Newsletter-245-August-1991

ISSUE No. 245:                                      Edited by Ann Kahn                                              August 1991 

Saturday 10th August NATIONAL ARCHAEOLOGISTS DAY, HERTFORD

Friday 30th August to Sunday 1st September WEEKEND IN NORWICH Fully booked, but no waiting list. Please contact Dorothy Newbury (081 203 0950) if you wish to go on the waiting list.

Saturday 5th October CITY WALK with Mary O'Connell

Saturday 12th October MINIMART at St Mary's Church House, Hendon 

HADAS DIGGING                                                            BRIAN WRIGLEY (081 959 5982)

We have now been given permission to dig until the end of July, with probable extension into August, on the site we have been negotiating for, the former forge at 296 Golders Green Road, NW11 (next to the Prince Albert PH). This site is of interest as it is only about 150 metres from The Woodlands where remains of a medieval road were found by HADAS in 1968.

Time was, of course too short to notify Members via the last Newsletter, but we managed to get together a small group who started work on Sunday 14 July. We have opened 4 trial trenches and although we have only got down a few inches it looks as though we are already beginning to get through the top surface of packed building rubble and starting to get down to archaeological layers.

It is intended to continue work on Sundays and (depending on the availability of helpers!) on some weekday evenings. Our permission does not allow Saturday work. If you would like to help in any capacity, please let me know so that I can keep you informed when we are on site. Look forward to seeing you in the trenches!  

MUSEUM OF LONDON forthcoming events and exhibitions include:-

Treasures and trinkets: jewelry in London from pre-Roman times (till 26. 1. 1992)

- Out and about in London Summer 1991: a season of lectures, visits, walks, workshops and special exhibitions.

Details from Education Department (071 600 3699 ext 200). To Join the Museum's free mailing list, send your name and address to: The Marketing Office, Museum of London, London Wall, London, EC2Y 5HN

 CHATHAM HISTORIC DOCKYARD AND FORT AMHERST       STEWART J. WILD

It was exactly a year ago, last July, that I read an article about Chatham in the Daily Telegraph and suggested to Dorothy Newbury that the old dockyard seemed worthy of a visit from HADAS.

It was certainly worth waiting for. On 13 July some 40 of us set off round the M25 en route for the Dartford Tunnel and the County of Kent. Once again we had the pleasure of a HADAS member, Nigel McTeer, in the driver's seat.

Chatham Dockyard, on the tidal river Medway, has its origin in Henry VIII's time. Since 1547, over 400 Royal Navy ships have been built at Chatham, including such famous 'wooden walls' as HMS Victory, Temeraire and Revenge. The last ship, a submarine for the Canadian navy, was launched in 1966, and the dockyard, by now spreading over 400 acres, was finally decommissioned in 1984, with 80 acres put in the care or Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust under the chairmanship of Sir Steuart Pringle.

Now a living, working museum, the Dockyard has 47 listed buildings, many of which have been turned into galleries to tell the story of Britain's fighting ships and the lives of the dockyard craftsmen who built them. Our guide showed us the covered slipways, the Commission's fine Georgian house, and the 400-yard long Ropery, where we enjoyed a demonstration showing how ropes are made using equipment largely unchanged since Victorian times.

The highlight of our visit was the Mast House, with its upper-storey mould loft (where wooden templates were made from design lines drawn on the floor). The building has been brilliantly restored and now houses the 'Wooden Walls Audiovisual Experience'. This innovative exhibition, opened last year at a cost of £4M, shows in detail how a warship, the Valiant, was made in 1758, as seen through the eyes of a young dockyard apprentice, William Crockwell.

There is a small exhibition of artefacts recovered from the Invicible, a 74-gun French warship captured in 1747, which inspired the design of the Valiant. On leaving the building we watched a craftsman actually making masts for the 1878 sloop Gannet which we saw being restored in one of the dry docks nearby.

Around mid-afternoon we drove the short distance to Fort Amherst, a vast area of tunnels and fortifications dating from 1765, and enlarged during Napoleonic times as part of the Chatham Lines. Our guide, Jack Maude, a naval historian, guided us with admirable humour and great knowledge and enthusiasm.

As we toured the tunnels, Jack gave us a vivid insight into the daily life of conscripted soldiers two centuries ago, then from the top of the walls and the gun batteries we enjoyed views over the Medway and Rochester beyond. Much of Fort Amherst is still completely overgrown, including a huge casemated barracks building which used to house 3,000 men; but the Trust is making good progress with the Herculean task of restoring it to its former grandeur. Perhaps we could make another visit next summer to see how they're getting on.

Thanks again to Dorothy Newbury for organising such an enjoyable outing. 

Finchley Friends of Israel – lecture                                                             Roy Walker

Half a dozen HADAS members accepted an invitation from the Finchley Friends of Israel to attend a lecture by Alexander Flinder on "The Secrets of the Bible Seas" held in June this year.

Mr Flinder was the founder Chairman of the Nautical Archaeological Society, his interest in diving having started during his wartime service with the Royal Engineers. Although an architect by profession with a practice in London, his experience and expertise in the undersea world of archaeology must be second to none - especially in the Middle East.

The experience, certainly in London, is that the opportunity to dig a site is governed by availability - it is dug when the chance presents itself. Mr Flinder's lecture showed a different approach, sites were investigated, researched and excavated often following exploration or discovery of an artifact or object giving rise to speculation. For instance, a terracotta figurine found in a shipwreck at Shave Zion (one of over three hundred!) was handed to him in London for his comments. A visit to the British Museum confirmed it was of a Phoenician goddess, Tanit, worshipped by a cult of child sacrifice. But why was this found off the coast of Israel when the Phoenicians had resettled in Carthage? Excavation followed by research led to the conclusion that the ship had been on a mission to revive this cult in the Eastern Mediterranean but the sinking put a stop to that.

Another piece of research involved the Herodian harbour of Sebastos at Caesarea. The historian Josephus in "The War of the Jews" claimed that this harbour was truly magnificent. For years his report was doubted, the harbour remains were insignificant especially compared with the remains of Herod's work on land. It was felt in the 19th century that Josephus, known to have betrayed fellow Jews to the Romans for personal gain, had exaggerated. However, aerial photographs studied after World War II revealed certain structures offshore which on closer inspection and excavation proved to be the missing harbour in all its decayed glory.

Another story told by Mr Flinder in a refreshingly anecdotal style, was of the port of Ezion-gebor on the Gulf of Aqaba. The Old Testament in 1 Kings 9 tells of King Solomon building a fleet of ships at Ezion-gebor near Eloth on the shore of the Red Sea. Hiram (the King of Tyre, a Phoenician) sent men of his own to serve with the fleet as they were experienced seamen. This was a trading arrangement. An American archaeologist thought Ezion-gebor was at Tell-el-Kheleifeh as he had found the "smelters" of Solomon's copper refineries. These turned out to be grain stores and he rescinded his claim.

Alexander Flinder had long been attracted to the Island of Jezirat Fara'un nearby. Sited on it were a medieval fortress and some Byzantine remains. There was a calm anchorage between the island and the mainland and a natural inlet and harbour, well fortified. Pottery was found in the harbour but underwater exploration found much more - built up harbour walls, towers, casemates - all very similar to known Phoenician works at Sidon and Tyre. The audience were actually two steps ahead of the lecturer, we had guessed it was Ezion-gebor before he told us!

This invitation, which incidentally appears to be the second in three years to HADAS to attend one of Mr Flinder's lectures (see Newsletter 220 July 1989) received from another Society, has shown how worthwhile it is having contact with other local Societies. We give our thanks and appreciation to the Friends of Israel for their hospitality.

The Witch’s Cottage (Part 1)

This is the tale of a building whose whereabouts I have been attempting to track down since January 1991. The building in question is called "The Witch's Cottage", and the piecing together of its somewhat bizarre history has, over the past few months, sometimes led me to believe that I had, perchance, strayed out of the real world and into an episode of David Lynch's supernatural soap opera, Twin Peaks

The Abbey Folklore Museum, New Barnet

The Witch's Cottage first came to my notice in a perfectly orthodox manner, while I was researching the history of the Abbey Folklore Museum, which at that time existed in Park Road, New Barnet. This open-air museum comprised many fascinating artefacts and buildings collected from all over the world by a Reverence JSM Ward. It opened in 1936, and by 1936 the museum's attractions included a C13 tithe barn, a reconstruction of a prehistoric village, a parade of period shops, and East Barnet's C17 forge and C17 wheelwright shop. The latter building still stands on the site at New Barnet, adjacent to the great iron plate on which in former days the cart wheels were fitted with iron tyres. It was last used in 1920 (1).

Various articles about the museum mentioned a building called the "sixteenth century witch's cottage". As JSM Ward remarks: "A most interesting building this, of half-timber work, thatched with reeds and with a central hearth and a louvre instead of a chimney. It is furnished with the pottery and furniture of the period and all the appurtenances of a witch, including blasting rod, and the like" (2). Further: "Hanging from the walls and roof are weird emblems and the grim implements of her trade: a stuffed crocodile, a human skull... the sword of exorciscm and the magic circle on the floor." (3)

Having visited the site of the old Folklore Museum (now an Arts Centre) and established that The Witch's Cottage was no longer present, I decided to attempt to locate the present whereabouts of the building and the artefacts <or perhaps more accurately, curios) once contained within it, and to try if possible to discover from where the Revd Ward had brought the building in the first place.

As already mentioned, Revd JSM Ward opened his museum in 1934 and by 1936 The Witch's Cottage is cited as an attraction. By 1945, the museum had closed due to the combined circumstances of World War II and the fact that Ward had in 1945 been involved in an unfortunate court case which affected his health, which made him leave England for Cyprus together with some members of his religious community. (4) So where had The Witch's Cottage gone? To Cyprus perhaps together with many of the other exhibits? This seemed hardly practicable.

Dr. Gerald Gardner

I was at this point helped by a number of coincidences and by friends made in the course of researching the history of ancient and modern magical practices. In January of this year, I was fortunate enough to be the guest of Mr. Cecil Williamson, a one-time World War II MI6 operative (yes, really!) who owns a

fascinating witchcraft museum and research centre,  in Boscastle, Cornwall. W. Williamson, at 83 years old, had been collecting magical paraphernalia and investigating apparently supernormal incidents all his life (with very refreshing cynicsm) and he kindly allowed me to photograph his remarkable collection of witchcraft dolls, the history of which I em presently researching.

In January then, in the course of the most interesting discussions, Mr. Williamson mentioned that a Dr. Gerald Gardner was connected with the Folklore Museum at New Barnet, and specifically with a cottage associated with a witch. The late Dr. Gardner (a somewhat dubious title) caused quite a stir in the 1950's with his book Witchcraft Today, which was the first book published to explain the workings of modern witchcraft. He is known today as the "Father of Modern Witchcraft". Many historians consider that he drew on the materials of such occult figures as Aleister Crowley to invent modern witchcraft practices while the witches themselves (and some historians) claim that he merely popularised and saved from oblivion an ancient religion which had never entirely died out.

Be that as it may, the fact remains that Dr. Gardner was responsible for a massive upsurge of interest in witchcraft in the 1950's, and that today many thousands of people throughout the world follow his path (or a variation) as their chosen religion. For it is a religion no matter how recently and under what circumstances it was founded. This is not the place to go into the beliefs of witches - (5) suffice it to say that they do not worship the devil. Witches do not, on the whole, believe in such an entity.

From New Barnet to Bricket Wood

I further discovered a reference in F. King's book Cult and Occult which suggested that Dr. Gardner was in fact a friend of Revd Ward and something of an amateur archaeologist. (6) But if he had removed the cottage from New Barnet, as all the evidence was beginning to suggest, to where had he taken it?

At a loss on how to proceed from here, I was then extremely fortunate to receive a letter from Mrs. Lois Bourne, a friend who happens to be a witchcraft leader and authoress. (7) She described her association with Dr. Gardner in the 1950's, and where the witches used to meet in those days - at a club in Bricket Wood, near St. Albans. "There is an old .cottage in the. grounds where the witches met. There is an old four poster- in it and cabalistic marks on the floors and on the walls." To clinch matters, within another day or so, I received a further communication from Mr. Williamson which concluded: "I do have photographs of the Witch's Cottage moved by Gerald Gardner from the house grounds in Barnet to Bricket Wood. Also quite a few of the hut's artefacts."

It seemed as if I had found my Witch's Cottage, and most of its artefacts. From being displayed merely as a witchcraft exhibition at New Barnet it had moved to Bricket Wood to become a ritual centre for a coven of practising witches! The next thing to do was to 'establish that the cottage still existed, and this I duly managed to do by the simple expedient of finding out the telephone number of the club, and ringing the owners. The cottage was indeed still there.

(1)      East Herts Archaeological Society Transactions, Vol.IX, 1936, JSM Ward (Barnet Museum archives)

(2)     Ibid

(3)     Extract from Homes and Gardens, August 1939 (Barnet Museum archives)

(4)     National and local press cuttings (Barnet Museum archives)

(5)     A History of Witchcraft. Professor J. B. Russell, 1980, pp. 148-155.

(6)     Cult and Occult F. King, 1984. p.210.

(7)     Witch amongst us" and "Conversations with a witch". Lois Bourne.

To be continued

SITE WATCHING

The following sites are listed in recent Planning Applications and past evidence indicates that they may prove to be archaeologically sensitive. Members living nearby are asked to keep an eye on them and report anything of interest that is discovered in the course of development to John Enderby (081 203 2630)

CENTRAL AREA

Victoria Avenue, Church End, Finchley                              

White Swan P.H., Golders Green Road                              

NORTHERN AREA

Arkley Manor Farm, Rowley Lane, Arkley

10, Union Street, Chipping Barnet

Cottage Farm, Mays Lane, Barnet

Bells Hills Allotments, Barnet

Rear of 39/41 High Street, Barnet

WESTERN AREA

30 Hartland Drive, Edgware

Ross Cottage, Church End, Hendon

Belmont Farm, The Ridgeway, Mill Hill, NW7

Brockley Grange, Brockley Hill, Edgware


SIMMS, EAST FINCHLEY

Mrs Sarah Isaacs, 29 Seebright Road, Barnet, ENS 4HR (081 440 1295); the ex librarian and archivist of Simms Motor Units Ltd at Oak Lane, East Finchley is researching into the early history of the company and its founder Frederick Simms. She mentions that the Museum of London has a "tiny display" which she hopes to enlarge. (Letter in the Barnet and Finchley Independent, 11 July).

[No connection with J.O. Sims below!)

WINCHESTER PALACE

A fruit and vegetable firm in Borough Market, J.O.Sims, has been fined a record £5,000 for "the almost total loss of the archaeological record". The company's premises are next to the Winchester Palace. The company's builders drilled through a mosaic floor and undertook other work to underpin a building, half of which is a scheduled monument, without permission. The builders had then spread hardcore over the area making it impossible to be sure what had been lost. All this came to light by a discovery of historic stones in a skip by a passer-by two years ago; which led London Museum staff to alert the English Heritage inspector Ellen Barnes. The newspaper article reports that archaeological investigations of Winchester Palace have always been hampered by the existence of buildings and. warehouses on top of the remains and the entire area has been protected by law to prevent permanent loss or damage. (Evening Standard 12 June)

(HADAS members saw the visible remains of the Winchester Palace on their Christmas excursion to the George Inn last year].

 

SIXTY YEARS ON                                                                 TED SAMMES

No, it is not HADAS yet! Life is often giving out pleasant surprises and one happened to me last week, when a copy of Sixty years on 1931-1991, dealing with the Lawrence Hasluck Trust arrived in my post. This is a sixteen page booklet on the history and vicissitudes of the Trust set up in 1931 for deserving married couples, widowers and bachelors living in the area. Today the Trust has 44 bungalows and flats off Parkside Gardens, East Barnet, and six flats at 48 Station Road, East Barnet.

There is a full description of the life of Lawrence Hasluck, born in Enfield in 1863, and member of the East Barnet Valley UDC for 40 years. The booklet was written by one of our members, Andrew Pares, who himself knows much about public service from personal experience.

 

TERRIBLE AEROPLANE TRAGEDY                                       TED SAMMES

"On December 14th 1920 a Handley Page "Airliner" which took off from their Cricklewood Aerodrome on its way to Paris crashed at "Golders Green" with the loss of four lives."

The above note caused me to look for more information in the pages of the Hendon and Finchley Times". For December 17th 1920 on page 5, I found a nine inch column, but alas no picture. It was stated to be the first accident in the civilian flying career of Messrs. Handley Page Ltd.

The plane appears to have had difficulty from the start in gaining height; finally hitting a tree, then an outhouse of no. 61 Basing Hill (I assume this to be Basing Hill Road) so it is possibly more accurately described as being in Cricklewood. Amongst the killed were the pilot and a mechanic; and two out of the six passengers: Mr. Sam Sallinger of Broxmoor, Herts and Mr. Van der Elst from Paris.

One wonders just what type of plane this was and was that really all the passengers on board at the time? Perhaps one of our Industrial Archaeologists might like to take this subject a little further?

MEDIEVAL READING

A new journal: Medieval World: the magazine of the Middle Ages Annual subscription (6 issues £13.50), (single specimen issue £2.50) to Medieval World c/o  KT Subscription Services, Lansdowne Mews, 196 High Street, Tonbridge, Kent, TN9 lEF

Forthcoming articles include an interesting mix:-

The Battle of Maldon, the Bayeux tapestry and the town of Bayeux,

Medieval German craftsmen, Anglo-Saxon missionaries, new archaeology in St Albans Abbey, medieval images in the cinema, race and gender in medieval literature, medieval archives and how to use them.

The British Museum is publishing a new series on medieval arts and crafts:-

Medieval craftsmen: embroiderers. By Kay Staniland.

Medieval craftsmen: glass painters. By Sarah Brown and David O'Connor.

Medieval craftsmen: masons and sculptors. By Dr. Nicola Coldstream.

Medieval craftsmen: painters. By Professor Paul Binski.

All priced £6.95 and published by the British Museum Press.

NATIONAL POSTAL MUSEUM

A leaflet has been received from the National Postal Museum, London. The Museum includes an almost complete record of every postage stamp issued throughout the world and various artefacts such as stamp cancelling machines and the official Post office collection of letter boxes.

Chief Post Office, King Edward Building, King Edward Street, London, ECIA ILP (071 239 5420)

A possible HADAS visit? And is the fascinating underground mail train still running?

OBITUARY   We very much regret having to report the death of Bob Stewart, husband of Myfanwy. Our deepest sympathy goes to her and all her family and friends,

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