Newsletter 183: May, 1986
Sat May 10. Visit to the Mary Rose and Portchester. With Marion Newbury
This outing is heavily overbooked; a re-run has been planned for Sat. Aug 16. Application forms will be enclosed in the June Newsletter; meantime, will anyone wanting to join the re-run please phone Dorothy Newbury (203 0950)0. This information is essential to enable us to open the trip, if needs be, to members’ friends in order to fill the coach. Will members who applied too late for the May trip also please confirm that August 16 suits them as an alternative?
Tues May 20 Annual General Meeting (notice enclosed). Following the AGM several members have offered to show their own slides in 5 or 10-minute slots:
Percy Reboul Old Hendon
Derek Batten Custers battlefield excavation, USA
Paddy Musgrove Wales
Bill Firth Hendon Aerodrome
Barbara Howe Albania
We may not be able to show all the above: how many will depend on the time taken by AGM business.
Sat June 14 Trip to Faversham/Rochester with Paul Craddock
Sat July 26 Trip to Sutton Hoo/Orford with Sheila Woodward
Thurs-Sun Sep 18-21 Exeter weekend with Ann & Alan Lawson
This trip is almost full – just a couple of empty seats left on the coach. We would like to fill these, so if any member still wants to join the trip please ring either 458 3827 or 203 0950.
WEST HEATH IN MAY
There will be digging at our West Heath site throughout May. The original plan was to dig for three weeks in April, then take a rest and start again in June – but April, 1986, has hardly been good digging weather: so work will continue through May.
The site: will be open-every day except Saturday. If you’re proposing to dig, please let, Margaret Maher (907 0333) or Myfanwy Stewart (443025) know, just in case there are any last minute changes of plan.
With the start of the dig – even a showery April start – the saga of West Heath wild life has begun again (for the first chapter in this enthralling serial, see Margaret Maher’s “Animal Crackers” in last September’s Newsletter). Already two very fat lady toads are in residence in the hide used for tools, which they are sharing with a very small baby rabbit. Last year Margaret believed the large toads were macho men; now she’s discovered the fat ones are the ladies and the males are skinny and look rather immature. The toad equivalent of henpecked, perhaps? No frogs have put in an appearance yet – that’s a joy to come.
All diggers over 16 will be most welcome at West Heath, whether new recruits or old hands: but please give notice of your intention to come, especially if you are new to digging: you’ll need some advice about equipment, etc.
NEW MAPS FOR OLD
Barnet Borough Library is currently selling a set of six interesting maps: they are reprints of large-scale Ordnance Survey maps of the last century. They originally saw the light of day in the 1890s, when they were at a scale of 1:2500, or 25 ins to the mile. For purposes of this 1986 reprint the scale has been reduced to 1:4340 or about 15 ins to the mile,
Moving spirit behind a project for reprinting 19c large-scale maps for the whole country is Alan Godfrey of Gateshead. Various areas – mainly the north – have already been published. Now a start has been made on the London Sheets luckily for us northwest London (and the Borough of Barnet specifically) is being dealt with early in the programme. This is partly because our History Collection has been able to provide good, clear originals from which Alan Godfrey can publish. The first six local maps, at £1 each, cover Cricklewood, Golders Green, East Finchley, North Finchley, New Barnet and Muswell Hill.
On the reverse each Map carries a note about the area covered, mentioning some of the buildings and features: the notes have been compiled mainly by the two LBB Archivists, Pam Taylor and Joanna Cordt. The reverse also carries, for 4 of the maps, excerpts from local directories for the same area at about the same date; the remaining two – Golders Green and Cricklewood – carry parts of earlier OS maps – 1868 for Cricklewood and 1880 for Golders Green.
Other local maps will follow in the series. Mid-Finchley is in preparation – covering an area southwards from Fallow Corner and taking in part of Church End Finchley. Friern: Barnet, Welsh Harp and Edgware are all gestating; so is an area bordering on Hampstead, south of East Finchley and east of Golders Green, which will cover Ken Wood and North End.
Hendon is on the agenda too, though a few problems have arisen because the original Hendon maps are not in tip-top condition. Members who live in Hampstead – and we have a lot – may like to know that Camden Local History Library has begun annotating its sheets so these ought to go into production in the not too distant future.
The maps cost £l each, from selected local libraries. Should you be in any doubt about whether your nearest branch library is ‘selected,’ we suggest you telephone Central Library in the Burroughs (202 5625) and check.
When he has dealt with the 1894-6 edition, Alan Godfrey hopes to do the same with the editions of the 1860s (though the further back you go, the trickier it is to find good, clean copies) and then the 1911 and 1930s editions.
IS THIS A DAGGER THAT I SEE BEFORE ME? DAPHNE LORIMER
ruminates on some of the more outrageous possibilities of archaeology
The trouble with digs is that one finds things; and the trouble with finding things is the devastating effect that it can have on the errant imagination. No matter how firmly the hatches are battened on the would-be scientific mind, nor how carefully thought is canalised into the paths of rectitude and fact, there comes a moment (all unbidden and often in the coffee break) when little tendrils of fancy escape, take root and, like some gaudy tropical bloom, burst into a joyous, unsubstantiated and fantastical reconstruction.
Turning out memorabilia to go north revived many of these lighter archaelogical moments, many of them from HADAS. Who remembers, for instance the Medieval Chicken at Church Terrace? Were its bones the remains of some Saints Day feast or did it fall victim to that fox whose bones were nearby who was, incidentally, rather a poor thing and had broken his leg at some time? He must have been rather slow off the mark – in any event, he paid for his crime. Perhaps, on the other hand, he was rescued as a cub from a trap, nursed with loving care, grew up with the chicken and died, a much loved pet, to be buried near his friend..
Then there were the bones of the hand buried all by themselves, outside consecrated ground. Legitimately, they could be considered the bones of a thief but who was he? Could he have been a Medieval Hendon Peasant who, on a cold, hard winter’s night, driven to despair by the cries of his hungry children, poached a red deer from Hendon Woods to feed his starving family? At least, as the hard-faced minions of the Abbot of Westminster stretched his hand on the block, he knew they had food in their bellies (the deer bones are there to prove it)
Farther afield in the Mendips, is a Romano-British farm. There, in solitary splendor, in the middle of its yard the excavator’s trowel revealed the entire fragments of a broken bowl. Who dropped it? What was in it? .Was some maidservant taking refreshment to the inspecting steward from the villa in the valley below? (He’d come to do the accounts, no doubt, and probably left his stylus behind). Did she get into trouble? Perhaps it wasn’t the steward, but her young man who was to be the recipient of illicit refreshment, in which case retribution doubtless followed, swift and sure.
The skeletal analyst has an even better time not only can withers be wrung by battered babies, dental abscesses and other diseases (which really do fill the mind with pity) but speculation can have its lighter moments. On top of the mound of Howe Broch outside Stromness, Orkney, were found a number of human bones, neatly chopped into lengths and buried just beneath the turf, had we found a murder? The bones were old – but had some 18c or.19c villain-strangled, poisoned or stabbed his victim, butchered his body with a handy axe and buried the evidence of his crime? The other happy theory, by the way, was cannibalism. Speculation ran rife, but fact was regrettably prosaic – a little detection proved the bones to be Viking and the damage to be due to the plough and reburial by the farmer.
Some people take up archaeology in pursuit of science, some in pursuit of history. What both produce are just the bare bones, the mere skeleton of our past. Is it such a crime to put flesh onto the bones and, in our lighter moments, to cloth them in dreams?
WHAT’S TO BE DONE WITH THE LONGEST BUILDING IN EUROPE?
Last month the Finchley Society kindly invited HADAS to take part in a meeting they had set up with the authorities of Friern Hospital, led by Maurice Jeffrey the hospital administrator. Five members of the Finchley Society, a representative of the Middlesex Polytechnic and one from HADAS were in the visiting party. The objects of the meeting were twofold: to learn what the present plans are for the building and its grounds; and to investigate what action can be taken to ensure that the historic, architectural and environmental importance of Friern Hospital is fully recognised in any future plans for developing this – the largest single site ever likely to become available in north London..
Some time ago, as HADAS members will know, a decision was taken by the Area Health authority to phase out Friern Hospital over a period and by degrees to integrate its patients into local communities. When the phasing-out is complete, the huge building (originally Colney Hatch Asylum), mainly dating to 1831, will become redundant. The hospital stands in 114 acres of ground (in which, incidentally, there are many splendid and some rare trees).
Three separate parts of the hospital are listed as of architectural and historic importance first, the enormously long frontage of the building, with its square interval towers and its central coppertop cupola surmounting an imposing pedimented and arcaded entrance and 5 stained-glass windows of the original chapel; secondly, an octagonal colonnaded pumping house and water tower which stand’s on a commanding mound in the grounds, under which is a reservoir filled with water pumped up from an artesian well; there is still in’position in it various parts of the original machinery – for example, a water level recorder (made by Glenfield & Kennedy of Kilmarnock)’ which was in operation for a century from 1868; and thirdly., the entrance lodge.
Although the hospital lies entirely within the London Borough of Barnet, no patients are referred there from Barnet, which sends its psychiatric cases to Napsbury, in Herts. To Friern go patients either from Haringey, Camden or Enfield. The Borough of Barnet, however, is the planning authority which will have a final say in any decisions about the future of the building and grounds.
The Health Authority has submitted two planning applications for the site, one which LBB has turned down. On the other, which the hospital calls a ‘notional’ application, LBB and the Health Authority propose to carry on talking, in order to explore all the problems and possibilities. One encouraging fact is that LBB has said it will not agree to the demolition of the Listed building.
The original programme for closing the hospital has now been modified. One part of Friern -the area of Halliwick Hospital, whose buildings lie to the west and are independent of the main building – is to be kept, with some 250-300 beds, for Haringey patients; and also for those in the specialized units which are Friern’s pride. These are for the treatment of for instance, disturbed adolescents, geriatric patients and other particular groups. They have the reputation of being among the best in the country.
The proposed time–table for running down Friern Hospital goes something like this: 50 patients will move out by March 1987: that is, two wards will be closed in the next year. The 10-year plan of removals is intended to end by. 1993, by which time 500 patients will have gone, leaving in Halliwick 250 of the present total of 750. The phasing out is being done by withdrawing towards the centre: the outer wings will close first, and will be left empty. After 3 years the time-table is already 12months behind schedule.
So much for the present situation to estimate future use of the area and buildings, it is first worth looking back at its history. This is something HADAS is in a position to do, hanks to one of our members, David Tessler, who lived nearby and became interested in the hospital in the late 1970s. David was a dental surgeon; he went abroad in the early 1980s, but before that he had done a good deal of research and had arranged a display on the history of Friern at an exhibition of industrial archaeology, called Here Today, Gone Tomorrow, which HADAS mounted at Barnet Museum from October 1978 to January 1979, He also took a number of photographs of the hospital, inside and out.
Mr Tessler was greatly helped by Dr Richard Hunter, the historian of Friern Hospital, Dr Hunter was the author, with Dr Ida Macalpine, of Psychiatry for the Poor: Colney Hatch Asylum 1851-Friern Hospital 1974, a medical and social history. The author kindly presented HADAS with a copy of his book, so members can borrow it from our library.
Through Dr Hunter’s kind offices we were able to borrow from the hospital for the 1978-9 exhibition various historic objects – such as a set of Victorian keys (every internal door was lockable and senior staff carried master keys); an early glass enema syringe; and the engineer’s report of 1851 estimating gas requirements, which led to the decision to build the hospital’s own gas works in the SE corner of the estate, with rail access from the adjoining Great Northern railway station, now New Southgate and Friern Barnet, opened in 1855.
Early photos, also from the hospital collection, showed nursing uniforms of Victorian days, the carpenters’ shop with brush making in progress, the hospital fire brigade and pictures of secure accommodation, which carried this caption:
“Padded cells were used for the disturbed patient’s own protection. Three types.of secure accommodation were:
A. a horse-box type of arrangement where the patient could be viewed under minimum security;
B. a half-padded dell, with fully padded door and secure windows;
C. a full-padded cell: the inside had a protected window and a peep hole in the door, which could be disguised from outside.”
This subject of securing; or confining, patients is one on which Friern has always held enlightened views, right from the start. Nowadays TV companies occasionally ring the hospital to ask for the loan of a straitjacket for a film. They are told with considerable pride, that Friern has never possessed such an object, not even in 1851.
David Tessler wrote a brief account of Friern in the HADAS leaflet accompanying Here Today, Gone Tomorrow. In it he said: ‘The foundation stone of what was England’s finest – and Europe’s largest mental hospital was laid by the Prince Consort in 1849, in an entirely rural setting northwest of London. It opened in time for the Great Exhibition in July 1851, with accommodation for 1250 patients, as the Middlesex County Pauper Lunatic Asylum at Colney Hatch. As plain Colney Hatch it became synonymous with madness, as Bedlam was in previous centuries. Among the documents in the hospital archives is the first Admissions book, for 1851. The entry for one Patient gives, as reason for admission, over-excitement engendered by a visit, to the Great Exhibition.
Colney Hatch was planned as a largely self-supporting community with its own farm and kitchen garden, well, gas-works, brewery, laundry, needle room and upholsterer’s, tailor’s, and shoe-maker’s shops, even its own graveyard where there are over ‘2000 unmarked paupers’ graves. Most of the labour was done by the patients, which kept down their cost to the rate-payer while providing varied occupational therapy. As next to nothing was known of the causes of mental illness, treatment was on general lines by good food, fresh air, rest, exercise, occupation and amusement.
In 1889, on the creation of the LCC, Colney Hatch became a London County Asylum. During World War I more than 3000 patients were accommodated (1986 note: the oldest patient at Friern now suffered shell-shock in WWI). In 1937 it was re-named Friern Hospital to remove old associations. In 1948 it was taken over by the National Health Service. As medical knowledge grew, many of the diseases which filled it vanished and treatment for the remainder improved. In consequence the need for such a large and isolated establishment declined, and continues to do so.”
When David Tessler wrote that in 1978, Friern contained 1000 patients. Today there are 750; by 1993 there will be, in Halliwick, well under half that.
A partial tour inside the hospital (it would take Weeks to see it in detail) and a half-perambulation of the exterior had been laid on for the Finchley Society visit last month. Evidence was everywhere visible for the historical significance of the building itself and also for the social and medical history of England in the, last 130 years. Here are a few examples:
We saw two empty wards, immediately above each other, one on the ground, one on the first floor. They were being decorated before patients were moved back into them. Today each ward holds 25 beds. Originally these wards were more than four times as large, laid out on an open plan and entirely occupied by beds, with up to 200 patients. Now the space has been partitioned off to form a complex of sleeping, treatment and leisure facilities which include a TV room, a library and so on.
Down one side of each ward doorways opened into small rooms – some for staff purposes, some for patients. It’s an interesting commentary on the changed attitude to patient care that at the outset these individual cells were used for ‘difficult’ patients; today they are a reward for patients who are doing well.
We saw the famous corridor which is the longest in Europe, one-third of a mile, running through the building from end to end straight as a die, with innumerable rooms and passages opening from it. Its walls are covered in rather battered cream paint, as is the ceiling, which is worth closer inspection because of its curious construction. ‘It is arched, and made of cream-painted; dimpled bricks, giving a honeycomb effect. Modern architects, we were told, view it with surprise, and remark that it is like the very latest techniques for minimising noise in a passage constantly in use by hundreds of feet and trollies of every degree of squeakiness.
A discussion of the ceiling led to the whole subject of bricks, always interesting to an archaeologist. Friern Hospital is brick-built, the exterior walls being of yellow-grey stocks. The ceiling bricks in the long corridor, however, where. the paint has flaked away, show through as terracotta Coloured, the depressions in them evenly and carefully shaped. They were obviously purpose–made.
The Architects Report Book for the management committee of 1843-50 throws some light on the stock-bricks, if not on the bricks for the corridor ceiling. It has an entry giving the number of bricks required by May 4, 1849 6 million grey stocks and 1 million facing bricks. That was before building started: the final tally must have been astronomical.
Maurice Jeffrey told us that the stock bricks for the walls had been made on site, and the clay was said to come from Whetstone. Paddy Musgrove, who was one of the Finchley Society contingent suggested that the clay might possibly have been dug from some water-filled disused claypits near Oakleigh Park.
We saw from outside, through windows onto the corridor,- the new chapel, opened by Margaret Thatcher in 1981. A regular Friday feature is a hymn sing-in so we didn’t go. The new chapel replaced the vast original chapel, now much too big for services and used as a store. It is a lesson in the modern growth of religious tolerance. Until a few years ago the hospital had both chapel and synagogue: this new chapel, with a change of sacred vessels and other accoutrements, serves both Christian and Jewish congregations;
The hospital authorities are alive to the historic interest of the building they administer. Maurice Jeffrey told us that the day before our visit he had met representatives of the Museums Association to discuss the setting up of a small museum of psychiatric medicine in the hospital itself; and we know, from the material Dr. Hunter lent us 7 years ago, that there are plenty of objects and documents which are worth displaying.
Footnote: in the Transport Gazetteer which Bill Firth compiled for the December 1980 Newsletter he noted ‘In Friern Hospital wall at New Southgate station there is a bricked-up arch through which the line serving the hospital ran. No other visible evidence now stands
Good news comes this month from DAN LAMPERT who, with his wife HELEN, has been a member since 1974. He’s had a successful hip operation and is walking around like a man re-born. Two days after surgery he was out of pain; two weeks later he was using just one stick. An early reaction when he realised how successful the surgeons had been was to ring Margaret Maher and offer to do some West Heath surveying. “You can’t imagine how thrilled I was,” she says, “because he does a superb job laying out the site.” Not surprising, really, as Dan is a civil engineer by profession.
Though we don’t often see JOANNA CORDEN at HADAS functions, many members will know her work as one of the two Borough Archivists in the Local History Collection at Egerton Gardens. Joanna took maternity leave just before Christmas and is now the proud mum of her third baby – a daughter, born on Feb 1 and a sister for Joanna’s two sons, 8 and 5. The naming of the young lady apparently caused much heart-searching: she’s finally emerged as Louise.
On the first Tuesday of April HADAS met at the Library for the last lecture of this winter; In the half-hour of coffee and chat which preceded the lecture ANDREW SELKIRK, a member of 10 years standing and a great supporter of lectures, turned up with a copy of his new book. It had a colourful dust jacket and is called The Riches of British Archaeology, published by Cambridge. The members to whom he showed it fell upon-it with glad cries, demanding to know when it had come out. It wasn’t till you flipped through the pages that the penny dropped it was April Fools Day. Andrew had managed to get an advance copy of the dust jacket but not of the book, which isn’t printed yet. It will be on sale in the autumn at around £15. Meantime, the jacket suggests there’s a feast in store.
LEST WE FORGET
The members who make up the mosaic of HADAS are, in background and in interests, of infinite variety.
It was sad to hear last month from a long-standing member, Louise do Launay, of the death of her husband, Jules. Both joined the Society years ago when they were living at Edgware. Sometime later they moved to Canterbury, but retained HADAS membership. One of my memories of the de Launays, both American-born, is their great generosity. The day they joined – in October, 1973 – they made an immediate donation to our map fund; later they presented the Society with its first Polaroid camera; and there were other benefactions.
Jules de Launay came originally from South Carolina. He was a mathematician, physicist and Rhodes Scholar. On retirement from scientific work in 1971 he took up history, genealogy and archaeology. When they first joined HADAS both the de Launays were doing the Diploma at the Institute of Archaeology.
Dr de Launay published 3 volumes of his own family history, and then settled down to study, transcribe and partly to publish the parish records, until then unpublished, of 18 parishes in the Weald of Kent, because ‘the area was a nursery for many of the early emigrants to the New World.’ This was a truly mammoth task, and one for which many a local historian will be deeply grateful in years to come.
We leave the last word to Louise de Launay, to whom we send our deepest sympathy. She writes: “On Saturday 12 October 1985 the Dover Lifeboat … took me with four friends … 12 miles out into the Straits of Dover to scatter Jules’ ashes; this was his desire (his body had been willed to medical research). A quiet, autumnal day, soft grey-green water, seagulls, the White Cliffs in view…”
BROCKLEY HILL WALK
Ten members of HADAS met at Piper’s Green Lane on. Apr 13, to try to walk the western half of the proposed route of the new water pipeline which is to be installed across the Brockley Hill area in 1988. The weather, for once was perfect, and Mr Shepherd of Bury Farm had kindly given us permission to walk across his fields.
The main purpose of the walk was.to work out as accurately as possible where the pipeline would run and how close it would come to any known areas of Roman activity or find-spots; to familiarise ourselves with the general lie of the land; and to identify any particular areas that might repay further investigation, either through field walking immediately after ploughing later this summer or with a resistivity-survey.
We walked in the general direction of the pipeline, while keeping as close to the edges of the fields as possible, from Brockley Hill/Watling .St (A5) eastwards across Edgware Way (A41) towards the Ml as far as the corner of the old trackway known as Clay Lane, where part of a ‘Roman arch’ was once said to have been seen protruding from the ground; :(Nothing is visible now, alas). The views were fantastic, and it was a lovely and uneventful walk, despite muddy conditions and some tricky plank-walking.
The pipeline itself neatly avoids all known find-spots, whether by accident or design, but several areas it crossed did look as though they might be well worth field-walking this autumn, and one or two particular spots might also be surveyed with the resistivity meter. Late August and early September seem to be the only times when the fields are likely to be ploughed but not yet sown with winter crops, so we shall try to arrange some dates for field walking then. We very much hope there will be some members not on holiday who will be able to come and help. GILLIAN BRAITHWAITE
DINING ROOMS IN ANCIENT GREECE
We apologise deeply. indeed, we grovel because this Newsletter does not carry a full report of the final event of our winter lecture season – Professor Richard Tomlinson’s lucid, enthusiastic and entertaining talk on April 1 on his excavations (which have taken place over many years) at the earthquake-prone Greek temple site of Perachora. Owing to a misunderstanding between our Programme Secretary and the member who she thought she had lined up to report the lecture, the necessary notes were not taken – and the editor discovered the fact only on deadline day.
It’s the first time this has ever happened to the Newsletter, which is one cause for sorrow; but the fact that makes it much sadder is that several Members leaving the hall that night were overheard muttering ‘That’s the best HADAS lecture we’ve ever had, Alas that there should be no detailed record of it.
Professor Tomlinson is a most endearing character, with a superb grasp of his subject and a total ability to put it across to his audience, As Julius Baker, who gave the vote of thanks, said: ‘Aren’t his students lucky to have him; Professor Tomlinson holds the Chair of Classics at Birmingham University, and was at one time the youngest professor on the campus. Another pertinent HADAS comment was I could go that that place tomorrow and find my way round it because the slides were so good and he put them in such clear order. Incidentally, they were beautiful into the bargain.
One point we did take some notes on, because it was so intriguing, was that the Perachora temple had a dining room associated with it and that ever since he first unearthed it,. Professor Tomlinson has ‘collected’ dining rooms. In fact, he confided, there are several persons in the higher echelons-of archaeology who do that – a sort of inner coterie of dining-room buffs. Excavation gave the first Perachora dining room a dating in the 5th century BC. After one of the periodic earthquakes had destroyed it, a rebuilding took place in the 4th c BC and the temple emerged with two formal dining rooms presumably for ceremonial meals on the feast days of the goddess.
Built-in stone couches went right round the walls of the rooms. There was evidence for 3-legged tables in front of each couch. These had been of wood and had long vanished, but the single leg at one end had fitted into a niche in the cement floor. This was discovered because when a slight snowfall covered the site, the snow in the circular niche-marks melted more quickly and they showed up.
HADAS researchers work from time to time at the Greater London Record Office (which contains the collections of the former Middlesex Record Office) in Clerkenwell. You will be glad to know that the Record Office hasn’t vanished in a puff of smoke with the GLC. In fact, it seems to be in business much as before at 40 Northampton Road: same opening hours (Tues-Fri, 10-4.45, late opening by appointment on Tues up to 7.30 pm), same rules, pretty well the same staff.
There has been a change at the top, of course, from the GLC to the Corporation of London. What effect that’s going to have will become apparent only with the passing of the months. Right now, however, the news is: no change.
THE NEWSLETTER SETTLES ITS DEBTS by Brigid Grafton Green
As the retiring editor of the Newsletter, this seems the right time to pay some of my debts: I’ve amassed quite a few in the 16 years during which – with a few intervals – I’ve been editor. I want to thank all the members who have helped, month by month and year by year, to make the Newsletter what it is. You will be surprised at how many there are.
First; of course, thanks to you, dear readers, for reading it ! And for telling me, either ‘by letter or word of mouth, what you think of it – brickbats when you disapprove but some bouquets, too.
The first issue came out it October 1969, describing itself as ‘a venture which we hope … to’ send members at about 6-weekly intervals.’ Daisy then our secretary (she’s now a Vice President) produced 4 issues before she handed over to me in May,1970 both as secretary and editor.
On the editorial side much gratitude is due to Christine Arnott and Celia Gould both tried their hands at editing for short periods in 1972. Later a number of associate editors emerged, prepared to take over occasional issues Enid Hill, Liz Holliday; Isobel McPherson, Liz Sagues, Philip Venning.
Because some of them were non-typists a small corps of volunteers grew up; ready to cut stencils: .among them, Olive Burton, Helen O’Brien, Deirdre Barrie, Joan Wrigley.
Then there was distribution. The late Mr Banham did that until he became ill at the end of 1972; then the late Harry-Lawrence took over. Both of them-wrote every envelope by hand: That wasn’t too bad when membership was teetering between a hundred and 200: but by 1977 it had gone well into the 400s and Harry was getting writer’s cramp. Nearly 500 envelopes twelve times a year (we’d become a monthly in 1973) take some writing, and Harry wasn’t getting any younger, either.
Our then treasurer, Jeremy Clynes, took a hand by organising, towards the end of the seventies, an addressing machine, which was run at first by Raymond Lowe, and later – as it still is today – by Enid Hill. Machine addressing needs an accurate mailing list – and that’s where our membership secretary, Phyllis Fletcher, steps into the picture, with her monthly up-dates of names and addresses. Between them she and Enid keep the mailing list on the straight and narrow.
And so to production. Early Newsletters were each side of a single sheet by 1973 we settled down to a steady 4 pages. As HADAS grew, as its members’ interests widened, as we began to have more fingers in more pies, so the Newsletter, mirroring the Society’s own growth, increased in size. The first 6-page issues came, appropriately, in the year that HADAS ‘took off’ in membership and other ways – 1976, the year the West Heath dig started. From then on the Newsletter was as long each month as it needed to be to cover our news.
Quite early on we had acquired a secondhand duplicator which, although a capricious beast, has done us proud. Its first keeper was Philippa Bernard, who gave it a home at Totteridge and coaxed it out of its moods like a mother. In January 1977 Irene Frauchiger took it into custody, housed it in her garage and for the next seven or eight years rolled off and collated every newsletter, ‘stuffing’ the envelopes and stamping and posting them , a mammoth job, in which she was often helped by another member of long standing, Trudi Pulfer, HADAS’s debt to them is enormous.
Occasionally the machine used to break down and the whole operation went into crisis. We were extraordinarily lucky to have a Travelling Engineer of our own Christopher Newbury, who would dash out to Edgware to do running repairs. When Rene moved into Hertfordshire we faced an even worse crisis. Edgar Lewy tried rolling off a couple of issues but couldn’t come to terms with the ‘capricious beast. Then, as she so often does, Dorothy Newbury stepped in. Now the duplicator lives at the Hillary Press (where there is the added advantage that the Travelling Engineer need travel no longer!) and Dorothy has taken over where Rene left off. To her (and not for this only) our debt is huge.
I must mention two envelope ‘stuffers’ who help from time to time: Nell Penny and Eileen Hawarth; and also Nell’s regular and most willing ferrying of envelopes and material to and from Rene’s house in Edgware over the years. Nor must I forget to thank those who, for years, have distributed Newsletters in the Garden Suburb, saving the Society pounds in postage: first Raymond Lowe and his family; now Ann and Alan Lawson.
Finally, a very warm thank you to Freda Wilkinson, who put her considerable indexing skills at our disposal and produced fine indexes for the first 10 years or so of the Newsletter’s existence, turning it into a useful local history tool.
we must also thank Jean Neal, another skilled indexer, who is currently wrestling with bringing the index up to date.
I said at the start that you’d be surprised how many members have had a hand in producing the Newsletter. I think I have mentioned 29 names – and inevitably, I’ve forgotten someone. Apologies to her/him!
I can’t end without thanking my faithful – my very faithful – contributors. Not everyone enjoys writing reports, notices or articles – but in the last 16 years I remember only two members who turned me down flat when I asked them to write for the Newsletter – and no doubt both had good reasons. All the others – sometimes looking pretty rueful about it – have bent willingly to the task. As a very, grateful editor, thanks!
I said above that sometimes the Newsletter received bouquets from its readers
– and here’s a nice one which arrived recently from Laurence Bentley:
“As one who is little more than a subscribing member of HADAS, I cannot
let the news that you are resigning the editorship pass without letting you know how much I have enjoyed the Newsletter to date. In fact on several occasions when I thought my limited contact with HADAS affairs justified the ending of my-membership, the Newsletters next issue persuaded me how little I should like to be without it. Pithy informative and intriguing, and I hope your successors will follow this example realise, of course, that good editors need good contributors, and I still recollect with particular delight the note on Dracula’s origins in Hendon churchyard and the mathematically neat explanation of rods, poles and perches …”
Thank you, Mr Bentley! Your appreciation warmed the cockles of the editorial heart.
GRAHAMS-WHITE AIRCRAFT HANGAR STILL THREATENED
In the February Newsletter (p9-10) we mentioned that the Grahame-White hangar at RAF Hendon, an important part of early aviation history, was under threat of demolition by the Ministry of Defence. At that time HADAS wrote urging Barnet to refuse the demolition application.
Now Laurence Bentley has asked us to enter the fray again on behalf of this historic building. .He writes:
“The old Grahame White hangar at .RAF Hendon is still in danger. It is a listed building (Grade II) .but has been allowed to fall into a state which the Ministry of Defence think is ‘uneconomic to repair. This building is unique, as far as I am aware, and represents an historic stage in this country’s history as an industrial nation. The building is rather like the hangars converted into the RAF Museum with the major difference that at one end there are three stories of offices stacked up against the inside of the wall. It must have been here that the draftsmen drew the plans of the early machines, foremen collected them take them down to the shop floor, and the draftsmen and their chiefs could watch the construction through their office windows. Readers of Neville Shute will immediately understand the atmosphere.
To me, and I hope to others, this is just as important as it would be to find intact the dockyard of the Mary Rose. If others care, action should be taken quickly, because the signs are that this building will be neglected until it has to be demolished and replaced with something more profitable.
The greatest irony is that it would be ideal for an addition to the RAF Museum: here is the place where the Museum should exhibit its early craft tools and equipment, with room for an appropriate plane or two ‘in the course of construction’ too. What an opportunity this should be! But it won’t happen unless people make a fuss, and quickly!”
Bill Firth who organises the HADAS Industrial Archaeology group, has also been fighting this battle:. He has just had a letter from the Ministry of Defence indicating that they intend to go on with the demolition because they can see no alternative. What they do not appear to be prepared to consider is the alternative of letting the RAF Museum have the hangar and the land on which it stands at a price which the Museum could afford – instead of, insisting on the full commercial value.
However, while the building still stands, there is still hope – and the more so because the Borough of Barnet (bless its heart!) has stood firm on this application, as it did on the last one: the Planning Department has told the Ministry that LBB cannot agree to so historic a building being demolished. Barnet cannot actually stop MoD demolishing if the latter is hell-bent upon it, all the borough can do (and has done) is to indicate how strongly it disapproves.
And this may be where the element of public opinion could be important perhaps the Ministry will, think again if it sees that both the local authority and local public opinion are strongly against it. Individual HADAS members who object to the proposed demolition may be encouraged to take a hand – perhaps by writing either to their MP;’ or to the local paper; or to a national newspaper or an aviation journal.
WORLD ARCHAEOLOGICAL CONGRESS, SOUTHAMPTON, SEPTEMBER 1986
In the last Newsletter our secretary summarised the issues behind the Council for British Archaeology’s ballot of its members on whether or not CBA should support the above Congress.
As a CBA member, HADAS had been asked to vote. We took a show of hands at our meeting of April 1, and in addition asked anyone who could not attend on April 1 to vote by telephone. There were 2 options on the voting paper: (1) for CBA to continue to be associated with the Congress; or (2) to withdraw completely from it.
HADAS cast its vote for the second option, by a narrow margin of 2 votes (total poll 58). The final result of the whole CBA membership is not known as we go to press: it will be published in the next CBA Newsletter (now British Archaeological News).
Incidentally, the vote at the HADAS meeting showed how high feelings run on this issue,. A number of members would clearly have enjoyed spending most of the evening debating it, had we not had the Delights of Professor Tomlinson’s: lecture dangling before us. Perhaps it was as well there had to be a guillotine; otherwise, as one member remarked, one half of the room might not have been speaking to the other by the end!
We even had a phone call, by the way, from a non-member wanting to vote!
Recent applications for planning which, if granted, might have some archaeological interest, are:
Land adjacent, to Primavera, Tenterden Grove NW4
206 High Street,’ Barnet
(amended plan: we have noted this before)
342 Ballards Lane, N12
(nothing known here of archaeological interest but basement development means destruction of all potential evidence).
1140-48 High Rd & land between 3 Horshoes RH
and 300 Friern Barnet Lane
St Patricks RC Church, 167-75 The Broadway NW9
42 Galley Lane, Arkley
Members who notice signs of building activity on any of these sites are asked to ring John Enderby (2032630) and let him know.
DISCOVERING CLERKENWELL. MARION BERRY describes the first
HADAS outing of 1986
.Discovering Clerkenwell is the title of a Heritage centre leaflet, and it’s just what Mary O’Connell did for the 40 or so members who joined the HADAS walk on April 19 Our first general impression was of unrelieved commercial squalor (except for the many pubs) with pockets of dreary bomb damage. But Mary started off by taking us back in time to the Fleet River flowing peacefully to join the Thames and the Drovers Road bringing sheep and cattle to the great market on the Smoothfields; and we soon found this apparently ugly region was full of surprises – not to mention stories.
Why, for instance, does the Castle Inn sign carry three golden balls? Because George IV, incognito in large cloak and hackney coach, rushed into borrow cash from the landlord for his gambling debts at a nearby cockpit, leaving his watch as a pledge. The messenger sent next day to ‘redeem it carried a permit for pawnbroking.
And do you know the story of Thomas Britton, the singing coalman, who lived in a little house in Jerusalem Passage, the old postern gate of Grand Priory? Handel came to his musical evenings, his portrait hangs in the National Portrait Gallery-and Britton Street is named for him.
We visited the crypt, left intact after the Priory church with its round nave was destroyed in the Peasants Revolt of 1381. It is in marked contrast to the large rectangular church above, rebuilt in the 18c and now used for Investitures. The Order of St John considers it was never really dissolved, only rendered dormant after it was expelled from England at the Dissolution. It was revived in 1831 to uphold the Hospitaller tradition, culminating in the foundation of the St John Ambulance Brigade in 1877, with a Royal Charter from Queen Victoria in 1888.
Some time was spent at the Heritage Craft Centre, housed in the old Penny Bank premises, and at the gatehouse (1504), sole remaining Priory building. It is surprisingly large, with its great hall and many rooms, forming a museum. After a welcome tea interval we set off for St James Church, built 1792 on the site of the church of a Benedictine nunnery; vestiges of the cloister pillars can be seen outside. The gallery had an extra tier to accommodate children from the Welsh school, which has now become the Marx Memorial Library.
A warm vote of thanks went to Mary O’Connell for her good guiding and her fluent, knowledgeable and really audible commentary.
ARCHAEOLOGY IN LONDON SHEILA WOODWARD reports on the Annual Conference of London Archaeologists
Property developers move fast nowadays and archaeologists must be equally speedy to salvage even a fraction of the evidence which will vanish under the bulldozer with so much activity it is difficult to keep track of what goes on, even within London: the conference provides a welcome chance to update oneself.
This year’s conference on March 15 followed the established pattern. The morning session provided a rapid round-up of recent excavations. Jon Cotton talked about the dig at Stockley Park, Dawley, northeast of Heathrow. Although the top levels had been destroyed, it was still possible to recover traces of an Early/Middle Iron Age settlement. A conveniently routed helicopter service was used to obtain some excellent air photos.
John Maloney reported on a series of City sites and the identification of several previously unknown Roman roads. There have been opportunities to examine the area behind the Roman waterfront, stretches of the Roman wall and military ditch near Aldgate, and the site of the Priory and Hospital of St Mary of Bethlehem, otherwise Bedlam. The adjacent cemetery produced a gruesome reminder of the grim legends about Bedlam: a human neck vertebra was found with a human tooth firmly embedded in
Museum of London staff talked about recent acquisitions. One fascinating find from Billingsgate is a late medieval straight trumpet, of the type used ceremonially and in battle and, significantly, on warships. Made probably in the 14c of copper-alloy in 4 sections, it is of highly sophisticated craftsmanship. It was obviously valued, as it shows signs of extensive repair over a long period. The trumpet was found, not during the Billingsgate dig, which covered only one-sixth of the site, but during the ‘watching brief’ for the remaining five-sixths. One trembles to think what evidence may have been lost.
Bob Whytehead’s watching brief on the Jubilee Hall, Covent Garden, was of particular interest, as it has provided the first evidence of Middle Saxon London. Although 18c building had destroyed much of the earlier evidence, enough remained to confirm the existence of thriving commerce between the mid-7c to mid-9c. Imported and locally made pottery, glass, loom-weights, iron slag and crucibles, a clay-lined furnace, an 8c sceatta all point to an area of manufacture and trade, Why the commercial centre should have been sited along the Strand at this period rather than in the City, is still a matter for speculation.
Scott McCracken concluded the morning with a report on excavations at Kingston Horse fair (paying special tribute to the assistance given by local amateurs). It included the bizarre history of a medieval undercroft, probably of the 14c, which was discovered during work in 1900, was infilled in the 1920s, rediscovered during current excavations and is now threatened with removal to an area beyond the range of the present redevelopment, to be followed by scheduling!
The afternoon concentrated on recent monastic archaeology. Four speakers took us on a tour of some 9 abbeys and priories. These religious houses were vast and complex structures and the excavators can only nibble at tiny fragments of them; nevertheless, slowly and painstakingly a dossier of information is being compiled.
Most prestigious site is Westminster Abbey where excavations bequeath Sorter undercroft have revealed a road or courtyard and adjacent structures probably dating from the 10c. Bermondsey has yielded fairly abundant medieval material. The infill of drains and culverts is always a happy hunting ground for archaeologists. At Bermondsey it produced a gilded bronze crucifix with traces of red enamel inlay, and at Barking a wealth of finds including bone combs, skates, a whistle, chalk figurines, a gold ring, pottery, fishbone (mainly salmon and herring) and even fish scales and fins – a reminder that for centuries Barking had the largest fishing fleet in the country.
During the lunch and tea breaks there was just time to visit the various displays. HADAS was showing finds from the Church Terrace dig of the 1970s. Ted Sammes has researched the provenance of the imported wares and .his accompanying map added greatly to the interest of the display.
The 1985-6 Committee met for the last time on April 24. This Newsletter reaches you slightly later in the month than usual because it has been held up for this brief report.
Arrangements for the AGM were discussed. Six members of the Committee are retiring this year the Hon. Sec has already had some new nominations for 1986-7.
HADAS representation on other bodies. Ann Kahn has kindly accepted nomination by HADAS to the Finchley Conservation Area Advisory Committee; and Dawn Orr similarly for the Hampstead Garden Suburb CAAC. June Porges will continue to represent us on the Avenue House Advisory Committee.
Excavation As well as the West Heath dig, HADAS hopes to trial-trench on 2 sites this summer: the Stapylton Road development in Chipping Barnet and the Watling Avenue car park, NW9; On the first, we await completion of-some Borough negotiations; on the second, we await permission. Meantime documentary research continues.
Our 3-showcase display at Church Farm House Museum on the Roman kilnsite at Brockley Hill has now, after a 9-month showing, been dismantled.
There was extensive discussion on the future of the Friern Hospital site and the threatened Grahame-White hangar at RAF Hendon
A WARM WELCOME to these new members who have joined HADAS recently:
Mrs J S Adams, N12; John Batchelor, Finchley; Jean Brearley, Golders Green; Anne Cheng,*’Edgware; Renate Feldmeier, HGS; Jeremy Frankel, Edgware; Mrs C Glass, NW9; Janette Harris, HGS; Mr Jolly, Hendon; Patricia Kitto, N Finchley; Catherine Mann,* Radlett, Dr P E O’Flynn, E Finchley; Lisa Samuel* New Barnet; Elizabeth Sheridan,* Highgate; Mr T Vaughan & Lucy,* Whetstone; John Watkins, HGS. *= junior member