Newsletter-257-August-1992

 

 

NEWSLETTER NO. 257       Edited by Anne Lawson         AUGUST 1992

DIARY

 

Friday 21 August to Weekend in Dorset. No cancellations so far, but there still could be if anyone wants to go on the waiting list. (Tel. 081-203 0950).

 

Saturday 26 September - Mary O'Connell's walk has developed into a full day outing with coach - there is so much to see in Southwark. Our visits will cover the Bear Gardens Museum including the photographic exhibition of the Rose Theatre excavations and the site of the new Globe. We will walk along the river to the old St Thomas's Operating Theatre and Herb Garret, visit the Cuming Museum which will have an exhibition entitled "Immortal Remains' - Southwark's Mediaeval Past. Our day will end with a call at the Bramah tea and Coffee Museum. Details and application form will be enclosed with the September Newsletter.

 

Tuesday 6 October - "The Roman Pottery Manufacturing Site in Highgate Woods" by Harvey Sheldon. First in new season of HADAS lectures.

 

Saturday 10 October - MINIMART at St Mary's Church House, Hendon.

 

Tuesday 3 November - "Excavations in Northern Iraq - from the Greeks to the Mongols" by Dr John Curtis. HADAS lecture.

 

SUBSCRIPTION REMINDER: There are still a number of subscriptions which haven't been paid. Please would anyone who has not sent in their subs please do so as soon as possible. Subs. listed below.

Full membership                      £6.00, additional family members      £2.00

Retired                                                £4.00, each additional family member £2.00

Junior Members                       £4.00  

Group Membership                 £8.00

 

VISIT ON SATURDAY 20TH JUNE to JOHN TAYLOR & CO. (BELLFOUNDERS) AND FOUNDRY MUSEUM LOUGHBOROUGH

 

On Saturday 20 June 40 plus members of the Society travelled to Loughborough to the Bell Foundry of John Taylor & Co. Ltd. After meeting with our guide for the visit, Mr Jennings, we proceeded into the moulding and casting shop, an early Victorian building of vast size dominated by a huge 10-ton crane, where 14th century methods meet the technology of the 20th century. Mr. Jennings pointed out that if a moulder or caster from the thirteen hundreds came into the shop today he would recognise most of the processes being used, the modern electric furnace replacing the earlier oil and coke reverberating furnaces being the main modern addition to a very old craft.    We started with the mould forming process: a core of fire bricks and coke is covered with a mix of sand, fine chopped hay and horse manure, (the horse being the most efficient method of chopping the hay and mixing with manure!) The core shape was formed with a rotary scraper shaped to the inside of the bell. These scrapers are both inside and outside formers, and are the patterns for all bells from small hand to large church bells. The outer mould was made in a perforated bell shaped iron case, lined with the same sand/manure mix. This also was shaped with the same rotary former to the outer shape.

The moulds are baked at 1500C until dry, then all surface cracks are filled with the same mixture and rebaked. When removed the surfaces of both moulds are coated with graphite and the inscription and trademark are hammered into the surface - this entails working backwards around a curved surface. When all is ready the two halves are fitted together and clamped.

When sufficient moulds of a volume to make a furnace run practicable are ready, they are all buried mouth down in the sand floor of the shop (this is 15 feet deep), with gas vents running to the surface from each bell mouth. The sand supports the mould during casting. The furnace is loaded to give a metal mix of 77% copper, 23% tin. When poured in to the crucible, it is stirred with a willow branch to help remove oxygen and to act as a flux. The mould is filled with metal and allowed to cool for 3-5 hours depending on size.

We then moved to the tuning shop, again a Victorian building with a floor of oak blocks, end grain up, to protect the bell rims and absorb vibration. The bell is held mouth up in a vertical boring lathe. This machine was made to order, some parts were new with gears from a weaving machine, and a worm gear from a scrapped merchant ship. Metal is removed from inside the bell to tune it. The bell is rung by hand and they use tuning forks and modern electronic acoustic equipment to tune the bell, removing metal as required until perfect.

At this stage we had to curtail our very informative visit as time had defeated us, but we feel sure had we stayed all day Mr Jennings could have continued to explain the full procedure to us, a subject he is obviously enthusiastic about.

A further point of interest - in the parish Church in Loughborough are three bust relief plaques. These are of three generations of Taylors, cast in bell metal. The church bells were the first to be case by Taylors as an itinerant bell founder; they then remained and established the factory.

By THE FAMILY BROMLEY

and then on to:

LOUGHBOROUGH RECTORY

The appearance of the Rectory seems to have varied considerably since its first mention in the 12th century. (HADAS members who peered and puzzled over two sketches of earlier rectories and, tried to match up remaining wondows and archways will vouch for this.) For a while the medieval "bones" were covered up by a 17th century gabled facade - later there was a fire, then the rebuilt Rectory facade assumed a dullish 19th century aspect.

In the sixties the local authorities hoped to have the whole site cleared and used for an old people's home. Cliffhanging and controver­sial dramas ensued. After partial demolition, Loughborough Archaeological Society carried out a valuable survey on what was left. What remains now is the ruin of the medieval great hall (two high, roofless walls) joining on to the reroofed buttery and solar. The Rectory has keen and knowledg­eable local devotees who shepherded HADAS members round a museum of very mixed donations. (It was mortifying to note that many of the items were still well within living memory, or even still being used in the kitchens of less status-conscious members!)


A 19th century tombstone gave the history of a local dropsical lady and showed a table of how often fluid had been drawn off, how much, the total amount, and the name of the doctor who had prolonged her life. (An early medical commercial!)

 

RUSHTON TRIANGULAR LODGE

The Lodge was begun in 1593 by Sir Thomas Tresham, an Elizabethan Catholic, often imprisoned, and fined over £7000 for non-attendance of church. (Our guide showed us his portrait, suitably sombre in an elegant suit of foreign-looking armour.)

This is a unique curiosity of a building, three-sided and with every detail symbolic of the Holy Trinity: trefoil-shaped windows (which also pun on the Tresham coat of arms), triple gables, three floors, and suitable Latin mottoes on each facade. We clambered around the spartan interior wondering vaguely if the building had ever been used for anything.

 

GEDDINGTON ELEANOR CROSS

 

The Eleanor Cross at Geddington was one of the memorial crosses erected in 1294 by Edward I to mark the resting places of the body of his Queen, Eleanor, on its way to London. The monument's survival is quite remarkable - it seems so slender and delicate. There is an ancient well at its base which dates back to Roman times. HADAS members (in two shifts) enjoyed a delicious cream tea. Some of us visited the Church of St Mary Magdalene, where our guide pointed out a door in the North aisle which is still known as "the King's Door".

There was a Royal Palace in Geddington from the 11th to the 14th centuries.

This was another of Dorothy Newbury's entertaining and educational days - luckily she has a hotline to the weathermen as well.

                                                                                                D. BARRIE

BARNET DIG (SO FAR BEFORE THE FINAL REPORT)

The excavation team continues to make good progress on the High Street Barnet excavation, now entering its final stages.

The "undated ditch" mentioned in the previous report turned out to be a modern pipe trench - only one of the many modern disturbances on the site. Further excavation of the substantial wall foundation, also men­tioned previously, suggests that this formed part of the former "Red Lion" (now "Dandy Lion") pub when it extended across the present site of Fitzjohn Avenue. This particular wall may belong to a cellar.

Residual sherds of Herts grey and other medieval pottery continue to be found in later contexts, but as yet there is no sign of medieval or earlier structures, perhaps due to the heavy disturbance of the site by nineteenth century and later building activity.

A large post-medieval pot yielded quantities of possibly 17th-19th century pottery - the most notable concentration of finds on the site.

Turn-out from the Society has been good - we have been pleased to welcome a couple of new volunteers, in addition to reclaiming one or two regulars from previous digs in the area. The next stage, of course, will be the cleaning and study of the finds at Avenue House, and the preparation of the final report.

ANDY SIMPSON

 


REPORT ON SITE-WATCHING AT OLD FOLD MANOR, BARNET 21-25 APRIL 1992

On our arrival we found the contractors' excavation for the building as shown in Fig 1. No sign remained of the archaeological evaluation trench, but we took measurements from the Tractor Shed to establish the position of the contractors' trenches, using the plan in the evaluation report as a base.

John Heathfield (Curator of Barnet Museum) told us the area had been a tennis court built about 1925, going out of use some years ago; a thin (5-10cm) layer of brown above black representing this tennis court could be seen in virtually all the baulks of the contractors' trenches, ending or fading out towards the north and east sides.

We had no bench mark from which to record any levels, and it was not possible to establish the ground level at the time of the evaluation - there appeared to have been backfilling and re-excavation. The contractors' excavation did not go more than about 25cm below this tennis court layer.

Two photographs were taken at B on Fig 1, and at A-A' where a section was drawn also (Fig 2). This position was chosen so as to give a section further north than the evaluation trench, and to take advantage of the contractors' excavation. Only a few post-medieval sherds were found in clearing this section.

Under BDLHS supervision, a metal detector was run over the whole site, with no significant result. Two pieces of Victorian pottery were found.



 


TRAINING COURSE AT ROMAN VILLA IN WORTLEY, GLOUCESTERSHIRE

For anyone who has not had any theoretical or practical tuition on archaeology I can recommend the non-excavational training course which is run by Keele University near Wotton-on-Edge, Gloucestershire.

I have recently spent two weeks at Wortley, the first week was a non-­excavational course followed by a week of practical digging.

During the first week I was shown the technicalities of archaeology which included environmental archaeology, resistivity, surveying, animal bone analysis, soil analysis, how to deal with finds, how to keep records, and planning which included sectional drawing.

The second week was more exhausting; for anyone who has not done .digging, I suggest that you dig for a half day only and spend the after­noon washing and cleaning finds.

There are excellent bed and breakfast establishments located in the area especially at Nibley House, North Nibley, which is the local stately home. The Villa Site Director also lives there. Camping is also available at Nibley House - this is what I opted for, being a tent enthusiast.

There are excellent hostelries in the area for the evening meal, and of course the "apres dig" is excellent.

JIM SMITH

LONDON'S NEW CANAL MUSEUM

I recently paid a visit to the London Canal Museum at 12 New Wharf Road, London N1 9RT, just off York Way by Kings Cross Station. It was officially opened earlier this year by Princess Anne, but unfortunately did not receive much publicity.

It is housed in the former ice warehouse of Carlo Gatti, a Swiss-Italian immigrant who built a hugely successful business importing ice from Norway, and who died a millionaire in 1878. His first shipload in 1857 consisted of 400 tons at 17 shillings a ton. Although the ice business declined with the advance of refrigeration after W.W.I, several Gatti enterprises, including cafes, ice-cream parlours, restaurants and music halls, lasted until W.W.II.

The Canal museum, on two floors, has some interesting exhibits, including a fascinating video with archive film of London street scenes and life on the Regents Park Canal in 1924. The principal point of interest is however the two massive underground caverns, or ice wells, half-full of debris and as yet only partially excavated.

The Museum (tel: 071-713 0836) is open 10.00 - 16.30 hours Tuesday to Sunday until the end of September; car parking can be difficult on week­days. As its director/curator, Nigel Sadler, is a professional archae­ologist, we can be sure the building is in good hands.

STEWART J. WILD

CHURCH FARM, HENDON - "A HOUSE AND ITS FAMILIES" (Ends 1st November 1992)

This exhibition marks the "re-launch" of Church Farmhouse Museum, and looks at the building as a dwelling, as a farm and as a museum, and emphasises its importance in the development of Hendon. As well as material from the museum's own collections from the Barnet Archives, farming and dairy equipment lent by the museum of English Rural Life at Reading is on show.

During the exhibition there will be various weekend events - with demonstrations of weaving, spinning and corn-dolly making already planned.


If you can't come beforehand, why not combine seeing the exhibition with your visit to the HADPS Minimart in October?

(Please note our new opening hours: Mon-Thursday 10-S. Friday CLOSED; Saturday 10-1, 2-5.30; Sunday 2-5.30.)

 

A MAP OF ARCHAEOLOGY IN THE BOROUGH OF BARNET                                                                                                                                 BRIAN WRIGLEY

In Newsletter 254 the Editor's note to "Library News" referred to the Borough of Barnet's request for a plot of the archaeology in the Borough and our work starting on this. Readers may like to know some more about this and how we are getting on - even though it may be a little boring:

The story of the current work really starts in 1990 with the discussions on Barnet's new Unitary Development Plan, when we and the museum of London pressed for an archaeological map to be included in the UDP; however, the Borough(pressed as it no doubt was in obtaining consensus on a myriad of topics other than archaeology) preferred to leave the question of an archaeological map to be dealt with on the first review of the UDP, to take place about a year after its adoption. We accepted this - for after all, the Borough accepted virtually the entirety of our suggestions to amend the wording of the UDP. Now is the time when preparations for this first review are being made.

Meanwhile, as we all know, the official organisation of London archae­ology has much changed - the Museum of London's Department of London Archaeology has disappeared, and English Heritage have appeared on the London scene as the official archaeological advisers to London Boroughs. But at least all parties (the Borough Planners, HADAS, Museum of London and English Heritage) were agreed on the importance of a map and on the 27 February 1992 we were asked to help in its preparation. Unable, in the first instance, to establish whether any draft map already existed with any of the official bodies, and not hearing of any moves by others to start on one, HADAS got moving; (perhaps we had the advantage of not being troubled by budgets and funding, since we do it for fun anyway). The written catalogues available to us were:‑

DGLA Gazetteer of Barnet 1984 (revised about 1988), incorporating: HADAS Stone Artefact Gazetteer by Daphne Lorimer 1979 HADAS Roman Gazetteer by Helen Gordon 1979

Sites and monuments Record compiled by DGLA on computer (of which we have a printout now about 2 years old, of over 200 pages); this should include all the information from the earlier Gazetteers, which however should be checked.

We started on the DGLA Gazetteer, and indeed had spent quite some time on the laborious job of transposing the information on to a 1:10,000 map (abstracted from our copy of the UDP) before the Borough notified us, in response to our earlier enquiries, that they had a set of maps with this information plotted, which they could supply us with - which they did, very quickly, by special delivery. However, we found that their plot was based on the unrevised 1984 edition of the Gazetteer, so the numbering varied slightly from ours and all had to be checked through. Helen Gordon had meanwhile been hard at work checking our Roman road information, enabling us to check this against the Borough maps too. Bill Firth

rallied round also, at short notice, to prepare a gazetteer of Industrial Archaeology to be included in our draft. And then ... we heard from the Museum of London that they had a draft map of findspots started some time ago, of which they could supply a copy. I went to the Museum and collec­ted this; it of course should show the same information, but using a different numbering of sites from any of our other sources, so that every marked spot has to be checked to see that we have it marked, and that our lists coincide....


(Are you still there, dear reader? I did warn it might get a little boring!)

It was at this stage that George Dennis of the Museum made a most help­ful suggestion to the Borough; that we should first concentrate, for UDP purposes, on marking areas of Archaeological Priority, i.e., generally known settlement nuclei such as medieval villages; this could be done quite quickly, leaving a detailed map of find spots to follow later, as essentially an informative tool for planners and developers. We immedi­ately went to work on this, using the oldest maps available in the Local History Library as our main research tool, and were able by 25 May to provide the Borough with a complete map with priority areas marked in draft; the Borough kindly and promptly made copies of our draft, supply­ing them to us, the museum and English Heritage so that consultation between us all can take place to finally approve the areas.

Meanwhile, we are still proceeding with the slog of preparing the second map, of sites and find spots, and collating our various sources, although this is at the moment somewhat interrupted by outdoor work while the fine weather lasts. But there is no doubt the hard work is well worthwhile for the benefit of archaeology in Barnet, which is entering a new phase of official integration into the planning process, with co-operation on all sides.  

 

FREEDOM OF THE CITY OF LONDON FOR MARY O'CONNELL

On Friday July 24th, Mary O'Connell was honoured to be admitted to the Freedom of the City of London. The ceremony took place in the Chamberlain's Suite at the Guildhall. It was a formal but friendly occasion. The walls of the small ceremonial room displayed richly illuminated certificates of Freedom of Nelson, Pitt and Wellington. However, any British subject can be admitted to the Freedom. There are three ways of admittance: by patri­mony, being the child of a Freeman; by servitude, apprenticeship to a Freeman; and. by redemption, being presented through a Livery Company. Mary was recommended by members of both the Basketmakers and the Skinners Livery Companies.

Standing in front of the clerk, who was robed for the occasion, Mary read the solemn declaration clearly, luckily no longer in Latin, vowing that she would "know no gatherings, nor conspiracies but would "warn the mayor thereof." A privileged party of family and friends witnessed the short ceremony. Then we "gathered" but not "conspired" together at the Chapter House of St Paul's Cathedral, which was opened especially for Mary, by the Friends of St Paul's. On this occasion portraits of past Deans smiled down on the very happy gathering which toasted the newest and much admired Freeman of the City of London - Mary O'Connell. We all wondered – does this make Mary a Free Woman?

TESSA SMITH

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