NEWSLETTER 249: DECEMBER 1991
Tuesday December 3rd Christmas Dinner at ‘The George and Vulture’. This is now fully booked with a waiting list. If anyone has booked and cannot go, please ring straight away. Dorothy Newbury 203 0950.
January 1992 No Lecture
Tuesday February 4th: ‘Paleolithic Cave Painting and Underground Artwork in the Netherlands and France’ – Sylvia Beamon.
Tuesday March 3rd: ‘Ancient Monuments – Their Care and Preservation’ Helen Paterson
HADAS lectures are held at Hendon Library, The Burroughs, at 8.00 for 8.30 start. Coffee is available before the lecture. Members with cars please offer lifts home.
THE CONTINUING SAGA OF THE WITCH’S COTTAGE by Jennie Cobban
The witch’s cottage (or something, or someone) has quite evidently put a hex on me! Every time I decide that my file on the subject is closed, new snippets of information come my way to answer the points raised in the November newsletter:-
Location of the cottage
Yes, Margaret, you are quite right. The witch’s cottage does indeed stand in the grounds of a nudist club, which I visited with my husband and children during my research. Luckily it was a cold day and everyone was fully-clothed. I did not include this information
in my article as I considered the subject matter bizarre enough without introducing the nudist element! I also wished to protect the owners from possible adverse publicity. The lady in charge was fairly convinced I was ‘News of the World” masquerading as an historian, and she took some persuading that I was not. Indeed there was much information
left out of the article for the above reasons, e.g. that when the present owner of the club took it over, she found a witchcraft doll representing herself sitting on her office desk, stuck full of pins. I do not think my response of, “OOH, super, have you still got it, can I photograph it, please?” was quite what she was looking for. (As I am researching these dolls’ history, I thought this sounded like a splendid modern example.) Unfortunately she had destroyed the doll. Members will be reassured to hear that she remains in the best of health!
The Abbey Museum of Art and Archaeology, Caboolture, Queensland, Australia
I was, of course, aware of the existence of this museum, which is still run by the religious community founded by the Reverend Ward. Its director today is a Mr. Michael Strong who recently, I am told, visited England. Unfortunately, I missed him as I began my research a couple of days after he left for Australia. Shucks! The story of the flight of the community from New Barnet to Cyprus in 1945 is an interesting one. I wondered in particular why the community chose Cyprus as its destination, and have recently been informed that Dr. Gerald Gardner gave the community the land in exchange for the witch’s cottage. I do not know how true this is, though it is certainly the case that Gerald Gardner owned land in Cyprus, where at one time he intended to set up a pagan Greek religious site for his own followers. Readers may be interested to hear what Gerald Gardner has to say on the subject of Ward and Cyprus:
“I do not for a moment doubt their sincerity,” says Gardner, “but it did seem to me that they fancied themselves as Abbot and Lady Abbess Ward wanted a secret society and liked to indulge his hobbies. Whenever he heard that the local council was going to tear down some nice old building, he would rush up with motor lorries and a gang of monks….””When Gardner saw him, he had to sell most of what he had, and wanted to go to Canada; but travel restrictions meant that people could not at that time go abroad without being able to prove need. Ward thought he might go to the Greek Church, his parent body. The Orthodox Church was powerful in Cyprus, where Gardner had his dream property, which he had decided to give to Ward. This gift meant that the Order had property which could be a reason for travelling. When he went in 1949 to Cyprus again, he found that the Community had been safely settled there for years. Father Ward was dead by then but Mother Ward was carrying on. They were well-liked, and were accepted as a genuine order by the Greek Church.” (Gerald Gardner: Witch, by Jack Bracelin,
p. 157-158, Octagon Press, 1960)
Within a few years of the community moving to Cyprus, EOKA guerillas forced them to leave the island, and they then travelled to Australia via Egypt and Sri Lanka. About ten years later (in 1966) the community moved to a permanent home at Caboolture in S.E. Queensland, and in 1978 a decision was made to resurrect the museum and make the remaining collections available to the public. Building commenced in 1983 with funds from various foundations, and the total cost was almost £1 million dollars. The new museum, the Abbey Museum of Art
and Archaeology, was opened in 1986 by Sir Gordon Chalk.
In the museum’s brochure, a copy of which rests in Barnet Museum files, is a photograph of students from a St. Michael’s College enjoying the Australian museum’s collections. If one examines Kelly’s Directory, for 1935, one will find that 89 Park Road, New Barnet the site of the original Abbey Folk Museum, is described as “St. Michael’s College, The Chapter
of the Abbey of Christ the King (C.of E. governors) Principal JSM Ward”.
Coincidence? I think not. It seems likely that the Reverend Ward’s ‘school’ lives on in Australia as well as his museum… I will certainly write to Michael Strong regarding the future of the witch’s cottage, although costs of transportation and the costof the cottage itself (asking price: £5000 ) may prove prohibitive.
May I finally take this opportunity to inform HADAS members and anyone else who happens to read this article that, contrary to popular belief, I am not a witch! I consider all religious beliefs worthy of study, and having no axe to grind means that information is made available to me which few people outside various cults will ever be aware of.
MANOR HOUSE, EAST END ROAD, FINCHLEY
We have heard from English Heritage Field Monument Warden that following a recent inspection it is hoped to conclude an agreement to clear the moat of scrub early next year and keep the site in good condition by regular strimming in the future.
YOU’VE HEARD THE LECTURE, NOW READ THE BOOK! Roy Walker
Andrew Selkirk’s introduction at the November lecture reminded members that Dominic Perring’s fame as an apologist for English Heritage in the war of words with the Museum of London had preceded him. Since his appointment, however, Dominic has written “Roman London” (B A Seaby Ltd) which draws heavily from the recent work of the Museum in the Square Mile and has collaborated with S Roskams on a CBA publication “The Development of Roman London west of the Walbrook”, a research report in the series “The archaeology of Roman London” . He was an excavations supervisor with the Museum of London from 1978 to 83 and has had his Roman knowledge no doubt sharpened by a period of work in Italy.
His lecture on the Rise and Fall of Roman London charted the rise of Londinium from its foundation in AD50, seven years after the Claudian invasion, on-a site with no immediate pre-Roman settlement. It would have been a military supply depot which by AD60 had become a flourishing merchant centre as the quality finds from this period indicate. The Boudiccan rebellion of AD60 may have led Nero to abandon Britain as a province, for there has been scant evidence of building in the period AD60-70. However, a revival commenced from AD70 with the construction of the first Forum, the waterfront quays with open-fronted warehouses and other public buildings including the Huggin Hill baths (now under Dominant House for the next twenty-five years), the Cheapside Baths of AD150 and the amphitheatre dating from AD120. A 1st century mosaic from the Winchester Palace site displayed a quality as good as Fishbourne or even Italy, illustrating the importance of London, by now a self-governing city. The second basilica/forum at Leadenhall Street commenced around AD100, the construction continuing until AD130.
This boom was followed by a marked contraction evidenced by dark earth deposits dated to around AD160-180 together with signs of demolition (the building materials being left, not re-used) and infilled cellars. The abandonment of the outer parts of the City including Southwark occurred between AD150 and 200. Dark earth is a garden soil which Dominic believes to have been deliberately introduced, a costly process indicating that there was still prosperity, despite the contraction. Under Hadrian, the Roman Empire had ceased to expand resulting in a form of recession – there being no new markets. London was a trading centre and the decline would have led to a migration from the City to the rural areas. The pottery production at Brockley Hill ceased around AD160 and that of Highgate Wood at AD180.
In AD193 Emperor Commodius was assassinated and the then governor of Britain, Albinus, claimed the title. Severus contested this claim, defeated Albinus in battle and then took much interest in Britain, campaigning in Scotland from AD208 and dying in York in AD211. The result of all this was a revival in London from around AD200-250 with the construction of the city wall – a status symbol not defensive, providing a toll income from the original five gates. Large new timber quays were constructed, the pottery dumps found nearby showing the wide range of imports. In his book, Dominic puts the view that the division of the province into two at this time would have stimulated activity in London although it has been held by others that London contracted due to this loss of importance. However, the evidence is well-presented in the book especially drawing attention to the confusion over dating.
At the lecture, Dominic apologized for devoting most of the time to the early history but from AD250 onwards the story is really one of a gradual decline with buildings being restored after serious neglect and some flurries of activity due to political acts. The riverside wall was completed around AD270 blocking the quays, some of which had fallen into disuse. In AD286 Carausius created himself Emperor in Britain and undertook a public works programme including a mint and a massive building recently excavated at Peters Hill with dendro dates of AD293. This was possibly a palace for himself, perhaps completed by his successor Allectus. Barbarian invasions in AD360 and 367 led to expeditions from Rome to restore order with defensive bastions added to the wall through the period AD351-375. The abandonment continued until total decline around AD450.
Dominic Perring has in his book made full use of the results of the most recent City excavations with tantalising references to “publication forthcoming”. The lecture provided a summary of the Roman history of London with some hypotheses which are perhaps debatable, but the book fairly and competently sets out the evidence and explains the author’s conclusions. This book is in the Society’s library and is available to all.
CITY WALK WITH MARY O’CONNELL SATURDAY 5th OCTOBER 1991
Mary had three city guide colleagues to assist her for this walk, including HADAS member Sheila Kellaway, Carol Mordecai and Peter Bear. Mary started with the stainless steel panoramic guide to the view from outside Tower Hill Underground – great fun for children of all generations. Perhaps by now the provenance of the giant sundial is recorded; in October it was too new for anyone to know: Next stop was for Carol, who enticed us through a basement of BMW’s to view a very large section of the Old City Wall and brought to life the sentries of long ago pacing their watch. There is a series of handsome illustrated information plaques at various points around the remains of the Wall – a walk in itself for Roman lovers.
Following the footsteps of Samuel Pepys, Sheila took us to the churchyard of St Olave’s, survivor of the Great Fire, with somewhat gruesome reminders of the plague burials. There we found the ‘media’ filming something for a Christmas programme, so we could not view inside. On then to Victoriana, the solid regular brickwork of Fenchurch Street Station. I have the feeling that Mary’s enthusiastic and energetic spirit is just what is needed by British Rail – certainly she kept us on the move – ‘Mincing’ and “Seething’ along the Lanes, learning all the wile of the romance and tragedy packed into a tiny fragment of the great Square Mile. Peter gallantly explained the curiosities of the grotesque Minster Towers, a vast pink stone and glass monument to the Market Economy, after which a short respite in the ruins of St Dunstan’s (destroyed by Nazi bombs and now a peaceful garden oasis for workers’ rest and walkers’ appreciation) was very welcome. Finally to ‘All Hallows-by-the-Tower’ for welcome coffee and biscuits in an ‘upper room’, opened specially for us, and then we were taken in hand by one of the staff for a tour of the-crypt and the church – twice a phoenix from the ashes of 1666 and 1940. The Roll of Honour of famous names connected with this most remarkable church is too numerous to mention, but Rev. ‘Tubby’ Clayton and Toc H must be noted. To walk freely over a Roman mosaic floor, handle a Roman door key and a ridge tile moulded on the leg of a Roman roofer, gingerly touch the Grinling Gibbons font cover (cost £12 ), muse upon a delicate silver crucifix from the Spanish Armada(among the many maritime connections) and wonder at the collection of beautiful Communion Plate – it was not to be absorbed in one visit.
Nor was the Tower Hill Pageant, which we visited after lunch. The demolition of a wine warehouse has given access to the vaults which have been turned into a ‘Yorvik-like dark ride’ (said Dorothy on the booking sheet). ‘Better than Yorvik!’ (said those who have seen both). Advertised as a ‘trundle off through time’ there are life-sized Dioramas with wax models depicting life in London from primeval times to the present day, complete with sounds and smells and enthralling exhibits authenticated by the archaeologists of the Museum of London.
This brief account is intended merely to tempt you to go walking ‘by-the-Tower’ during the Christmas holidays. Try a service at All Hallows or St Olave’s and don’t forget the pageant, especially if it’s wet and cold – open every day from 9.30 am to 5.30pm. Telephone 071 709 0081 for particulars.
Many thanks to Mary and her colleagues DAWN ORR
This is currently being repaired, re-sorted and re-catalogued following the fire at Avenue House. Although smoke-damaged, most of the remaining books are in good enough condition to be loaned to members and it is intended, where possible, to publish a bibliography relevant to the Society’s lectures so that members can read further any subject which may have aroused their interest.
Publications specifically relating to the November lecture are listed below but there are books on Roman Britain generally, plus a set of “London Archaeologist” and “LAMAS Transactions”.
Excavations at Billingsgate
Buildings Triangle, Lower Thames Street LAMAS (1974)
Roman London Peter Marsden (1980)
Londinium, London in the Roman Empire John Morris (1982)
The Port of Roman London Gustav Milne (1985)
Excavations in Southwark 1973-76 DGLA/LAMAS (1988)
Roman London Dominic Perring (
Please contact Vikki O’Connor or myself on 081-361 1350 (evenings) if you are interested in borrowing any of the above. ROY WALKER
The Tudor Village of Whetstone
Hadas has undertaken several projects in this village which, until early in 19th’s C. was a typical country village, as may be found on main roads.
The Great North Road, has been an important route between London and the North since the early Middle Ages, until the 14’th C. the route was south-east from Whetstone, Frien Barnet and Muswell Hill to London
It was changed to go via Finchley and Highgate to London to and later a toll-gate was placed at this point, then a junction, where Totteridge Lane from the west reaches the G.N.Road, with a little the south the old London Rd through Frien Barnet and Muswell Hill probably still in use on to London.
r The evolution of Whetstone, and of the market town of Barnet, after which the new
Borough was named, and Much else in the Borough also will have been influenced, was very much to meet the needs of travellers and transport through the Borough.
It has two very major national roads, Watling St (of Roman Origin) in the west and the, Great North Road in the East.
H.A.D.A.S. projects in the area, have previously included ,Site watching of
re development and recording old buildings, investigating an ancient well, the site of cottages, and the tape-recording interviews with older residents, some recalling experiences from the beginning of the century, which are recounted in one of our most popular booklets ” Those Were The Days”.
The Whetstone Tudor House
As some members will know there were a number of old property in the centre of the village some which listed and in 1981 the Society investigated one of those still
remaining. It then produced a splendid set of drawings and a report ( N/L No ).
.,\IF Happily, this property has now been very beautifully restored by its owner Mr Rodwell
senior, and serves as offices for a local development company. Is an example of both, conservation for useful future application, combined with the preservation of a rare example of a 500 years old building in a borough which has little of its past heritage left.
In 1989 we again were asked, to investigation another house next to this, No 1264 Whetstone High Rd which is adjacent to the Griffin Inn, and directly opposite Totteridge Lane. We were asked if we would explore the house and record it, and excavate the land at the back.
It is has unattractive appearance from the front, but has proved to be full of surprises being one of the most interesting of the society projects, and these are are still continuing, some reported N/Letters.
We found that, behind the shop frontage was a very different building to the next house or to the Griffin Inn.
The house had a massive timber-framed construction, it had a surprising with amount of
the original oak main timbers still intact,( some up to 12″ square and 20 or more Ft
long), an still so solid that test drills were quickly blunted by an inch or two
The building is a two storied early Tudor construction much modified in it’s long
life. It had with four rooms and a central stair case with a door into a court-yard
opposite this and a large garden area at the back.
An early discovery was of, smoked staining in the -front and rear of the building evidence it was possibly a Tudor “twin hall” design, but it had insufficient rooms.
The front of the house was still occupied by a photographer with developing equipment studios etc, so we could not then explore this but assumed it might be there.
Drawings of the general construction where we were able to go were made, and of joint types (for dating etc,) and record photographs of construction and remaining
“wattle and daube”partitions etc,
” Carpenters marks” on the “pre-fabricated” main frame etc were well in progress,
when we told to stop because the tenant complained of disturbance.
The excavation work had also progressed but was also stopped for a time, but after some discussion we were allowed to resume after some weeks, but had to make our own gate with lock to enter directly into the back garden.
The excavation proved to be complicated, as much Victorian drainage cut through the area but evidence of a considerable extension was finally found at the rear of the building ,these included Tudor foundations and footings, and the remains of a further frame corner post.
This confirmed the building was originally one or more hays bigger and therefor it was a twin house.
We also found below the foundation level iron working residues, and pottery fragments indicating that may have been still earlier habitation on the site.
The Documentary Research
Mr.Rodwell the owner of 1266 High Rd, the Property next door had visited the site and told us he held many deeds of surrounding property and very kindly offered to let us see them.These proved to be most interesting, and indeed led to an extensive Local History research programme for two or three years duration.It has resulted in the discovery of nearly every owner or tenant of the houses over most of the last 500 years and of that of a number of others in the vicinity.These were all on land in the centre of village, on the area between the present Whetstone High Road, and Oakley Rd. N.near the site of the toll-gate and Road junction. Ownership, tenancy, wills and other references dating back several hundred years were traced (and translated), confirming the general, archaeological and construction evidence, of and indicating early Tudor dating of a number of the house and a considerable Tudor Village at Whetstone.
There is also a reference to “Le Westone” in one document dated 1485 possibly an earlier name still to be followed up so there is more to do on this. However there were even more surprises in wait for us at Whetstone. Three weeks ago we were asked if we would like to return to complete the project, which we very much welcomed and returning two weeks ago. We for the first time entered the forbidden front part of the building.To our first surprise was to find complete six roomed Georgian residence, quite new separate from the other houses and probably patched onto the Tudor part at some stage after it’s construction. It also has a large well built cellar below,So we are now dealing with three houses on the site, with some new problems and much else to study, if time permits .
The Records Traced
A list of the various leases, deeds, wills and other documents found in the process of tracing the property titles back, some to the late 1400’s. is given below, this research was undertaken by John Heathfield.
The earliest are from St Pauls Cathedral Court Rolls ( at The Guildhall library) and are translated from Latin, and extracts of some a typical specimens records are below.
20 Henry VIII
1505 Thos Sunny Surrendered Backlease A Field and Cottage and Garden to John Sunny.
2 Edward V1 iia
1595 John Sunney a Cottage Called bakehouse, a Field of Pasture and Mead called Bakewell of 8 1\2 Acres a Tenement Lately built, and a Barn to Robert Sunny
1603 William Sunney the Messuage in which he Lives and Another Cottage to Nicolas Kempe of Middle Temple
1718 Wm. Garland who Died in 1696 Left 3 Mess. now 2 and 2 Acres By to Andrew Gartland
1813 Anne Nixon to Eliz Cole Daughter of W Nixon
Following the recording, and, comment by the society, the first Tudor house was admirably restored..
After much public debate, the others are, it is now hoped, also to be preserved, and will we hope serve as a Group of examples of practical conservation, in addition to their interest for historic reasons.
BOOK REVIEW Percy Reboul
“I Can’t Say Vinegar” by Alfred Matthews
Reading Alfred Matthews’ little book is rather like handling a piece of furniture made by a village craftsman: it gives pleasure, is nice to own but is not to be compared with the work of a skilled cabinet-maker. The book is an autobiography of Alf’s life in the Borough of Barnet area. It starts in 1911 in a tiny, cockroach-ridden cottage in Hendon and ends in today’s East Barnet. Everything he writes is a labour of love and one can enjoy the sheer detail: gob-stoppers, turnip Jam, stone-hewn kitchen sinks, crystal sets, ‘knock-down ginger’, mud pies to mention but a few that will jog the memory of older readers.
As some wag observed recently “nostalgia ain’t what it used to be”. Maybe not, but it is a powerful human emotion that drives people like Alf Matthews to place on record for posterity events which are rather inconsequential in the wider canvas of history but are a valuable record of the doings of ordinary people – arguably Just as important.
Much of the material is a re-work of the author’s part-works “Alf’s Memories” No information has been given about stockists or price but Alf will be pleased to discuss both matters with anyone interested. Ring him on 081-449 1373