Newsletter 196: June 1987
THE HADAS AGM Report by BRIAN WRIGLEY
It was good to see Vice-President. Brigid Grafton Green, who has had to curtail her HADAS activities recently, once again in the Chair at the AGM on May 13th and welcoming the members who attended.
In his Annual Report the Chairman, Andrew Selkirk, referred to it as a year of the Changing of the Guard, with changes in the Committee, in Newsletter editing and. the ending of excavations at West Heath; he thanked all those whose efforts had carried on the Society’s many successful activities in this our 25th anniversary year, and he looked forward to another busy year of publication and excavation.
Victor Jones, Hon Treasurer, reported a healthy set of accounts and expressed thanks for the work of those, particularly, responsible for the Minimart’s success. A vote of thanks to the Honorary Auditor, Ronald Penny, was passed with acclaim.
Research and Group activities were only briefly reported formally, as they were mostly the subject of talks with slides after the formal part of the Meeting.
The Vice-Presidents confirmed in office are: Mrs Rosa Freedman MBE, Mrs Brigid Grafton Green, Miss D P Hill, Mr B A Jarman, Sir Maurice Laing, Mrs Daphne Lorimer MA, Mr E Sammes and Mr Andrew Saunders MA FSA.other Officers and Committee members elected are:
Chairman: Andrew Selkirk
Vice-Chairman: John Enderby
Hon Treasurer: Victor Jones
Hon Secretary: Brian Wrigley
Committee: Christine Arnott, Alison Balfour-Lynn, Gillian Braithwaite, Phyllis Fletcher, Liz Holliday, Margaret Maher, Robert Michel, Dorothy Newbury,
June Porges, Kim Russell, -Ted Sammes, Jean Snelling, Myfanwy Stewart
Those members who were not among the 35 or so who attended the AGM should count themselves unlucky. They missed a real Vintage HADAS performance by Margaret Maher which is likely to go down in the Society’s annals. After the business part of the AGM she talked to her own slides on the lighter side of life at the West Heath dig and it was a wow! We had just a taste of it some time back, when she wrote a piece for the newsletter called “Animal Crackers at West Heath” at the end of the 1985 digging season: but this was an expansion, and the slides, plus Margaret’s delightfully throwaway style made it, a gem. One classic slide showed the mother of all toads sitting on someone’s hand; and in another a self-conscious squirrel shyly declined a trowel invitingly held out to him by Terry Keenan; who no doubt hoped to recruit extra labour for his trench. Another slide destined to become HADAS history was of Margaret (on the ground) and Victor Jones (on an upturned bucket) sitting side by side sewing wire-netting blankets to defeat digger rabbits.
Other HADAS speakers at the AGM who had to follow that sparkling performance faced a daunting task – but rose well to the occasion.
Gillian Braithwaite spoke to two briefs. The first concerned Brockley Hill and the probability that we shall be putting some trial trenches down there next September, on the line which the Water Board Pipeline may follow when/if it is cut in the early 1990s,
Secondly she deputised for Ted Sammes who was absent, discussing the LBB Planning Brief for developing land near The Burroughs, Hendon. This includes the grounds of St Joseph’s Convent, and there was speculation about the precise site of the round mound on which HADAS had done a preliminary investigation back in 1978. (Note: after the AGM we tracked down a report in the June 1978 Newsletter, which gave an 8-figure OS fix for the position of the mound and suggested that it might be the remains of either a Victorian ice-house or part of an 18c kiln, built of fire bricks from local clay for building either Hendon Grove or Norden Court).
Tessa Smith also deputised for Ted. She gave a round-up, with slides, of his work for our Silver Jubilee year. She showed the opening of the One Man’s Archaeology exhibition and mentioned Ted’s booklet on the Church Terrace dig, “Pinning Down the Past.”
Finally, Nell Penny wound up with a tour de force on what you can find in the Local History Collection. It encompassed, in about 5 minutes flat (alas, we were running out of time) census returns, parish registers, the great helpfulness of our two Borough Archivists and male chauvinist pigs!
Sat June 20 Outing to Dover Castle and Roman Painted House (application form .enclosed.)
Sat July 11 Outing to Danebury & Andover Museum (and, if possible, calling at Winchester to See a major new dig, started last March, in search of Roman Venta Belgarum)
Sat Aug 15 Outing to Royston area
Sept 11/12/13 Long weekend in Abergavenny with John Enderby. We need a few more for this outing. Please try and make up the numbers. To refresh your memory, the weekend will be spent in a large 19c house, now a residential college under the headship of John Newcombe (until recently second in command at the HGS Institute). We will be visiting a steelworks, an underground Pit Mining Museum, Cyfarthfa Castle, Clydach Gorge Iron Age hill-forts and Caerleon and Caerwent, where recent excavation has uncovered more of the Roman complex since our 1977 visit. Approx price, all inclusive, £75.
Sat Sept 26 Minimart. Ring ‘Christine Arnott (01 8455. 2751) or Dorothy Newbury (203. 0950) if you have goods available now and ‘can’t hang on to them’.
Another note to members, old and new: if you decide late that, you would like to join an outing, please ring Dorothy – we are not always full, and we do sometimes have late cancellations.
HADAS AS A STATISTIC
Our Society has recently become a statistic – by taking part in a survey run by the Council for British Archaeology. Object of the survey, carried out by questionnaire in 1985 – was to find out what part local and county societies played in archaeological adult education in Britain. In fact, it found out a lot more than that. The May issue of British Archaeological News (CBA’s monthly Newsletter) gives the results.
The questionnaire was sent to some 480 societies, of which 40% (about 200) replied. Extrapolating from the answers, CBA has arrived at a total figure of 100,000 people in the country sufficiently interested in archaeology to become members of a society. It also reckons that not more than 1% are in any sense professional archaeologists.’
Those figures we feel, must give some of the professionals furiously to think; they have obviously made CBA itself think. Talking of the 99%, CBA comments: It would be idle to claim that these are all active field archaeologists they range from those members of research groups whose every working spare-time moment is committed to excavation or survey to the many local society members who dutifully attend lectures on a variety of archaeological and historical subjects and take part in excursions (with tea) to local buildings and monuments.
All are, nevertheless, sufficiently conscious of the objectives of archaeology and of the need to preserve the relics of our past to support their local society or museum by paying a subscription – small beer, perhaps, by comparison with the million-plus members of the National Trust or the RSPB’s half-million, but nevertheless an average of more than 150 voters in every Parliamentary constituency.
The Officers are conscious of the fact that the Council has done all too little for the overwhelming bulk of these individuals in the past. Armed with the information the survey has provided, however,
they will now be taking active steps to cater for their needs more effectively and to mobilize their support for the work of CBA.
Great stuff, my masters! Those last remarks are something that HADAS can welcome: We are all for a central body like CBA (with which we have always had most harmonious relations) catering effectively for our needs:
Taking the figures CBA has unearthed in more detail, we see that HADAS was founded at the beginning of the ‘bulge’ in’ archaeological societies 39 societies were formed in the 1960s (HADAS arrived in April, 1961), twice as many as in any previous decade; while 43 followed in the 1970s. There’s a distinct tapering off in the 1980s – only 15 formed up to 1986. Average membership figure is 222 individuals and 14 institutional members so HADAS is considerably higher than average in individuals (365 was the figure given for 1986-7 at the AGM), but lower in institutional or corporate (4 last year).
There are figures, too, for how many societies have categories of membership; for subscriptions, affiliations, youth sections, and divisions of societies into internal sections, publications and since this all began as an adult education exercise – for the links societies have with university and local adult education departments. Apropos publications, it is interesting that CBA comments here would appear to be substantial opportunities for the CBA or other agencies to assist local archaeological societies in generating published materials of different types. The lack of good quality audio-visual material produced on local/regional themes is of particular concern, especially for those working in schools and adult/community education.”
Altogether an interesting and potentially helpful survey. No doubt the HADAS Committee will be studying the full report carefully with a view to encouraging CBA in its efforts to provide back-up for local societies.
DAPHNE LORIMER’s and MARGARET MAHER’s combined expertise will be put at HADAS’s disposal early this month. They are about to provide, for use at Burgh House (the Hampstead Museum in New End Square, NW3) a semi-permanent display of flints and photos to illustrate the earliest known chapter in Hampstead’s history Mesolithic man’s occupation of a campsite at West Heath, c. BC 7675. This is at the, request of Museum curator Christopher Wade, who wants as comprehensive a coverage as possible of Hampstead’s past from prehistory to today. A small showcase of flints “which we intend should be informative rather than purely decorative,” Daphne says and a clip-frame above for photographs and documentary material is envisaged.
It was sad – but heart-warming, too – to hear from ISABELLA JOLLY sad, because she announced in her letter that she and her husband were not renewing their subscriptions because they could no longer take part in our expeditions; heart-warming because she told us of the pleasure they have had from HADAS in the past. “It has given us such really wonderful days,” she writes. “We enjoyed the company of other members, always friendly and interesting’… we owe great gratitude to those who organised the outings, with all their work and planning-…”
TED SAMMES should be preening himself. He’s had a lovely puff for his booklet on the Church Terrace dig, “Pinning Down the Past”, in the current Newsletter of the Pinner Local History Society. ‘Instead of the normal rather dull and detailed record,’ says PLHS, “this book presents a number of separate vignettes, each on one of the artefacts found. These included a now famous spiral-headed Saxon pin, a forged groat of Henry V and wig curlers. There is a comprehensive one page history of chamber pots and a charming article on tea-bowls. Pieces of window glass give rise to a brief survey of methods of manufacture: the book is in fact a little gem and of interest to all historians. Furthermore, it is beautifully printed. But oh, how we wish we had thought of that title first:”
We noticed a nice tribute, too,to another HADAS member, CLODAGH PRITCHARD, in the latest 211-page Special Paper No 8 of LAMAS – The Roman Quay at St Magnus House, London. Speaking of the catalogue of artefacts; prepared by members of the Museum of London’s Dept. of Urban Archaeology, the report says “They were assisted … by a number of volunteers, including M Clements, Joan Merritt and Clodagh Pritchard. We should like to take this opportunity: to underline the Department’s particular debt to the last two, whose long hours of service to the Department over the past decade have made an outstanding and lasting contribution to London’s archaeology. West Heath diggers will know Clodagh well – she was a constant digger from the early .West Heath days, after joining HADAS in 1974.
HADAS sends Warm congratulations to long-time member IVOR LEVERTON (with his brother, CHRIS he joined back in 1971) on the occasion of his marriage. Many members will have met Ivor and his (then) intended, Mary Jolliffe, on outings last year. The Wedding on April 25 at St. Judes, Hampstead Garden Suburb, was a second marriage for both, she being a widow and he a widower. It gives both of them a large, extended family, as each has three sons. We hesitate to use the word unique (so often is it misused) but Ivor and Mary’s wedding must surely have had one unique feature. When the families left the vestry after signing the register, bride and groom were followed down the aisle by 6 sons and 6 daughters-in-law! And the ages of the grandchildren present at the ceremony ranged from babe-in-arms to early twenties. Although they now live in Southgate, just outside our Borough we hope that won’t stop them joining us on future occasions.
SITES TO WATCH
Sites of possible archaeological interest that I can identify from this month’s planning applications are:
Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital,
Brockley Hill, Stanmore access road from Brockley Hill
1 Pipes Green. Lane, Edgware
30 Brockley Avenue, Edgware
263 Edgwarebury Lane, Edgware
Land adj. Burroughs & Babington Rd NW4
Dingle Ridge, Barnet Rd, Arkley.
86 Union St, Barnet
1 Oaklands Arkley
Arkley Hall, Barnet Rd, Arkley
Please ring re on 203 2630 if you notice building or other activity on any of these sites
WHO LIVED WHERE IN HENDON NELL PENNY delves further into the 1821 Census Returns?
In 1821, when the third Census was taken Hendon was developing into an outer suburb of London – a relatively quiet, healthy area between two great-highways to the north and the northwest: the Great North Road through Barnet and Watling Street to St Albans and beyond.
It was, however, still a collection of hamlets along streets and lanes. The seven amateur enumerators counted about 450 people each: every enumerator held a parish office and went to houses in the district in which he lived. This meant about 74 houses each in the south of the parish, and 60 each in the north. I think the enumerators who lived in the north of the parish walked or rode the longest distances: Mr Gurney, who lived at Coventry Farm (Mill Hill golf course today) counted himself and household and those living in Barnet Gate, Highwood Hill and that part of Mill Hill as far as Belmont, the home of Sir Charles Flower, Mr Geeves covered Church Lane, Dollice, Frith Manor Farm, Bittacy Hill, Drivers Hill, (now only footpath), Burton Hole, Milespit Hill, Dole Street (now a vestige of its former length) Sanders Lane and Page Street.
But nobody felt the necessity of numbering houses with which they were so familiar, so we do not know if the enumerators crossed and re-crossed roads in their perambulations. Only when we can identify the site of an exact house can we say where we are – or where they were. In Hendon South
Mr. Fleurriett, who counted people in Brent Street, Parson Street and Holders Hill, must have started at the south end of Brent Street because Dr Holgate’s villa was the fifth house he came to. This stood on the site of Christ Church, opposite Bell Lane. In the Burroughs we can identify the unnamed inn, where a victualler lived, as the White Bear because it was a few doors away from the workhouse.
In 1821 the enumeraters were told to list the occupations of the householders by (a) agriculture, (b) crafts or trades and (c) the useful ‘others.’ Along with labourers and washerwomen, a vicar. a.doctor, a surgeon and an idler came the gentry, as ‘others.’ Social analysts tell us that English people have a consuming interest in fine shades of social classifications, so it is interesting to try to identify the ‘nobs’ of 1821 and where they lived. This may be a delicate line of enquiry because we have to guess
whether the ladies and gentlemen were identified by the enumerators or by the persons who answered the questions. The OED says that “a person with no occupation’ was a gentleman in the mid-19c and a gentlewoman was a woman of ‘good birth and breeding.’ I think this must be qualified but with an income from property or investments. On that definition, 14.5% of Hendon residents in 1821 were gentry. In North End Road and Golder’s Green the proportion was as high as 30%; in the Hyde, Edgware Road, Childs Hill and the Slad only 11% qualified for the superior label.- In the north of the parish the desirable residences were strung along Bittacy Hill and, the Ridgeway, while few gentry lived in Deans lane, the Hale and Stoneyfields.
This distribution of gentlemen’s residences fits quite neatly into the physical topography of Hendon. New villas were built on the higher better drained slopes which, before the days of main sewers and piped water, would be healthier sites than the clay vales.
In the 1821 Census the enumerators were told to enter the sex and age of every inhabitant in 5 and then 10-year age groups. This must have been a delicate task nearly twenty years before the first official records of births. It has been said that people in their forties tended to render down their ages to a lower ten, while those over seventy had no scruples about claiming to be eighty. Zealous enumerators could have checked what they were told by Hendon-born folk by consulting the parish registers. With these reservations it is possible to find out something more about the people who lived in the gentlemen’s houses. Unfortunately it is only possible to guess at the relationship between the head of the house and the other inhabitants – Wife, sons, daughters et al – because the enumerators, were not told to find out about those-relationships.
Facts – and guesses.- about Individuals
Mrs Johnson, who lived at Ivy Cottage in North End (north meaning. relative to fashionable Hampstead) had 13 other souls under her roof. I guess that she was a lady of over 50, living with two other women and one man of the same age as herself; she may have had a married son or daughter with a child living with her. But I cannot tell if the other 7 people in the house were servants.
More or less across the road I think Mr. Aldridge lived in the Manor House, on the site of the modern Manor House Hospital. His must have been a much larger property for he paid £8 on a 6d rate, as against Mrs Johnson’s £2 though two-thirds of his rates were for land. Mr. Aldridge’s household comprised 4 men and 3 female dependents. Again I am guessing that he was a widower of 60 plus with 6 servants aged between 15 and 30.
The largest ratepayer for a house in North End was Mr. Collins Pryce, who was charged £3.57½p (£3.11.6d). There were 5 men and only one woman in his house.
In Parson Street the litigious Rev Theodore Williams was technically a vicar but not a gentleman. He was between 30-40 years old; maybe with a wife his own age. There were 4 children under 10 years and four other females – servants? Also in Parson Street Dr Walker MD had a large house with land. The house rates were £3 on a 6d rate, Dr Walker had a large household of 19 people with one servant living in the lodge cottage. Were there apprentice doctors among them – 6 males between 20-30.years
In the Mill Hill area of the parish the gentry’s houses were strung along Bittacy Hill and the Ridgeway. Captain Innes (late the Militia or the Regulars?) had a modest house with a modest household of 5. Captain Nicoll of the famous Hendon family housed 12 other people in an equally modest home. His household included young children. Perhaps he and his wife were between forty and fifty.
Mr. Anderson was named as Esquire – technically he would be entitled to have his coat of arms painted on his carriage if he had one, but Farmer Gurney dubbed all the gentlemen ‘Esquires” in his census book. Mr. Anderson was the head of a household of 6: 3 males, 3 females; a baby boy, a lad and himself, over 30 years, with a wife who might have been the same age. He also housed a woman who was over 60 – his or his wife’s mother? His house cost him £2.50p (2.10s) when a 6d rate was levied. He also paid rates on a large house where his father, Sir William Anderson, had lived and on two other houses.
Mr. Shute paid the same rates as Mr. Anderson for a house in the same district, as did Sir Charles Flower, a widower and ex-Lord Mayor of London, who lived at Belmont. House with four other men and 5 women, whose ages ranged from below 5 to between 30-40. One of the women was surely his daughter, who had been his Lady Mayoress in 1808 when she was 18 years old.
At the end of the parish comprising Deans Lane and the Hale the gentlemen’s houses were, quite modest – there were 6 of them. Mr. Scott paid .75p (15s) rates on a house where he and his wife, aged between 50-60, lived with a young woman servant over 15 years of age – at least that is my assumption. Mr. Sharples, who paid £1.25p (£1.5s) in rates, had a houseful of 10 ranging from young children to an aged grandfather. The largest house in the Edgware road area was rated at £6.75p (£6.15s), but it housed two families. One family head was a farmer, the other a gentleman. Was he a retired farmer? Mr. Johnson was the only gentleman in Childs Hill. He paid 75p (15s) in rates for his modest house.
Fifty years before agitation secured the passage through Parliament of the first Married Women’s Property Act, feminists may be interested to know how Many women were ratepayers in 1821. In Hendon South less than a quarter of the householders were ‘gentlewomen.’ Most of these ladies had modest houses in Brent Bridge area. One example, I think, was Mrs Wright, a widow about 55 years old, housing a son and a daughter below 30 years, or a daughter and a son-in-law, or a son and a daughter-in-law; and a woman servant over 30. These people lived in a house paying £1.00 on a 6d rate.
Mrs Barnes lived in a large house. Her 6d rate produced £4.50p (£4.10s) She may have been an eligible widow of between 30-40 years old, with 6 dependents. Mrs Hawkins -was an elderly gentlewoman of over 70 living alone, sandwiched between the shops in Brent Street. In the Mill Hill end of the parish only two of the 24 gentlefolk householders were women. Was the district too remote and too rural for ladies?
James Goodyer poses an interesting question, because he entered himself as a gentleman, although he was earning £40 a year as parish clerk, an Office he had held for more than quarter of a century. In 1811 he was an enumerator and a gentleman living in The Burroughs, and I am fairly sure that he ‘ran the show’ for the 1821 Census. In 1801 he lived in The Burroughs, but he was one of.6 persons, 2 male and 4 female, engaged in trade, etc. There were 50 “unoccupied” males living in his house. I am assuming that he had bought the school, if not the premises, from Mr. Batty, the previous school master, in 1798 when he paid the parish for renting part of the playground of the old charity school next to the workhouse. Burroughs House, built in the early 18c, is now owned by All Souls College Oxford and rented by Simmonds & Partners, surveyors.
As a footnote, none of the gentry, except Goodyer, served as parish officers or enumerators. These were agriculturists, most probably farmers. They listened to their instructions and made the pencil entries in their notebooks with varying degrees of legibility. But as far as I can judge, they were diligent and accurate in their work.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
After reading the request for views on the use of metal detectors I must answer that because these instruments are used for illegal purposes by treasure hunters, it is illogical for archaeologists, Whether amateur or professional, to deny themselves the use of this valuable aid. At rural sites where there is less likelihood of scrap metal to confuse the picture, positive readings must indicate the need for excavation. Once this is known, appropriate action can be taken – perhaps by siting the spoil heap over the major readings to protect the area until a full investigation can be made; or a local but carefully recorded trench could be dug. Perhaps, if the director has that sort of mentality, a few rusty nuts and bolts could be buried in the topsoil to confuse the criminal fraternity: Metal detectors are not evil in themselves, only the use to which they are put. .
You also speculate on the possible use of computers by HADAS. That they are an essential tool when large amounts of data need to be recorded and compared, as in pottery or bone studies, goes without saying, but I would suspect that the time has not yet come when the Society can make full use of this facility. However, with the addition of a printer it would certainly aid the presentation of the yearly accounts, update the membership lists, and as in the case of another organisation to which I belong produce addressed labels, easing the work of sending out the monthly magazine.
While writing, I thought members might be interested in the following. I have always felt that the study of folklore and archaeology have much in common since the former is an impression, however faint, of the life of past societies. Apart from the pleasure of dancing for its own sake and the fact that it keeps you fit, ready for the next season’s digs, membership of the Society for International Folk Dancing has meant that I can claim friendship with that most distinguished of folklorists, Mrs Lucille Armstrong. I was very pleased to see the appreciation of her last month, but could not help noticing that her modesty prevented her from pointing out that apart from all her other activities, she has adjudicated the folk dance and music competitions at the prestigious Llangollen International Music Eisteddfod for over 35 years.
More about Westhorpe
In the last Newsletter Ted Sammes unearthed an interesting and unexpected connection, via an English servant, Elizabeth Harris, between the last Czar’s family and Westhorpe, an imposing mansion which stood until some 20 years ago in Tenterden Grove.
When Elizabeth Harris came back to England she was in touch, in 1924, with an organisation which helped British people who were being repatriated from Russia. The organisation with its secretary Helen Elworthy, had its headquarters at Westhorpe.
Now some other clues, concerning Helen Elworthy as well as Elizabeth Harris, have come to light, in this exotic story. They are provided by Mary Gravatt, a long-time HADAS member, many readers will know her particularly as the historian of the Baptist Chapel in Finchley Lane, which celebrated its century last year with, among other things, a booklet by Mrs Gravatt.
The Elworthys lived in Westhorpe for many years,” she writes. They are in the 1905 directory and were resident there years prior to that. You also mention an Elizabeth Harris, who was in service with the Russian Royal Household up to the Revolution. Strangely enough – though it may be only coincidence the Elworthy’s gardener in 1924, and for many years, was a Mr. Harris. He and his family occupied the cottage alongside the stables both of which have been preserved. One of the Harris daughters is still living and has some photographs of Westhorpe. The Elworthys and the Hamiltons who followed them, used to invite younger children from the Baptist Church to have their summer treat in the paddock at Westhorpe The present occupant of the cottage has restored one of the Victorian greenhouses, with its heating system, and has also coaxed an old vine there into producing a good harvest of grapes. I recall going into Westhorpe, a spacious hall and wide stairway and a uniformed maid with spotless cap and apron still spring to memory! My husband’s grandfather, Walter Borrett, came down from Suffolk in the 1880s and was head gardener at Westhorpe for some years prior to the Harrises, but he did not occupy the cottage, which was obviously then the groom’s accommodation. There was stabling for 4 or 5 horses.”
FROM YOUR MAY EDITOR
I mis-dated last month’s Newsletter! My humble apologies! Please delete April and substitute MAY at once, to avoid confusion in your files.
Many thanks for the prompt response to my Kite Flying article. I hope for a few more letters on the subject before gathering up the points which have been made. ISOBEL MCPHERSON
HADAS HARDY PERENNIALS
Hedges and HADAS. Two subjects in which HADAS has long been interested have cropped up this month. One is hedges, and the dating thereof:
The April British Archaeological News reviewed a booklet, Hedges in our Countryside, published by the Oxfordshire branch of the Council for the ”Protection of Rural England”. So we got a copy: It’s by Don Porter and Alan Spicer (price £1.50, plus 50p post from CPRE, 4 Hobart Place, SW1).
It describes Charlbury Hedge Survey which, as an exercise in landscape history, compared field patterns and boundaries today with those shown on the 1859 map of Charlbury parish. Researchers also seized the chance of doing a species count of sample lengths of hedgerow, and some of the most interesting tables are those on the frequency of species in Charlbury hedges.
There is also an excellent map showing the mean number of hedge species per 30m section, ranging from sections which contain from 9-10 species down to those with less than 3. There are 3 sections, in different parts of the parish, which average 9-10 species (i.e. a postulated age of 900-1000 years). One of them has a beautiful right-angled corner – verily, a corner of a Saxon field that is forever England?
HADAS, as many members will recall, has in the past found and dated (on the Max Hooper species formula) two ancient hedges in our area; one is a hedge across Lyttelton Playing Fields in Hampstead Garden Suburb, thought to be the lingering remains of the boundary hedge of the Bishop of London’s Saxon estate; the other is the hedge on Hadley golf course behind which, on the morning of April 14 1471, the Earl of Oxford deployed his troops in support of Warwick the Kingmaker before the Battle of Barnet of course, they are the two we happen to have found: there may be others, as yet undiscovered. Any member seen any nice hedges lately?
Footnote: we understand that, even as we go to press, Michael Joseph has published a book, Hedgerows, Their History and Wild Life, by Richard and Nina Muir, which casts doubt on the whole subject of hedge-dating by species. We can’t tell you any more about that at the moment, because the book is so new we haven’t yet managed to get a copy.
The other hardy perennial concerns the aviation industry – not surprisingly, when you think that the whole business more or less began in a field near Hendon. It’s no wonder HADAS campaigns for the preservation of such shreds of Grahame White’s pioneering as still remain. In the April Newsletter Bill Firth outlined the present tricky position regarding one of the historic hangars.
A week or two ago the Borough’s Town Planning & Research Committee asked the Secretary of State for the Environment to list as of special Architectural or Historic Interest the Officers Mess of RAF Hendon, which had moved out about six weeks before. In this instance it was the Historic part of the label that was the more important.
The building, ‘mock-Tudored’ in black and white; dates from 1917. The RAF Museum has a photo of it in which it is described as ‘The London Aerodrome Hotel;’ and it also appears in the Grahame White Company’s ‘Birthplace of Aerial Power,’ Produced in the 1920s.
If the Mess is listed, LBB Planning Department says that it will join the Grahame White hangar of 1911 (listed Feb 1979), the former central tower and factory (listed Jan 1987), the entrance gates to the Grahame White Aviation Co.(listed Feb .1979 and now re-sited in front of the RAF Museum) and the pair of aircraft hangars (listed Jan 1987) which have been incorporated into the RAF Museum. The Borough of Barnet is certainly to be congratulated on doing its utmost to save all it can of aviation history at Hendon. One of its -harming officers, Philip Wilson, did an excellent broadcast on the subject on Radio London on May 8.-
We get the feeling that quite a lot of people outside Hendon are interested. Was it just chance that The Times devoted a recent “On This Day” column to a reprint of an article by a Special Correspondent on May 13, 1911, which described a display at Hendon of the possible future use of aero-planes for military purposes?
On this day Mr. Grahame White and others dropped “bombs”, consisting of sandbags, some weighing as much as 100 lbs, on an area marked out on the ground as the deck of ship- from 200ft, 500ft and.1000ft – the latter, ‘with fair accuracy;” but The Times adds, “the truth is that experiments of the above nature are in their infancy.” Alas, the experiments left infancy behind pretty fast. Could anyone that day have dreamed how soon and how devastatingly – aerial bombardment would grow up?
The first ever aerial despatches were carried that day too – leaving Hendon in a Bleriot monoplane at 3.35 being received, noted and vouched for in Aldershot at 4.20 and returning to Hendon by 5.35: 64 miles in two hours, the return journey taking only half an hour “in spite of a mist.”
VISIT TO RAF BENTLEY PRIORY, STANMORE. A visit has been arranged for the afternoon of Sat July 18. Numbers limited, applications – first come, first served – giving names of participants and car registration number and enclosing a stamped addressed envelope for return of visit instructions to Bill Firth, 49 Woodstock Avenue, London NW11 9RG.
MORE ARCHAEOLOGY IN CLERKENWELL
As a follow-up to her second Clerkenwell walk (see report in last Newsletter), Mary O’Connell has sent details of digs now going on at the, near St James’s Church, Clerkenwell Green. The first began in January, and uncovered evidence for the kitchens of the medieval nunnery. Refuse from the floors included cooked animal and fish bones which may be pointers to the nuns’ diet.
Work is now in progress daily at the Sans Walk carpark site. Mike Hutchinson, who is in charge, suggests that HADAS members interested in seeing the dig should first ring the Museum of London (Dept of Greater London archaeology) to check when a visit would -be convenient.
There is also news of medieval remains which are to be preserved in the basements of two buildings in St Johns Sq, Clerkenwell. The buildings above are late 18c; but in the basements, hidden behind rendering and panelling, were found the remains of a much older building, dating to 14c, which once lay within the precincts of the Priory of St John of Jerusalem.
These, say English Heritage, include “a line of substantial walling, part of which is of interesting chequer board construction with alternating blocks of greensand and chalk, a doorway with chamfered jambs, a partially blocked window and evidence of a water supply system.” All would have been demolished during rebuilding, but will now, by negotiation, be preserved in situ.
TRIBUTE TO AVIATOR
The’Borough’of.Barnet has acquired another Blue Plaque. I think it’s our 29th, though I may be one or two out. It was unveiled, with considerable ceremony, on May•19 by Michael.Spicer, the Minister for Aviation.
Do you remember Amy Johnson- (1903-1941)? It’S odds on. if you are
anywhere over 40, that you’do – and if younger, you will probably have heard
of het. She was the first woman to fly to Australia, taking 19½ days to
do it, in 1930. Now English Heritage has honoured her with a Blue Plaque
on the block of flats where she lived on the perimeter of our Borough.
The Borough boundary with Camden runs right through the handsome mock-Tudor half-timbered block; Vernon Court, which stands almost at the corner where Hendon Way breaks off from the Finchley ‘Road; English Heritage say that Amy’s flat was: on the Barnet side of the building: certainly: that’s, where the .Plaque is, in a. prominent position overlooking Hendon Way.
The whole occasion was fascinating. It was hosted by Lord Montague of :English Heritage, which has taken over, lock, stock and barrel, the responsibilities of the GLC as regards Blue Plaques in London. This is the fifth plaque English Heritage has erected since GLC’s demise, and their _ future aim is a round dozen a year. The morning began with a reception at the RAF Museum, Hendon, which was like a trip back into an earlier world. Amy’s copilots, who had served with her in Air Transport. Auxiliary in the second war, had turned out in force to honour her – many gray-haired, some disabled, all lively. Some wore their navy-blue ATA uniforms and their ‘gongs’ – one vivacious lady, possibly in her sixties, had a row of 5 enormous medals which only just fitted on her diminutive chest.
It was the kind of occasion where, when someone said to you “I was surprised to know Hendon had closed – it’s not all that long ago I landed here,” she didn’t mean that she happened to come to Hendon recently. She meant literally that a friend had wanted a lift from the Isle of Wight, so she packed him into her private plane and flew him up.
Amy Johnson died in 1941 when her plane came down in the Thames estuary, no one knows why. A tall, emaciated ex-Fleet Air Arm pilot, now suffering from arthritis, gave me his version. “When you go up you see, you’ve got to come down,” he explained. “It’s as simple as that. And when you’ve no radio contact – and we hadn’t – and there’s a lot of low cloud, you’re in a fix. You come through the cloud and you see you can’t land maybe its all water, – so you have to go back up through the cloud and then try again. I reckon that’s what Amy did – till the petrol ran out and she ditched.”
She was only 33 – but they must have been 38 good years. EGG
I REMEMBER, I REMEMBER
Recently a life-long Barnet resident, BILLIE OLNEY, asked our advice about some reminiscenses she had written of Barnet in the twenties. She’s not a HADAS member, but she had seen our booklet, Those Were the Days. She also sent her typescript to the Barnet Press, who have been publishing it since then in weekly installments. Billie kept the copyright, and has kindly agreed to our using a chapter about her childhood in Mays Lane, which runs from the foot of Barnet Hill towards Totteridge.
From the Old Red Lion at Underhill along Mays Lane to a little group of cottages at Duck Island must be a mile and a half or even longer. On the, right side, starting from the pub, it was all fields as far as Manor Road. But the other side teemed with rural life.
Near the pub there were a few dark old cottages, and one even darker shop. This was lit by a lamp, and sold a rare collection of poor goods on a dismal and not very clean counter. I was forbidden to go into it, but childlike would occasionally venture in with my ha’penny with which I would buy a screw of paper, containing broken bits of sweets, but with a magic prize somewhere – usually a ruby ring or a tin frog you could click in your fingers.
The Potteries came next. These were originally real potteries; with small dwellings for the workers. They were very run down even then, like the people who lived in them. Another forbidden spot for me. A very nice bungalow came after good style for that time, and here lived the family Webb, who were rag and bone merchants. They became quite wealthy, and it is not so many years ago that the house was burnt down and the one survivor, “Young Tom” was still seen roaming Barnet, until his death a, few months ago. He was a toothless simple man, always happy, and never seen without his old flat cap.
The ‘old’ council houses came next and they are still there. A small farm was squeezed in-between them and the ‘new’ council houses, long terraces of six each, very small and stark looking, but with large front and back gardens. We proudly set up home in no. 42. Our house was at the end of a terrace, and had 4 or 5 steep stone steps from the front gate, which my mother whitewashed every week, and on which we were dared to make a single footprint for at least a day. It’s no wonder I became a good jumper.
Further down the lane there was another small farm set back, and the entrance to the sewage farm. This ran right along the backs of our gardens, and the smell could be awful at times, likewise the rats would get into the chicken runs.
The family was strictly divided when it came to animals, Dad and me l00% for, Mother and my sister Eve 100% against. My Dad won on this point, and he bred wire-haired terriers, which were gorgeous. I had a black cat called Tinkle, also at various times a tortoise, a cock, a hare, rabbits and always one of the puppies for a while.
Our Mick was a super ratter, but daft in other ways. Always she would wait patiently for the first strawberry to ripen, and eat it. Always, before her pups were born in her kennel at the bottom of the garden, she would nick one of my Mother’s hats to sleep on. Dad used to build a large netting run round the kennel so the pups could run about, and Mother just about had the courage to go in to feed them.
One awful day, at dinner time, my Dad and I were arriving home from work and school respectively, and there was a great commotion at the bottom of the garden, With Mum and several neighbours. There, half in and half out of the wire, trying to get the pups, was a huge rat; and there with my Dad’s air rifle, stood Mother pumping pellets into it like a plum pudding. Dad quietly took the rifle and shot the rat through the head.After such a heroic ordeal Mum took a bit of calming.
She was great with baby chicks though, and would bring them indoors all wet and limp, and pop them into a blanket-lined box which she put above the gas stove on the plate rack. In no time a box full of fluffy yellow chicks was ready to go back to the hen when all the eggs were hatched.
Progressing along the lane, the houses ended at Manor Road. There was one bakers shop across the road and a couple of houses. Then at the bottom of Manor Road was Cox’s dairy- I loved it. The walls, were covered in cream and green tiles with pictures on them. The milk or cream was — ladled out into your jug from large containers. It was always cool and smelt deliciously fresh and milky.
Cox’s fields were on the other side, and from the time I could walk we would go on a regular Sunday walk across these fields ‘Watch that cow Mum’ right into Totteridge Lane, then back along the Line Path. It took a couple of hours on a Sunday evening, and positively no such thing as a bus to help us along either.
Yet further along the Lane on the right was the isolation Hospital. 60years ago it was strictly for patients suffering from infectious diseases. Fortunately I never had to go into it, ‘but there were serious epidemics of diphtheria and scarlet fever in those days. I have often read about, the straw mattresses that had to be burnt, and the ghastly isolation in which patients were kept.
As the road became less made up, finally petering out altogether, we came to Duck Island. This consisted of about 6 very small cottage and a ditch. I have never been able to find the origin of the name. My paternal grandparents went to live there after the First World War. It was an afternoon out to walk the Lane to see my Grandmother Emma. She was Grandfather’s second wife; and there were 3 sons and, one daughter all living around them. They were not very affectionate grandparents ; and I can remember being taken to visit Grandma and sitting in her little front room being scared rigid at the sight of her two polished gallstones on the mantelpiece, listening with huge ears to the account of the operation.
My Grandfather, Jabez Daniel Olney, was a real character in Barnet. He was a fierce little man, a landscape gardener for the town. The Jesus Charity Almshouses and other gardens around are his work. He was a member of the council and a strong socialist. He was also a Salvationist.
He had two soapboxes in Barnet. On the corner of Moxon Street, on Saturday nights, he helped to save the souls of sinners; and on other nights he stood at Bath Place, wearing the socialist hat and laying down the law. In his obituary it stated that Mr. Olney frequently had have police protection at Bath Place, when the crowd got a bit out of hand.
He had a fire engine named after him when he was in his 70s, so he had the phone put in the cottage, and a well-polished helmet beside it, in case he was called out. He fought hard for the town, made himself a proper nuisance on the council but will certainly still be remembered.
SNUFF AND CLOWNS
Main display now at Church Farm House Museum is “A Pinch of Snuff” – an exhibition based on a local private collection of snuff-boxes and other snuff memorabilia. Snuff-Taking (which has always seemed a rather dirty habit, though perhaps not so dirty as smoking has now become) started soon after Raleigh -introduced tobacco to England, and its popularity increased steadily through the 17c/18c.
Drop into Church Farm House Museum between now and August 2, and you can learn a lot about it. Have a look, too, at a smaller display (open only until June 21) called Behind a Painted Smile. This is all about clowns – a species particularly close to HADAS hearts ever since that zany day in April, 1984, when Spike Milligan unveiled a HADAS-inspired blue plaque to the great Grimaldi on Finchley Memorial Hospital and two working clowns – Mr Woo and Barney – charmed us all with their antics.
BURNHAM/TAPLOW/DORNEY It is-regretted that the report cis the outing on May 16th has not arrived in time for inclusion in the Newsletter. Ted had organised an excellent itinerary for us, and we were lucky enough to have a dry and sunny day. Instead of rushing from place to place we had a leisurely time, in fact we reached our rendezvous with Ted too early, probably due to it being cup final day and traffic was minimal. Burnham Abbey was a haven of peace and tranquility. We were met by Sister Jane Mary, and Don and Dorothy Millar, archaeological friends of Ted, both so obviously dedicated to the place, who took us round explaining where the original structure had been, where it had been altered, and where the original had been restored. Founded in 1266, surrendered at the Dissolution in 1539, it had many owners for the next 370 years, then in 1914 it was bought by a devout Anglican gentleman who restored a large part of it It was re-consecrated in 1915, and Eucharist was celebrated for the first time since the Dissolution. Once again the Abbey housed a community of Anglican Nuns led by Mother Millicent from Newton Abbot. By a strange coincidence she had a connection with Hendon. Before moving to Burnham she had taken on the running of St Ursula’s Retreat House in Hendon but this did not prove satisfactory and was inadequate as the community grew so they moved to Burnham. From the Abbey we travelled down winding country lanes and walked beneath the beeches to see the enormous Hartley Court Moat. The site was explained to us by Don and Dorothy who produced an excellent drawing of the area. Then on to Taplow Saxon Burial Mound – certainly a most impressive sight, where Ted told us all about its excavation, with photographs of the ‘dig’ in progress and of the magnificent finds(now in The B.M.). From there to Dorney Court, an unspoilt, if decaying, Tudor Manor House, built in 1440 and the home of the Palmer family for the last 400 years. Mr Peregrine Palmer greeted us, and as we were the only visitors (the house is not officially open on Saturdays), he gave us an almost free run of the place. Two guides were laid on but there were no restricting ropes to keep us at bay and we could examine everything closely and wander back if we had missed anything. The name, Dorney, is the ancient word for Island of Bees, and Dorney is still famous for its honey. We had tea there, followed by a quiet ride home (the cup final was playing extra time) – – a most enjoyable day.