We were given handsets and told that we had a choice of six tours to follow, all taking the same route. We were also told that if we wanted to follow all six then it would take us about six hours to complete. An hour to follow one tour seemed a reasonable amount of time, so we stepped through the door into a courtyard surrounded by timber framed buildings. Originally there had been a chapel to Saint Gudwal to which was later added a hospital that grew into two wings joined by the Great Hall. The current buildings dated from the late 15th century and have undergone several changes in use, hence the six different tours to follow. We chose to follow the first tour which covers the early history of the place as a hospital. Other tours dealt with The Commandery’s use as a private house in the 16th century; as a military headquarters in the Civil War, as a Victorian college for the blind and, most recently, as a printers.

The tour started in the Great Hall where there was a display relating the Civil War. One range of rooms related to wealthy living; the other to the life of the ordinary people. In total there were more than thirty rooms. Each room was numbered and had a small information board, but in general they were bare although some had 17th century carved fireplaces. The handsets provided the information. Some rooms had definite functions such as the ‘Games Room’ with its selection of well-made board games, each one appropriate for a period covered by the tours. The ‘Building Room’ had colour-coded plans of the building at the key periods and soft blocks to recreate the layout. Another room had six different ways of producing writing. My favourite was a room with its walls covered in names. Again these were colour-coded to period and were names of actual people who had been associated with the Commandery in its various phases. In the middle of the room was a table with a book that gave a short biography for each name.

Nothing prepared us for the original wall and ceiling paintings that adorn one room. These date from the period of the Hospital of Saint Wulfstan and although restored are impressive, not least for the ceiling painting depicting the Trinity and, unusually, showing the face of God. This room would have been for patients in the hospital to visit to pray for healing.

I’m sure we took more than an hour to complete the tour and could have taken longer. The idea of a series of almost empty rooms coupled with a structured narrative worked very well and had there been more time I would have liked to follow another tour. If I visit Worcester again, I would like to revisit The Commandery.

The Greyfriars, Worcester by Graham Javes

The Greyfriars is a late15th century timber-framed merchant’s townhouse, built about 1480 by Thomas Grene, who later described the building in his will as a ‘tenement and brewhouse’. On the profits of brewing, Grene rose to become High Bailiff in 1493 and 1497. The property was extended in the 17th century, probably by the Street family, when a gallery was built over an archway where previously it may have been open to the elements. The property saw many vicissitudes over the following centuries, the front being converted into several shops in the later 19th and early 20th centuries. There is now no evidence of a medieval Great Hall.

The house has been called The Greyfriars only since the early 20th century when local historians confused the upper floor with a description of the refectory of the Franciscan friary, which once stood nearby andall trace of which had finally disappeared about 100 years earlier. The Greyfriars came into the possession of the Worcestershire Archaeological Society. It was saved from demolition by Mr Matley Moore and his sister Miss Elsie Moore, who restored it on behalf of the society during the war years, resourcefully reusing materials then difficult to obtain. The present furniture, tapestries and decor, much dating from the 17th century, were acquired by the Moores, obtained from other houses, purchases from house-sales and gifts from their many friends in the Archaeological Society. Miss Moore was an artist and needlewoman interested in medieval wall painting and hangings, whilst her brother Matley specialised in churches and church silver, becoming secretary to the Diocesan Advisory Committee. Each was recognised in their field with a fellowship of the Society of Antiquaries. Finally, in 1949 the Moores moved into The Greyfriars, along with their mother, Florence, to live out their lives there.

Concerned at the destruction of the old city in the face of post-war redevelopment, Matley Moore persuaded the Worcestershire Archaeological Society to donate The Greyfriars to the National Trust in 1966.

During our visit to The Greyfriars, we were entertained by two students, who played early English music on replica contemporary instruments in the parlour, and discussed their instruments – the Northumberland bagpipes, a lute and a hurdy-gurdy – ­ with visitors.

Back to Hereford by Jim Nelhams

On our way back to Hereford, we diverted through Malvern Link, where we stopped at a very rare Victorian fluted Pillar Box, one of only four of its type still in use – three of these are in the Malvern area and the remaining one in Solihull. We continued over the Malvern Hills to enjoy the views of the surrounding countryside, which inspired so much of Sir Edward Elgar’s music.

The Finchley Arrow – straight to the point by Stewart Wild

Members, especially those living in Finchley, will be interested in the arrival of a new free community newspaper, the “Finchley Arrow”, edited by Andrew Taylor. Andrew and his wife Pam came on our summer
outing to Broughton Castle, and HADAS gets a mention in the first issue, available now on the internet at

Andrew is an experienced journalist and started the successful community newspaper “The Archer” in East Finchley some fifteen years ago. This latest internet newspaper is non-profit making, non-political and aims to publish monthly.

Calling all standing order payers! By Stephen Brunning

Have you moved home in the last few years? If so, I would be grateful if you could let me have a note of it to check against the membership database. I have come across a few members who have changed addresses that we were unaware of. Writing each year to the people who pay by cheque flags this up, but sometimes contact is lost with standing order payers. Emailing me at would be the best option, as I can also add this information to our list! Otherwise, a telephone call to 020 8959 6419 will suffice. Many thanks.

Excavations in St Martin-in-the-Fields – Report of October lecture by Peter Pickering

Our lecture series opened on Tuesday 13th October with a lecture by Alison Telfer of Museum of London Archaeology on the exciting excavations carried out in advance of and during the recent major refurbishment of the church of St-Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square. The work has included in particular the demolition of Victorian burial vaults to create modern facilities for community use.

The present church, built in the 1720s by the architect James Gibbs, replaced earlier churches of which the archaeologists found no certain trace. What they did find, despite the removal of many archaeological deposits by the construction of the vaults and by the ubiquitous sewers, was evidence of continuous human activity from the earliest Roman times. In the nineteenth century a large number of coffins – after reburial of the bodies – had been dumped in pits; among them was a gold mourning ring dated 1815. From the seventeenth century were cellars. From the sixteenth a wall of uncertain purpose and, beneath that, a burial from the twelfth century. Beneath that again was a high status burial of the seventh century, with a hanging bowl, a small glass ‘palm cup’ (so called because it will fit into the palm of a hand) and amethyst beads. Under the nineteenth century vaults were deep cut Saxon pits, with antler picks, and perhaps a sunken-floor building. The sequence of burials continued with ones from the fifth/sixth centuries, and an early fifth century stone coffin, which had been reused – a few bones from the earlier occupant still being there.

Continuity was implied by the fact that the Saxon burials seemed to have respected the Roman ones. A particularly intriguing find was a tile kiln dated to the first half of the fifth century; what, the excavators wondered, were the tiles used for – was building going on nearby at the very end of the Roman period? Finally, there were traces of a building from the very beginning of the Roman occupation – a late Iron Age farm or perhaps, Alison speculated, a lookout post used by the Roman invaders?

This was a fine start to the lecture season, well presented, well illustrated and about an important site almost on our doorstep.

Postal Strike and e-mail by Mary Rawitzer

Thank you again to everyone who responded to our general request in the last newsletter for e-mail subscribers. Some people still prefer paper, of course and we are happy to keep it that way. However, if it looks as if there will be a serious postal strike we shall be sending this newsletter out by post as usual, but will also try to e-mail it to everyone for whom we have an up-to-date e-mail address.

Cuttings from the papers Submitted by Stewart Wild

The Sunday Telegraph – 3rd October 2009

A piece of a marble statue found at Fishbourne Roman Palace is believed to be depicting the Emperor Nero as a young boy. The stone, which is the right side of the head and lower face, will be scanned to create a computer image of what he may have looked like. The only other known statues of Nero are to be found in the Italian National Museum of Antiquities in Parma, and the Louvre Museum in Paris. The reason so few statues survive is because images of him were destroyed after he was declared an enemy of the state when ousted in a military coup. Although the statue was discovered in 1964, it was previously believed to be that of a British King called Togidubnes, or a member of his family.

Other Societies’ Events Compiled by Eric Morgan

Friday 6th November 12.45 to 1.45pm. Museum of London. London Wall EC2. Avid Antiquarians. Talk by Francis Grew on the Museum’s Roman Sculpture. FREE.

Wednesday 11th November 7.45pm. Mill Hill Historical Society. Wilberforce Centre, St Paul’s Church, The Ridgeway NW7. Christ’s Hospital School (Sussex). Talk by Colin G Bell.

Friday 13th November, 8pm. Enfield Archaeological Society. Jubilee Hall, 2 Parsonage Lane, junction of Chase Side, Enfield. Waltham Abbey Excavations 2008. Talk by Peter Huggins. Visitors £1. Refreshments, sales and info from 7.30pm.

Thursday 19th November 7.30pm. Camden History Society. Burgh House, New End Sq NW3. History of the Blue Plaque Scheme in London. Talk by Howard Spencer.

Friday 20th November 7pm. COLAS. St Olave’s Parish Hall, Mark Lane, EC3. From Ice Age to Essex: excavations on the Essex Gravels. Talk by Pamela Greenwood. Visitors £2. Light refreshments afterwards.

Friday 20th November 7.30pm. Wembley History Society. St Andrews (New) Church, Church Lane, Kingsbury NW9. 176 years of the Oxford Movement. Talk by Rev. John Smith. Visitors £1. Refreshments in interval.

Wednesday 25th November 8pm. Barnet & District Local History Society. Church House, Wood Street, Barnet (opposite museum). AGM.

Wednesday 25th November 7.45pm. Friern Barnet & District Local History Society. St John’s Church Hall, (next to Whetstone Police Station), Friern Barnet Lane, N20. History of Queen Elizabeth Girls School. Talk by Jennifer Johnson. Cost £2. Refreshments before and after meeting.

Thursday 26th November 2.30pm. Finchley Society. Drawing Room, Avenue House, East End Road, N3. Comic & Satirical Edwardian Postcards by Cynicus. Talk by Hugh Garnsworthy. Non-members £2.

Saturday 28th November 10.15am to 3.30pm. Amateur Geological Society. St Mary’s Hall, Hendon Lane N3. Mineral & Fossil Bazaar. Rocks, Crystals, Gemstones and Jewellery. Admission £1. Refreshments.

Monday 30th November to Sunday 6th December. Barnet Borough Arts Council. The Spires (outside Waitrose), High Street, Barnet. Painting & What’s On (including HADAS).