Newsletter-273-December-1993

Issue no. 273                                       DECEMBER 1993                 Edited by Reva Brown

Diary

 

Tuesday, 7th December, 1993: Christmas Dinner at University College, Gower Street. For last minute bookings, phone Dorothy Newbury - 203 0950 - to see if there are any places left or cancellations.

Tuesday, 11th January, 1994: Visit to the Newspaper Library, Colindale NW9 2.00 pm. Numbers are limited. Will members who have shown interest please confirm in writing to Dorothy Newbury, 55 Sunningfields Road, Hendon NW4. There is no charge, but a donation on the day may be appreciated.

Now until 16th January, 1994: British Museum: The Hoxne Hoard continues on display in Room 69A.

18th January to 16th May, 1994: British Museum: The next exhibition will be a collection of coins from Venice, gathered together by our former member, the late Philip Greenall. Mrs Greenall has presented the collection to the Museum.


Members' News
Dorothy Newbury

Two more members are entering archaeology courses: Jean Bayne has passed her first year and is starting the second year. Tom Real starts his first year this autumn. Both are keen diggers.

Would any other members who have passed their exams, please let us know so we can give them a pat on the back?

Stephen Conrad will be participating in a "Christmas Holiday afternoon for Children" at the Museum of London on Thursday, 30th December at 2.30 pm. It is organised by Geoffrey Toms, who is known to many of us as our host at Attingham Park where we stayed in the 70s for our HADAS weekend. The subject is "Spitalfields changing communities 1690-1990", starting with the Huguenot immigrants up to the more recent influx of the Bangladeshis. The East End is well-known for its 'rag trade' and Stephen is a tailor by trade.

John Enderby, founder member and one-time vice-chairman of the Society, a committee member for 30 years, and now a vice-president, finally left Hendon on 8 October. In 1992, John and Barbara achieved their ambition and bought a cottage in the country. For many years, John was principal of the Hampstead Garden Suburb Institute and gave the Society enormous assistance in so many ways – from occasional permission to use the Teahouse for finds processing etc., always arranging lecturers for archaeological evening classes, and more recently, examining Council planning applications for possible site-watching or excavation sites. John's contribution to Hendon in general has been extensive - he retired from no less than 14 committees when he left the area. His latest efforts were concentrated on the new North London Hospice project, for which he raised thousands of pounds, on which he spent thousands of manhours. He has been invited to come up and meet the Queen at the forthcoming inauguration of the Hospice. For the many members and friends who knew him well, his new address is: Fosse Cottage, 46 Church Street, Fontmell Magna, near Shaftesbury, Dorset SP7 ONY, telephone 0747 811805. He tells me he would love to see any old friends who are passing that way. My advice is - ring first. He is already involved in local activities. Our loss is their gain.

Mrs Banham is another founder member - and remembered by so many of us on summer outings, always bringing with her a large tin of sweets to sustain us on our journeys. She rarely missed an outing and always came on our weekends away until a spinal ailment curtailed her activities. She often writes, saying how she enjoys the Newsletters, and says she is still with us in spirit in all our activities. Mr Banham (now deceased) addressed all our newsletter envelopes by hand in the Society's early days. We all owe so much to those dedicated early members who brought the Society into being, and it is up to the rest of us to do our utmost to keep it going. Mrs Banham still lives in Hendon and I would be happy to give anyone her address.

SUPERB NEW EXHIBITION AT THE NATIONAL GALLERY
Stewart J. Wild

HADAS members will, I am sure, be as fascinated as I was with the latest exhibition at the national Gallery: The Making and Meaning of the Wilton Diptych. It is in the basement area of the new Sainsbury Building and is on until 12 December, 1993. Admission is free.

The subject of the exhibition, sponsored by Esso, is the breathtaking Wilton Diptych, the greatest painting to survive from 14th century England. Almost 600 years old, the Diptych is name after Wilton House, seat of the Earls of Pembroke, to whom the treasure belonged until the National Gallery acquired it in 1929. It is a portable altarpiece, probably made between 1395 and 1399, for the private religious devotion of Richard II, King of England 1377-1399, who is shown being presented by Saints John the Baptist, Edward the Confessor and Edmund to the Virgin and Child surrounded by angels. Nobody knows who painted it or exactly what it means.

The exhibition explores some possible interpretations of the diptych imagery through contemporary medieval objects such as stained glass, manuscripts, jewellery and sculpture. When the Diptych was cleaned in 1992, it was also scientifically examined, using the latest technology, and the results of this analysis are also show.

An excellent 25-minute video on the Diptych and its symbolism and imagery is shown every half-hour in an adjacent room. Highly recommended.

 

ROMAN AMPHORAE: Problems of Identification and Methodology

The Museum of London is holding a two-day conference - 23rd-24th January, 1994 ­on the topic of Roman amphorae. These were the great long-distance travellers, carrying commodities from the Mediterranean to the extremities of the Empire. Found throughout Britain, they have considerable potential, as yet mostly unrealized, for dating, and for illuminating contextual status and function. On the first day, papers on identification and methodology will be presented by a selection of international amphora specialists. On the second day, there will be a series of seminars making use of amphorae in the Museum of London Reserve Collection and from recent excavations. The conference costs £20.00, cheques to be made payable to the Museum of London. Send applications to Jo Groves, Museum of London Archaeology Service, Number 1 London Wall, London EC2Y 5EA.

FUN AND GAMES IN THE ROMAN BATHS  by Liz Sagues

What did a Roman centurion, anxious to endear himself to his troops, give them? A baths complex, of course. And what practice, common at Roman baths, is replicated in their modern municipal replacements? Unhappily, the stealing of bathers' clothes.

Those were just two of a plethora of entertaining facts which bubbled up as Mark Hassall dipped into the vast pool of information about what went on in that most important of Roman institutions, the public bath. November's lecturer, remembered with pleasure from earlier visits to HADAS, deservedly drew a capacity crowd to Hendon Library - where, by fortunate coincidence noted by Mr Hassall, the lecture room bears a substantial resemblance to the favoured decorative style of Roman bath designers.

Plunging into his subject with the enthusiasm of a Roman squaddie for his hot bath at the end of a cold day stationed on Hadrian's Wall, he emphasised how baths proliferated in almost every Roman city. At Timgad in Algeria, there were 14 sets of public baths; in Ostia, Rome's port, 20; the Eternal City itself had II huge public complexes (one, the baths of Diocletian, large enough for its frigidarium to be converted into a great Renaissance church and now to house the national museum) and some 800 to 900 smaller ones.

Baths were everywhere in the Roman Empire, continued Mr Hassall, Reader in Roman archaeology at the University College London Institute of Archaeology, even if, unlike the conventional Alan Sorrell reconstructions, those in the colder, wetter north had pitched tiled roofs rather than the cement barrel vaults favoured at sites such as Leptis Magna.

If baths were not as numerous in British cities as in those nearer the heart of the empire, they appeared early - there were military baths at Exeter by the mid-50s AD - and they could be both massive and magnificent, he said, instancing Caerleon and Leicester. The categorisation of Roman Britain as two bricks and a damp field was, he insisted, entirely wrong.

He splashed out energetically on the role of baths as social centres. Seneca had digs above one, and didn't enjoy the experience. "He said how trying it was - like living over a disco ... people jumping, splashing around, selling sausages, using depilators, ouch, ouch, ouch." And pilfering at the municipal pool was no 20th-century phenomenon. So rampant was the disappearance of coats and robes at the baths of Roman Bath that the aggrieved victims sought divine retribution, cursing the thieves on pewter tablets which survive as evidence of their fury.

It was that "morally upright" emperor, Hadrian, who had stopped mixed bathing, leading to the introduction of separate-sex baths, two sets of rooms arranged in a mirror image of each other. He was also the excuse for a Roman joke - the account of how the emperor, meeting in the baths an old soldier who he had previously encountered on a tour of the outposts of the empire, was disturbed to find the man could not afford to pay a slave to scrape his back. He handed him a bag of gold ... only to be confronted, on his next visit to the baths, by 40 old men in the same predicament.

Enjoyed, too, both by ancient Romans and modern Romanists, continued Mr Hassall, was the wordplay joke that the bath stoker was a fornacator, from "fornax" - furnace. Fornicator, he added, came from "fornix" - arch - "under which, presumably, it all happened".

Warming to his theme, just as the water in the caldariums had got "hot, really hot", he invited members "to take a bath" with him. He had, he admitted, already come close to it, confusing the doors to the library's lavatories and encountering some female members of his audience where they had least expected him. In a concluding series of slides, he juxtaposed Roman scenes of bathing, from mosaics at the 5th century Sicilian villa of Piazza Armerina, with the barely-veiled interpretations of 19th century artist Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, the latter not just the classical Victorian excuse for an excursion into the softest of porn but also "very good" in their historical detail. And what could be more in line with modern practice than the message on the mosaic "mat" at the entrance to one palatial suite: "Have a good bath"?

The shower of questions which followed, on subjects from funding to fuelling, from affordability to filtering, proved - as did the huge wave of applause - how HADAS appreciated the evening.

THE LAMAS POPULATION PROJECT

We have received a request from Jean Linwood, Chairman of the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society Population Project which concerns 18th Century London. The Project is desperate for more volunteers, as the intention is to cover all the pre-19th century parishes of Central and Greater London, with the exception of the City of London. Work needs to be done for Edgware, Willesden, Great Stanmore and Harrow, among others, and there is no time limit for completion. Members of the Project meet at the Museum of London (on a Saturday morning) to discuss progress. If you are willing to take part in the project, contact Jean Linwood at 52 Lorne Road, Wealdstone, Harrow, Middx HA3 7NJ for further details on how to proceed.

MADE IN BARNET - exhibition at Church Farmhouse Museum
Liz Sagues

Made in Barnet, which opened at Church Farmhouse Museum on 23 October, traces the history of industry in the Borough since the 1880s. The past 100 years have seen north-west London change from a collection of farming villages to suburban sprawl. Factories and workshops appeared among the houses and it is surprising how many companies - many of them household names - were based locally. Among them are Johnsons of Hendon, the photographic company, Frigidaire, Schweppes, Simms, the motor components company, once the largest employer in Finchley, Standard Telephones & Cables, Handly Page, Duple Coachbuilders and many others.

Some of the material on show is drawn from the Museum's collections and most of the photographs are from the Borough's Archive Collection. Some items have been lent by companies and individuals. The Museum would, however, like to mount a

much more comprehensive exhibition in 1995 or 1996. Gerrard Roots, the Curator, would like to hear from anyone who has objects, documents, photographs or memorabilia relating to local firms - large or small - which they would be prepared to lend (or donate) to the Museum. If you, your family or friends have any material you think may be relevant, do please contact the staff at the Museum or phone them on 081-203 0130.

The present exhibition will be on show until 16 January, 1994.

HENDON, CHILD'S HILL, GOLDERS GREEN AND MILL HILL - a pictorial history by Stewart Gillies and Pamela Taylor. Published by Phillimore, price 11.95 (hardback)

Many members will know Stewart (Local History Librarian) and Pamela (Archivist) from visits to the Barnet Libraries' Archives and Local Studies Collection at Egerton Gardens. Their new book is the second in a trilogy which, when complete, will cover the present Borough of Barnet. Finchley and Frien Barnet was published in 1992, and the third volume, covering East Barnet, Chipping Barnet, Arkley, Totteridge and Hadley, is due next year.

Hendon ... contains a ten-page introduction to the ancient manor and parish and 166 captioned illustrations, including a good selection of less well known material illustrating different aspects of the area. A full review of the book will appear in next month's Newsletter. The book is on sale at your local library and at Church Farmhouse Museum. An ideal Christmas present for someone - or yourself!

Sitewatch At PDSA Building, Church Terrace, Hendon NW4                 TQ 2298 8950

On Friday, 5 November, Ian Haigh and I were able to make ourselves available at short notice to view a narrow, shallow trench dug for foundations of a small back extension to this building. The Borough Planning Department had made a request in the planning permisssion for HADAS to be allowed access and we are grateful to the PDSA for their co-operation. The site was obviously of interest to us, being on the sandy plateau of Church End so close to HADAS digs at Church Terrace and Church Farmhouse.

In fact, about 90% of the trench (45cm wide) was into ground already disturbed by two drains below the tarmac-on-concrete surface. In the remaining area, beneath layers of tarmac, concrete, sand, and soil (probably disturbed), we note a natural layer of grey sandy clay, recognisably similar to a subsoil layer we had found in the Church Farmhouse excavation (there numbered Context 209). This was at a depth of 64 cm below the present tarmac surface; no artifacts were visible. For the record, a note of this inspection will be included in the Church Farmhouse excavation archive and report (CFM93).

BR IAN WRIGLEY

A visit to St Paul's

On a perfect November morning, HADAS members gathered on the steps of St Paul's Cathedral in eager anticipation of another in-depth tour of a famous London landmark that few of us know as well as we should. Thanks to Mary O'Connell's encyclopaedic knowledge and guiding skills, were not disappointed.

After a brief resume of the various buildings that preceded Wren's masterpiece, we were invited to take a good look at the clock and the west facade. Our attention was drawn to the couple of fossils clearly Visible in the Portland flagstones outside the west door, then we entered the Cathedral, passing All Souls Chapel and the Chapel of St Dunstan. In the beautifully-panelled Chapel of St Michael and St George, the first of many privileges we enjoyed which are not part of the 'normal' tour, we learnt more of the history of the building and the functions of the various chapels.

We admired the Wellington Monument, and took time to explore the symbolism of The Light of the World, the Cathedral's most famous painting. On the way to the Middlesex Regiment Chapel, we stopped to admire Henry Moore's enigmatic Mother and Child sculpture. More fascinating facts and anecdotes about the building and its survival during the Blitz of WWII emerged as we rested in the Choir, the most richly-decorated part of St. Paul's. We continued to the American Memorial Chapel, behind the high Altar and Baldacchino, later pausing at the lifelike effigy of John Donne, Dean of St. Paul's 1621-1631.

Down below in the enormous crypt, we would all have like longer to explore among the many memorials and tombs honouring our famous citizens and heroes of the last three centuries. Respects were, however, paid to Wellington and Nelson, and at the tomb of Wren himself, a plain black marble slab bearing the celebrated and eloquent epitaph Si monumentum requiris circumspice.

Canon Haliburton kindly showed us the Library, a rare privilege for it entailed ascending to the first floor level above the curtain wall, and allowed us to see places not normally accessible, including a view of the nave from high above the west door. The Library itself was just as Wren had designed it, with a charming all-round balcony and stuffed with rare books and manuscripts going back seven centuries.

The tour finished in the Whispering Gallery, with its remarkable sound effects and superb views of the nave, although most of the party felt energetic enough to ascend further to the Stone Gallery to enjoy fine views of the City and beyond. I personally made it all the way to the Golden Gallery on top of the Dome where the views over London made the climb of over 320 feet well worth the effort.

Thank you, Mary, for a fascinating tour, and thanks to Dorothy for organising it.

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