Issue No.297 DECEMBER 1995 Edited by Deirdre Barrie
Tuesday December 5th VISIT TO VERULAMIUM MUSEUM followed by CHRISTMAS DINNER at WATEREND BARN RESTAURAUNT, ST.ALBANS.
Tuesday January 9th, 1996 EVENING VISIT TO ROYAL INSTITUTION and FARADAY MUSEUM with Mary O’Connell (application form enclosed).
There is no lecture in January 1996, and in February we commence our new lecture day – the second Tuesday in the month in the Drawing Room at Avenue House, East End Road, Finchley N3 (8 pm for 8.30 pm). This is on the ground floor, with easy access, so we hope that members who have found the stairs difficult will
Tuesday February 11th Mike Hutchinson – “The Archaeology of the Jubilee Line Extension”. Tuesday Tuesday March 12th Simon Parfitt – “Boxgrove Discoveries”.
We may have the opportunity of an empty shop in Church Road, Hendon, for a few days to try and sell our 1995 surplus – especially clothes. Could any member help for a few hours if this plan materialises?
HADAS has a mystery to solve – or a ghost was on the outing to Silchester last August 19th. Vikki and Tessa both reported one passenger over and above the applications and cheques received. For morning coffee, entrance to the Museum of Rural Life and then tea, there were always 45 instead of 44. Who was the mysterious 45th? We can only assume someone’s cheque and form was lost in the post. To solve this mystery, would everyone who went on the trip see if a cheque hasn’t gone through. PS: It’s not the money—we want to solve the mystery. Vikki didn’t do a further roll-call on the coach, assuming an application had come in too late to go on the list.
We have several members on the sick list.
Victor Jones has had an op in the Royal Free.
Ted Sammes is in the Brompton Hospital. Following heart tests, he is being kept in, probably for a heart by-pass.
Jean Henning had a fall in August, breaking her wrist, which happily is now on the mend.
Enid Hill is having to curtail her activities including labelling our Newsletters and finds at the Museum of London. She is now regularly attending the Royal Free.
Both Mrs. Banham and Frieda Wilkinson, two of our longest- joined members are totally housebound, but they still enjoy our Newsletter, and we hear from them both occasionally.
Malcolm Stokes is the author of “A Walk Along the Ancient Boundaries in Kenwood” recently published by the Hornsey Historical Society, 24 pages, price £2.00. The old parish stones in Kenwood mark the centuries old boundaries of parish and manor long since gone. This walk looks at their ancient course today and considers how Lord Mansfield’s landscaping in 1793-6 has changed their appearance.
THE PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS Roy Walker
HADAS President, Michael Robbins, CBE, FSA, addressed the Society in November on a topic that had affected most churches during the Victorian period – restoration. He first explained his approach to archaeology. His understanding of the history of mankind came from the examination of all physical objects, it was immaterial whether they came from trenches or art galleries. Age too was immaterial – the past started this morning! Our President’s interests in fact awoke around 1800 AD and the following lecture well-illustrated his depth of knowledge of his favoured period.
Antipathy to the works of a previous generation is usually followed by a favourable reaction and the 19th century is no exception. It is now viewed with detachment and Victorian taste is sympathetically considered. However, the restoration of churches has not yet been rehabilitated. “Restored in 1850. . .” strikes a chill in most hearts. The Victorians were self-confident and swept away anything that did not conform and the restorations of the mid-19th century attracted critics even contemporary ones such as John Ruskin.
The term “restoration” was reviewed – a dictionary definition would be “to go back to something taken away, alterations and repairs to restore to its original form”. Under this definition, the works undertaken at Ely and Lincoln cathedrals were more of the nature of structural repairs than restoration. The reference to “original form” when applied to buildings with several architectural styles begs the question “which original form”? The 19th century church restorations (although this word was now treated as though in quotes) were carried out for four main reasons. They were major reconstructions, often pure rebuilding, to make good the centuries of decay. Works of enlargement were undertaken with the replacement of box pews with benches and the destruction of funerary monuments. This clearance could not be regarded as restoration. At this time there was a reversion to the liturgical practices of 1550. Fonts were repositioned by the west door, altars moved, chancel steps introduced (often for the first time in that building) and changes made to the number of lights in the windows. Not restoration. The final cause was simply “taste” to conform to what a church should look like. Gilbert Scott, for example, gave “tone” to St Michael, Cornhill.
By 1840 the style to which churches confirmed was “decorated, 2nd pointed”, English Gothic of the period 1250-1350. This style, strongly advocated by the Cambridge Camden Society (later the Ecclesiological Society) was considered the height of church architecture – previous styles building up to this, later styles simply a decline. Accordingly, under the guise of restoration all later styles, if present, were removed. As well as the liturgical changes outlined above, this “pure” style included no ceilings, no plaster, decorated style windows and 13th century pulpits (even if one had not been there ever). Other features were restored away. St Alban’s is a good example of this destructive school. George Gilbert Scott in 1848 spoke against this practice. Ancient details should not be obliterated, the individual character of the parish church should not be expunged. Restoration should not be undertaken to make the church look new but to repair. Modern surfaces should be removed only to check dilapidation and decay. Another architect, G. E. Street, pleaded for the authentic to be spared and William Butterfield (restorer of St John the Baptist, Barnet) similarly endorsed these views.
Mr Robbins then raised the problem that encountered these prominent architects of the day – they had opposed these restoration methods yet had themselves been attacked for the restoration works they undertook. William Morris spoke out against Scott’s work at Tewkesbury Abbey, Gilbert Scott jnr opposed the demolition of Hampstead church tower. It is sad that Scott, influenced no doubt by the laity and those who paid for the works of restoration, had a conflict of opinion and action. He admitted that he had not lived up to his own precept. His words had been tempered by phrases such as “there cannot be a strict rule” and “tone of feeling”. At Ripon cathedral, 1862-70, he had replace mullions of 1379 with ones of 13th century design and at Harrow-on-the-Hill he created a 14th century chancel where one hadn’t previously existed and refaced the exterior with flints for the first time in its history. G.E.Street too had this paradox. There was a problem of dualism. Most architects, disliking contemporary styles, selected a perfect age to which they adhered but this produced a dilemma – they were not single minded enough to keep to this.
The question session following the lecture produced two interesting points. In the mid-19th century, most major churches had reworked interiors, the smaller ones would have had partial workovers. Mr Robbins suggested an investigation into the records of local churches to examine the debate ongoing at that time – it would reveal arguments about how they should be restored, not if they should be restored. A comment
regarding the failure of a recognisable Victorian style to emerge evoked the question “what if Albert hadn’t died?” This sounds like a suitable title for next year’s Presidential Address.
ASPROM by June Porges
No, it isn’t a cure for a headache – its the Association for the Study and Preservation of Roman
Mosaics. I was told about it while poring over mosaics at the Dorchester Museum, and
attended their 32nd symposium, a most enjoyable weekend in Canterbury during the summer.
Papers were given by Tom Blagg, Anthony Beeson, David Johnston, Roger Ling and David
Neal, who also guided us round the Lullingston Roman Villa. Members are a mixed bunch
ranging from professors to ignoramuses like me – archaeologists, classicists and historians and
someone who is designing jumpers for her HND knitting exams – all very friendly and good
ASPROM was formed in 1978 as the British section of L’Association Internationale pour
l’Etude de la Mosaique Antique (AIEMA). ASPROM is now the largest and most active of the
national sections, organising two major meetings/symposia a year and publishing an annual
illustrated journal, Mosaic. The subscription of £10 per annum (Hon. Secretary: S. R. Cosh, 38 OaIdea, Ash Vale, Aldershot, Hants. GU12 5HP)
The AGM and 33rd symposium take place at the Museum of London on December 2nd.
Seven papers are featured on the programme, including one on Mosaic pavements from Ostia and another on the newly found Muses mosaic from Luxemburg.
Site Watching: Bill Bass
Tree planting along the south side of Totteridge Lane, Barnet (TQ 229939), resulted in several holes approx 2m sq by lm deep. Inspection showed about 30cm of topsoil sitting directly on solid yellow/brown (natural looking) clay, with some sand/gravel patches. No archaeological features were seen. Totteridge is thought to be an Anglo-Saxon place-name, Tata’s ridge, recording the ridge of drier land providing
the east-west route along which Totteridge Lane still runs.
View from the top Bill Bass
According to the CBA magazine, 1995 has been a very productive year for air photography, at least on a par with the hot summer of 1976. As well as the weather, the organisation of aerial survey is more advanced now than then and is in a better position to take advantage of the favourable conditions.
RCHME fliers have recorded at least 200❑ sites this year, a large proportion of which are new. These include a Neolithic causewayed camp near Peterborough, new Neolithic long barrows in Lincolnshire and Wessex, a dozen new Bronze Age round barrows near Andover, numerous new Iron Age settlements throughout England and three new Roman camps in the north of England. Sites have also been found in Europe such as
Germany and Hungary, where Neolithic features once thought to be unique to Britain – Curses monuments and pit alignments, for instance, can be observed.
Museum of London – No 1 Poultry P E Pickering
I went on 3rd November to a lunchtime lecture at the Museum of London by Peter Rowsome on the continuing excavations on the site of No 1 Poultry. He repeated what he had reported in his article in the Autumn 1955 London Archaeologist, and brought us up to date with later finds. The site is very rich indeed – the Victorian buildings left between 2 and 4 metres of Roman, late Saxon and mediaeval deposits beneath them – and although the planning permission pre-dated PPG 16 the archaeologists have had good allocations of time and funding; they hope to excavate fully 55% of the site, and sample the rest.
The important discoveries include a Saxon cobbled market place, sunken-floor buildings and a Saxon well made out of a tree-trunk; the 11th century church of St Benet Sherehog, not rebuilt after the Great Fire, and a cemetery that replaced it; the Great Conduit (a vaulted 13th-century cistern); the Merchants of Lucca House (an important 13th century financial centre). From the Roman period there was a stone building complex with walls a metre high, and mosaic floors from which three central pictorial panels had been carefully lifted in antiquity – perhaps the owners took them with them when they sold their town house and moved out to a villa.
Although the comprehensive nature of the redevelopment of the site means that no other remains will be preserved in situ, the Great Conduit will be preserved under Cheapside.
WHERE YOU SAT IN A MEDIAEVAL HOUSE P. E. Pickering
I went to the open meeting of SCOLA (the Standing Conference on London Archaeology) on 4th November, at which Dr Philip Dixon gave a lecture with this intriguing title. Our own President, Michael Robbins, was in the chair.
Dr Dixon was not talking about the sort of house you or I might have lived in, but about much, much grander (and, he told us, much more draughty) places; his slides were of Tattershall Castle, Knaresborough Castle, Castle Rising, Castle Hedingham and the like. He explained that the lord of these places would sit in a very strategic place in the audience chamber, near the fire and lit by the largest window, while those who wished to see him kicked their heels in the uncomfortable but impressively decorated “mooching chamber” until he had them admitted. These castles were built, according to Dr Dixon, not for defence but to impress – not only one’s social inferiors but also one’s peers,
I was personally especially interested because Dr Dixon, who is at Nottingham University, talked a lot about places near my own home town of Lincoln. He fascinated me by arguing that the suburban building which was called John of Gaunt’s Stables in my youth, and has since been renovated (it needed it) by the Lincoln Civic Trust and called St Mary’s Guildhall, was actually built specially for Henry II in 1157 when he came to Lincoln for a ceremonious crown-wearing.