newsletter-200-october-1987

Newsletter

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Edited by Liz Sagues

Diary

Our autumn lecture season opens on:

Wednesday October 7 with Bridget Cherry talking about Medieval Parish Churches in Middlesex.

Bridget Cherry is the editor of The Buildings of England, a job which she took over from Nikolaus Pevsner. The lack of substantial material remains of medieval churches makes it difficult to appreciate the number and importance of the monastic houses in the vicinity of London. Yet Merton Priory was the wealthiest of all English Augustinian houses, Bermondsey the second wealthiest of the Cluniac priories, she points out.

Recent excavations on these and other sites have focused attention on their significance. More survives of the fabric of parish churches, particularly in outer London, but relatively few churches have been thoroughly examined by recent archaeological methods. There is scope here for more research, which could throw light on the nature of medieval village communities in the the London region and reveal to what extent they were in touch with major building developments at different periods.

This, and succeeding lectures, is at Hendon Library, The Boroughs, Hendon, 8.30pm start, coffee available beforehand.

Next, an addition to the published programme:

Saturday October 17 outing to Wimbledon Village and Southside House.
1.45pm We meet Mary O'Connell's colleague, City guide John Barrett, for a guided walk, leaving from Southside House, opposite the Crocked Billet.
3.00pm We return for a guided tour of Southside House, a little known but fascinating Restoration building. It houses an extraordinary collection of objects ranging from mementoes of Ann Boleyn through Boneparte to Axel Munthe. “I can recommend the visit wholeheartedly,” says Mary O'Connell.

We have not hired a coach for this trip. Will any members travelling by car please indicate on the enclosed application form if they can take a non-car member – route via Kew and Richmond. Alternatively, the nearest Underground station is Wimbledon, then a 93 bus. For members wishing to lunch beforehand, in Wimbledon Village there are several restaurants and cafes and a pub, the Rose and Crown. Nearby in Southside are the Crocked Billet and Hand in Hand pubs.

Price (covers entrance fee and guiding charges) £2.50 per head. Afternoon tea will be available at Ructuals cafe nearby at about 4.45pm (not included in price).

Wednesday November 4 Lecture on Late Celtic Art in Britain and Ireland by Dr James Graham-Campbell.

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Saturday November 28 10.30 for 11am, all day. London and Middlesex Archaeological Society 22nd Local History Conference at the Museum of London. The theme is Local Spas and Pleasure Gardens. HADAS will have a stand there and one of the speakers in the afternoon will be our friend Christopher Wade on Hampstead Wells. Admission, by ticket only, is £2.50. Apply to Miss P.A.Ching

December We are endeavouring to arrange our usual Christmas event – more details later.

News of Members

Many members have asked for news of Brigid Grafton Green. She reports that she has been out of hospital for some weeks and is making “steady but slow progress”. We hope the progress will soon be more rapid.

There is good news of Eric Ward, who was invaluable to the society for his photography for many years till he was struck down with a crippling illness which put him in a wheelchair. We now hear that at last the illness has been diagnosed and there are drugs which may help him. He is going into hospital for trials and we all wish him well.

New Members

Welcome to the following new members who have joined this year: Mr F.W.H.Abrams, Miss D.Abrahams, Miss Suzanne Beevor, Master Richard Bruce-Green, Miss M.Coghill, Miss M.Cohen, Mr and Mrs D.G.Dunn, Miss I.B.Gavorre, Mr M.J.Goldenfeld, Mrs. N.Graham-Yooll, Mr M. Hillier, Mrs V. Hodes, Mr D.Hutchings, Miss E.C.Isaacs, Dr D.W.Kay, Mr and Mrs K.King, Dr King, Mr B.Marston, The Musuem of London, Mr P. Oak, Miss J.R.Platt, Mr C.K.Reed, Mr C.Richardsor, Mrs M. St.Clair, Mr and Mrs R. Sobell and their sons David and Andrew, Mr M. Streatfield, Miss S. Terasaki, Mr T.S. Tucker, Mrs E. Wilson and Miss E.Witherow.

... and Old

Membership secretary Phyllis Fletcher still has a list of some 80 members who have not yet renewed their subscriptions and who will, with this newsletter, be receiving reminders. And she offers apologies in advance to any members who have paid too recently for the reminders not to have been stopped.

... and the Shutter-happy

Photographers are urgently wanted to record sites, buildings and artefacts. The society would like to compile a list of members interested in photography who are willing to help and are available (with their cameras) either during the week or at weekends. Please phone Liz Holliday if you can volunteer.

... and the Abergavenny Party

John Enderby took his party of 26 to Wales on September 11-13 and then departed almost immediately for a sunshine holiday abroad – to recover. Apart from getting very wet, all went well. Some members were exhausted (including John), and some of the regulars could have doubled the page.

John will put in a full report in the November newsletter.

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A Palatial Lifestyle

Little Palacos: The Suburban House in North London 1919-1939 is a title which hardly does justice to the exhibition now in its final days at Church Farm House Museum, Hendon. It closes on October 4, get there if you can!

The exhibition has been arranged by the Middlesex Polytechnic and the London Borough of Enfield's Community Programme. Funding has come from the Manpower Services Commission and the John Lewis Partnership.

If you live in a house built during that period you will find much nostalgic material to interest you. There is something for everybody in sections which cover architecture, decoration, household management, transport and leisure activities. There is also a reconstruction of a typical suburban room of the end of the period. I felt I could sit down in it and be “at home” at once.

It's a very good show – congratulations to all concerned. And it is proving to be deservedly popular. Members will recall the exhibition a few years back at the Museum of London which dealt with the Silver family's collection – the Silver Studio. This exhibition is yet another facet of that collection plus material from other sources. It is complemented by an illustrated catalogue, produced by the polytechnic, which sells at £2.

Marvels Head

Next exhibition at Church Farm House Museum has the intriguing title of Matchstick Marvels. These are intricate models of famous buildings, houses and ships made by a former Mill Hill resident. It opens on October 17 and continues until January 1988.

More Diary Dates

Two lectures in the current Barnet Libraries's series have a historical appeal:
Wednesday October 14, Burnt Oak Library, 8.15pm Ellis Hillman on The London Under London – tubes, tunnels, crypts, etc.
Wedneday October 28, Hendon Library, 8.15pm Victor Lewis on David Garrick of Drury Lane Theatre.
Admission to lectures is free and the full programme is available from all libraries.

The University of London Extra-Mural Department is continuing its popular Thursday evening public lecture series. Landscape Archaeology runs for 10 sessions from October 8. Stock and Crops: Aspects of Early Domestication follows on after Christmas, with the first of the 10 lectures on January 7. Both courses are at the Institute of Archaeology, Gordon Square, Bloomsbury, lectures start at 7pm, there are various speakers and the fee for each course is £27.50, or individual lectures £3.50 at the door. More details from Miss Edna Clancy, Department of Extra-Mural Studies, 26 Russel Square, WC1B 5DQ.

Time Past, Time Present is the title of an afternoon illustrated talks and exhibitions presented by local history, archaeological and conservation societies being held at Millfield House, Silver Street, N9, on Sunday October 11. The event runs from 1.30pm to 7pm, admission is free and participants include Enfield Archaeological Society, North Middlesex Family History Society and Edmonton Historical Society.

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A Greater Architect than Wren?

Some authorities claim he was, but Henry Yevely, master mason, is a name of little popular recognition. HADAS member Ann Saunders is aiming to end some of that neglect, with an exhibition on Yeveley at the Church of St Magnus-the-Martyr, Lower Thames Street beside London Bridge, from October 12-18.

Henry Yeveley, writes Dr Saunders, was responsible for raising the walls of Westminster Hall to support the magnificent hammerbeam roof, for continuing the nave of Westminster Abbey, for work on Canterbury Cathedral and at the Tower of London, and for much else besides. The exhibition attempts to illustrate his more important achievements and to give some idea of the religious and social life of the 14th century.

Events associated with the exhibition are an illustrated talk of The Dress of Working Londoners in the Time of Henry Yeveley, by Helen McCarthy (October 13, 1.05pm) followed by a short recital of medieval music; a slide lecture on Yeveley by John Harvey (October 14, 7pm); readings from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (October 15, 12.50pm); a lecture for schools on medieval London by Dr Saunders (October 15, 2.30pm). All are in the church.

The exhibition will be open Monday 2pm to 5pm, Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 5pm, Sunday 12.30pm to 5pm. Details of the schools lectures are available from Dorothy Barker.

A Way to Stop the Crumbling

Philip Venning, a HADAS member and secretary of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, suggests: A Way to Stop the Crumbling

I was interested to see the item in the September newsletter about the old wall in Brent Street, and I had a chance to look at it the other day.

It may indeed be 16th century, as the Borough Engineer concluded in 1957, but it is worth mentioning that dating bricks is exceptionally difficult and even experts (which I certainly am not) would, I think, be cautious about identifying them as such.

There is no inherent reason for them to continue crumbling: the tendency of some bricks to “spall” is the result of moisture in the bricks freezing in the winter and shattering the surface of the brick. The wall would greatly benefit from some attention fairly soon. It badly needs repointing, but it is essential that this is done in a soft lime mortar which will permit any moisture to evaporate through the pointing and not the surface of the bricks. There is also a layer of hard cement-mortar along the top of the wall which has cracked and is exacerbating the problems, while the flowerbeds banked up behind the wall are keeping the lower courses permanently damp.

I don't know who owns the wall but I hope HADAS can encourage whoever does to put in hand remedial work undertaken by a suitably skilled person. Without some low level repairs the old bricks, however old they are, will continue crumbling.

City Courses

Topics ranging from the New World Before Columbus to Pioneer Egyptologists, from industrial archaeology to Art and Life in Pompeii features in the City University's programme of courses for adults. Some start this month, some in January. For the full prospectus, phone the university

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Victor Jones spends An Afternoon in Kentish Town

HADAS recently received a surprising telephone call from the Legal Department of Camden Council asking if we could help with an archaeological problem. The officer explained that a contractor had found some strange material dumped at the back of a building being demolished and had asked for an archaeological inspection of the site to be done quickly. Apparently Camden had asked a borough society and had been referred to the Museum of London, which was unable to spare anyone but had suggested HADAS. Dorothy Newbury received the call and she and I decided I should make a quick visit to the site.

This proved to be something of a problem. The address – Mortimer Terrace, NW5 – did not appear on my AtoZ and was eventually found to be a small L-shaped lane between two railway lines close to the junction of Gordonhouse Road and Highgate Road. It appeared to be a small development using up spare railway land.

The demolition site was about 60 metres long and up to 120m deep, but of irregular shape, two sides being formed by high railway embankments and one by Gordonhouse Road. A large building, probably a warehouse, had stood parallel to the terrace and extended back about 40m. Only part of the north end wall still stood, the remainder being spread in irregular heaps over the site. The site foreman was missing, but when the workmen learned that I only wanted to inspect the place where the interesting old materials had been found they immediately escorted me to the spot.

This was at the back of the site where the railway branched into two with two embankments about 5 to 6m high. Along the one that formed the south boundary fo the site was a large grass-covered bank 6m or 7m wide and 10 to 15m long. The end had been cleared leaving a vertical face from which pieces of china and glass and other objects protuded. These included large pieces of well decorated china, pieces of bottles and stems of clay pipes.

The foreman then appeared and explained he had been instructed that morning to close the site. This gave me only an hour to investigate. I quickly collected samples of the more obvious items, Victorian-style pottery in the lower half of the bank, also various glass fragments, mostly the thick dark green bottle glass used for beer and mineral water bottles, broken glass medicine bottles, ink wells and similar fragments generally of Victorian and later styles. In the top of the bank were quantities of shells, oysters, mussels, cockles and winkles, and the clay pipes which were mainly broken in to small pieces. I managed to find a few intact bowls and one or two with stems. The bottom of the bank contained a considerable amount of building rubble, tiles and brick fragments, cinders and coal dust. This changed to a very fine sandy, ashy mixture with a much-reduced solid content. There were some scattered objects including part of a glass sugar crusher much used on the crude sugar of Georgian and earlier Victorian eras. In the middle of the bank was a pottery marmalade jar fragment, which had the printed inscription “The only Prize-Medal awarded at the International Exhibition for Marmalade”. It was, of course, Keiller of Dundee. It might be 1851 but is possibly later.

I borrowed a spade and dug a hole about half a metre below the trodden path in front of the bank and came to a compacted surface of stone and rubble. This I think may have been a hard standing to do with the railway as there were coal fragments and dust on it before the material of the bank was deposited.

I looked up the date of the building of the railway. This was 1866 and it was called the Junction Railway. It is now part of

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Liverpool Street to Kew's electric line. This puts the earliest date for dumping of the material to 1867. It would seem, particularly because the oldest finds are at the top, that the whole of this embankment was built up of material brought from another site.

A House with a High-flying History

Birth Firth describes a visit to A House with a High-flying History

By kind permission of the Presiden of the Officer's Mess a group of 30 people, including a dozen HADAS members, visited Bentley Priory, Stanmore.

The history of the site goes back to AD61 when Boudicca was defeated by the Romans nearby. A priory was established in the 12th century and flourished until its dissolution in 1543. The present house dates from 1766 when James Duberley built the nucleus to designs of Sir John Soane and towards the end of the century it was enlarged by the Marquis of Abercorn also to Soane designs.

Bentley Priory was bought by the Air Ministry in 1926 and in 1936 Hugh Dowding (later Sir Hugh, later Lord Dowding) set up HQ Fighter Command, which still continued as 11 Group (the Air Defence Group of Strike Command) although the house is now just the officer's mess and the operantional part is down the hill in Stanmore.

As a stately home one can still admire the house, particularly the Adelaide Room, named after the Dowager Queen who died there and which has a beautiful painted ceiling said to have been done to give her something to look at while lying ill in bed.

As part of RAF history one can admire the many souvenirs which decorate the walls and in particular Dowding's office which still contains his desk and many Battle of Britain and other documents. There is also the famous operations room, now restored to stately home standards and quite unrecognisable as the room where WAAF ran the operations chart at floor level and the RAF controllers operated from a balcony specially built up on scaffolding.

There are also a number of souvenirs of the earlier days of the house, in particular some Victorian sale documents. The grounds are magnificent too, with spendid views across to Harrow on the Hill.

This was a splendid visit and we are most grateful to the President of the Officer's Mess for agreeing to it and to the two Duty Officers who guided us round in two groups.

Westhorpe Saga

Ted Sammes continues the Westhorpe Saga

Since last month I have heard from Mr W.R.Elworthy, the youngest son, who lives at Winkerborne Monkton in Dorset. He writes:

“My father had a business in Russia and when it was well established he spent half the year in Russia and half in England where he brought up a family of three sons and two daughters. In 1904 he bought Westhorpe and this was our lovely home for many years, though we all went to boarding schools when old enough.

In 1914 the war started, my parents were in this country. My two brothers joined up and were both killed in action. I joined up much later, because I was much younger, and survived.

In 1917 the Bolsheviks (or Russian Communists) seized power in Russia. They nationalised all private property, including that belonging to foreigners, without compensation. Many British had to get out quickly leaving everything behind. They arrive in this

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country with nothing and were dependent on charity until they found new jobs. Those of us who were fortunate because we had property in this country help to organise this charity. My mother was very active in the General Council for the Assistance of the British Repatriated from Russia. All our property was nationalised in Russia without compensation.

My father died in 1925. We had grown up. My mother sold Wethorpe and went to live in a smaller house in Hampstead until she died.”

Maps from the Past

Liz Holliday reports on Maps from the Past

Alan Godfrey, a map-seller and publisher in Gateshead, has been producing reprints of Old Ordnance Survey maps for the past few years. The maps covering our part of London are now building into a useful and fascinating collection. The large scale (approximately 15inches to the mile) and excellent quality of the printing allow individual houses, gardens, farms field boundaries and lots of other features to be easily identified. Every sheet includes authoritative historical notes on the area covered by the map and most include extracts from a contemporary street directory, which lists names of residents, traders, shops and businesses.

Maps now available cover 10 parts of the borough – New Barnet (1896), North Finchley (1894), Friern Barnet and New Southgate (1898), Mid Finchley (1894), East Finchley (1894), Muswell Hill (1894), Golders Green (1894), Kenwood and Golders Green (1894), Cricklewood and Child's Hill (1894) and Hampstead (1866). Each costs £1.20 and they are available from the following libraries: Hendon, Church End, Golders Green, Child's Hill, East Finchley, Hampstead Garden Suburb, North Finchley and the Local History Collection at Egerton Gardens, Hendon.

For summer visitors, friends, relations and those interested in old London, the same libraries also have available The Tower and St Katherine's Dock 1873 and 1894 which includes the Royal Mint, warehouses, wharfs and a “before and after” the building of Tower Bridge – all in incredible detail, scale 3 feet to 1 mile. There is also Westminster and Victoria 1869 which includes Buckingham Palace, St James's Park, Victoria Station, Westminster Abbey, Horse Guards Parade, etc, at the scale of 15 inches to 1 mile. Price of these is also £1.20. Any members who cannot get to one of the libraries mentioned may order by post (£1.50 each map) ...

The Vanishing Past Underfoot

Bill Firth Notes the Vanishing Past Underfoot

I suppose pavements are a facet of transport archaeology but, whatever they are, the replacement of the unique 80-year-old red paving stones woth a heringbone design in West Heath Avenue, Golders Green is worth recording.

Laid in 1906 when the street was built, the stones were badly damaged and, since replacements cannot be obtained, they are being replaced by plain red slabs – not all together to the liking of the residents. The new stones will be edged with the best of the old ones which will therefore not be lost altogether.

REMEMBER: Lecture season opens on Wednesday, October 7, with Medieval Parish Churches in Middlesex.

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Tunnel Visions

Contunuing interest in the mound in the grounds of St Joseph's Convent, The Burroughs, Hendon, prompts Tunnel Visions.

The excavation Working Party has inspected the mount and agreed to measure and record it, and a short article in the Hendon Times on a tunnel reputedly leading from it has prompted a contribution from Len Warner, a long-time local resident.

Mr Warner recalls, before the last war, a bricked-up tunnel leading from a cellar in St Mary's Church House. “On enquiries I was told that this was a passage which went under Greyhound Hill leading to The Greyhound and church itself. At the time I did my best to get someone interested in knocking the wall down, but nothing was done. Then the war came and that was that.

“But it would appear that this passage was indeed used by monks.”

Mr Warner also recalls an ice house, behind the technical college.

The mound has also been the subject of previous HADAS newsletter attention, in June 1978. That article quoted the memories of one of the nuns at the Convent. During her schooldays there she and her sister had explored the mound and seen two passages leading out of it, one heading 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.”

Mary O'Connell contributed her recollections as a St Joseph's schoolgirl, about 1940. She remembered three steps down into a circular chamber with a smoothly vaulted brick roof about two metres high. There was a talk of tunnels, but she had found no trace of any blocked entrances. The convent groundsman had used the chamber as a wartime shelter, but periodic flooding made it unsafe and it had gradually been filled up, the area eventually being smoothed over and grassed.

HADAS surveyed the mound in 1978.

Two Archaeological Journals

Ted Sammes turns the pages of Two Archaeological Journals.

The latest issue of Hertfordhire Archaeology (Vol 9 1983-86) has devoted 65 pages to various phases of Roman archaeology in the county. The article on a New Plan of Verulanium by Rosalind Niblett draws in aerial surveys since 1975 which have shown traces of masonry buildings. There is a comprehensive gazetteer of the town. From Welwyn, Tony Rook has reported the Roman Villa site at Dicket Mead, Lockleys, a complex which includes the bathhouse under A1000.

Vol 20 of Post-Medieval Archaeology is devoted to a large report on the 1968-71 excavations at Oyster Street, Portsmouth, a site important because of its location on the waterfront of the medieval harbour. The pottery report is comprehensive and gives a good insight into the range of finds possible in the South of England. The whole work covers 225 pages and should be read by all with an interest in medieval and post-medieval archaeology.

November Newsletter: Editor is Jean Snelling Contributions to her, please, by October 20.

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