newsletter-088-june-1978

Newsletter

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One of the best bits of news last month was that HADAS had hit the jack-pot - to the tune of £100. Lloyds Bank - a good friend to archaeology all over the country, particularly in supporting excavations on the sites of their own branches at such places as York and Lincoln - announced at the beginning of 1978 the setting up of a Fund for Independent Archaeologists.

For the next five years they will offer £1000 each year in grants to amateur societies for the purchase of equipment. HADAS applied right away for a grant under the scheme, to go towards the cost of surveying equipment: a level, a tripod and a staff.

Early in May we heard we had been successful. Lloyds sent us a cheque for £lO0 with their blessing. Arrangements to buy a good second-hand level are already under way; and the Committee has decided to make up the cost (likely to be more than £lO0) from our own funds, to ensure getting good quality equipment.

We need hardly say that Lloyds is riding high in the estimation of our surveying group, which has been working during the winter (with borrowed equipment, of course) on various sites under the expert guidance of Barrie Martin.

ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING

The 17th AGM took place on May 15 at Central Library. Our longest-serving Vice-President ~ she was present at the inaugural meeting of the Society in April, 1961 - Councillor Mrs. Rosa Freedman took the Chair.

The Officers and Committee for 1978-9 are:

Chairman - Brian Jarman
Vice-Chairman - Edward Sammes
Hon. Secretary - Brigid Grafton Green
Hon. Treasurer - Jeremy Clynes


Committee:

Christine Arnott, John Enderby, Peter Fauvel-Clinch, Irene Frauchiger, George Ingram, Elizabeth Holliday, Dave King, Daphne Lorimer, Dorothy Newbury, Nell Penny, June Porges, Freda Wilkinson, Eric Wookey.

Incidentally, the Society took the opportunity of congratulating our Chairman, Brian Jarman, on his election to the Council - of the London Borough of Barnet in the recent elections. It's pleasant to have someone closely connected with HADAS near the centre of local affairs.

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THE JUNE OUTING

...on Saturday, June 24, will explore the valleys of the Rivers Gade and Bulbourne, and will visit Berkhamsted Castle, Grims Dyke and the medieval wall paintings at Piccotts End. We also hope to see current excavations at Berkhamsted. Full details are enclosed with this Newsletter. If you would like to join us, please fill in the form as soon as possible and return it, with remittance, to Dorothy Newbury.

WEST HEATH DIG

by Daphne Lorimer

The 1978 season began on May 6 and, despite poor weather, a good start was made on completing the excavation of last year's unfinished trenches. One by one the Diploma and Certificate examination candidates returned from their ordeal by pen and took up their trowels again, so that by the end of the third weekend HADAS was digging with its accustomed verve and vigour.

The hearth was turned onto its right side and appeared in good condition. A start was made on its excavation and a goodly amount of charcoal was recovered for c14 dating and botanical examination. The spoil is to be put through a soil flotation machine, in an endeavour to recover carbonised seeds and small animal bones - our one chance to find organic remains from the site. Samples for magnetometric and thermoluminescence dating were taken on May 24 by an expert from the Oxford laboratory. At long last, therefore, it is hoped to obtain a positive dating for the site.

Thanks to the interest displayed by members of the public reports of other Mesolithic scatters in the area are coming in. All are being investigated and two have been verified. It is hoped to build up a picture of Mesolithic occupation in this part of the London region; members, too, are urged to keep constant watch for struck flakes. Please report these to Daphne Lorimer - with an OS grid reference, if possible.

It is hoped to excavate the major living area this season. This part of the site is rich in flints and there is always the possibility of finding another hearth. Do come and dig - every trowel counts!

Digging times: June 3-18 (inc) digging every day, 10 am-5 pm. The training dig will be in progress, but there will be trenches also for HADAS members who are not training. Thereafter, digging every Wed, Sat. and Sun. until the end of September, except when HADAS is in Orkney or enjoying a Saturday outing (see programme card for these dates).

FINCHLEY DIG

Paddy Musgrove reports that the dig on the old rectory site of St. Mary-at-Finchley has now finished. Some interesting finds have emerged and when these have been studied a further report will be made.

Meanwhile, trenches which will soon be cut by the builders will be examined in the hope that they may help to explain some puzzling features that have been discovered.

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MYSTERY MOUND

In the grounds of St. Josephs Convent, Hendon (at approx. TQ 22628919) there is a mysterious man made mound. No one knows precisely why or when it was first constructed. It has been there long enough for its edges to have become blurred and difficult to define. Indeed, at some seasons - particularly in the lushness of high summer - it merges so well into the background of the beautiful Convent garden that it is hardly noticeable, overgrown as it is with grass, wild flowers, shrubs and the occasional self-sown tree.

The earliest memories of the mound are supplied by Sister Eadmunda ,of the Congregation of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, who own St. Josephs and run the Catholic school there. The Order was founded in Germany 130 years ago. The sisters first came to Hendon in 1882, to Ravensfield House (which stood where the London Transport bus garage now stands in the Burroughs). A few years later they moved to Norden Court, a late Victorian house with large grounds near the then junction of Colindeep Lane and the Burroughs ; and in 1900 the present buildings - a convent, girls' boarding school and chapel - were built. Norden Court still remains as a separate house in the grounds.

Sister Eadmunda's memories go back to the time when she and her sister were young pupils at St. Josephs. "We were inquisitive, as little girls are," she recalls, "and we explored that mound. It had an entrance on the north side near a big tree which has since been cut down. You went down some steps. We were often hungry - as small girls also usually are - and apples and carrots used to be stored in the chamber under the mound - so it must have been quite dry. There were two passages leading out of it. I can remember one of them clearly - it had a low barred iron gate across it, and you could see the passage leading away beyond the gate into darkness, in the direction of Hendon parish church. We always thought it was a secret passage to the Church; and we were told the other passage went to Brent Street."

Today the chamber in the mound is no longer open, and all signs of its entrance have vanished. On top of the mound now is a small rendered brick structure, about 75 cm by 45 cm by 60 cm high, which could have been the plinth for a statue.

HADAS first heard of the St. Josephs mound last summer, when an officer from the Planning Department of the London Borough of Barnet and two officers from the Historic Buildings Division of the GLC went to inspect it, to see if it was of sufficient historic interest to be scheduled. HADAS was invited to send a representative to that meeting, and did so. In the discussion which took place it was suggested that the mound might be the remain1s of an 18th/19th c. icehouse, connected either with The Grove (a large house which used to stand a little north of St. Josephs, in the general direction taken by Sister Eadmunda's "secret passage") or with Norden Court.

Several HADAS members have been at school at St. Josephs; one of them, Mary O'Connell, has sent, us this account of the mound as she remembers it about 1940:

"It was topped by a wooden summerhouse. Against the side. of the mound stood the Grotto - a rockery, built up to form a high niche which held a statue of the Virgin. Behind the grotto' a small path led to a low, arched doorway. As I recall, there were three flagstone-type steps down into a circular chamber about 3 1/2 to 4 metres in diameter. The dome could have been about 2 m. high, with brickwork smoothly vaulted like some latter-day Treasury of Atreus.

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This was always referred to as the priest's hole and it was generally accepted that there had once been access to a tunnel said to lead to St. Mary's parish church. Indeed, it was rumoured that a second tunnel existed which ran to-wards Brent Street. We searched, without success, for traces of the blocked entrance, and childish fantasies were sparked off by the discovery of the odd bone among the leaves and debris on the earthen floor (no doubt where a dog, or perhaps a fox, had enjoyed a stolen meal).

Mr. Tom Mahon, who has been in charge of the farm and grounds of the Convent since 1934, was told by an elderly nun that the cellar had been an underground cold store for food-stuffs, and that she remembered a local butcher having been allowed to rent, it for storage purposes. Mr. Mahon vividly recalls diving into it for shelter from falling shrapnel several times during the last war.

The underground chamber was completely dry till the end of the 1930s, which indicates some sort of drainage system (a well can still be seen near the path) .Then it began periodically to be flooded, and was deemed unsafe. Over a period Mr. Mahon filled it up with all kinds of household and garden rubbish. As time went by, the elms and a cedar which grew on the mound became diseased and were felled; and the summerhouse collapsed. About four years ago the grotto was dismantled and the area was smoothed over and grassed. Mr. Mahon reckons the roof of the cellar is only a few inches beneath the present ground surface."

During the past winter the Society's surveying group has, with kind permission from the Convent, been doing a practical exercise on the mound. We have measured it for a plan, which is being drawn by Barrie Martin; and have also done some levelling, So that the elevations can be plotted. This will provide a record, at least, of the mound as it now exists. There has been one big difficulty - the "smoothing over" to which Mrs. 0' Connell refers has meant the obliteration of the precise outlines of the original mound.

Whatever the origin of the mound, it is clear that there are a number of possibilities to be explored. For instance, a member of the Borough Planning Department has suggested an interesting theory: that it might have been part of a kiln, built to fire bricks made from local clay for building either Hendon Grove or Norden Court, and that the "secret passage" was a shaft to a chimney stack. There is a long, narrow pond in St. Josephs Grounds, some 30-40 metres west of the mound. Could this, he suggests, have originally been the clay-pit from which the brick-earth came?

Brick kiln? Priest's secret passage to a pre-Reformation church? Ice-house? At the moment we don't know, though we hope further research may produce more facts - meantime, the HADAS surveying group refers to it, tongue-in-cheek, as "our 19th c. round barrow."

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WORTH REPEATING

By George Ingram.

Fifty-three members enjoyed an excellent repeat trip to Grimes Graves on May 20 (see Newsletter 78, August 1977, for the account of our first trip). Again Mr. Lord, the custodian at Grimes Graves, fascinated us with his expert knapping of a Neolithic-type hand axe; and it was interesting to see once more the West Stow reconstructed medieval village.

Our tour of Bury St. Edmunds (with two guides kindly provided by the Bury Past and Present Society) was slightly longer than last year and took in the still magnificent Abbey ruins, where we learnt that the movement to bring King John to book at Runnymede in 1214 began at Bury. A Victorian inscription, listing the names of the barons (including the Lord Mayor of London) and whether any of their descendants still exist (Lord Saye and Sele seems to be the main contender for this honour) graces a ruined core of one of the great pillars that supported the tower of the Abbey church; and there are some stirring lines by a Victorian poetess on what Magna Carta means to England.

Tea at Bury ended a full day, well organised and planned; our thanks for it go to Brigid Grafton Green and Nell Penny.

AUTUMN COURSES

As this Newsletter went to press John Enderby, Principal of Hampstead Garden Suburb Institute and a founder-member of HADAS, sent us these advance details of classes for next winter.

There will, as usual, be courses in the first two years of the London University Diploma in Archaeology. On Wednesdays, 'starting Sept. 20, Desmond Collins will take the first year course, on the Archaeology of Palaeolithic and Mesolithic Man; on Thursdays, starting Sept. 21, David Price Williams will take the second year, on the Archaeology of Western Asia. Both courses of 24 lectures and 2 visits cost £8 each, and classes are from 7.30-9.30 pm.

Miss M. Skalla will take a course (originally sugsested by HADAS) of 20 lectures and 2 visits on the Archaeology of the Dark Ages on Tuesdays, starting Oct. 10, from 8-9.30, fee £8. On Wednesdays, starting Sept. 20, there will be a course of 12 lectures, 1 visit, on Hampstead Garden Suburb and its place in the Garden City Movement. The lecturer is Mervyn Miller, planning officer at Letchworth. Fee £4., time 7.30-9.30 pm.

One bonus of signing on for a course at the HGS Institute is that you avoid the trauma of a single enrolment day and possibly waiting in a long queue. Mr. Enderby and his staff will take enrolments any time from mid-June onwards.

INKPOTS AND LEGACIES

By George Ingram

"The Inky Way ..." is the heading to a cartoon drawn by Peter Jackson, printed in The Evening News of August 7, 1950.

The drawing shows a pathway leading to the front door of No.3 Church Cottages, The Ridgeway, Mill Hill, composed of several hundreds of upturned inkpots, said to have been collected from nearby Mill Hill School and laid down "some 75 years ago." These saltglaze stoneware pots were set in close formation to give an even and durable path. Most of the bases measure 7 cm in diameter, but a few are 5 and 6 cm.

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Peter Jackson was born at Brighton in 1922. In 1949 he sent a few historical drawings, with descriptions, to the Evening News. They led to the birth of a series of cartoons on the theme "London is Stranger than Fiction." The sketches became a popular feature of the paper and in 1951 a selection was reprinted in book form, with a further book in 1953 under the title "Peter Jackson, London Explorer" (it sold at 2s.6d a copy)

The inkpots are a link with one of the well-known Victorian personalities of out area - "Inky" Stephens, who lived at Avenue House, East End Road, Finchley. Henry Charles Stephens was a member of the well-known firm which made "Stephens Ink" - hence his nick-name. He was the son of Dr. Henry Stephens, who invented a kind of ink fluid - originally, it is said, for his own use and that of his friends. He put it on sale and the business flourished. "Stephens Ink" was widely advertised in its heyday. Enamel signs showed the name and two enormous eye-catching ink-blots, superimposed on each other.

Inky Stephens, who inherited the Stephens fortune, died in 1918; and in his will he left Avenue House to the Finchley Urban District Council to administer, as a legacy for the good of the people of Finchley. When the Borough of Barnet came into-being in 1965, Avenue House was part of its inheritance; and, as our Chairman reported at the AGM, HADAS has just acquired a tiny part of that inheritance - a small room of its own in Avenue House, on lease from the Borough, where we shall be able to keep at least our books and some of our records.

A HOUSE BUILT ON CLAY

Site report by Myfanwy Stewart. When planning consent is given in an area of known archaeological interest HADAS watches the site with particular care. Last July we learnt that houses were to be built at the end of Grantham Close, Pipers Green Lane, Edgware (TQ 181934 app). This site is just off Brockley Hill - the most important Roman site in our Borough.

Two Victorian houses, Newlands Lodge and Newlands Cottage, were to be demolished and replaced by two new houses. One of the new dwellings was built over the concrete platform which had formed the foundation of one of the old houses, so few trenches were dug. However, foundation trenches were opened for the second house, and these were eagerly watched by Helen O'Brien, Sheila Woodward and myself.

Unfortunately on many sites topsoil is removed before building begins, so there is only a slim chance of even surface finds. This site was no exception; not one piece of Victorian pottery was found on the surface there, let alone anything more interesting. Foundation and drainage trenches, opened to a depth of about 1 metre, showed no features of any kind. What was unusual was a complete lack of strata, even geological. From top to bottom the section showed only one layer: dense, waxy, almost pebble-free yellow clay.

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Nevertheless one interesting point has emerged. A sample of the clay was taken. This turned out to be of interest to an archaeologist working at the Museum of London, who has already thin-sectioned some of the Brockley Hill pottery. He wishes to explore possible sources of the clay used by the Roman potters. If any member notices open trenches - either service trenches or for road works or building - near the Brockley Hill area I would be glad to hear of them, in order to take more clay samples.

AIDS TO RESEARCH

JOANNA.CORDEN, Archivist to the Borough of Barnet, provides further details of the sources available to local historians.

III Local History Library, Egerton Gns: Pt.3, Archives;

Archives deposited in the Local History Library are in two categories: first, official records or the present council and its: administrative predecessors (Urban District Council, Borough, Local Board, parish and manor); second, the deposited records of persons and institutions of various kinds. This month I shall deal with the official administrative records.

MINUTES, ACCOUNTS. These consist mainly of Minutes and accounts. There is an almost complete run; the exception is Hendon, where the minutes begin in 1924. Earlier Minutes for the Urban District Council and the Local Board are available from the Town Hall, however, given some prior notice.

PARISH REGISTERS are either kept by the parish churches themselves (e.g. St. Marys, East Barnet; St. Andrews, Totteridge); or they have been deposited with the 'appropriate Record Offices (e.g. St. Marys, Hendon, and St. Marys, Finchley, with the GLC).

PARISH RECORDS, other than registers, can also be retained by the churches, e.g. St Marys, East Barnet; or can be deposited, e.g. St. James the Great, Friern Barnet ~ with Greater London Record Office, Middlesex, Queen Annes Gate, SWl} or St. Johns, Chipping Barnet (with Herts. County Record Office, Hertford).

The parish records of Hendon and Finchley, and some Edgware records, are deposited in the Local History Library. They consist of:

Edgware: Overseers of the Poor, 1822-23; 1919-23

Finchley: only a few have survived. The old Finchley Vestry used to meet in the Queens Head. This then stood next to the Church, where Church End Library is today. The Vestry kept most of its records there; unfortunately in 1836 a fire destroyed the inn and with it the records. However, enough survived to give some idea of Finchley parish history from the 18th c, including:

9 vestry books. (1768-1874). These cover various aspects of village life and include details of churchwardens and over-seers accounts -fortunately, as the churchwardens and overseers records themselves have not survived.

2 poor rate books and 2 examination books, the latter having a number of loose removal orders and other papers. The rate books generally, beginning 1836. There are so many that they have been microfilmed, and the film is available at the Local History Library. The originals can be consulted in the basement of South Friern Barnet Library.

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Hendon parish records are more complete. Vestry books begin 1706 and go on to 1913, although the later period is limited to church matters, since the civil functions of the parish were taken over by other administrative bodies at the end of the 19th c. The churchwardens accounts are the earliest for this area, covering 1656-1893. The Overseers of the Poor have a complete and full set of records (1703-1835), as do the Surveyors of Highways (1703-1861). Rate books for Hendon are on microfilm from 1837, and again can be consulted at the Local History Library, although the originals were deposited with the GLC many years ago.

The parish of MonkenHadley is in an awkward position as regards records. Most of them, including Vestry books (1672-1833), Overseers Accounts (1678-1835) and Surveyors of Highways Accounts' (1846, 1851; 1854, 1873-4) have been deposited at Barnet Museum, Wood Street, Barnet .These have been microfilmed, the film being available at the Local History Library. The rest have been deposited at the GL Record Office (Middx) and can be seen there; no microfilm exists of these.

Rate Books exist for the following areas:

Barnet Vale (1898-1926)

East Barnet (1876-1931)

Edgware (1863-1870)

Finchley (1836-1961)

Friern Barnet (1935-1961)

Hendon (1747-1835; on microfilm after 1837)

Monken Hadley (1780-1852on microfilm only)

All these rate books are kept in the basement of South Friern Barnet Library.

MANORIAL RECORDS for Hendon consist mainly of drafts of manorial court rolls for the 18th/early 19th c. The court rolls themselves (1688-1934) are available at GL Record Office (Middx); the farm accounts of the manor (1347-9, 1354-55) are at Westminster Abbey.

SURVEYS: a 1690 copy of a 1574 survey of the Manor of Hendon, and other surveys dated 1632, 1635 and 1687, in addition to the more commonly used Surveys by Messeder, Cooke and Jago in the 18th c. and Whishaw in the 19th c, are in the Local History Library.

Other official administrative records held are:

Hendon Charity Schools 1787-1857

Daniels Almshouses, 1832-1877

Electoral registers, Finchley U.D (1908); Finchley Borough (1938-9, 1950), Hendon UDC and Borough (1901-65) and of course for all areas of the Borough since 1965.

School Board Minutes, Finchley ( 1881-1903) ; FUDC Education Committees. 1903-1949)

Medica1 Officer of Health East Barnet (1891-1964); Finchley (1928- 1964); Friern Barnet (1954-60); Hendon (1912; 1964)

Finally, Civil Defence records, including war damage maps and casualty registers from the second world war for both Hendon & Finchley.

AIR PHOTOGRAPHY COURSE

An interesting residential weekend on the interpretation of air photos will be held from Sept 29-0ct 1 next at Wicken House, Wicken Bonhunt, Newport, Essex. Fee £16. Details from the Treasurer, Cttee for Archaeological Air Photography, 15 Colin McLean Road, East Dereham, Norfolk.

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