NEWSLETTER :206 MAY 1988 Edited by Anne Lawson
SUNDAY MAY 1ST AFTERNOON OUTING TO THE ARMADA EXHIBITION at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. Any late-comers wishing to go on this outing should ring Dorothy Newbury on 203 0950 to see if there are any cancellations or spare places on the coach.
TUESDAY MAY 10TH ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING We would like to start the AGM at 8.15 or 8.20 if possible as we have an interesting programme to follow. Our first speaker will be SYLVIA BEAMON on Ice-Houses. Subscribers to “Current Archaeology” will have read her interesting report in the July 1987 issue (No. 105). Mrs. Beamon lives in Royston and first became interested in underground structures through the Royston Cave, a subject on which she delivered a paper in France in 1974. This led her to the study of ice-houses and she delivered another paper in France in 1975 to a conference of the French Society. She is now writing a book with Susan Roaf, “The Ice- Houses of Great Britain” which includes a list of 3000 known ice-houses. Ice-houses were built as part of our stately homes from the 16-17 century but Sylvia Beamon has traced the use of ice for storing food back to 140,000 BC.
This talk, with slides, will be of particular interest to HADAS as this summer we hope to settle, once and for all, “The Mystery of the Mound” at the rear of Hendon Town Hall and the Convent. Is it an Ice- House? If and when we have excavated perhaps Mrs. Beamon will come back and give us her expert opinion.
BRYAN WRIGLEY our second speaker, and Hon Secretary of HADAS, will give us a talk of a very different nature – “Sword fighting in the Bronze Age”. This is a subject which Bryan has studied for many years, on which he delivered a paper at the Congress of Independent Archaeologists last year.
GILLIAN BRAITHWAITE our third speaker is a committee member and organised the Brockley Hill (Sulloniacae) excavation last year. Her report was sent out with our January Newsletter and at the AGM she will show us slides and give a short talk on the excavation. So you see we have a full evening. An early start to the AGM would be helpful, and hopefully we will whizz through the business side in our usual record time.
SATURDAY MAY 14TH OUTING TO WINDSOR – TED SAMMES Details and applications form enclosed.
SATURDAY JUNE 11TH OUTING TO FLAG FEN AND PETERBOROUGH Dr Francis Pryor
SATURDAY JULY 16TH OUTING TO LONDON DOCKLAND
SATURDAY AUG 20TH OUTING TO BUCKINGHAMSHIRE
DERBYSHIRE WEEKEND Unfortunately Peter Griffiths who was organising this weekend has been away in America for the past 5 months and the hostel booking could not be confirmed in time. However, he is back now and is doing his best to arrange an alternative. More news later.
For the benefit of New Members, an application form goes out with the Newsletter, either for the month, or the preceding month of the relevant outing. You are advised to return it as soon as possible as some outings are oversubscribed. Acceptance is not notified, but if you wish to be sure the post has not let you down, please ring Dorothy Newbury 203 0950 to confirm. Also, to all members, if you decide late that you want to go, even up to the night before, please ring the above number as we do have late cancellations, and sometimes not a full coach anyway. Our numbers fell on some of our trips last year, which of course means we run at a loss, as cost is always based upon a full coach. So please keep our outing dates free if you possibly can.
Thanks to all for sending me your subscriptions during April. As I shall be out and about from home during mid-May to mid-July, please keep sending your subs to my address or c/o Victor Jones, The Treasurer, 78 Temple Fortune Lane, London 1W11 7TT. I shall send you receipts later.
Also if you know anyone who is interested in joining the Society please let Victor Jones know and he will send them an application form.
Many thanks in advance. Phyllis Fletcher – Membership Secretary
IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE ANCIENT TOMB BUILDERS Betty Jacobs & Joan Pratt
Egypt has been a tourist attraction since Greek and Roman times. Herodotus writes vividly of his visits, as subsequent travellers have done since. Then as now appeal centred on monumental sites, the temples and tombs built for the worship of Gods or glorification of reigning monarchs, his family and sometimes collaterally powerful high priests. To the ancient Egyptians, to be unnamed was to cease to exist, so their monuments are carefully inscribed in hieroglyphs telling us of names and achievements of the dead.
Bonus No.1 is that the ancient Egyptians wrote it all down, and Bonus No. 2 is that Champollion decoded the hieroglyphs so that we can identify the higher echelons of Egyptian life thousands of years after their entry into the hereafter.
The native Egyptian, the fellahin, has left few traces for the archaeologist to work on, but what of the craftsmen who created the Royal monuments and embellished them so that to this day they are a source of wonder. Thanks to climate and the propensity for sand to bury whole sites, the underlying material is left intact awaiting the archaeologist’s trowel. Not belonging to the aristocracy, these highly skilled workmen are represented nowhere in the monuments they created. But their anonymity ended with the discovery of the village of Deir el-Medina which was their home for 400 years while they were at work on the tombs in the Valley of the Kings. Here some fifty specially chosen stonemasons, carpenters, draftsmen and painters lived with their families in a segregated community, guarded by special police, supplied with tools and provisions “by regular and special delivery” and under the direct control of the Pharaoh. The secrecy of their work necessitated isolation from the general populace, and their entire life was spent within their community. Sand has preserved the outline of the houses, streets and tombs of their villages. Likewise limestone flakes and papyri were found with names, cartoons and doodles, combining to give us vivid insight into the life style of these extraordinary craftsmen. We know they had a ten day week, working eight days on the tombs with overnight stays in temporary huts nearby, but it is the home village which gives us records of barter, absenteeism, quarrels, lawsuits, human touches with names and caricatures. In their spare time they applied their crafts to the communal construction of their own tombs in the village, small scale replicas of the Royal originals, exquisitely executed and poignantly personal.
Very early one morning with the mists still hovering over the Nile two intrepid HADAS members “past middle age” left the main party among much misgiving and shock horror from the tour guide to follow in the footsteps of the ancient Tomb Builders. We knew they had made this journey every 10 days, setting out from their village of Deir el-Medina carrying with them their tools, they in 1500 BC, we two in 1988.
Azib in his taxi had taken us to the village from our hotel and with much head-shaking had left us to our own devices.
From our balcony on the East bank of the Nile our binoculars had shown us a distant view of Hatshepsut’s temple and we had resolved not to leave Thebes without attempting this pilgrimage. As we set out with water, pills and creams instead of tools, and having left details of our route to the rescue party, the silence and the surrounding beauty was total. Azib was to meet us again in five hours at Deir el-Rahri.
Following a bowed horse-show shaped route over the cliffs to the apex, from which the descending path leads down the Valley of the Kings, we would retrace our steps to rejoin the horse-shoe and follow the other limb and so arrive at the far extremity of Hatshepsut’s temple at Deir el-Rahri.
A perplexity of paths posed a problem but the pyramid-shaped mountain peak known as Meritsegar, the Serpent Goddess, “she who loves silence” keeps watch over the whole valley. As we climbed and the mist lifted the whole village ground plan was revealed. The pure sparkling air – the uninterrupted view of desert, cultivation and the river was like magic. On we climbed in utter silence and feeling outside ourselves we relived the journey of those special men. The trace was well defined and circled along the cliff top, it was hard to resist the temptation to get ever nearer the edge for a better view of the Valley below, which to our astonishment revealed details like the depressions where tamarisk trees had been planted over 3,000 years ago – details not identifiable at ground level. The overall vastness of the Temple complex is nowhere suggested by the frontal approach of the tourist group – and we were overawed by our eagle’s eye view of what had been created down there.
Behind us was the vast hinterland of cliffs leading up to Meritsegar at whose feet we sat to drink in the panorama stretched out before us – a vast theatrical backdrop of row upon row of mountain cliffs with linen fold facings and flat tops, so that a giant (or a God) could step over from one to another, each range presenting a wide spectrum of golden brown shades (and we were alone, quite alone, having met not a soul on our one-hour climb) though far below, deep in the Valley we could see human ants queuing to enter the Tomb of Tutankhamun, while we, out of this world looked on.
Exhilarated and well pleased with ourselves we retraced our steps to the other limb of the horse-shoe path, encircling widely Hatshepsut’s Temple. The downward path was more difficult with some footholds precarious and poorly spaced. However down we slid rather inelegantly to the far perimeter of the Temple of this female pharaoh whose life story is so controversial. To her and to the men who created her Temple we took our own brand of respect, marvelling at the beauty of it all. Down at ground level again, we joined the motley groups of tourists, but for two of them the grandeur of this Temple will always be augmented by our memory of the magnificence of its setting – what a place to spend eternity!
True to his word, Azib awaited us and we were able to reassure him that it was an altogether satisfying experience, which we recommend to all like- minded, eccentric Egyptian-buffs – do it, but in the early morning, in stout “footgear” and good company.
ARCHAEOLOGY AND LANGUAGE: the puzzle of Indo-European origins.
Colin Renfrew Jonathan Cape 1987 Jean Snelling
Our Newsletter 201 invited comments on this important new book and we were fortunate to have Peter Pickering’s article in February 1988. There cannot be many HADAS members able to bring a philologist’s judgement and to do it so promptly. To a non-philologist bed-time reader this is a difficult book because Professor Renfrew (also non-philologist) studies the significance to an archaeologist of the philological and archaeological evidence bearing on his great question. He asks, who were these Indo-Europeans to whom are attributed the roots of most European and Indo-Iranian languages? When were they and where, and how did their influence spread? Philologists appear to have trusted archaeologists for evidence that Indo-Europeans appeared from somewhere, invasively, possibly in or before the early Bronze Age and spread westwards; and so far the archaeologists have found no such evidence.
I think it appropriate to stress the force of Renfrew’s hypotheses – even if we find eventually that he is replacing one myth (the Indo- Europeans) by another persuasive myth – the pioneering neolithic peasants of Eastern Anatolia in 7,000 BC.
From these first farmers (barring any Chinese) Renfrew sees farming spreading mainly of its own accord, year by year and kilometre by kilometre – a wave of advance – west and northwards through Greece to the Atlantic and the Baltic, and southeast to Iran and by some route to Pakistan and India. With farming, he proposes, goes the farmers’ original language, modifying as it extends over great stretches of time and space and as varying local conditions and perhaps old pre-neolithic languages are encountered. By 3,000 BC or earlier farming has reached Scandinavia, Ireland and the Orkneys, and the Celtic, Germanic and Italic languages are emerging from their ancient roots (which we have still to call Indo-European even if we refer to Eastern Anatolian neolithic).
The theory of the wave of advance owes much to Cavalli-Sforza’s and Ammerman’s studies of farming developments in new territories. Farmers have larger families than hunter-gatherers and they also exhaust land, so they constantly require more space. It is postulated that an average farming population in new lands doubles its numbers every 18 years, and will take in 18 fresh kilometres in random directions every 25 years. This would be the driving force for the advance of peasant farming; there would also be small invasions and migrations, some of them known to archaeology. The large modern invasions of farming in North and South America, Australia etc. have become possible through technological advances, especially in traction, which were not available in prehistoric times. (Horses were used for traction from about 2600 BC or earlier but were not ridden until well after 2,000 BC, while the controlling stirrup comes in the Dark Ages.)
Renfrew points to the need for more archaeology to clarify the neolithic advance to Pakistan and India. Possibly it occurred early via Assyria, Kurdistan and Iran. But possibly it was delayed until 4,000-3,000 BC and went south-eastwards through Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. The delay would have involved a route through the Balkans to the steppes of the Ukraine, where nomadic pastoral ism developed in land where cereals would not grow, and then the movement southeast. Renfrew states the secondary nature of pastoralism, which requires a basic supply of agricultural products (i.e. bread).
Returning to language: if we ask what speech or dialects came with the early farmers to Britain from 4,500 BC, it has to be a form of Celtic coming directly from France or the Low Countries, as our share of the Indo- European heritage. It is now believed that later Celtic influences (Hallstatt or Belgic) did not involve much movement of people.
Readers will realise how much I have simplified, indeed over-simplified Renfrew’s complex work; and how unlikely we are to have heard the last of his propositions. If he is right over, among other things, the great antiquity of the British and Celtic languages, he will have given many of us a great personal boost as well as en intellectual stimulus.
ARCHAEOLOGY AND THE GREAT FIRE OF LONDON Audree Price-Davies
Samuel Pepys wrote in his diary for Sunday September 2nd, 1666:
“Lords Day. Some of our maids sitting up late last night to get things ready against our feast today, Jane called us up about 3 in the morning to tell us of a great fire they saw in the City. So I rose and slipped on my nightgown and went to her window and thought it to be on the back side of Mark Lane at the farthest but being unused to such fires as followed I thought it far enough off and so went to bed and to sleep.”
Mr. Gustav Milne in his dramatic and fascinating account of the Great Fire and the recent archaeological discoveries associated with it, showed us why Mr. Pepys might be excused for not recognising the magnitude of the fire. From his house near the Tower, Mr. Pepys was used to seeing fires in the City of London. Timber-framed buildings with jetted upper stories which allowed fires to pass easily across the road were often on fire, and warehouses fronting the Thames and filled with combustible materials, such as timber, oil and pitch added to the hazard. Firefighting equipment was rudimentary – buckets of water were used, and John Keeling’s fire engine which needed four people to pump the water from the water drum up to the hose – these were not very effective ways of controlling a fire. Destroying houses in the path of the fire to make a fire-break demanded the permission of the owners of the property and was not readily given. It was little wonder that the fire destroyed 13,200 houses, St. Paul’s Cathedral, 87 parish churches, the Guildhall, the Royal Exchange, the Custom House, Sessions House, 52 Company Halls, Blackwell Hall, Bridewell, Newgate Gaol, 3 City gates, 4 stone bridges, £2,000 worth of books, £1,500,000 worth of wine, tobacco, sugar and plums, and caused a total loss amounting to £10,000,000 when London’s annual income was £12,000.
The fire started when Thomas Faryner, a baker of Pudding Lane, omitted to ensure that the embers of his fire were sufficiently raked. It took hold during the night, an east wind fanned the blaze and the disaster could not be contained. All who could hired carts or boats and removed themselves and their possessions to the country. Rumours of a Dutch and French plot in starting the fire (the English were at war with Holland and France at the time) added to the panic. Eight fire-fighting posts were set up at which the constables of the respective parishes were ordered to attend with 100 men, and at every post there were to be 30 foot soldiers. The Court became seriously alarmed when the fire reached Temple Church, fearing that it would spread from there to Whitehall. Charles II and the Duke of York went to Moorfields, and helped by throwing buckets of water on the fire. The militia from Kent, Middlesex, and Hertfordshire were called out – but to maintain order, not to fight the fire, as Charles IT did not wish his precarious hold on the throne to be threatened by a riot.
In all, 436 acres were totally devastated, but the rebuilding was rapid, imaginative and pragmatic. Timber buildings would be banned in favour of brick, old streets and lanes would be paved and widened and obstructions such as market buildings and conduits would be moved out of the roadways. Buildings on by-streets would be 2-storied. On lanes of note and overlooking the Thames, they were to be 3-storied, while merchants’ mansion houses were to be no more than 4 stories. Thirty of the churches designed by Wren survive in some form. Other buildings include the Apothecaries’ Hall, Tallow Chandlers Hall, St. Paul’s Deanery and Chapter House, 1-3 Amen Court, 20-22 College Hill, Dr. Johnson’s house in Gough Square and 3-5 Raquel Court. The population of London rose to a million inhabitants after the Fire, and within 10 years, modern London was born.
Archaeological evidence has revealed that St. Mary at Hill church has pre-Fire masonry standing to its full height. Wren’s circular brick window had been inserted into a larger blocked-up stone window. Wren’s churches like so much of the post-Fire City had all the outward appearance of late seventeenth century design but retained the mediaeval plan.
Work on the waterfront has revealed building debris derived from the clearance of fire-damaged structures and at Blackfriars Underground Station excavation revealed a massive mediaeval river-wall in fine condition. In Pudding Lane on a site close to the bakehouse, excavations have exposed a cellar in which barrels of pitch were being stored. Compacted carbonised material revealed the remains of some 20 barrels which had been stored on five racks. This turned a minor into a major catastrophe. Associated finds included a worn sixpence of Elizabeth I (1558- 1603), clay tobacco pipes and local monochrome tiles.
This recent archaeological evidence provides a physical reality for the accounts of the Great Fire and adds a dramatic dimension to our understanding of the Fire. We are grateful to Mr. Milne for revealing this new dimension.
FIVE HUNDRED NOT OUT Brigid Grafton Green
We don’t often have a chance to offer congratulations on half- millennium: but that opportunity comes this year. The Finchley Charities are celebrating their 500th birthday. It was in 1488 that Robert Waren contributed his first “Gift;” following it up the next year with a second piece of land, the two to be administered by nine feoffees (we’d call them trustees today) for the needy poor of Finchley.
Waren’s first gift was three fields lying on the west side of Nether Street; later they became part of the Brent Lodge estate, and HADAS members of long standing will recall that one of our early digs was in the garden of Brent Lodge after that house had been demolished – we were in fact digging on the “Home Field” which Waren had bequeathed to Finchley in 1488.
The Charities can make a proud boast for a quincentenarian: since that first “Gift,” they have never looked ba.ck. That is clear from an excellent history – The Finchley Charities, 1488-1988 – which has been written to mark the occasion by Fred Davies, one of the Trustees.
In addition to administering various bequests and donations (which Mr. Davis describes in detail), the Charities have, since Elizabethan times, been responsible for Finchley almshouses. The first four small houses were “erected and built for the habitation of poor folks” in the early years of the 17c. In 1739 these first almshouses were pulled down and six new houses were built, “fronting on Finchley Common”.
In 1895 new almshouses were again erected “on the footpath from Long Lane to Oak Lane” (the site was not called Wilmot Close until many years later), and the 18c almshouses were demolished. A HADAS member of the 1960s, Jennifer Digby, spent much time and research trying unsuccessfully to pinpoint the likely site of those earlier buildings and their Tudor forerunners.
The 1895 buildings were added to and modernised in the 1930s and ’40s. In 1940 there was accommodation for 12 couples, the oldest of whom was 81, the youngest 69. A booklet of the time says that “no person is eligible for election who is less than 60 years of age and has resided in the Borough for less than 5 years. The allowances to the inmates vary from 5s (25p) a week upwards, according to whether the inmate is or is not in receipt of an old age pension. In addition the Trustees provide electric light and coal.”
Fred Davis tells us that four additional apartments went up in 1958; in 1966 a further block was added, and it was then that the name Wilmot Close came into use. Today the Charities provide 100 modern flats at three addresses: Wilmot and Thackrah Closes and Homesfield, East Finchley.
Mr. Davis’s account contains much interesting material from the early documents of the Charities. These throw a social spotlight on beliefs, attitudes – and unexpected facts – of everyday living. Who, for instance, would expect three elderly widows in the year 1817 to be (or indeed, to have the means to be) “constantly drunk, noisy and abusive,” so that the Trustees resolved that the Warden “do turn them out of possession, and let in proper objects” (that word “objects” rather gets me, too!)
If you would like to delve further into Fred Davis’s research, you can get a copy of his book, price £5, from Church End Library, Finchley.
FORTHCOMING EXCAVATIONS AND OTHER PROJECTS
There’s work ahead for HADAS diggers and would-be diggers! We have our eyes on three sites where the society hopes to be active during the summer months.
The first and potentially the most important is in the heart of Hendon in the grounds of St. Joseph’s Convent. The grounds of the Convent are to be sold off for redevelopment for a new housing estate and HADAS wants to investigate this potentially interesting area. We want to begin, however, in the grounds of the Convent itself where there is a mysterious man-made mound. It was described in HADAS Newsletter 08 of June 1978 where the conclusion was reached that it was probably an ice-house. Sylvia Beamon, who is our leading authority on ice-houses and whose work was described recently in Current Archaeology 105 will be coming to talk to us on ice-houses at the AGM on 10th May, and it would be nice if we could open the mound and find the entrance for her ready to inspect before that date. We hope to have permission for access at the May Bank Holiday weekend so that we can start investigations for the following weekend (Saturday 7-8th May) Brian Wrigley would like to hear from you, so get out your picks and shovels and give him a ring on 01-959 5982 if you can give him a hand.
The other two sites are both up in Barnet where Jenny Cobban is very active. One is not an excavation at all but above ground archaeology. This is Barnet parish Church. The main Parish Church is Victorian but the north aisle is the original medieval church. Recently the plaster has been stripped off the wall and it is very important that we draw the stones that are now visible. Robert Michel is very interested in this as he studied archaeology at Southampton University where he helped in studying churches by drawing their walls, stone by stone. He can be contacted in the evenings on 205 1455.
The other site is at Mays Lane in Barnet known as The Cottons. Excavations were carried out here in the 1950s by Derek Renn, and reported by him in the transactions of the East Herts Archs Soc 1955-57. (Derek is one of our leading amateur archaeologists – by profession he is a high- powered actuary and he had recently been elected the new president of LAMAS). It now appears to be that houses are to be built in the area, so there may be some medieval material awaiting discovery. Information on both these sites can be obtained from Jenny Cobban, on 440 3254. We do have permission to investigate this last site this coming summer.
NEWS ABOUT MEMBERS
Frank and Craigie Meyer are moving away to the North this month. They have both been very regular and outing attenders though their activities were curtailed a few years ago when Mr. Meyer was knocked down by a car. It was nice to see them back again at the April lecture and we wish them well. Craigie Meyer may be better known to us as Craigie Beswick as she was when she first joined, until she married Mr. Meyer, who has been a member since 1965.
Eric Ward. We reported some months back that HADAS one time photographer had been struck down with a crippling illness and was undergoing investigation. Following further study in America, four new investigative techniques have been devised, and Mr. Ward is bravely acting as “guinea pig” for the Hammersmith Hospital in this country. He is quite a VIP and they send a taxi for him when they are ready for the next session. He is at present waiting for the result of the last one. We all remember him with affection and hope that sometime soon his co-operation with the researchers will bring relief to himself and to others.
Vincent Foster. We reported last year that Vincent, a one-time committee member, digger, and participator in our period banquets had settled and married in America. We now have pleasure in reporting the birth of a daughter, Ida Marie, on the 2nd January this year.
Mrs. Banham. She is a founder member, and many of us know her as the provider of that large tin of sweeties that circulated the coach on nearly all our outings. She phoned me this week and I am pleased to report she is bright and perky as ever, but so regrets that her back problem prevents her travelling on outings and walking to lectures. She only lives in Station Road, Hendon, and would often come to lectures and some outings if she could get a lift. She did manage the Christmas Party at the Barbican and thoroughly enjoyed it. So if anyone could offer a lift occasionally I am sure she would be delighted.
Brigid Grafton Green. For the benefit of new members, Brigid was our Secretary and Newsletter editor for many, many years. For old members no introduction is needed and many, many of you enquire after her. She has had another session in hospital since Christmas but is now doing fine. We all know what a magnificent cook she is from her master-minding of all our banquet and party catering, be it Roman, Medieval or Arabian. One of her biggest sadnesses is that she can no longer make and enjoy all those exotic dishes as her diet is now restricted. Nevertheless when I phoned her this morning Grafton said “I’ll call her, she’s down the garden digging” – so that can’t be bad can it? We were all pleased to see her at the Chinese Warrior Exhibition and look forward to seeing her again soon.
Nell Penny is one of our regular subscribers to the Newsletter on her research into Hendon’s history. CONGRATULATIONS An article appears in the February edition of “The Local Historian” written by our own Nell Penny. The article is on the three first censuses of 1801, 1811 and 1821. We are lucky to have these censuses in Hendon because in most areas they have been destroyed. So Nell gave a whoop of delight when she found them.
Mrs. H.F. Faraday. We are sorry to report the death of Mrs. Faraday in February. She joined membership with her daughter Janet who has been a member for many years and who often brought her to lectures and outings.
Mrs. Ann Young. We have heard from Ann who moved to Rochester before Christmas. She came regularly on our outings and has dug with our president in Wales for many years now. She has joined the local Archaeological Society and hopes to either see us down there when we are next in Kent, or to join us on the occasional outing. The latest news we have of Ann is that she fell and hurt herself. We wish her better.
OFFICERS’ MESS, HENDON AERODROME Bill Firth
It was announced in April that the distinctive black and white building latterly used as an officers’ mess at Hendon Aerodrome has been listed Grade 2.
This is the one historic building at Hendon which was not listed early in 1987 mainly because at the time the main effort was to save the Grahame-White hangar and no-one wanted to divert attention from it.
The officers’ mess was originally built by Claude Grahame-White as a hotel for the distinguished visitors to tendon and is dated 1917 on a stone above the main entrance.
There is still concern about the listed buildings at Hendon, they are being shamefully neglected, evidently with the intention of hastening their decay, in the hope that they will fall down and the Ministry of Defence will thus gain their objective by default.
Apologies from Bill Firth for the clash of dates of the Docklands visit and the visit to the former 11 (Fighter) Group Operations Room, R.A.F. Uxbridge. The R.A.F.’s only available date Saturday July 16th.
SPOTLIGHT ON CHIPPING BARNET John Enderby
From the point of view of HADAS, Chipping Barnet has become of prime concern in the last few months. Apart from the Stapylton Road development, which is fully reported on elsewhere, potentially exciting things have been happening all over the area. The origins of Barnet Parish Church are at last being researched, wells are being discovered and, in most cases unhappily, being destroyed by developers before they can be properly examined and documented, old properties are being pulled down daily, and known ‘”sensitive sites” put to the scourge of the Site Watchers’ anathema, the mechanical digger, before one can say “trial trench”!
Thus “The Salisbury Hotel”, a popular hostelry and meeting place seemingly in first rate condition, on the line of the retreat of Lord Hastings’ forces in the Battle of Barnet (1471), is being pulled down to make way for a major development utilising the considerable amount of land at the rear. The developer – South Molton Estates Ltd. – has agreed to co-operate in the recovery of any artefacts of the Battle that may be turned up by the mechanical diggers. Before the latter arrive to rape the topsoil, we hope to run a metal detector over a site that could yield multifarious metal objects. In reporting this, I am aware that I may induce heart failure in those of you who deplore the use of such a diabolical instrument. But with the archaeologist’s trowel and spade becoming artefacts themselves with the universal use of the mechanical digger, one is grateful for any scientific aid. Indeed, sadly, as we found at Stapylton Road, archaeological research today on an urban site can consist of little more than a hasty examination of massive spoil heaps while the omnipresent bulldozer adopts a threatening attitude at your side.
However, we do have some hope of planned research on one large site in Barnet – Mays Lane, which we hope to establish not only as the location of medieval Mayes Hall (mentioned in 1271) but to build on the evidence housed in Barnet Museum of early settlement resulting from a limited excavation carried out by David Renn some thirty years ago. LBB have kindly granted HADAS a licence for four months from next May to investigate the site.
We have not so far been as fortunate with yet another Barnet site. This is the access lane (paved with some of the few seemingly original cobblestones left in this area), and a large area of land at the rear of 62, High Street which is to be developed for office use. Last Wednesday the previous owner contacted me to report that the Contractors would be starting work the following Monday and did I know that there was a large extremely deep well, an ancient granary, and a wonderful monkey puzzle tree, on the site. For Jennie Cobban and I it was then all systems “go”, with a site visit and a myriad of calls to the LBB, the Local Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, the Contractor, the Museum of London, etc.! The well is, in fact, some twenty feet deep with at least two feet of water in the bottom, straight sided and seven feet wide with a heavy capping stone of considerable weight. Remembering how before Christmas I was roped and lowered down another well found at the Bow House, Wood Street, to commence a somewhat abortive excavation which resulted in its total collapse (fortunately after Jenny had hauled me out), I have so far tried nothing more adventurous than dropping a makeshift plumb line down the well to ascertain its depth. If only the ultimate fate of the well as a depositary for many tons of concrete can be delayed for a few days – I am due to plead again with the Project Manager at a Site Meeting – who knows … I So watch this SPACE.
Amongst the outbuildings also being demolished on this site is the old granary, the winding gear of which is remarkably still intact. We are negotiating with the Contractor in an attempt to have at least the wrought iron work preserved, perhaps for presentation to the Barnet Museum.
As regards the Monkey Puzzle tree on which there is no T.P.O. but in which doves are nesting, it seems I can do little except pray for Divine intervention. Why cannot man learn to live in harmony with the environment of the Planet for which he is a trustee instead of forever destroying it for short term gain – or greed? Photograph albums and folk memories of what might have been still part of our heritage do nothing to soften this shocking image.
MINI MART OCTOBER 1988 – an EARLY REQUEST
We have a little more storage space, so if you are turning out winter clothes (men’s and women’s), or bric-a-brac, linens etc., during spring cleaning, please ring Dorothy Newbury 203 0950 or Christine Arnott 455 2751. We regret we cannot take big things, but we do get members enquiring from time to time if items of furniture or household equipment have been offered for sale. If you do have such things to dispose of, or need anything in particular, ring Dorothy Newbury on 203 0950.
Remember this is our only fund-raising, event each year – an event which helps to keep the society going.