Newsletter-158-April-1984

 

 

Newsletter 158         April 1984 SALUTE TO CLOWNS:

Doing anything on All Fools Day? If not, and this Newsletter reaches you in time (we're posting it a day or two early specially) why not celebrate April 1st this year by coming along to an unusual ceremony which is to take place at 3 o'clock that afternoon,

It is the unveiling of a Blue Plaque to Joseph Grimaldi, the great clown and 'comic actor, by a great 'clown' of our own day, Spike Milligan. The plaque is on the wall of Finchley Memorial hospital, which overlooks Granville Road, N12, and is the building nearest to the spot on which stood the cottage leased by Grimaldi for 21 years.

As regular Newsletter readers will know HADAS - backed by three other local societies, the Mill Hill Historical, the Barnet & District

Local History and the Finchley Society - was instrumental some years ago in persuading the Borough of Barnet to start erecting more commemorative plaques to notables who have lived in the Borough in the past. Grimaldi is one in this series and the Borough Librarian has invited us to arrange this particular ceremony. Our Chairman, Councillor Brian Jarman, will preside and we shall have, in addition to great Goon, Spike, a number of other guests with particular Grimaldi connections.

These will include Father Michael Shrewsbury, Vicar of Holy Trinity, Dalston, 'the Clowns' Church,' where the annual clowns' service, in memory of Grimaldi, is held each February, and where a clown's face is embroidered on the vicar's hassock; Daniel Grimaldi, great, great-grandson of the Great Grimaldi; and three local clowns, Jojo, Bobo and Barey, who have agreed to come along, with obvious pleasure, in full clowns rig.

We should perhaps mention that April 1st will also be Mothering Sunday, so we hope that any children who have a connection with HADAS will seize this unique chance to bring their Mums to see the clowns, as a special treat! Even if you can't come yourself, will you do something for us? Please keep your fingers crossed for a fine day on April 1st.

 

THE FUNNIEST MAN IN ENGLAND

To put you in the picture, here's some biographical detail about Joseph Grimaldi (1778-1837), known in his day as 'the funniest man in England.' His songs, which were broadsheet sell-outs, were still being sung a century after he first sang them; his make-up - white face, red triangles on the cheeks, sometimes a red nose - is still the basis of conventional clown’s wear 200 years later. You sometimes see one of his pet hair-dos on punks today - that Mohican roll from nape to nose-bridge over the top of an otherwise shaven pate. His name - Joey - is nowadays a synonym for a clown, and slapstick in the theatre is 'Joey-joey' business.

Grimaldi was born on December 18, 1778, son of an immigrant Italian actor who came in late middle age to work in London. There he fell for a Drury Lane chorus girl 40 years his junior; Joseph was the illegit­imate offspring of the union. His father's temper was chancy and he is said to have beaten his son frequently and to have made him work like a navvy. Joey made his first appearance on the stage on Easter Monday, 1781, when he was three years old, as a dancer and tumbler.

Although the apprenticeship was tough, he emerged from it as the

greatest clown that England has known. At 11 he was earning £1 a week
at Drury Lane; in 1802, when an agricultural labourer earned £8 a year, Grimaldi was making £4 a week at Drury Lane and £6 a week at Sadlers Wells. By 1806 his career had soared to heights at which it would remain until his premature retirement in 1823. At Christmas, 1806, he performed Mother Goose (to be repeated many times)and 'thereafter he was in a class of his own.' indeed Charles Dickens, writing more than 30 years later, said: 'There are no standards to compare him with, or models to judge him by; all his excellences were his own and there are none resembling them among the pantomime actors of the present day.'

He danced beautifully; his body seemed to be boneless and he was

the only man in England who could fill the old Covent Garden - a vast
theatre - for 92 performances on the trot. When he started in the theatre he worked at Drury Lane and Sadlers Wells - then a building standing in a quiet rural landscape; after a disagreement with the Drury Lane management in 1806 he worked for the Wells and Covent Garden.

Turn-up For Harlequin,

 Although his memorable Mother Goose was, as it happened, a Christmas show, pantomime wasn't then at all what it is today. It was staged at any season of the year, not only Christmas;  it was for all ages and all classes; and its second half, by tradition, was always a Harlequinade. That was the story of Columbine and Harlequin's elopement, pursued by Pantaloon, who was supported by his servant: Clown. Harlequin was the main character. Grimaldi changed all that, and pantomime was never quite the same again.

Under his genius Clown blossomed into the principal part: he became the character who brought the house down. Grimaldi had a way with sausages, babies and policemen ... that his audiences found irresistible. His nose alone was capable of conveying disdain, fear, anger and joy. It wasn't so much what he did: it was the way he did it. He had the gift of turning life into a joke, but his brand of wit and humour was difficult to analyse.

Richard Findlater, in his book published for the 200th anniversary of Grimaldi's birth, tries to pin his magic down: The Times, Findlater says, once described Grimaldi as 'Hogarth in action' - for there on the stage he held up a satirical mirror to the excesses of the day. One 180 frailty that was unmercifully lampooned was what Arthur Bryant has called 'the national vice of stuffing.' Grimaldi guzzled inimitably, parodying Georgian greed in all its crudity.

Another speciality was his portrayal of stealing - another national pastime. Clown, with smirk and wink, showed off light-fingeredness at a time when petty pilfering could be punishable by death. 'The greater the danger, the better the joke,' observes Findlater. Grimaldi. was an incomparable mimic and he had a bag of what he called 'tricks of con­struction' – in which he manufactured, while dancing, the figure of a man - with whom, later, he would do ridiculous battle - out of, say,vegetables from Covent Garden market, with cabbage body, pumpkin and leek head, carrot fingers and turnip feet.

1806 must have been a high-watermark for Grimaldi: not only for his Mother Goose triumph and his move to Covent Garden, but also because it was then that he first leased his country retreat in Finchley. He had married, in 1798, Maria Hughes, the daughter of a theatre manager, but she lived for only a year and Joe was nearly inconsolable. His second wife, Mary Bristow, whom he married 3 years later, was an actress, and they had one son, a weakly boy. That was the reason for the move to Finchley: it was thought the country air might be good for him.

The main source of information about Grimaldi - apart from prints, broadsheets and journals of the time - is his own Memoirs (published 1838), ramblingly written in the last year of his life. They were

doubly edited, first by Egerton Wilks and then by Charles Dickens, who is said to have sub-edited them severely and added flourishes of his own. Dickens never met Grimaldi, but as a boy of 9 or 10 he saw the great clown perform towards the end of his career. Of Grimaldi's soujourn in Finchley Dickens wrote: 'he had a cottage at Finchley, to which he used to drive down in his gig after the performances. If there were no rehearsals he remained there until the following afternoon: if there were, he returned to town immediately after breakfast.'

The Pightle at Fallow Corner

The 1866 edition of the Memoirs notes that the cottage was 'on the edge of the common between the seventh and eighth milestone, on the left handside of the road from town. Frank Marcham, in a paper in LAMAS tranasactions, 1938, adds that Grimaldi lived at Fallow Corner, Finchley, from 1806-1827, in a house 'on the land in Granville Road, next the home for children,' and explains that his landlord was William Drummond, who had bought the house in 1801, as 'all that messuage cottage or tenement erected and built with the pightle of land at the backside of the said house containing one rood ... at Fallow Corner.'

Grimaldi called the house' at Finchley Tippity Cottage, after his best-loved song 'Tippitywitchet, in which he made great play with a snuff-box and a sneeze. The Prince Regent is said 'to have burst his stays with laughing.'

Life at Finchley was not without incident: he was held up by high­waymen on Highgate Hill on his way home from the theatre; his 17-year old manservant was arrested at 'Tippity Cottage for sheep-stealing (the spoils, skins, flesh and bones, were concealed in a hayloft above Grimaldi's Chaise-house') and later tried at the Old Bailey, found guilty and sentenced to death, with a recommendation to mercy on account of his youth (there is a full report of the trial in Frank Marsham's LAMAS Trans paper).

One continuing struggle for the Grimaldis was to make ends meet, because their spending was imprudent, their investments unlucky and Mrs Grimaldi extravagant. Although Joey earned good money, it dripped through his and his wife's fingers. At one point they had to sub-let. Tippity Cottage until their fortunes improved.

Regency theatres were not, as theatres are now, open the year round. Sometimes they opened for only a few months of the year. It was often necessary 'to sign on with two theatres to keep in employment. Sometimes the seasons of the two overlapped. This seems to have happened quite often with Grimaldi; and when it did and he had two performances at different theatres in the same evening he had to run, at full speed, from one to the other. His fastest time, he reckoned, from Sadlers Wells to Drury Lane was 8 minutes.

With that kind of exertion, plus a hard childhood and the sheer physical battering taken by a slapstick comic, it is not surprising that in his forties Grimaldi began to suffer from a crippling disease. He struggled against it, but by the time he was 45 his legs were so seized up and twisted that he could no longer work; for his final appearance he was carried onto the stage in a chair.

Tears often lie close to the heart of a clown, and Grimaldi was no exception. His temperament inclined to melancholy. One sad story told of him is of his anonymous visit, when he was feeling ill and depressed, to a doctor to whom he confided his woes. The doctor's advice was 'Go and see Grimaldi: he's as good as a tonic. You'll feel better at once.' The classic case of- 'Physician, heal thyself?'

After his retirement, life could only decline. He died, in poverty

 and alone (his wife and son predeceased him) on May 31 in the year Victoria came to the throne. He was buried at the Georgian church of St James, Pentonville, recently demolished. His tombstone has been lovingly preserved in the small churchyard, which remains. Perhaps ­Thomas Hood's lines, written on Joe's retirement, are as good an epitaph as any:

 

"Oh who like thee could ever drink

Or eat - swill, swallow, bolt and choke?

Nod, weep and hiccup - sneeze and wink?

Thy very yawn was quite a joke."

 

 

Bibliography:

Memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi, edit. Charles Dickens, reprinted 1963, MacGibbon & Kee

 

Joe Grimaldi: His Life & Theatre, Richard Findlater, 1978, C.U.P. 

 

Incidents in the Life of Joseph Grimaldi, Giles and Patricia Neville, 1980, Jonathan Cape

 

Joseph Grimaldi & Finchley, Frank Marcham, in Trans. LAMAS, vol VIII

part 1 (1938), 48-56

 

PROGRAMME NEWS

Tues. Apr 3. Alexander Flinder will speak to us about Underwater Archaeology in the Holy Land. Mr Flinder chairs the Nautical Archaeology Society and is a member of the Government Advisory Committee on Historic Wrecks. His talk will cover a 20-year involvement in under­water exploration in the seas of the Bible lands in which he has led and participated in many archaeological projects. Some of the discov­eries are of particular biblical significance, while others illuminate the later historical period of the Holyland. 8 pm for 8.30 at the Library, the Burroughs, NW4.

Sat. May 5 2 pm. Hampstead Walk with Christopher Wade, Curator at Burgh House and vice-Chairman of Camden History Society. The walk will start and finish at Burgh House, where members can have tea in the Buttery if they wish. Lunches are also available beforehand, but it is advisable to ring 431 2516 first. Mr Wade has asked no fee, but would be grateful for donations towards the Burgh House Trust. A collecting box will be available. He would like a rough idea of numbers so that he can organise the walk - please ring Dorothy Newbury (203 0950) if you intend to come.

An exhibition about the du Maurier family will be on in the Hampstead  museum, on the first floor of Burgh House, and can also be visited.

 

Sun. May 13th day-trip to Jorvik Viking Centre. THE TRIP IS ON,
as we have had a good response. Anyone else who wants to join, but hasn't .yet applied, please let Dorothy Newbury known - in case there are cancellations.

      Tues. May 15 Annual General meeting, 8 for 8.30 pm, the Library, the Burroughs, NW4. Dorothy Newbury would like to hear from any member who has a few slides to                         show (12 maximum) or who would give a 10-minute talk on any interesting subject. This is a chance for us all to share your activities over the last few years. If there's a             rush of volun­teers, it will be first come, first served.

Sat. June 16. Outing to Icklingham/West Stow, Suffolk, with Ted Sammes. 

For the first time this year HADAS will have a display and bookstall at the Conservation Fayre organised by the Edgware branch of the National Trust. This will be on Sat. Apr 14, from 10 am-3 pm, at Harwood Hall, Mill Hill. Any members who would care to help with this are asked to ring Tessa Smith on 958 9159. 

SUBSCRIPTIONS

... become due on April 1 - so with this Newsletter I am enclosing reminders which tell you the new rates. I shall be happy to receive your remittance, and hope that you will send it as soon as possible - reminders which have to be sent later in the year cost postage and time.

PHYLLIS FLETCHER, Membership Secretary 2? Decoy Avenue, NW1I OES. 455 2558

 

ARCHAEOLOGY IN WILTSHIRE                                        A report from SHEILA WOODWARD on the

HADAS March lecture

Readers of Current Archaeology are familiar with John Musty's lively and informative Science Diary which records, in language intelligible to the layman, recent research and. achievements in archaeological science. A similar lively style characterised this lecture, in which Mr Musty reviewed with pleasure and enthusiasm his many years of experience as an excavator in Wiltshire.

The young John Musty's interest in archaeology was sparked off in the 1930s by a visit to a Roman settlement near Marlborough; and was subsequently developed and deepened under the guidance of Dr J F S Stone when they worked as fellow civil servants in the Ministry of Defence research station at Porton Down. Wiltshire was an ideal county in which to practice archaeology, providing an amplitude of sites which ranged from Neolithic chambered tombs and Bronze Age barrows to Saxon cemeteries and deserted medieval villages. During the 1950s some of the most important sites in the area were being re-excavated: the great Bronze Age barrow Cemetery on Snail Down, Stonehenge itself, and the West Kennet long barrow. Mr Musty participated in them all. He recalled that the lunch-break at Stonehenge was always known as 'ditching' because the repast was invariably eaten in the bottom of the henge's ditch!

In the 1960s he began to organise and direct his own excavations and again they covered a wide spectrum. He investigated the Roman road which connected Old Sarum with the lead mines in the Mendips; the Old Sarum tunnel which was probably its sally-port; a fascinating group of Saxon graves at Winterbourne Gunner and Winterbourne Earls; the medieval pottery kilns at Laverstock; and the deserted medieval village at Gomeldon with its changing settlement pattern over a period of three centuries. Some unusual hazards were encountered, such as excavating in the magazine area of a Wessex fireworks factory and investigating a Neolithic causewayed camp situated in the middle of an artillery range. Mr Musty took them all in his stride:

When he retired last, year Mr Musty had been head of the DoE Ancient Monuments Laboratory for over 15 years; but it was as an amateur that he entered archaeology and undertook so many excavations. Perhaps that gave his lecture special appeal,

 

HADAS PEOPLE TN THE NEWS

ANN SAUNDERS - a HADAS member of long standing, who many will remember for her delightful lectures to the society on Marylebone - has a book in the offing. It will come out this May, and is called The Art and Architecture. of London. - so keep an eye out for it on the bookstalls

and in the library.. It is published by Phaidon and the Duke of Edinburgh has done the foreword.

Many members will rejoice to hear that COLIN EVANS - still a member, though he is now rarely in this country, being based in France - married again last January. His wife is Josyan 'Testa. HADAS has much pleasure in sending Mr. and Mrs. Evans its warmest congratulations and best wishes for the future.

 

A COMMISION TO WATCH

We shouldn't let April 1st pass without noting that on this day there comes into being a new Government organisation which could have a profound effect, perhaps good, perhaps bad, on archaeology in Britain. This is the Historic Buildings and Ancient Monuments Commission for England, established under the National heritage Act,

Its Chairman is Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, its Deputy Chairman HRH the Duke of Gloucester; the Chief Executive is Peter Rumble, who was Director of the old Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings board; and it can have up to 17 Commissioners. Those so far appointed include Sir Arthur Drew, Mrs. Jennifer Jenkins, Professor .Rosemary Cramp, Professor Colin Renfrew, the Earl of Shelburne and Mr. Donald Insall,

The full range of Commissioners between them are expected to have knowledge and experience of tourism, commerce and finance, as well as more obvious subjects such as archaeology architecture, the history of architecture and the preservation or conservation of monuments and buildings.

Professor Renfrew, writing in Antiquity (no. 220, July 1983) expressed the hope that the Commission would not be too preoccupied with the historic buildings in its care to be 'insufficiently aware of its wider responsibilities It has only 400 guardianship monuments and buildings, but there are 12,500 scheduled monuments, 275,000 listed buildings and an estimated half million further archaeological sites without official protection of any kind. Will the new Commission concern itself sufficiently about these, which in reality constitute the greater part of our national heritage?' he asks.

It is comforting to know that since he wrote those words Professor Renfrew has-become a member of the Commission and will therefore have a ringside seat from which to put his views. Every archaeologist, pro­fessional and amateur, will be watching the new Commission with a deeply involved interest.

A CONFERENCE COMES OF AGE                                       Report by JENNY GRIFFITHS

Fewer HADAS members than usual this year attended the 21st annual conference of London archaeologists, held at the Museum of London on March 17.

The morning session was, as usual, taken up by short reports on current excavations; at Merton Priory, St Clair Street, Aldgate, Uxbridge, Kingston Bridge and Winchester Palace, Southwark. The small Roman burial site at St Clair Street provided an intriguing example of a ritual deposit - a pit containing pottery and a collection of animal bones, including a complete heron, several voles, mice and other small mammals and 32 frogs.

The afternoon session concentrated on Roman London and Londoners. Mark Hassell introduced us to several soldiers, citizens and civil servants through inscriptions, while Ralph Merrifield considered the religious significance of skulls, dog burials and hunter gods and goddesses.

Harvey Sheldon, in the final talk on 'early and late Roman London: archaeological evidence for the contrast?' urged a cautious approach to easy generalisations based on insufficient data. He produced a con­siderable body of evidence for the decline in both population and prosperity of later Roman London. His statistical analysis revealed amongst other things that 80% of all pottery types found in London are 1st and 2nd c, only 20% dating from the 3rd and 4th c; four out of five datable Roman contexts are lst/2nd c. However, he emphasised that later Roman levels are more likely to have been destroyed by sub­sequent occupation activity. Indeed, the presence of dark earth which sometimes seems all pervading on city sites, may itself have caused the loss of later levels.' Harvey considers that 'dark earth' is the result of earthworm activity, disrupting the natural stratigraphy instead of overlying it like a blanket.

Harvey ended his talk with hopes of maintained, if not increased, resources for archaeology in the immediate future to clarify present problems. His audience clearly agreed.

 

Despite HADAS being thin on the ground at the Conference, we mounted a display and bookstall as usual. We thank most warmly the three members who so faithfully manned the stand: SHEILA WOODWARD and PETE and JENNY GRIFFITHS.

 

CORRECTION.

Tod Semmes asks us to print a correction to the report of his Church Terrace lecture which appeared in the last Newsletter.

In the penultimate paragraph on p3 it is suggested that a whole pot from a kiln at Arkley was found in one of the Church Terrace ditches. Ted says that although he showed a slide of a whole pot from the Arkley kiln, this was merely for comparative purposes. No whole pot was found at Church Terrace - he wishes one had been but Church Terrace produced sherds similar to the one from Arkley.

 

SITES TO WATCH: Applications made recently for planning permission include developments on the following sites:

27 Brockley Avenue, Stanmore                                    2 storey extension

 

Land adjoining Pymlicoe House, Hadley Green

1140-1148 High Rd, between Three Horseshoes & 304 Friern Barnet Lane

Oakhill College, East Barnet, rear of 1-33 (odd) Cedar Rise,'N14

amended plans for detached house/access road

3-storey office block (amended plans)

16 houses, estate road

 

Should approval be given, it is possible these sites might have some archaeological interest. Members who notice building activity of any hind en them are therefore asked to let Brian Wrigley know (959 5982).

Borough of Barnet planning lists give details of developments in other boroughs which immediately adjoin our own. The Roman Group, in particular, will be interested in one such which is under discussion in Harrow. This is for the erection of a store building and the formation of an access road thereto in the grounds of the Royal National Ortho­paedic Hospital at Brockley Hill.

 

THE MONEY WORRIES OF LOCAL HISTORY

The British Association for Local History held its second AGM on March 10, 1984, at the Westminster Cathedral Conference Centre. Biggest worry for the fledgling society is money, and the greater part of the discussion centred on that.

BALH's financial situation is precarious. As reported last year (Newsletter 143, June, 1983) there have been DoE grants of £25,000 and £20,000 for its first two years, and there will be £15,000 to get it on its feet. After that it has to stand alone.

Its present premises in Central London are too expensive, so BALH is in negotiation for an office in Matlock, though some doubts were expressed of the wisdom of its distancing itself from a central position and of the inaccessibility of Matlock. There appeared, however, to be no alternative that was viable. The decision to leave London is expected to be taken in the next few weeks.

The meeting agreed that the Association's financial year should change from Apr 1-March 31 to Jan 1-Dec 31, as from next year. This means that this year's subscription of £4 will be for 9 months only.

Individual subscriptions are to remain at £4 next year; but corporate members (and that means HADAS) may expect a subscription rise. What that rise will be has not yet been decided: the Council was asked to investigate the institution of a sliding scale for corporate members (such as CBA operates) thus avoiding the injustice of a well-heeled county council paying the same fee as a small local society.

 

STRIPPED HISTORY

An intriguing find has just been made at College Farm (built by George Barham in Finchley in 1883). This is in the old dairy, a curious­ly shaped building whose roof rises in twin peaks, each peak crowned with a sort of hip-roofed doll's house: these were originally devices for introducing additional ventilation and light. The dairy stands alone opposite the    buildings of the farm, with a cobbled access road running between.

Some weeks ago Sue Russell began giving the dairy a facelift. It had long been looking the worse for wear. Sue, who has helped at the farm for some time, particularly with the sheep and lambs, has become increasingly involved and interested both in the farm's future and its history. She decided it was time the dairy was brought back to life.

As the interior has been slowly stripped of layers of paint and old paper, something very different has begun to emerge - the original cobalt blue and white tiles with which this show dairy was once decorated,

The colour scheme was no doubt chosen for cleanliness and coolness. A dairying manual of 1893, which we were lucky enough to find, provides a description of what the interior was like then:

'There is a perfect little dairy across the road from the buildings, a dairy with a thatched roof and overhanging eaves. Probably a thatched roof is about as good as any­thing can be for a dairy: it keeps out the heat of the sun and helps to regulate the temperature inside the room. The dairy at College Farm is tastefully finished with Minton's tiles, slate benches, and porcelain milk-pans that are white; and smooth, and clean, and very attractive to look upon, as well as to use.'

It is those 'tasteful Minton's tiles' which are now beginning to see the light of day again. There were several different kinds. One attractive series consists of 6' sq. tiles showing ten different and rather idyllic rural scenes.  Each course of tiles has three plain white ones separating two of the rural scenes, and this goes on repeating.

There are women with wide-brimmed hats reaping in the fields; a girl with tame rabbits; a milkmaid carrying pails and stepping daintily from stone to stone across a stream; a girl whose feet must have begun to hurt, as she has pushed off her shoes and is sitting barefoot beside a sheep and lamb; two children (the boy barefoot) have with them an indeterminate animal which might be a dog, or again a lamb. Another river scene shows a man with rolled up trousers standing in the water with something like a fish in his hand - has he been tickling trout? There is a shepherd under a tree; and a girl and woman carrying corn in their aprons.

Another part of the wall carries more stylised tiles, each divided into 9 or 12 compartments, with a flower-head or leaf centred in each compartment; and then there are friezes of narrower blue and white tiles running continuously near the top and bottom of the walls, featuring pomegranates ripely bursting. The only colour, apart from blue, is a fine line of narrow terracotta-coloured tiles near the bottom frieze.

When I saw the dairy Sue Russell had nearly worked her way around half the wall: when the whole thing has been done it will provide a fine show of late 19c decorative tiles, in situ. She is hoping to follow up their history in a forthcoming visit to the Potteries.

The dairy manual hints, as far back as 1893, at the dairy's dicey future. Speaking of the porcelain equipment for 'raising' cream, it says that the big open pans 'are not much wanted nowadays, for almost all the milk is sold (as milk); and indeed, even if it were not, cream

is obtained to greater advantage by separator. College Farm dairy had been built just as techniques for making butter and cream were changing and - quoting the manual again - 'the dairy exists at Finchley as a part of the original plan of the premises yet it is now but little more than an ornament'

We also know that as early as 1902 the dairy was being used not for dairying but for cream teas. Sue Russell hopes the time is not too far distant when cream teas will be served there again.

NEWS FROM THE GROUPS

From the Prehistoric Group comes a reminder about West HeathL 1984: HADAS's Mesolithic dig On Hampstead Heath will re-open on June 16 for a 6-week period. Diggers, finds-processors and PR persons required, please telephone Margaret Maher (907 0333) or Sheila Woodward. (952 3897) if you are interested. It would be helpful if volunteers could let us know their availability i.e., which days of the week they are likely to attend and between which dates. We are not asking for a firm commit­ment, but merely for general information, which will assist our planning.

Beginners are welcome. If you wish to dig, you will need your own trowel (a mason's pointing trowel with a 3" or 4" blade, the blade and tang drop-forged and not rivetted or soldered) and your own kneeling-pad. All other equipment will be provided.

The Roman Group:

One Sunday in March the Group set out to identify the sites of three Roman kilns on the west side of Watling Street, at Elstree, Radlett and Bricket Wood. These have all been excavated, and the finds deposited at the Museums of London or Verulamium. Reports, however, on two of them are minimal; and it was upon these reports that our search was initially based.

The Elstree tile-kiln was-excavated in 1947 when large quantities of tegulae, imbrices and some coarse tesserae were found. A brief report locates the dig as 'in an Elstree garden (Ivy Bush Inn) Opposite the Church. We searched the area directly opposite the Church, where new housing is now being built, and found one broken clay-pipe stem, much mud and little else'. Further north along the road an inn called the 'Holly Bush” was noted. Could this be the 'Ivy Bush' of the report?

Our inability to locate the kiln site precisely, due to lack of a fuller report and to present rapid demolition of the area, highlights the need for accurate and detailed excavation reports.

The Radlett kilns in Loom Lane, discovered in 1898, contained mortaria, amphorae and. Jars. We located these kilns in accordance with the OS map and found the exact location of one by luck and kindly local help. We were introduced to the owner of the garden where the site of a kiln of the potter CASTVS is located on a steep earth bank. The owner told us that when re-laying his lawn he found sherds of pottery, some stamped CASTVS. The finds have been deposited at Verulamium Museum.

Our last visit was to Little Munden, Brickett Wood, where plough­ing had revealed a kiln in 1974. Products included collared and ring-necked flagons, honeypots and mortaria stamped by the patter OASTRIVS with LVGVD counterstamps. This potter is thought to be one of the earliest master potters from Gaul, and this kiln is estimated to have been in operation between AD 55-75. The setting was rural, on the edge of farmland, beside the river Colne and very stoney. This site is thought to be the most likely one for Lugudunum, the mysterious kiln area where a group of early potters settled, stamping their wares LVGVD and variations. One sharp-eyed member found a rim sherd, possibly of a shallow bowl. A full report of this excavation has been written by Chris Saunders and Adrian Havercroft, entitled 'A Kiln of the Potter 0ASTRIVS1 and published in Hertfordshire Archaeology, vol 5, 109.

Time did not permit the full investigation we would all have liked, and follow-up work and further kiln walks are to be planned for the future.

Roman enthusiasts will find much to interest them at the annual Hertfordshire Archaeological Conference to be held on Sat. April l4 at Campus West, Welwyn Garden City, starting at 10 am. The morning session is on 'Current Archaeology in Hertfordshire.' The afternoon, on ‘Art and Archaeology' will include such well-known speakers as Martin Henig (an expert on Roman gemstones) and Catherine Johns (author of the British Museum handbook on Samian pottery). Admission is £2, payable at the doors

DOCUMENTARY GROUP. In last month's Newsletter we mentioned that Gavin Morgan, a new member, was undertaking research into our end of the Welsh droving trade. We also referred to an article by Tom Elias on the subject which we had hoped to publish last month. However, there wasn't space in March, so here it is in April instead:

THE WELSH DROVERS AND BARNET FAIR

by Tom Elias of the Snowdonia National Park Study Centre

AS Jeremy Clynes noted in the November Newsletter (No 153), the Welsh drovers must have played an extremely important part In the economic and social life of Barnet as well as other market venues surrounding the Metropolis. As yet, however, little research has been conducted into the development of 'Barnet fair from this point of view.' Surely this is potentially a tremendously rewarding field of investigation, especially if coupled with some background knowledge as to the identity of those hard-bitten characters who practiced the 'art and mysterye of droving' an the dangers they occasionally faced.

An adventure it surely was. Let's imagine a drover from north-west.Wales about 200 years ago. He would have to be over 30 years of age and be a man of means - usually the owner of his own farm or possibly be a tavern keeper. This was a necessary precondition before he could obtain a drover's licence because the Welsh drovers, differently from their English or Scottish counterparts, took animals from various farmers 'on credit' and paid for them when they got back. So in case a drover 'did a bunk' with the money, there would at least be something for the creditors to get their hands on

Having got the drove together the cattle would be shod with pairs of half-moon shaped iron clips to protect their feet on the long and arduous journey. They would cover about 15 miles a day and take about 2-3 weeks to reach their destination. Whenever possible the drover and his hired hands (or 'drivers') would avoid the toll roads - no sensible fellow wished to subsidise gate keepers! Each night they would stop at an inn with convenient pasturage where the drover himself would sleep in a bed (hence frequent references in some drovers' accounts to 'chambermaid - 6d?!) while the poor drivers slept outside with the cattle.

Their destination was a ring of market venues surrounding London -would Billericay, Brentwood, Harlow, Epping, Barnet, Pinner; Uxbridge, Reigate, Maidstone, Canterbury. Here, having sold the animals, the drivers would be paid off - a shilling a day for the journey and three shillings bonus at the end. These fellows would then plaster the town red-.

Then of course would come the journey home, and with gold in their pockets it could often be more hazardous than the outward leg. Indeed one of the secondary industries arising from the trade was highway robbery.

To avoid that drovers would travel home in armed bands; but a more sensible answer eventually was for them to initiate their own banking system. Probably the best known of these early drovers' banks were the Black Ox Bank of Llanymddyfri, the Black Cock of Caerfyrddin and the Black Sheep of Aberystwyth. Even today's Lloyd's Black Horse logo may be traced back to the same Welsh droving pedigree. Incidentally, the notes of the Black Sheep Bank had 1 black sheep representing £l, 2 sheep for £2, a black lamb for 10s and a black ram for £5 - many of the drovers and their customers were illiterate, but they knew something about sheep:

Before the walking of animals to market came to an end with the coming of the railways, Barnet fair was perhaps the most important sale centre in the Home Counties for the Welsh drovers. Not only was it a large fair but it entered also for goods other than livestock, giving the drovers an opportunity to collect pin money for their wives by selling Welsh lace, and other household goods. An amusing if slightly exaggerated account of the fair appeared in the Farmer's Magazine of 1865:

"Imagine some hundreds of bullocks like an immense forest of horns, propelled hurriedly towards you amid the hideous and uproarious shouting of semi-barbarous drovers who value a restive bullock far beyond the life of a human being, driving their mad and noisy herds over every person they meet if not fortunate enough to get out of their way; closely followed by a drove of unbroken wild Welsh ponies, fresh from their native hills all loose and unrestrained as the oxen that precede them; kicking, rearing and biting ..."

Another account comes from The Daily News,. September 1850:

"... the Welsh Horse Fair (Barnet); and a wilder or more noisy scene it is difficult to conceive. Always full, it was fuller than usual this year, and a brisk trade was driven by.the Welsh horse drovers. ..These horses of all sizes, are from one to four years old and are not led but driven, after the fashion of cattle. Few are more than imperfectly broken in. Among them many useful horses, both for harness and saddle, are to be met with, and occasionally a very clever hackney. The way in which the Welsh jockeys throw themselves on the drove, single out a particular colt., drag him out and mount him for exhibition to a customer, is most amusing, the whole being accompanied by shouts and cracking of whips

"Beyond the Welsh horse fair and nearer to Barnett is-the Welsh cattle fair. Here are all kinds of Welsh cattle generally black, and though small (they) are kindly well-shaped animals, which prove profitable where there's rough land attached to a farm on which they can run through the winter, and maintain, nay, improve their condition on a moderate quantity of food. They are much bought by the farmers of Hertfordshire, Essex, Sussex, Surrey, Kent and Middlesex."

(Note: these English farmers would fatten the Welsh cattle for subsequent sale at Smithfield for slaughter).

Comments