Number 528                 _      MARCH 2015                        Edited by Deirdre Barrie



Tuesday 10th March 2015

Archaeology: some history, achievements and crises – going full circle? Lecture by Robin Densem. Robin volunteered on various sites in an attempt to gain a BA degree in archae-ology and history at Exeter University, 1970-1. In 1972 he began volunteering for the Southwark Archaeological Excavation Committee, and was employed there in 1973.  Study for an under-graduate degree from the Institute of Archaeology, London (gained 1976) was followed by further employment with the Southwark and Lambeth unit which became the Museum of London in 1983

as part of the Department of Greater London Archaeology which in turn became the Museum of London Archaeology Service in 1991. Robin had some success here before leaving in 1999.  He

then spent four years at Compass Archaeology (2000-03).  Robin worked for Birkbeck College

with Harvey Sheldon from 2005-2010, which included teaching on the Syon Abbey training excavation.  Since then he has been working as a field archaeologist.  Robin taught archaeology evening classes from 1977-2013, and hopes to provide lectures to the Mill Hill Archaeology Study Society from late 2015.


Robin is the Hon Treasurer of RESCUE: the British Archaeological Trust and has over forty years seen various features of archaeology, including the roles of archaeological societies, the origins and growth of archaeological units, the development of the Institute for Archaeologists, the commer-cialisation of archaeology, and the rise of community archaeology. 


Tuesday 14 April 2015                      Excavations by Pre-Construct Archaeology at the

former Inglis Barracks – talk by Ian Cipin.


Tuesday 12 May 2015                       Robert Stephenson (CoLAS Member)

The Knights Templar and their London Connections


Tuesday 9 June 2015                        ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING


Tuesday 13 October 2015     Dr Caroline Cartwright

Scientific Methods in Archaeology


Tuesday 10 November 2015             The History of The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI). Speaker to be advised.


A Thank You for Lectures 2015                                                                  Jo Nelhams

The programme of lectures is now complete. Our thanks go to Stephen Brunning for all his work in continuing to find our speakers each month. If any member has a suggestion for an interesting speaker, whom you may have heard elsewhere, for the future, please contact Stephen with details, as he is now working to find people for 2016. (See end of newsletter for address etc.)

Also, may I thank all those who have offered to write up the lectures for 2015. We have a full complement, but if you would like to offer to be a reserve in case of illness, please contact the Secretary, Jo Nelhams.

Lectures are held at Avenue House, 17 East End Road, Finchley, N3 3QE, and start promptly at 8 pm, with coffee/tea and biscuits afterwards. Non-members: £1. Buses 82, 125, 143, 326 & 460 pass nearby and Finchley Central Station (Northern Line) is a 5-10 minute walk away.


HADAS February 2015 lecture – an assorted history of Singapore, featuring the Mill Hill connection and the Five Foot Way - given by Rob Kayne, reported by Liz Gapp

Rob Kayne started the lecture by showing several maps revealing the location of Singapore and its neighbours. Comparison with the last map from 1800s showed that it has been enlarged thanks to land reclamation instigated by Sir (Thomas) Stamford (Bingley) Raffles.

He went on to show how the station names used for the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system reveal the history of all the people who built Singapore. Dhoby Ghaut was the place where laundry was done by the river (Dhoby = washing; Ghaut=steps beside the river). The Indian words reveal the Indian heritage of those who did the laundry. Queenstown was named after Queen Elizabeth II, denoting the English connection; Ang Mo Kio means Red Hair Bridge, named by Hokkien speakers, (Red Man is the local term for a Caucasian); Toa Payoh means big swamp, a reminder that the area was marshy; Aljunied was named after a man from Sumatra; Dakota indicates where the former Kallang airport was; Mountbatten, commemorates Mountbatten presenting the Union Jack to the people of Singapore in 1946.

Singapore has three significant dates in its history: the first was 700 years ago mentioned in a Chinese account, before the name Singapore was given to the area; the second was in 1819, when modern Singapore was founded; the third was its creation as a republic 50 years ago, which today is being commemorated by red dots with SG and 50 in the red dot (SG on top, 50 underneath). Singapore’s nickname is Little Red Dot.

Singapore was previously known as Temasek. It was renamed Singapura (Lion City), possibly as a result of conquest by a Srivijaya prince. A wall on the North boundary was built in the past to protect Bukit Langaran (Forbidden Hill), believed to be the graveyard of the old dead kings. The Singapore river protected the other boundaries of this area. Excavations here have shown evidence of 14th century royal burials together with jewellery, figurines and pottery. Ceramics found in the river indicate trade with China from 13th century onwards.

We were then taken on a virtual tour of the Singapore museum, starting with the poster which   commemorates 700 years of habitation, showing us images of the various galleries and focusing on the gold centrepiece of a 13th or 14th century necklace which shows a lion’s head, a possible allusion to Singapore. There is also a lot of 12th, 13th and 14th century pottery.

Of particular interest is a fragment of a very large stone called the Singapore stone, found in 1819 at the mouth of the Singapore River. This stone was originally 9ft across and had writing inscribed on it, which it is felt could have revealed a wealth of regional and local history. Unfortunately, although many people of different cultures claimed it was in their script, nobody successfully deciphered it, and in 1843 the East India Company decided to blow it up so that the area could be used for further building development.  Afterwards a few fragments of the stone were collected and one now remains in the Singapore museum.

In 1611 Singapore was destroyed by fire which left only a small town of 1000, of mostly Malay and a few Chinese inhabitants.

The speaker then told of Sir Stamford Raffles, describing his birth on a boat and his rapid rise from a poor background to the position of Lieutenant Governor of Bencoolen. This was too obscure, remote and small for his ambitions, thus the start of his connection to Singapore was explained. . Following a visit to Lord Hastings, then Governor General of Bengal in Calcutta, Sir Stamford Raffles and William Farquhar landed on Singapore on 29th Jan 1819, having sailed there separately.

On 7 Feb 1819 Sir Stamford Bingley Raffles left Singapore, having the day before signed a treaty on behalf of the East India Company (EIC) with the Temengong (local leader) and the Sultan of Johor. The treaty allowed the EIC to establish a trading post in return for payment of an annual rent and protection from the Dutch. The treaty declaration document can now be seen in the Singapore museum.

Raffles left Farquhar on Singapore as Resident, visiting twice more, when he consolidated the EIC’s position, expanding its interests to “possession” of the whole island except the residences of the Temengong and the Sultan.

Growth of the island was rapid due to its prime position on trade routes, its sheltered anchorage, the river basin allowing easy offloading from smaller boats, its supplies of drinking water and the port’s policy of no duties payable. In 1822, the population was 5,000 with a turnover of 8 million Spanish dollars. A year later the population had doubled to 10,000, and the turnover was 8.6 million Spanish dollars.  Land reclamation began during Raffles’ visits, and the city’s functional areas were defined and declared in his Jackson Plan of 1822.

One of the building innovations instigated by Raffles was a covered pathway system that runs in front of the houses alongside the road. This provides shelter from the weather, particularly the heavy rain, and is known as the Five Foot Way, still in use today. Several images of the differing parts of this were shown, each displaying characteristics of the local residents.

On 9 June 1823, Raffles returned to Bencoolen to prepare to return to England due to increasing ill-health epitomised by increasing frequency of serious headaches. He never returned to Singapore.

Raffles hired a ship called the “Fame” from Bencoolen to go to England. The ship left on 2 Feb 1824, laden with 30 tons of his life’s work – Malay literary collections, sketches and maps, artefacts, animals (live and stuffed) and his own extensive written records, plus a commercial consignment of gunpowder. On its first night at sea the ship caught fire, exploded and sank but with no loss of life.

Raffles returned to Bencoolen. After two months, having assembled a new, albeit smaller, collection, he returned to London and purchased a house and farmland in Mill Hill. The freehold included a public house, the “Rising Sun”. His neighbour and good friend was William Wilberforce.

Singapore became a Crown Colony after the dissolution of the East India Company, and its growth continued to attract immigrants from China’s coastal regions and India. The island was invaded by Japan in 1942 and renamed Syonan To (Southern Light). It returned to British occupation at the end of the war, and began to achieve self-governing status from 1948 onwards, though defence and foreign policy remained matters for the UK to decide. Following a UN Resolution in 1962, a referendum resulted in Singapore becoming a member of the Malaysian Federation until its ejection in 1965, when it became an independent republic.

The 1950s and 1960s saw a transition from kampong (village life) to modern suburban dwellings and social infrastructures. Various images of this transformation were shown.

Singapore’s four official languages are English, Chinese, Malay, and Tamil, with additional languages and dialects spoken by its many immigrants and their descendants. As a result of cultural mixing and cross-influences, a further dialect “Singlish” is widely spoken despite its lack of official status.

Further reading:

Mark R Frost: Singapore – a Biography; Maurice Collis: Raffles – the Definitive Biography; John Bastin: Raffles and Hastings; Nigel Barley: In the footsteps of Stamford Raffles; J G Farrell: The Singapore Grip; Josephine Chia: Kampong Spirit (a Kindle publication).



The Bothy at Stephens House, East End Road, Finchley, has been awarded a grant of more than a million pounds by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The charity Terapia  (, based at Watford Way, Hendon, plans to use the Bothy as a centre providing free mental health services to children and teenagers. The Grade II Listed building had been placed on English Heritage’s “At Risk” register, but now work on it is due to begin early in 2016. Remedial work to the structure is to be carried out soon. 

There is a downside to the good news. Terapia will receive the £1,012,000 grant if it is able to raise another £900,000 on its own. Bozena Merrick, Clinical Director and Chief Executive of Terapia, is confident that they can reach that extra figure. Already The Bothy Charity Shop in High Street North Finchley is raising money towards the extra funds.

Bozena Merrick said, “It’s going to make a huge difference to have an accessible service for children and teenagers right in the heart of Barnet.”

Ben Greener, the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Historic Advisor, said “Historic buildings are inspirational spaces and our research shows they are the very places where enterprise thrives.

“However, once they have fallen out of use, the high cost of restoration makes them commercially unattractive and they become at risk of spiralling into decline. With Heritage Enterprise, HLF is stepping in – making them fit for purpose, attractive for investment, and secure for the future.”

Note: for those unfamiliar with the Bothy in Stephens House gardens, it is not the small, unlocked mountain shelter the name suggests, but looks a little like a small castle. Built in 1882, it is a large square-shaped walled garden, including what was the park keeper’s house, and has rendered battlements and buttressed walls. Its quaint Moorish exterior is to be altered as little as possible.


OTHER SOCIETIES’ EVENTS                                         compiled by Eric Morgan


Friday 13th March, 7.45 pm, Enfield Archaeological Society, Jubilee Hall, 2 Parsonage Lane, near junction with Chase Side, Enfield EN2 OAJ. Fulham Palace: Archaeology and Revival. Talk by Phil Amery. Visitors £1. Refreshments, Sales, information. 7.30 pm.


Friday 20th March, 6.30 pm. Friends of the Petrie Museum. UCL Lecture Theatre, G6, Institute of Archaeology, 31 Gordon Square, WC1. Foreign Connections: Egypt and the Outside World Before the New Kingdom. Talk by Garry Shaw.


Friday 28th March 7pm. C.O.L.A.S, St Olave’s Parish Hall, Mark Lane, EC3R 7NB. When is a Torc not a Torc? Fragmentation and Transformation. New Research on Iron Age Silver and Gold Assemblages. Dr Julia Farley (BM). Visitors £2.


Wednesday 1st April, 8pm. Stanmore & Harrow Historical Society. Wealdstone Baptist Church Hall, High Street, Wealdstone, John Betjeman’s London. Talk by Colin Oakes. Visitors £1.


Thursday 2nd April, 8 pm, Pinner Local History Society, Village Hall, Chapel Lane car park, Pinner. What Shaped Pinner Before the Railways Came. Talk by Pat Clarke (Vice-President of LAMAS). Visitors £2.


Wednesday 8th April, 7.45 pm, Hornsey Historical Society, Union Church Hall, corner of Ferme Park Road/Weston Park, N8 9PX, The Natural History of Haringey’s Ancient Woodlands. Talk by David Bevan. Visitors £3. Refreshments, sales and information.


Saturday 11th April, 11 am-3pm Saturday 11th April, 11am – 3pm, North London & Essex Transport Society. Enfield Transport Bazaar. St Paul’s Centre, 102 Church Street, Enfield, EN2 6AB. Bus, railway, aviation and military transport, with books, photos, DVDs, timetables, maps, memorabilia etc. Admission £3. Refreshments available.


Saturday 11th April, 10.30 am-4.30 pm, Mill Hill/Edgware Model Railway Exhibition, John Keble Church Hall, Church Close (opposite Deans Lane), Edgware HA8 9NS. Variety of layouts in halls and church. Trade stands, refreshments. Admission: Adults £4, Concessions £3.


Monday 13th April, 3pm, Barnet Museum & Local History Society. Church House, Wood Street, Barnet (opp. Museum). Pork, Laundries and Takeaways: Changes in Barnet High Street. Talk by Jackie Leedham. Visitors £2.


Thursday 16th April, 7.30 pm, Camden History Society, Burgh House, New End Square, NW3 1LT. Camden Goods Station Through Time. Talk by Peter Darley, £1.


Friday 17th April, 2pm. The Gods and Goddesses of Londinium – a two-hour walk, starting from the Refectory at Southwark Cathedral (near the riverside, nearest tube London Bridge) will look at sites around the Roman Forum and those associated with the London Mithraeum, finishing up at the Roman Gallery of the Museum of London. Led by Mike Howgate, cost £8. To book, please send a cheque made out to Mike Howgate to: M.E. Howgate, 71 Hoppers Road, Winchmore Hill, London N21 3LP


Friday 17th April, 7pm. C.O.L.A.S (see 28th March above). The Instruments of Darkness Tell Us Truths” – Ritual Protection Marks at Knole (found during restoration). James Wright (MOLA)


Tuesday 21st April, 1-2 pm. Society of Antiquaries, Burlington House, Piccadilly, W1. Electrifying Brunel’s GWR: the UK’s Historic Infrastructure in the 21st Century. Talk by William Filmer-Sankey (FSA). Free.


Wednesday 22nd April 6pm. Gresham College at Museum of London, 150 London Wall, EC2Y 5HN. Restoration and Reaction: Palaces of the Restoration. Talk by Simon Thurley (CEO of English Heritage) on their architectural innovation. Free.


Wednesday 22nd April, 7.45 pm. Friern Barnet & District Local History Society, North Middlesex Golf Club, The Manor House, Friern Barnet Lane, N20 ONL. Constable and Turner. Talk by Pamela Wright. Visitors £2. Refreshments and bar.


Friday 24th April, 6.30 pm. Friends of the Petrie Museum, UCL Lecture Theatre, G6, Institute of Archaeology, 31 Gordon Square, WC1. Gebel Silsila: Uncovering the Birthplace of Egypt’s Temples. Talk by Sarah Doherty.


Monday 27th April, 6.30 pm-8-m, British Library, 96 Euston Road, NW1 2DB, in Conference Centre. William Marshal: The Architect of Magna Carta? Talk, Dr Thomas Asbridge (QM UoL) Cost £8 (concs. £6.75). Also exhibition, Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy from 13t March, £10.


Thursday 30th April, 8pm, Finchley Society, Arts Depot, Tally Ho! Corner, 5 Nether Street, N12 OGA. (Please note different venue!) Details not yet available. Please see Finchley Society’s March/April Newsletter. Non-members £2. 


With thanks to this month’s contributors: Stephen Brunning, Liz Gapp, Eric Morgan, Jo Nelhams.