NEWSLETTER N0. 151 September 1983
The new season of lectures begins next month at Hendon Library, The Burroughs, NW4. Coffee at 8 .00 p.m.; lectures begin at 8.30 p.m.
Tuesday, October 4th: Bronze Age Rock Carving in South Scandinavia Dr.John Coles
Tuesday November 1st: ‘Britons and Romans in Hertfordshire Tony Rook
For new members, buses 183 and 143 pass the door. The Library is 10 minutes walk from Hendon Central Underground Station and only a few minutes’ walk from the 113 (Edgware) bus and 240 and 125 (Quadrant, Hendon) bus. There are two free car parks opposite the Library. Members may bring a guest to one lecture, but guests who wish to attend further lectures should be invited to join the Society. Will old members please welcome new ones and make them feel at home. New members PLEASE make themselves known.
Saturday, October 15th 11.30 a.m. – 3.00 p.m. at St. Mary’s Church House (top of Greyhound Hill, Hendon, and opposite Church Farm House Museum)
Tessa Smith and her team will once again be serving excellent Ploughman’s Lunches, coffees and–.teas. We hope all our members will come and make it a social as well as a money-making event. There will be a Secretary’s corner and a Society Publications stand. Come and chat about the Society’s activities and find out if you can help the various groups Roman, Documentary, Research, Site-watching Industrial Archaeology in the Borough etc.
There will be a Home-Made Stall – cakes, jams, pickles and sweets. Will anyone who can supply anything for the ‘eats’ stall, including fruit, vegetables or groceries, please contact Brigid Grafton Green on Te1.455 9040.
For the other stalls –
Small Bric-a-Brac – unwanted gifts
Toiletries, stationery – jewellery – toys
Good as new men’s, women’s and children’s clothing
Please ring Christine Arnott (455 2751) or Dorothy Newbury (203 0950). You have six weeks to turn out anything saleable. If you like, bring it to the October lecture and we will collect from there.
LOCAL HISTORY CONFERENCE
The London and Middlesex Archaeological Society’s Local History Conference this autumn – always a very lively occasion – will take place on Saturday, November 19 at the Museum of London.
For the first time the conference will be all day instead of just in the afternoon. It will start at 11.30 and end about 5.30. The theme is London and Military Conflict – running in time from the Civil War of the 17 century up to London in the Blitz of 1940-41.
Tickets (which include afternoon tea) cost £2 and can be obtained from Mr. H. E. Robins, 3 Cameron House, Highland Road, Bromley, Kent, Please include a SAE.
ALL ABOUT PEOPLE…
…the HADAS coachload which enjoyed the August outing (see Mary O’Connell’s report below) all delighted to welcome again two HADAS stalwarts who have been a bit under the weather lately – Mrs. Banham and Mrs. Mason, now both recovered and back to joining in the Society’s activities.
Good news too that GEORGE INGRAM continues his recovery. He reports that, aided by magnifiers, he can read printed pages„ but he still has to solve the problem of writing, and of reading handwritten notes.
George tells us that another HADAS member of long standing, FREDA WILKINSON, hopes to have her eye operation (like George, she has for some time been wrestling with the difficulities of deteriorating sight) towards the end of August. We all wish her very well.
Sympathy and good wishes are also in order for one of our younger members, MARION NEWBURY, who succumbed, early last month, to chicken pox – which, if you don’t get rid of it in childhood, can be a most painful and unpleasant illness. By the time you read this we hope Marion will be well on the road to recovery.
Finally, news from quite a different front. Congratulations to two HADAS members, JEAN SNELLING and LYNN HARVEY, who this summer successfully completed the three years of the London University external Certificate in Field Archaeology at, Barnet College, both passing their final year exams with Merit.
AUGUST OUTING Report by Mary O’Connell
Perfect weather, Dorothy’s varied and well-planned programme and Colin’s calm and efficient driving combined to produce a day of sheer enjoyment for the coach load of HADAS voyagers on Saturday August 13th.
Sweets and leaflets had just had time to circulate when we pulled into the 815 acre site of Rothampstead Experimental Farm. Founded in 1843 by agricultural reformer, John Lawes, it is famous world-wide and its scientific experiments into soil and grain improvements draw 3000 visitors a year.
Flints turned up on a previously wooded corner of Broadbalk field in 1937 caused the Director, Sir John Russell, to call in the St.Alban’s and Hertfordshire Archaeological Society. They uncovered a walled area approximately 100′ x 100′ with two cremation burials within it (100 – 125 AD) and a central altar or shrine (similar to the Romano-Celtic temple excavated (1934) at Verulamium four miles to the south.). The few remaining pottery fragments were viewed before we continued through the Hertfordshire countryside to Ashwell. Here refreshments were served by the village ladies and the small but delightful museum was explored. Lying close to, the Icknield Way, Ashwell had been an important market town held by the Abbot., of Westminster from 930 AD until the Dissolution, (traces of his manor house were found under the present rectory).The town paid tithes and dues to Westminster (just as Hendon did) and consequently became staunchly Protestant when the monks’ hold was loosened.
The office used by the Abbot’s steward for the collection of taxes, monitoring of trade and storing of grain and wool later became known as the Town House. In 1930 a restoration fund started by two school boys saw the opening of the house as a local museum with a varied and un-stuffy collection ranging from a bushel-and-“strike” (a strip of wood for levelling off a measure) to a mummified black rat – the carrier of the plague which was to reduce Ashwell’s importance and leave the population at 2,000 – as it is today.
Next a 15th century double lichgate led us to St.Mary’s Church where the rector greeted us first with information about their annual post-Easter music festival and of. Sunday teas and evensong, to which all visitors were welcome. He went on to describe his church. Built 1250-1350 it has survived as a “whole” and is remarkably light. The clerestory windows, off-set for economy, contain medallions of salvaged mediaeval glass. The great east window was originally
a memorial to Becket (a bill for it can been in Westminster Abbey). The amount of graffiti on the pillars and walls is unique. There are quotations, comments on plaque and storm and drawings – the finest being a detailed scratching of the first St.Paul’s Cathedral.
In recent years the church has been adorned with banners and a crowned madonna alta-tapestry for the Lady chapel made by skilled weaver, Mr. Percy Sheldrake, who retired to Ashwell to live as a hermit. Also a set of paintings of the Virgin of Ashwell was contributed by a badly crippled local artist. You can sense that the church and the village are permeated by a feeling of corporate purpose and pride. There are so many well preserved historic buildings and the mill has been restored to working order.
There are also natural springs in the chalk producing on average 1 1/3rd million gallons of water per day, never warmer than 52°. These are the source of the Cam which joins the Ouse at Ely and flows into the Wash (65 miles away). Rare flat worms, half an inch long, survivors of the Ice Age, are to be found here – apparently!
I am sure that I am not alone in my resolve to revisit Ashwell to study this pretty friendly village at leisure.
Back on the coach, Dorothy’s commentary now guided us through the fenland.
past: Sandy – a 7 acre roman enclosure and now HQ of R.S.P.B.
Tempsford – scene of a Danish battle
Sawtry – whose unfrocked priest was burned at Smithfield in 1401 as a follower of Wykeliffe.
Norman Cross – which marks a Napoleonic POW camp
Elton Hall – where Henry VIII’s signed prayer book and bible are to be found and Oundle – the public school for 600 boys
And so to Ashton where Brian Dix in charge of the excavation, conducted us round the site which is a section of a small Roman town by the River Nene.
Since 1960 field-walking and aerial photography have shown street grids and properties. Opened up in 1971 and worked by amateurs and summer-school trainees, buildings of an industrial nature were revealed. The timber frame buildings of 50AD became two storey dwellings on a masonry base with evidence of hearths and iron-working. Thatch and tiles have been found also deep wells and lead tanks. Occupation lasted till late 14th century. The streets had been re-surfaced and repaired nine times and levelled on either side to boundary ditches. The cambered layering exactly resembled the cross-section illustration found in so many school text-books.
Ashton could well have started as a military supply camp placed at a strategic river crossing, or to control traffic on deep water.
Mr. Dix reckons that the selected trenching should be completed by October this year, before the by-pass is built. As a final, poignant link with the past he led us to where some past inhabitants lay bonily exposed in their shallow, stone-lined graves.
A short drive took us on to Godmanchester where the WI provided “the cup that cheers”. The Mayor came in to welcome us to the town exhibition and Paddy promptly initiated his worship into the advantages of starting a town-trail: found the church rather dank and devoid of informative literature, but on such a summer evening the Chinese bridge, the waterside dwellings and the scone–scoffing aquatic flotilla provided a picturesque finale to our day.
SITES TO WATCH
During the last month or so the following proposals have appeared on the planning application lists of the London Borough of Barnet. Should the applications be approved, the sites might have some archaeological interest, so we would greatly appreciate a tip-off if any member passing one of these sites notices any development activity. Please ring Elizabeth Sanderson (950 3106) and let her know:
Convent of St. Mary at the Cross, Hale Lane, Outline application to erect
Edgware houses and flats
Old Red Lion, Underhill, Barnet Front/side extensions to building
879 High Road, N12 Warehousing
195 Edgwarebury Lane Side, front, rear extensions
23 Parsons Crescent, Edgware ditto
63 Edgwarebury Lane Front/side extensions
100 Edgwarebury Lane Rear/front extensions
HADLEY WOOD DIG
Work continues at Hadley Wood during the weekends and it is hoped to open up a new trench to continue the section. All members a welcome – please telephone Brian Wrigley (959 5982) or Victor Jones (458 6180) to confirm times and obtain directions.
Some subscriptions are still outstanding and should be paid as soon as possible please to Membership Secretary, Phyllis Fletcher, 27 Decoy Avenue, NW11 OES.
MORE WORK FOR THE WINTER
Last month we mentioned some of the courses available for students next winter –particularly post-Diploma and Diploma and Certificate courses. This month you may like a rundown on some WEA and similar courses in or near our Borough.
In Totteridge at Owens Adult Education Centre, 20 Chandos Avenue, N20, on Fridays from September 30th at 10.00 a.m. Western Archaeology – The Greeks. Lecturer -Tony Rook BSc.
At Haverstock School, Haverstock Hill, NW3, Tuesdays from Septembei 27th at
7 p.m. Archaeology tf the Later Roman Empire. A.C.King BA.
At Elstree Community Centre, Allum Lane, Elstree, Tuesdays from September 27th 7.30? p.m. Roman Britain. A.R.Wilmot, MA.
In Golders Green, 27 Rotherwick Road, NW11, Thursdays starting September 22nd
8 p.m. Medieval Archaeology. Miss J. Mattingly, BA.
At Southgate, United Reform Church premises, Fox Lane, N13, Wednesdays starting September 21st, 10.00 a.m. Greek Archaeology. Miss F. Cameron, MA.
At Edgware Friends Meeting , Rectory Lane, Mondays from September 26th, 10.30 a.m. Gardens through the Ages (from Tudor to Gertrude Jekyll). Lona Price, a National Trust Lecturer on gardens.
At Mill Hill, Union Church small hall, The Broadway, NW7, Tuesdays from September 27th, 10.30 a.m. London, the History and the Art (1509-1901). Cornelia Murray Philipson,
Same venue, Thursdays from September 22nd at 10.00 a.m. Ancient Egypt: Art and Architecture. Mrs. Clare Abbott.
At North Finchley, 1 Woodberry Way, N12, Mondays from September 26th at 8 p.m. Classical Greece in 5th c. BC. Colin Matheson, BA.
At Hendon Library, The Burroughs, NW4. Wednesdays from September 28th at 7.30 p.m. An introduction to Ancient Egypt – history, art and religion. Stephanie Gee, MA.
Basic fees for 24 lecture courses are usually around f23-24. OAPs £15-16. There are often much reduced special fees for the unemployed (e.g. £4.80) for 24 lectures at Mill Hill classes). Arrangements for enrolment vary, but it is usually possible to enrol (if places are still available) at the first two lectures of the term. advice about enrolment please ring Brigid Grafton Green (455 9040) for further information.
SEVENTY-FIVE YEARS IN OUR VILLAGE Isobel McPherson
In August 1908, the newly formed Finchley Co-Partnership Society purchased part of the Grass Park Estate from the freeholder, Mr.J.C.Williamson. It lay in a sheltered valley just east of the Dollis brook on the border with Hendon and the Co-Partnership intended to build there a development of small, traditional houses around a village green. Unlike most other schemes of its kind it provided for joint ownership of the land but individual ownership of the houses, which were to be designed by Frank Stratton, a partner in the local firm of Bennett and Stratton. Stratton’s attractive small houses can be seen, and easily recognised, in other parts of Finchley but Village Road
(‘The Village’ to most people) is his real memorial. Stratton was himself a member of the society and lived until his death in one of the houses. A pillar on the green bears his name and those of villagers who died in the two world wars.
The Co-Partnership remained in being until 1939 by which time the individual freeholds had been sold and during these thirty years firm restrictive covenants ensured that the character of the village remained unchanged. In 1941 the central green was taken over by the council and in 1955 a metalled public road replaced the rough track under private, village control. Stratton’s. houses, varied in detail but drawn into cohesion be careful siting and by the governing ‘village’ style were robustly built under the close supervision of the architect. The first twelve were occupied in 1909 and building was virtually complete by the outbreak of the First World War, so the village grew up in what is regarded as the best period for small house construction in England. Modern surveyors shake their heads over some of the features – huge barn-like lofts with no supporting purlins, for example –
but Stratton’s local knowledge and the high standard of materials and workmanship at that time ensured their survival.
During the Second World War two houses were destroyed and most of the others suffered damage but after repair the fifty-two homes on the fringe of the irregular green looked much as their designer intended – and still-: o so, though they :Went through a difficult period before BBC designated the; village a Conservation:Area in November 1978. Various factors – a taste for novelty, the high cost of sand-surfaced tiles and timber,– the sheer impossibility of replacing exactly some window-frames and outside fittings – were responsible
for the decline, which seems to have been arrested in time to save the integrity of the Village. The houses, according to the original Schedule of Restrictive
Covenants were to be of minimum value of £300 (prime cost in labour and materials); one house has passed down through five generations of the same family. An excellent investment!
Thanks to the hoarding instincts of the villagers, the long lives and excellent memories of older residents (13 nonagenarians and several close-run centuries) and the dedicated research work of Miss Peggy Wells, the records of Village Road, Finchley, are remarkably complete. These include a Schedule of Deeds and Documents from September 1910 to April 1933, copies of the original covenant and the original Co-Partnership Share Certificate, house plans, details of construction, tree felling, ditch filling and old rights of way. One note says that the Village children ‘used to light the methane gas on the marshy ground’ below Windsor Road. We have a list of five marriages where both bride and groom were brought up here. Until most people had cars, village life was busy and enterprising. Societies flourished, with Tennis Courts at the back of No.21 (on the old course of the brook) an Operatic Society which never needed an outside soloist, several instrumental groups. During the annual Village Fete, which was held between 1911 and about 1927, the children took part in various open air plays under the direction of Jack Hutchinson who went on to a distinguished career as an actor, professionally known as Stephen Jack. He is still remembered piping the rats, then the merry children, out of the village and into the trees by the brook.
Mr.Hutchinson and Miss Wells are the chief recorders of the village history, having lived virtually all their lives herb. Mr. Hutchinson’s memoir of early village life is full of evocative detail and should certainly be published
one day. The place has always attracted artists, actors and musicians, but with a fair mixture of ‘ordinary folk’ among the illustrious.
Even when the Annual Fete lapsed, a tradition of Village Festivals continued and this Anniversary, year we shall be welcoming back residents from a distance who remember, as children, acting or playing in hay-houses on the green (in fact, we are always welcoming ,them. ‘Excuse me, I used to live in this house seventy five years ago’ says a stranger at the garden gate). We keep a low profile on these occasions, since space and resources are limited, but it
will be a proud occasion when the Rt. Rev. Cyril Tucker, CBE, Bishop in Argentina ’63-’75, Bishop of the Falkland Islands ’63-’76 opens the festivities, remembering the days when he was simply ‘one of the Tucker twins at 22 Village Road’.
BOOK REVIEW by Bill Firth
“Milk for the Millions” by Brigid Grafton Green. Published by Barnet Libraries. Local History Publications, price 50p.
This is the latest of the Barnet Libraries Local History Publications and is an account of the activities of the Express Dairy in the Borough of Barnet. The author’s name and her known interest in the subject are really recommendation enough, a review hardly seems necessary but I have agreed to do it so here goes.The account starts with a brief history of the company which George Barham founded in 1864 although there had been a dairy business for thirty years or so before ‘ that. It is a classic story of Victorian success, By the 1880s the company had two dairy farms in what is now the borough of Barnet – one was the well known College Farm, Finchley; the other was the dairy at Kenwood. Later there were
two others, Frith Manor, Woodside Park and Tithe Farm, Mill Hill but College Farm was the showpiece and a large part of the booklet is taken up with the developments and innovations there.
There are other important connections in the borough too – the Cricklewood bottling plant, the central laboratories at Colindale, the first Express Dairy self-service shop – it’s all there.
Two points puzzle me – first there are two references (one is a quotation, the other may refer to one) to College Farm being four miles and later, five. miles from Central London – the farm gate is about 4 miles along the turnpike from Regents Park which is hardly Central London. Perhaps this is licence on the part of earlier authors (not the present one). Secondly there is a picture of a Radar controlled electric delivery vehicle of 1933. I thought Radar was a secret invention and only of military application until after World War II
Many HADAS members are familiar with College Farm and many must know of its Express Dairy connections. However, it is nearly 10 years since the company left and there must be an increasing number of people who do not know. these: things. Whether you think you know it or not, buy this publication, it is a marvellous piece of local history.
The Barham family lived in Wembley and are commemorated in Barham Park which is part of the grounds of .their mansion. Despite their activities in Barnet, until now they seem to have been unrecognised here. Brigid Grafton Green has done them proud.
MILK FOR THE MILLIONS is available from HADAS or from any Barnet Library.
CHURCH FARM HOUSE MUSEUM
The next exhibition at the museum on show from 10th September – 18th December is entitled “VANITY FAIR 1869-1914″, and shows paintings, proofs and prints from the John Franks Collection.
This is an important collection of material relating to the famous 19th century weekly magazine “Vanity Fair”, which through its memorable caricatures recorded the great changes in English society during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
(The museum in open on weekdays, except Tuesdays, from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. – 5.30 p.m. on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. – I p.m. and on Sundays from 2 p.m. — 5.30 p.m.).