NEWSLETTER 229 APRIL 1990 Edited by Deirdre Barrie
Tuesday April 3rd Recent Monastic Excavations in North London by Barney Sloane. Mr. Sloane is the senior archaeologist with the Department of Greater London Archaeology at the Museum of London. His talk and slides will cover several sites including his recent excavation at St John’s Gate EC1.
Tuesday April 24th Afternoon visit to British Museum New Exhibition ”Fake? The Art of Deception.” We have not reached the required numbers (25) to cover the cost of this visit. Please phone Dorothy Newbury (203 0950) if you can join the group, or write enclosing £2 to Dorothy Newbury at 55 Sunningfields Road, Hendon NW4. Pay your own entrance (£3) on arrival. Meet at the exhibition entrance at 2 pm. Dr. Paul Craddock will guide and talk to us on this fascinating subject.
Tuesday May 8th Annual General Meeting with slides of Whetstone dig.
SUNDAY May 20th Outing to Quainton – a leisurely one this time, on a
Sunday, visiting the tallest windmill in Buckinghamshire (which is being restored by a local society), the village church, probably built by the Knights Hospitallers, and the Quainton Railway Preservation Society Station for a short ride on a steam train.
Saturday June 23rd Richmond, Marble Hill and Ham House
August 31st – September 1st and 2nd Weekend trip to Shropshire – Ironbridge, Shrewsbury, Wroxeter. This weekend is definitely on – we have sufficient applications. But if any latecomers would like to contact Dorothy Newbury Quickly (203 0950) it may be possible to increase accommodation numbers at the college and hire a bigger coach.
Saturday October 6th MINIMART. Anybody moving house or who has a friend moving house, don’t forget our Minimart for any surplus bric-a-brac etc. A “Sales and Wants” slip is enclosed.
CONSTANTINIDES MEMORIAL LECTURE by Joanna Corden
A full house of members attending the Constantinides Memorial Lecture (given alternately by fellow members Percy Reboul and John Heathfield) were treated to a fascinating and erudite evening. There were engaging slides and a commentary based on extensive research, enlivened by anecdotes and reminiscences.
Two burning questions were at last answered: for those who were uncertain as to where Whetstone actually lies, the boundaries have provisionally been defined as extending from Lyonsdown and Northumberland Road in the north down the railway line on the east to Brunswick Avenue, across Bethune Park north of St. James Church, across the golf course to Woodside Lane on the
south to join the western boundary at the Dollis Brook. The east pa came within the parish of St. James, and the west within St. Mary Finchley As to the name of Whetstone, there is no definitive answer, except to say it was not named after the famous stone outside the Griffin Inn since there are at least three references which predate the Battle of Barnet. It meant “the western settlement” – west of St. James Church, and its change to its present location came with the diversion of the road north in the 14th C.
Whetstone was not always a place of apparent dullness through which one passed, the High Road in particular overcome by modern buildings; from the Middle Ages it was a hotbed of dissension and lawlessness, growing larger in the Victorian period, its greatest glory its pubs, and given life by its transport. There were some unexpected views, such as the surprising number of trees on both sides of the main road, and portraits of famous local personalities such as Mr. Gilmore and his two daughters, or the famous James Solomon outside the “Bull and Butcher”, known as “King” Solomon, and builder of Solomons Terrace. Of all the ancient pubs illustrated, perhaps the most entertaining was the watercolour of the “Hand and Flower”, an idealised portrait, followed by a real photograph, warts and all.
Transport changed the appearance of the High Road, from the horse and cart along the turnpike to the horse bus, the tram and the trolley bus, not forgetting the railway, which in 1940 became the Northern Line.
The greatest contrast, however, was in the people: John Puget of Poynters Grove, Totteridge, whose father was a Governor of the Bank of England at the age of 30, and who put up the money for the Dissenters’ Chapel; John Miles, who built All Saints Church in Middleton Park; or Baxendale of Woodside, whose Carter Patterson Transport revolutionised transport. They contrasted sadly with the grinding poverty of the larger part of Whetstone population, which was mainly occupied in farming, ostling or serving in the local pubs, and of these farming was much the most important activity, since hay was a major export to London.
The dairy industry too played its part, with the Manor Farm Dairy on High Road, and Dollis Dairies making the sight of cows on the highway outside the “Blue Anchor” a common one for a while.
Such hard work did not prevent children from attending school, although until 1907 education was dependent on private finance. The Miles family put up the money for the building in Friern Barnet Lane in 1853, and for the All Saints Girls’ School in 1881. Nor did work prevent people from enjoying themselves – there were some wonderful illustrations of carnivals, outings, charabancs (all male outings, apparently), even walks in Friary Park, and the humble cycle having its day, since everyone cycled.
The proceedings were brought to an end with the reading of the fulsome obituary of John Attfield who died in 1880, and whose name family legend attributed to the original Attfield who helped King John when he was seasick. It was a most enjoyable evening, and members were left feeling that a hitherto forgotten area of the borough was at last on the map.
Hans Porges died on February 19th after a short illness, leaving many friends within and beyond the circle of HADAS to mourn his loss. He had been an active member since 1978, a regular attender of our winter lectures and a keen outing follower, preferring out-of-the-way, strenuous days and weekends to visits on the fringe of tourist country. His unobtrusive helpfulness endeared him to those who had screens and exhibits to transport or who were no longer able to attend meetings without assistance. Those who valued his hospital or home visits will not be surprised to learn of his steady devotion to his Meals-on-Wheels round. What may surprise some members is the fact that Hans, apparently the archetypal Middle European in looks, accent and carriage was a British citizen by birth, his father
Having been born in King Henry’s Road, Hampstead. We shall miss his presence , and extend our sympathy to June and their Children.
EXCAVATION AT THE “MITRE” by Andy Simpson
Despite continuing problems with the weather, work on the trial trench is now complete, and more medieval pottery has been found. The list supplied by the Museum of London, after some of the finds were taken there for identification, includes South Herts. pottery of the 1150-1300 period, Denhamware of 1150-1300, a 13th century London-type jug with applied strip and slip decoration, and London-type coarseware of 1150-1200. Post medieval types include Tudor greenware, Tudor brown type of 1550-1650, Metropolitan slipware of 1650-1700, and Cistercian ware of 1500-1600.
The possible Roman pottery mentioned in the March Newsletter is identified as Alice Holt type sandyware. The Alice Holt kilns were in Hampshire, and were in production from the late 1st to the early 5th century, with their peak in the 4th century.
Fragments of possible Roman tile were also found in the same medieval context in the “Mitre” trench. It would be nice to know the source of these possible Roman fragments:
All in all, this small trench has been most productive, although no medieval structural evidence has been noted. The digging team is now taking a short break, having been digging most weekends and Thursdays since March 1989. We hope to decide on our next move shortly. Details, when decided upon, from Brian Wrigley (959 5982). New recruits welcome:
Margaret Beevor – Like so many of our members, Miss Beevor has an art none of us knew about – she is to tutor a class on “Cake and Gateau Decoration” at Hampstead Garden Suburb Institute at Faster and in the summer.Valentine Sheldon – Miss Sheldon (born on St. Valentine’s Day) was a regular outing member, and an invaluable help at our Minimarts before she left London recently to live near friends up North. I am sure members who knew her will be pleased to know she is happily settled at last in a retirement home.
The following sites, the subject of planning applications, could be archaeologically “sensitive”. Members living or working in the vicinity are asked to keep an eye on any development and report anything of interest to the Site Co-ordinator, John Enderby, on 203 2630.
NOTE FROM THE MEMBERSHIP SECRETARY PHYLLIS FLETCHER
With the April Newsletter you will find reminders of subscriptions due on 1st April. I would be pleased to receive your subscriptions as soon as possible. Those who pay by standing order, or who have joined since 1st January 1990, please ignore this request. Thank you.
Full membership £6.00
Each additional family member £2.00
Each additional family member £2.00
Group membership £8.00
(Miss P.J. Fletcher, 31 Addison Way, NW11 6AL)
HOW TO MAKE £1,000 IN THREE HOURS
Dorothy Newbury was the key speaker at the first forum of the Council for Independent Archaeology when she addressed the meeting at Northampton under the title “How to raise a Thousand Pounds in Three Hours.”
How do you raise £l,000 in three hours? The answer, of course, is to get Dorothy Newbury to run a minimart for you. The secret, she said, was that it was a Minimart, not a jumble sale. Dorothy runs a very superior operation. Any inferior goods are weeded out and sent to someone else’s jumble sale, and as a result the Chairman of HADAS has spent the winter going round in a very superior overcoat purchased for £4, while the Vice-Chairman has been parading in a very natty suit which he purchased at the Minimart. Indeed, he even tried it on at the Minimart on stage before the eyes of the assembled multitude.
Another secret that Dorothy revealed is that any object that might possibly be valuable is taken to an auctioneer to be valued – another useful HADAS contact. They often prove to be more valuable than the donor realised, but nevertheless the donors cheerfully accept that their donation to HADAS funds is sometimes more substantial than they intend!
Dorothy’s lecture was an outstanding feature of the first Regional Forum of the Council for Independent Archaeology of which HADAS had become a founder member. The Meeting, held in Northampton, featured six societies, the Upper Nene, the Middle Nene, the Coventry & District, the Manshead Society of Dunstable, the Ampthill Society of Redford, and HADAS, and we discussed how to run a society, and then what the societies were doing.
One of the outstanding lectures was that of the Middle Nene on their excavation of the Prebendal Manor House at Nassington. This was carried out at the request of the owner, who wanted to explore her medieval hall house. By the time the archaeologists had finished, the entire sitting room was excavated, revealing the remains of the Saxon predecessor and even an underlying Iron Age ditch. What made the slides so bizarre was that the pictures were still hanging on the walls.
Another lively talk was on the saving of the Church at Segenhoe on the Duke of Redford’s estate near Ampthill. The Church was thought to be late medieval and since it had lost its roof, it was destined for demolition under the Church Redundancy Act. However, when the archaeologists got to work, they soon demonstrated that the east end was Saxon: the only late feature was the tower added in the 18th century. When the facts were presented to the Local Council, they changed their minds and decided to preserve the Church after all.
After the meeting, we returned via the Piddington Roman Villa, which Dorothy inspected (“in the DARK”, she told us) in preparation for the HADAS outing in the summer. Afterwards, Roy and Liz Friendship-Taylor, who have already lectured to HADAS on Piddington, invited us back for tea, and we inspected their “Praetorium” or headquarters building, where their finds are all kept, situated incongruously in the roof of a garage. The HADAS outing to Piddington on August 25th promises to be of great interest.
On the way back, Dorothy admitted that she had enjoyed her day out, even though she tried to escape from giving her lecture, and had to be dragged to her feet by popular acclaim. She proved, as HADAS members will know, to be a natural orator.
THE “BATTLE OF BRITAIN EXPERIENCE” Andy Simpson
As an employee of the Royal Air Force Museum, Hendon, perhaps I can be forgiven for making a quick “plug” for our forthcoming major exhibition, running under the above title.
The “Experience” opens on 11th April, and is a major “re-vamp” of the former Battle of Britain Museum. Many new supporting exhibits and interpretative displays will show the full story of the Battle, including the role of the volunteer services and other civilians. A great deal of effort has gone into making this a comprehensive and informative exhibition. Come and see for yourselves: Admission prices include entry to the other parts of the Museum complex.
“Byways” on BBC-2, Friday 23rd March, gave an interesting update of Dr. Francis Pryor’s excavations
at Flag Fen near Peterborough, which was a memorable HADAS outing in June 1988.
Several HADAS members missed this – did anyone record this on video? If so please contact the next editor – see end of this Newsletter.
At last. The number of members in our Society is creeping up. Every year since I have been Chairman, the numbers have been falling – only very slightly, just two or three a year. But over the past year they have turned up again. This I am sure has been due to our active excavation programme notably the successful dig behind the “Mitre” where over 150 sherds of medieval pottery were recovered. Not only are we getting new members, we are also getting some younger members. One of our principal diggers has been Andy Simpson, who spent a number of years digging at Tamworth with an MSC team. He has now come south to join the staff at the RAF Museum in Hendon – he tells me he has always been keen on aeroplanes. While working at the Museum, he has been digging at the weekends with HADAS.
While on the subject of people, Victor Jones has broken his finger, trying to open a window. He has my heartfelt wishes for a rapid recovery, particularly as we need to have the End of Year Accounts:
T went over to Avenue House the other clay, to see our new premises there. my melancholy task was to view the burnt remains of the HADAS library, but was also able to see the new Garden Room that we have been allocated. This promises to be a real benefit to the Society. It is a very odd shape, with a projecting window in one corner, but it has its own door so that we can use it at any time. We must have a party there in the summer, with tea on the terrace: I am still trying to persuade the Committee to organise this, but when the time comes I do hope that you will all come and view our new domain.
Is there too much homework for our students of today? Nearly four out of ten archaeologists think there is, according to the results of a survey of Local Archaeological Societies I have been conducting in “Current Archaeology’. This is a survey for which I received a lot of help from
HADAS members, notably Jennie Cobban. In the Pilot Survey we asked
whether there were problems in attracting young people to societies, and one of the replies said, “Yes – too much homework.” So we put the question in, and although there are a large number of “don’t knows”, and one or two sharp replies of “Certainly not!”, yet clearly there were a number of respondents who did feel that young people would be better joining their local archaeological society than poring over their books.
Finally, to end on a personal note, I shall be lecturing at the Museum of London on Sunday 20th May, and posing the question “Was Roman London the City of the Emperor?” This is likely to be controversial, and I suspect is intended by the organisers to he a version of that well known arena sport of throwing a Christian to the lions – I play the part of the Christian. I will be followed by a large number of big lions – Hugh Chapman, John Maloney, Ralph Merrifield and Harvey Sheldon, who will all say why I am wrong. All HADAS members will be welcome to join in the sport – but please turn your thumbs up! Tickets from Citisights on 01-806 4325.
I seem to be letting myself in for even more controversy at the end of April at the Conference on the Institute of Field Archaeologists in Birmingham where I have been invited to address a session entitled “Adam’s Rib – the Role of Women in the Past”. I am not quite certain what I am meant to be saying. I suspect I am there as the”statutory male”, as the organisers suggested that I might be able to express a “sceptical point of view”. Do any members of HADAS, particularly the female members, have any ideas what I ought to say?
Andrew Selkirk, 9 Nassington Road, London NW3 2TX (01-435 7517)
AS this Newsletter was being typed, we heard of the passing of George Grafton Green on 22nd March. On behalf of HADAS members we offer deepest sympathy to Brigid Grafton Green. An appreciation will appear in the next newsletter.