Newsletter 223: October, 1989 Editor: Brigid Grafton Green
What’s on for HADAS
Opening lecture of the winter season, Excavations at Piddington Roman Villa by Roy Friendship-Taylor, who is Chairman of the Upper Nene Archaeological Society and has been digging at Piddington every weekend for ten years not to mention two weeks every summer. The site was originally discovered by a local vicar with a metal detector, who dug holes as and where he listed. Fortunately a field worker recognised its potential and reported it to the local society before too much damage had been done.
An outing to Piddington is planned for 1990.
Sat Oct 21. Conservation Fair, organised by Herts & Middx Wildlife Trust at Church House, Wood Street, Barnet, 10am-3pm. HADAS is manning an information table at which we will publicise the work of the society and show our publications. Volunteers to help with this would be much appreciated. If you could make some time that day – even an hour. or two – please ring Christine Arnott on 455 2751.
Tues Nov 7. Lecture on Prehistory in Greater London by Jon Cotton
Sun Nov 19. HADAS members are cordially invited by the Herts & Middx Wildlife Trust to join in a walk along the Mutton Brook, through Big Wood and part of the Garden Suburb and so onto the Hampstead Heath Extension. Meet at Henly’s Corner (opposite the Express Garage), NW11 at 10.30 am. The walk will be led by Michael Holton, whose interest in conservation includes curiosity about the farthest extent of the ice advance in the last Ice Age – popularly considered by some to be “to the line of the North Circular Road” and by the lighter-hearted as “stopping at the lights at Henly’s Cornerl”
Tues Dec 5. Southwark Cathedral and Christmas Dinner at “The George.” (Application form enclosed).
Tues Jan 2. Presidential Address on “The Archaeology of Ritual and
Magic – a study of Survival and Re-interpretation” by our new President, Ralph Merrifield. The subject is one which Mr Merrifield has made particularly his own, having published a book on it in 1987 and lectured on it to LAMAS last December. The few HADAS members who heard his LAMAS lecture were unanimous in hoping that he would choose the same subject for his Presidential address – so we can count ourselves lucky. We thought you might like advance notice of the event so that you can mark the date in your (new) diary. Come along and meet the President on this, his first visit.
Lectures are held at Central Library, The Burroughs, Hendon, NW4, 8 for 8.30 pm. We like to welcome our new members personally, so if you are new, please make yourself known to someone who is rushing round looking harassed – it’s bound to be a Committee members
For information on outings, lectures and walks, please ring the Programme Secretary, Dorothy Newbury, on 203 0950.
CALLING OUR BLUFF
Someone famous probably said – or if he didn’t, he ought to have done – that one thing which differentiates man from the apes is the ability to laugh at himself. That’s why I suggest you might enjoy “Bluff Your Way in Archaeology” – a small-book, only 7 x 44 ins, unillustrated but the best £1.95worth I have spent for a long time. It is one of a series of Bluffer’s Guides (published by Ravette Books, 3 Glenside Estate, Star Road, Partridge Green, Horsham, West Sussex), which cover about 30 wildly diverse subjects, such as Amsterdam, Banking, High Society and Seduction. For keenest enjoyment you need to know a bit about the subject you choose from their highly individual list.
Starting from the premise that “anyone who takes up archaeology is, or has to become, a consummate bluffer,” the author, Paul Win (said to have “decided at an early age he wanted to be an archaeologist since it seemed to be better than working for a living”) leads you through 60 pages of the kind of bluff needed to deal with every archaeological situation. Here are a few of his gems:
“Never let the fact that nothing is really known about past events stand in your way: instead, use it to your advantage. Some eminent archaeologists have built their entire careers upon convincing bluff.”
“You should know that rather than being carefully planned from the start, most digs muddle along by trowel and error.”
“It is advisable … to get as much information as you can about what lies beneath the surface before you start digging. This helps to avoid the embarrassment of (a) finding you’re digging in the wrong place; (b) not finding anything; (c) finding far
more than you were prepared for ………………………….. Failure to check out a
site adequately led one British archaeologist … to dig his way down into the London Underground …”
“Computer printouts, maps and diagrams make your reports look terrifically impressive and professional and have the extra advantage that they usually deter readers from examining your evidence very closely.”
“Diggers need strong knees in order to cope with long hours working bent legged on planks or subsoils: being a Catholic. or Japanese is useful …”
“There are a few fundamental laws in archaeological excavation with which you should be familiar: (1) the most interesting
part of the site will be under your spoilheap (2) the most
important find will turn up on the last day or when you are pressed for time and funds .,.”
“It is advisable … even if you have a pronounced sense of the absurd, to appear to take the past very seriously. After all it’s the only one we’ve got.”
“One basic rule in archaeollgical publishing is … to fill your work with ‘maybe,’ ‘perhaps’ and ‘possibly.’ This enables you
to make an-orderly and dignified retreat …………………………………. Another way to
sidestep criticism is to make your prose so obscure and tortuous that nobody, including yourself, is quite sure … what you have been saying …”
“Ethnoarchaeology: one of the latest branches of the subject, this is an excellent means of getting an exotic adventure holiday in a remote location …”
“New Archaeology … Bluffers can take comfort from the fact that
the title itself is bluff. It is really Old Archaeology dressed up with jargon and presented with … pomposity.”
Finally, there is a delicious glossary. One or two items taken from it have been slipped in between the more serious items in the rest of this Newsletter – so if you find yourself chuckling at an irreverent quotation, assume it comes from “Bluff Your Way …”
In case anyone is thinking that members of the HADAS Committee sit around all day contemplating their navels, here is a brief update on what has been happening lately on several sites of interest in the Borough.
Rosebank Cottage, The Ridgeway, Mill Hill
A call from Philip Wilson of Barnet Planning Department last week informed us that a well had been discovered here during building work. Rosebank is a 17c timber-framed, listed building which carries a Blue Plaque. It was used as a Quaker Meeting House between 1678-1719.
Bearing this in mind, we thought that the well might also prove to be 17c., so John Enderby shot off post haste to examine it. He reports that the site was formerly used as a pig farm and suggests that the ‘well’ may be the repository for highly undesirable substances which come out of pigs. As the ‘well’ is not under any immediate threat, it was decided with unseemly haste to put it on the back boiler while more urgent rescue work was carried out at other sites.
The Mitre, 58 High Street, Chipping Barnet
Yes, we haven’t forgotten the Mitre – how could we? It has been haunting us like Banquo’s spectre for at least 18 months. Work began on the interior renovation of this listed building some weeks ago.
After numerous ‘phone calls to Benskins Brewery, Brian Wrigley, Jennie Cobban and John Heathfield finally managed to gain access to the premises to see what was going on, only to find that work had been suspended by Barnet Council as the brewery had not received listed building consent.
However, various floorboards had been lifted for rewiring purposes and
redecoration was taking place, so we decided to risk life and limb and take a look around. A workman accosted us. “Did you see the painting?” he enquired.
Twitching a little, we asked him to elaborate. He told us that an original upstairs wall had been stripped to the plaster, on which had been painted the design of a castle surrounded by small flowers and ‘vines,’ the whole being enclosed within a circle. The ‘painting’ was incomplete, as it disappeared behind walls added at a later date.
The room had just (literally within a few hours) been papered and repainted, so we were left wondering what we had, in fact, missed. A child’s scrawl with crayon of 20c date? A fragment of a 17c wall painting? We won’t find out the answer until the wall is stripped again – probably in about a hundred years’ time.
A shock awaited us on Sept 7. The company now developing the rear of the Mitre, Brinsden & Co, phoned to say that HADAS could begin to excavate wherever and whenever it wanted. Shock, horror – was it a trick? Apparently not, and Victor Jones and Brian Wrigley marked out a trial trench on the site on Sept 13.
By the time you read this two brave, unfortunate souls will (hopefully) have broken up the surface with a form of pneumatic drill (thanks for that to Philip and Graham Willcocks, able-bodied sons of Doreen Willcocks of Barnet & District Local History Society) and we will take it from there. Watch this space for results of the investigation.
Church Farm School, Church Hill Road, East Barnet
Gillian Gear, a well-known East Barnet historian, drew our attention to this potentially important site after subsidence revealed what appeared to be a well.
The site lies very close (about 19m) south of St Mary’s Church, East Barnet, which is considered to date from approximately 1140. It is potentially important because East Barnet has been listed as a possible deserted medieval village, although opinions as to the exact location of the dray (and indeed its very existence) are conflicting. Rumours also abound of a medieval manor house and rectory lying ‘near to the church’. It was therefore decided to take the opportunity for archaeological excavation, as the site seemed to have exciting possibilities. All very vague – but still possibilities.
The historians are now engaged in extensive research into the site, and excavations have been underway for three weeks. It’s an odd dig in many ways – William Griffiths of British Heritage (not to be confused with-English Heritage, a very different beast) keeps providing cups of tea, tidying up and generally looking after all the volunteers. This is very nice: Barnet Council’s Education Department has also given much encouragement, and we have the full approval and co-operation of the head teacher of the school, part of whose premises we are busily digging up.
It is a little early to report on discoveries at the site. Victor Jones, Brian Wrigley and a loyal band of navvies comprising members of HADAS„ Barnet & District LHS and the East Barnet Residents’ Association are at present examining the foundations of Victorian cottages which once stood on the site and which seem to have formed at one time part of the laundry of the Boys School. A William IV (1830-37) silver sixpence was discovered in the rubble of the cottages. It was amusing to see this find described as a 17c coin in a local press report. The dome of the well, which first drew attention to the site, has now been exposed and photographed.
As yet, we have found no evidence of medieval occupation of the site, and trenches are at present being extended northwards towards the church. Again, watch this space for news of further discoveries.
“Hypocaust: a floor under which hot air circulates and heats the room above. The meeting place of any symposium of archaeologists constitutes the perfect example.”
Victorian and Edwardian Hampstead by Alastair Service Historical Publications £9.95
This 88-page, beautifully illustrated book – written by someone who patently loves his subject and knows it like the palm of his hand – consists of two walks around Hampstead, in which every architectural beauty is relished and every quirk of the many famous architects concerned is lovingly detailed. Even though neither walk enters our Borough, the book is full of interest for anyone who knows the south of LBB, so many of the architects who did Hampstead proud towards the turn of the last century nipped across what was then the Hendon/Hampstead border to add their artistry to houses in Hendon’s (now Barnet’s) Hampstead Garden Suburb – Guy Dawber, Quennell, Ernest George, to mention a few.
Royalties from the book are to be divided between the Victorian Society (of which the author is a stalwart) and Burgh House, which has just celebrated its tenth birthday. That’s a local museum dear to many HADAS hearts for several reasons: we once had a notable Christmas party there; the museum staged the first exhibition on the West Heath dig; the Curator, Christopher Wade, is an old friend who has led us on Hampstead walks; and his daughter Joanna has been a faithful HADAS member since her schooldays.
There will be, by the way, a Tenth Birthday Show at Burgh House from Oct 7-Dec 17, which will look back on some of the 60 exhibitions held there in the last decade.
Historical Publications, should you want to order by post, are a local outfit – write to them at 54 Station Road, New Barnet, Herts.
“Culture: archaeological term for regional groups of similar artifacts, often equated with different peoples. Also that which grows on mugs and plates in the excavation hut.”
ALL ABOUT MEMBERS
It’s always great to be able to start this part of the Newsletter with some heart-warming news. One of our nicest (and prettiest) members, MARION NEWBURY, got married last month, and all those who know the Newbury family – which means virtually everyone in HADAS – will want to wish her well. The wedding, on Sept 2, was at the church in Mill Hill at which a younger Marion had sung in the choir for five years – St Michael and All Angels. The bridegroom, appropriately, is a doctor whom she met when doing her physiotherapy training at Winchester, Simon Le Besque. Marion joined HADAS, along with DOROTHY and CHRISTOPHER, 17 years ago, and the first photo of her in the HADAS archives shows a perky youngster of about 12
busy pot-washing at the Burroughs Gardens dig. Since then she has taken part in many HADAS activities, including leading outings to the Mary Rose and Danebury. Think of her now in a different setting – nature trekking in Zanskar, in the Himalayas – because they left early on the morning after the wedding on a walking and plant-studying trip. Dorothy – who can always tell a good tall story – swears they practically took their bulging backpacks to the altar with them – an unusual accessory for a bride clothed in beautiful apricot silk!
Should you want to find a Teddy-bear’s picnic, no need if you are a HADAS member to go traipsing down to the woods. Just saunter round to JOHN ENDERBY’s house in Hendon, and you will find 30,000 Teddy-bears, each one brown, 2Oins tall and really cuddly. They form part of John’s sterling effort to raise money for the North London Hospice. The appeal has collected £2,000,000 (yes, all six noughts of it) but there is another one million still to go. The Teddy-bears are a step along the way. They are Gerber care-bears, than which there is nothing higher or more ritzy in the bear hierarchy. The Hospice Appeal is offering them at the bargain price of €12.50 – a pointer, perhaps, to HADAS Mums, Dads and Grandmas looking for Christmas presents.
John and his wife Barbara, by the way, have just gone off on a trip to Madeira: a holiday they badly needed, as both were involved in a car smash a few weeks ago in which, as John laconically puts it “Barbara’s car was a write-off and her husband very nearly was.” He suffered severe whiplash – “and I don’t recommend that to anyone.”
HELEN LAMPERT is one of our members of many talents. She always makes elegant cakes and delectable quince jelly for the Minimart – and now she tells us that Hendon Library is about to put on a 4-week exhibition of her paintings -you can see them from Oct 7-Nov 4. Congratulations – that’s a real honour.
We seize this chance to send best wishes from all their friends in the Society to two HADAS members who have had operations. ANN KAHN would have been editing this Newsletter had she not been hauled off to hospital; and Nell Penny, too, is just back from a week in the Royal Free. We welcome them back from the wars – and wish them both a good recovery.
It was a great surprise – but a thoroughly pleasant one, too – to run into GILL BRAITHWAITE last week in London, NW1I, when she might have been expected to be adorning (and “adorning” is the mot juste, because she was looking smashing) the British Embassy in Moscow. It was only a flying Visit, she explained, to see her son just home from India. With a visit from Mrs Thatcher in the offing, the Moscow Embassy is going to be a hive of activity this autumn.
‘Hypothesis: a guess”
OUT OF THE BOOK
TED SAMMES – on the wing for Denmark even as he wrote to the Newsletter – has sent us details of two publications about places which the society knows from outings.
First, the Painted House at Dover, which we have visited four times, the last time in 1987 Brian. Philp, the excavator, has now produced a monograph on the site, tracing eight main periods of occupation between 170-200 AD (an extraordinary compression of activity into 30 years to be able to disentangle 1800 years later). The painted plaster has been studied in detail and all in situ plaster is illustrated and discussed. The book also includes 36 reconstructed designs. Illustrations are mostly black and white but there are also 14 in colour. The book should add greatly to the understanding of this most complex site.
Ted unfortunately omits to tell us the book’s price and publisher, and as he has now (temporarily) fled the country, the Newsletter has not been able to check these matters with him. We suggest that any member who wants to know should ring Ted in October on 062 864807.
The second publication is The Book of Boxmoor, in which Ted himself has had a hand. It is a collection of contributions from a number of different writers and photographers. Ted’s offering is photographic and includes some pictures from the Edwardian period which he drew from a collection of 200 taken by his father. The book starts in prehistoric Boxmoor and comes through to today. Compilers are Roger and Joan Hands and Eve Davis, publisher is Barracuda Books, price £15.95 plus postage.
“Dating methods: courtship rituals adopted by archaeologists who want to share digs”.
PRECISION THROUGH A LENS
As the Newsletter goes to press, a new exhibition is opening at Church Farm House Museum, in Hendon. It is a very appropriate one in the year that sees the 150th anniversary of the first photograph. If you enjoy really stunning photographs, do go and see it – you will enjoy a feast. Don’t be put off by its slightly cumbersome title, “54 Years Time Exposure.”
The exhibition is the history of the John Maltby photographic firm which closed, after more than 50 years existence, on the last day of last August. For 43 years of that time the firm was based in Hendon, so naturally there are some fine local photos. There is, for instance, a real beauty of Vine Cottages, Nos 77-79 Cricklewood Lane, the last dame-school left in the Borough. The cottages were demolished over the Easter weekend of 1981. HADAS and other conservationists had tried all through the 1970s desperately and unsuccessfully to get them listed.
You might expect pictures of modern arterial roads to be deadly dull, but the Maltby -photographs of the Apex Corner roundabout and the view across the transecting roads at Hendon Central towards the cinema, with all the lights flashing in the dark, manage. to be very exciting.
Local work was only a tiny part of the Maltby range, which was enormous, mostly architectural and industrial. One section specialised in cinemas, Odeons in particular, and someone has described Maltby as an “Odeonographer,” recording “cinemas of every description: tiled, castellate stuccoed, got No as Renaissance palaces (Ealing), railway stations (Shoeburyness), fortified cottages (Faversham), Wurlitzer organs (Chingford),
radio cabinets (Boston), mausoleums (Kenton)” (Ian Jeffrey, London Magazine, July 1980 p66).
Maltby’s archives contain 120,000 negatives. When this farewell exhibition was first mooted, 350 prints were selected as a “short list.” Now these have (with weeping and wailing for each one discarded) been scaled down to 130 prints – the largest number of photographs ever to be shown at one exhibition at Church Farm House. The plan has been to show at least two pictures for each year that John Maltby and his partner, George Tanner (who joined him in 195k) were working. Maltby died in 1980; Tanner retired this year.
Apart from the sheer range of pictures – from, for instance, a factory floor on which literally hundreds of tailoresses are working, each at her own machine, to a close-up of a precise table-setting on the Flying Scotsman, with 2 wine glasses, 2 spoons, knife, fork, plate, menu card and paper napkin – the thing which strikes one at once is the extraordinary geometric eye of the photographer, marvellously aware of the power of shape. He turns what may have been quite an ugly metal stairway in a Southwark school into an essay in beautiful shapes as he takes it from above, showing the struts, columns and connections by which the treads are carried down to the sunlit courtyard below.
Where you and I might see merely a wide scruffy lane between two high, horizontally-boarded fences, built with alternate boards and gaps, Maltby has photographed the length of the path with the sun flooding through from one side and throwing long corrugations of alternate blinding light and black shadow across the lane, to where the planking on the other side picks up the pattern – an extraordinarily dramatic effect. Equally dramatic is his treatment of coiled things: springs, coils of wire, piles of tyres. In one picture great wire coils, each probably weighing about half a ton, hang from huge iron hooks in a factory ceiling, and extend in serried lines from the foreground into infinity.
It is good to know that Maltby’s archive is not to be broken up, but will be held in its entirety by the National Buildings Register, where no doubt in years to come it will be of great interest to many students, including historians and archaeologists. The Odeon collection, in particular, will surely be the definitive visual record to which researchers will turn for the half-century in which cinema was king, before the TV usurper took over.
“B.P: Nothing to do with petrol, simply an abbreviation for ‘Before the Present.’ As archaeologists tend to live in the past, their ‘Present’ is actually 1950.”
WHAT’S ON OUTSIDE HADAS
From now until Dec 12 the Museum of London offers a chance to inspect its reserve collection of many thousands of objects not normally on show and recently re-housed in Finsbury. Each Tuesday, starting 2 pm, there will be a guided tour, price £2.50 including tea. Most of the material is from fairly recent times: the interior of an Edwardian chemist’s shop, for instance, or the borough of Haringey’s first-ever computer, vintage 1970; but there is some earlier material e.g. an ornate Roman coffin – a contrast in size with a Victorian Oxo tin. Numbers limited – tickets and further details from the Press and Public Relations Office at the Museum (01 600 3699).
Barnet Libraries are organising a series of free Wednesday evening lectures at different libraries each week, starting 8.15 pm. Titles that catch the eye include;
The Great Fire of London by Peter Street, Nov 1 Burnt Oak Library
Treasures of Britain (castles, cathedrals and country houses) by John Wittich, Nov 29 Mill Hill Library
The Globe Reborn (reconstruction of Globe Theatre on Bankside) by Patrick Spottiswoode, Jan 24 Hendon Library.
At Oxford there is an interesting event next month, Nov 10-12: a weekend conference on Palaeolithic Art at Rewley House, organised by the University External Studies Department and the Prehistoric Society, with a strong team of speakers (which includes, by the way, Dr Paul Bahn„ author of Bluffing Your Way in Archaeology, – see p2). The conference has been advertised for some months and residential places are all booked – but if you are hooked on the subject it might be worth ringing Rewley House in case any non-residential places are left (0865 270360).
At Cambridge the corresponding department – the Board of Extra-mural Studies – is organising a residential study weekend (Fri evening-Sun lunchtime) at Madingley Hall, Feb 16-18 1990, on a fascinating subject – Strike A Light: Fire in the service of Man. Lecturer Dr David Trump will be investigating the proposition that “man began using fire 1,500,000 years ago and it has Played a major role in making him the social animal he is.” Weekend fee £65; further details from Madingley Hall, Madingley, Cambridge.
As mentioned in the June Newsletter, Verulamium Museum, built as a memorial to Sir Mortimer Wheeler’s first wife, Tessa, has been celebrating its golden jubilee this summer. Festivities come to an end next month with an anniversary conference on Sat/Sun Nov 17-19 on Roman Towns: the Wheeler Inheritance. When the Wheelers published Verulamium: a Belgic and two Roman Cities in 1936 the study of Romano-British towns was in its infancy; the conference intends to discuss how it has grown up since. Chairman will be Martin Biddle and the list of speakers is imposing: they are linked with almost every important Roman town in southern Britain. Conference fee £30 (which includes buffet dinner on Saturday evening). Details from Verulamium Museum, St Michaels, St Albans, Herts AL3 4SW.
University of London Extra-Mural Archaeological Society (inevitably known as ENAS) was founded only two years ago; it now reports that it “has the strongest growth-rate of any Extra-mural Society” and its programme is admirably practical. On Oct 5 Chris Taylor opens the winter season with an authoritative talk on Landscape Archaeology, in the Chancellor’s Hall, Senate House, London University; and on Nov 10 Jill Kerr talks about Why. Recording, Stained Glass from Excavations is Important at the Institute of Archaeology (both at 7 pm). Society membership is open to all students and past students of extra-mural classes who have attended courses lasting at least two years, subscription £7. Further details from Dave Beard, 44 Granville Park, SE13 7DX.
The LAMAS Local History Conference – always a lively occasion – will take place on Sat Nov 25, 11.30 am-6 pm, at the Museum of London. Theme this year – which sees the 800th anniversary of the London Mayoralty and the centenary of the founding of the LCC – will be “Governing London.”
GREETINGS TO NEW MEMBERS from our Membership Secretary
Here’s a warm welcome to those new members who havejoined since last April. We hope we shall be meeting them at the various activities of the coming winter, starting off with the first lecture of the season, on Oct 3, and the Minimart on Oct 7, when their help will be most welcome (details of both events on pl):
Miss Paula Allen, Dr Josephine Bruegel, Mr R and Mr D Borchardt Miss Jackie Brookes, Mr & Mrs C J Day, Mr & Mrs W N Froude, Richard Gibson, Mrs L and Miss A. Griffin, Graham Javes, Mrs N & Miss D McDonald, Miss P A MacGregor, Mr Nigel & Mrs Anne. McTeer, Ms Norma Moore, Miss D Nicholls, Mrs B A Perkins, Mrs Marjorie Scarfe, Ms Elizabeth Stanton.
We would like to extend a special welcome to our colleagues in the Wembley History Society. We have been sending them a complimentary copy of the Newsletter for some years, but now they have decided to become corporate members – it’s nice have you.
Finally – and perhaps I should call this my Good Shepherd role, since it welcomes back two of the HADAS flock who strayed away for a while – it is a pleasure to greet once more Mr G M Ferris, who was from 1977-79 a member with his late wife, Joan – in those days they were particularly interested in the history and archaeology of Finchley Manor House in East End Road; and, after an 11-year absence, John Heathfield who has already started doing valuable research for the Society, as shown in his report on a house in Whetstone in the July Newsletter and a further report in this issue.
IN SEARCH OF BARNET FAIR
WILLIAM MORRIS, long-time HADAS member (he joined very young, back in 1971) seeks information:
“I have been carrying out some research on the life of a Rhobert Morris (1769-1823) who lived at Abergele in Denbighshire (now Clwyd) in North Wales. Rhobert was a livestock dealer who on occasions would buy Anglesey cattle at Abergele market and send them together with local cattle in a herd with drovers down through the Midlands to Barnet for sale.
I am curious to know a little more about the market at Barnet where the cattle were sold, particularly in about the period 1800-1811. Are there any memb ers who can tell me how often Barnet market was held? Was it only an annual affair, and if so, at what time of the year was it? Was the date fixed? Presumably a fair in the town was held in association with the market, but where exactly were the livestock sold’
The Newsletter itself can provide William with a few tit-bits. If he keeps a file of our back issues, he will find the answers to some of his questions in No 153 (Nov 1983), where Jeremy Clynes published a note on The Drovers; and in No 158 (Apr 1984), where there is a long contribution on The Welsh Drovers and Barnet Fair by Tom Elias of the Snowdonia National Park Study Centre.
Originally both horses and cattle were sold at the fair and chaffering was transacted in the street: cattle bargaining went on “nearer into Barnett” than horse sales – maybe because the Welsh ponies were even wilder than the cattle and so were kept further out of town. Nowadays the occasion is a horse fair only.
The Hendon & Finchley Times has shown considerable interest in the history of the fair. In its issue of Sept 15 1988 it published the text of a charter of Elizabeth I of Feb 6 1588. This granted to Charles Butler, lord of the manor of Barnet, permission to hold “each and every week … a market on Monday” and also two 3-day fairs each year, one on the eve, day and morrow of St John Baptist (to whom the church of Chipping Barnet is dedicated), the other on the feast of St Luke the Evangelist. Although the first market had pre-dated this confirmation by centuries – King John granted the first market charter to the Abbot of St Albans in 1199 – the Elizabethan charter is the one which first sets up the two fairs. The dates for these were altered in the 18c by a later lord of the manor; and subsequently one fair faded away. Finally the horse fair settled down as a single annual event held every year on Sept 4, 5, 6.
In recent years there has been some controversy about where the fair should be held and whether it should take place at all. This year the 401st fair was held from Sept 4-6 at Green Gates Farm, Mays Lane – a farm belonging to the Borough of Barnet and leased to tenant farmer Keith Butterworth.
“Necropolis: an area of tombs; a kind of city set apart for the death, something like Cheltenham.”
THE WHETSTONE PROJECT
VICTOR JONES and JOHN HEATHFIELD report on the latest events and discoveries at No 1264 High Road, Whetstone
First, Victor’s note:
Soon after the last report – see September Newsletter – we were asked to delay further work for a time, as our activities were causing problems to the photography business which operates in part of the premises.
Happily we have now been told we can resume, provided we avoid anything likely to disturb the photographic work – raising dust, causing vibration by moving heavy items or tramping heavily on the stairs or through the upstairs rooms of this rather fragile building.
Entering via the front door and movement through the corridors and the courtyard has also to be reduced, particularly during busy Saturday photographic sessions. We will, I am sure, all be glad to comply with these conditions in order to be able to continue with the project – and I hope therefore to give you further bulletins on the archaeological side.
Meantime, there is much to be told from the documentary aspect. JOHN HEATHF[ELD now continues this unfolding story, with what he calls A Brief Note on 1264 High Road, Whetstone
The dig at 1264 High Road, Whetstone is on part of a site of considerable interest and some antiquity.
Much of the building is unused at present. The room fronting the High Road on the north side is used by a photographer’s business, and the room on the south frontage, currently empty, was an employment agency. Between these rooms is a corridor leading to the rear. Excluding toilets and cupboards, there are four further rooms on the ground floor, five on the first floor and two on the second floor, all apparently unused.
For many years the building was the Whetstone Post Office, run by the Gilmour family. Robert Gilmour was born in 1818 in Perthshire. He was originally a draper by trade, who moved to London before 1850. The 1851 census shows him living at what is now 1270 High Road, where his sons carved their names. By 1861, Robert had purchased 1264, and became Toll Collector of the Whetstone Gate of the Whetstone and Highgate Turnpike Trust, as well as running his draper’s shop. Following the closure of the Turnpike, and removal of the gate, his second business was the Post Office. This was obviously profitable, as he bought property further along Whetstone High Road towards Finchley. His first wife, Jane, died in 1864, and his second wife, Emma, in 1894. Robert was succeeded by his daughters, who became partners in 1904 – Ellen and Ada, the latter running the drapery, on the left side as you entered the shop.
1264 – the former Post Office – could be described as one building sublet into parts. That pattern of several occupants has a long history. Before 1837 the house was connected with the Griffin Inn, which stands next door to the south. Because the Griffin was remodelled in 1929, there is no physical trace left of the inter-relationship, but it is there in the documentation.
The principal written sources are the Friern Barnet Court Rolls, available at the Guildhall Library, and in Banks’ transcriptions at the Greater London record Office. Other sources include surveys done in connection with John Bacon’s estate by W P Attfield in 1815, and by J Ellis in 1787. The photocopy of the Tithe Map of 1844 held by Barnet Local History Library appears to be a reduction of the original held at the Public Record Office.
In 1783 Samual Sandys sold the Griffin Inn and cottage adjoining in the occupation of Widow Hews, together with a close of land behind of 1 acre 3R 35P to William Nixon who, on his death, willed it to his daughter Elizabeth Cole. It was she who sold the sites to Meux the brewers in 1837 for £1,050, and through them, the Post Office to Gilmour.
In 1744 No 1264 is described as a messuage with appurtenances and gardens, and a close of 2 acres, and belonging to Richard Brown, who on his death left it to his sister Elizabeth Sandys.
The complete list of owners, which I have made, is probably of interest only to lawyers. In 1739 the house is described as “three messuages now one,” and in 1700 as “three messuages formerly two.” The records are missing for the period round the Civil War.
In 1603 William Sanny sold “the messuage in which he lives and another cottage in the occupation of Thomas Atkins” to Nicholas Kempe of the Inner Temple. The Sanny family were numerous and widespread, and owned a good deal of property in Finchley and Whetstone.
In 1549 John Sanny transferred “a cottage called Bakehouse, a cottage and garden which he has lately built, and a cottage and barn” to Robert Sanny, and in 1504 John Sanny inherited from Thomas Sanny “a cottage and garden.”
This seems to suggest that 1264 High Road contains parts of a building which was certainly there in 1549 and may have existed in 1504.
“Posthole – any hole too small to be a storage pit” “Storage pit – any hole too big to be a posthole”
SHEILA WOODWARD reviews a daunting tome
Excavations in Southwark (1973-76) and Lambeth (1973-79)
The latest LAMAS & SAS Joint Publication (No. 3) thudded through my letter-box some 3 weeks ago. It is a formidable tome covering excavations at 16 sites and a period of seven years, and is crammed with technical detail. Such detail is the inevitable result of improved excavation and processing techniques. Should it be included in the printed report or consigned to microfiche or computer print-out? Hitherto T have been anti-microfiche; this report has converted me. Although Peter Hinton’s introduction gives good reasons for the choice of format, the result is most cumbersome and the clutter of information is daunting.
The sites covered range from full-scale excavation to trial-trenching and site-watching during development. All have added something to the jigsaw picture of Southwark’s development since prehistoric times. New evidence on changes in sea and river levels clarifies the early topography which affected the Roman settlement pattern and road alignments. Environmental evidence, which is copious, supplies information on climatic conditions land-use, purposes of animal-rearing and methods of butchering. And how interesting to note that Mrs Beeton can come to the aid of archaeological interpretation (see p.435/6)1
Amongst the Roman finds, one of the most attractive is the bone ‘portrait pin”, possibly worn as a charm or a memorial. More important is a fragment of glass, blown and cameo-carved with vine-leaves and grapes, the first such find from Roman Britain. It provides new evidence for the production, dispersion and decoration of cameo glass vessels.
There is an interesting discussion on the development of tin-glazed ware which is technically inferior to lead-glazed earthenware but looks more decorative. This 17c willingness to “pay for appearances” is seen as a trend towards the modern consumer society! Another section of the report dealing with leather records the changes in shoe-making techniques and styles in the medieval and post-medieval periods – a fascinating study. There is even a suggestion for anyone looking for a research project: the use of Romano-British domestic pottery, especially its use for cooking.
The Borough High Street site was once occupied by the Kings Bench Prison. It was “prison industry” finds which provoked the inclusion in the report of this sad little Kings Bench Litany:
From creditors when cruel grown,
From bailiffs and their crafty scent,
From dining often with the Duke,*
From paying homage to the pump,
From taking of the ten pound act,
From being overcome by drink,
From lodging near a boghouse stink,
From having stomachs and no chink,
From asking for food to be denied,
From being turned to the common side –
Libera nos Domine
From being sent to the Lion White,**
From mouldy scraps in basket laid,
From making pegs, that humble trade,
From wooden blocks to rest one’s head,
From all or any King’s Bench bed –
Libera nos Domine
“Duke Humphrey”= “dining on air”
**A lower depth
FROM OUR ORKNEY CORRESPONDENT DAPHNE LORIMER sends more
news from the North
In the August Newsletter there was a news flash from Daphne Lorimer about the discovery of a rock-cut burial chamber in Orkney – possibly the first in a new class of ancient monument – and a promise of “more news next month.” However, we shall have to be patient a bit longer, because there is an embargo on information about the discovery until laboratory tests on the cremations and inhumations it contained have been completed. Daphne holds a watching brief for the Newsletter and will keep us informed.
Meantime, she has information about another site in which HADAS has been interested since our Orkney holiday in 1978 – the underground passage near the Round Church and Earl’s Bu in Orphir. We carried a report on that about a year ago (see November 1988 Newsletter); now here is another.
Last year the excavation of the mysterious passage at the Bu Farm revealed a large chamber thought to be of prehistoric origin. This year Dr Colleen Batey and her team dug up the floor of the chamber and discovered that beneath it was a sealed Viking deposit. Not only that: the continuation of the excavation beyond the chamber began to give an entirely different picture. They now think it represents the lade of a horizontal water mill, similar to the clickmill at Dounby. This will be the first Viking mill found in Britain. A clickmill is really a mechanised quern, in which the mechanism is propelled by a controlled rush of water of moderate force which can be derived from quite small streams.
The stream is dammed at a convenient place some distance from the mill to form a reservoir. The water is controlled by a simple sluice and is diverted along a mill lade to the mill house, where it is directed down a trough onto the fins of a horizontal mill wheel. The fins are set obliquely so as to revolve a vertical spindle which passes upwards through the lower millstone to be fixed to the upper, which then rotates and grinds the grain between the two. Wedges are used to regulate the pressure and allow flour of different degrees of fineness to be milled.
Stones with central holes to take a spindle were also found on the last day of the dig; and next year’s discoveries are eagerly awaited. Geophysical surveys were done on the fields all-round the site and revealed the large industrial complex which once surrounded the Viking Earl’s palace: all this, from a hole that HADAS discovered!
GRIM CLAIM TO FAME
Hendon has one strange – and ghoulish – claim to fame, recalled by last month’s commemoration of the 50th declaration of WWII on Sept 3 1939. Heading Street – now swept away under the Church End development – was the scene of the death on active service of the first member of the British WWII armed forces He was 28-year-old John Noel Isaac, on an exercise out of RAF Northolt that Sunday morning – training for a war in which he would have no part. He became the first casualty – to be followed by so many millions – when his plane crashed as he tried a single-engine approach to Hendon. The plane, a Blenheim bomber, stalled. Three houses in Heading Street were burnt out, but no civilian was killed or hurt. Pilot Officer Isaac died instantly. There is a memorial plaque to him in Golders Green Crematorium. On Sept 3 1589 someone remembered – and put flowers on it.