newsletter-320-November-1997

HADAS DIARY

Tuesday 11 November             LECTURE: "Latest News from Flag Fen". Garrick Fincham who guided us when we visited Flag         Fen last year, will up-date us on last seasons dig.

Wednesday 3 December            CHRISTMAS DINNER

At Sutton House, Hackney. The evening, organised by

Dorothy Newbury, includes a guided tour of the House.

( Details and application form enclosed. )

Tuesday 13 January              LECTURE: "Here's Looking at You", Paul Roberts of the British Museum (on mummy portraits from Roman Egypt)

( Lectures are held at Avenue House, East End Road, Finchley, N.3. 8.00pm for 8.30 pm. start.) 

 

THE MINIMART                                                                                    by DOROTHY NEWBURY

I would like to thank all those members who helped us in so many ways to make the annual event a success - and success it was - in spite of us all thinking it was poorly attended on the day, and also that I had not sold so much before the day. In the end, our total profit is an amazing £1100. Part of this sum is from selective goods which Percy Reboul and I took to the Finchley Sale Room, and also donations from Julius Baker, Olive Banham, Mrs Simpson and Myfanwy Stewart, members who were unable to attend or donate items for sale. I am also endeavouring to obtain a refund from the Times advert as they put in a non-requested news item about the Minimart ( page 10 ) which gave the day of the event as SUNDAY instead of Saturday. - And I'm still selling odds and ends!


TAILPIECE TO THE JUNE OUTING                                                                    by SHEILA WOODWARD

After tea at the village hall in Yanworth some of us walked down the lane to the small church and were disappointed to find no indication of its age and history. I have since looked it up in Pevsner. It dates from the late 12th century and its architecture is part Norman and part Perpendicular. There are Norman windows in the north nave wall and north transept, and in the north chancel wall where the masonry may be from an older building. The south door by which we entered) is late Norman, and the chancel arch transitional (c.1200). The screen is modern. The transept roof is Perpendicular with corbel heads. The font, very fine, is Norman on a modem pedestal. That strange wall painting of a skeleton with a scythe (Father Time) is post - Reformation. The windows contain many fragments of medieval glass.


MEMBERS' NEWS                                                                                                         DOROTHY NEWBURY

Betty Jeakins. All our members of earlier years will remember Mrs Jeakins, mother of Alec ( the member who discovered West Heath Hampstead Mesolithic Site ). She came on most of our outings and to lectures and weekends away. Sadly she died on 22nd June this year at Robin Hoods Bay, Whitby where she had moved to live with John, her other son. Alec moved to Gloucester last January and bought a large house to enable him to share the caring of his mother. Betty was born in Moscow in 1913. Alec has sent me a delightful leaflet celebrating her life and will send a copy to any of her friends who would like it.

Gill Baker. Gill's death was reported in the last Newsletter and in spite of not being able to circulate the date of the funeral, there were about 26 HADAS members in attendance, and the Golders Green Chapel was full, revealing the many groups and charities to which she belonged and devoted her life.

Derek Batten has bought a castle believe it or not - in Northamptonshire near where he lives - actually a 12th century Norman Ringwork. Plans of this and all the other Northamptonshire castle sites are available for anyone who would like to see them - a visit maybe! Derek is one for the unusual!! He excavates in America nearly every year in an effort to research the Civil War. He came to talk to us about these excavations a few years ago and has established that they DID die with their boots on

ODD LEGS IN HASTINGS                                                      by           JEFFREY LESSER

We all enjoyed the visit to the shipwreck museum at Hastings as reported by Pat O'Connell in the last Newsletter. Some of us were intrigued by the partial skeleton of the unfortunate cabin boy Adrian Welgevarem, who died when the 'Amsterdam' went down in 1749. His leg bones were arranged within an outline of the lower body, but the "left" thigh-bone seemed to be a right femur placed back to front. So either he had two right legs or the left leg had been badly attached after an accident. Either way, he must have drowned due to his difficulty in escaping from the shipwreck; a mermaid's tail as displayed in the museum at Aden would have helped him more. It is recognised that those with two left feet make poor dancers, but a double right leg constitutes a terrible handicap in a rolling ship. Although Nelson had only one arm and one eye, with this disability Adrian could never have made Admiral.

THOMAS CORAM FOUNDATION AND GREAT ORMOND STREET HOSPITAL

A WALK WITH MARY O'CONNELL                                                                         MICKY WATKINS

On a sunny September morning we met Mary O'Connell outside the Thomas Coram Foundation in Brunswick Square. From the outside the building was unremarkable, a 1930s neo-Georgian block. But inside we found that parts of the old Foundling Hospital had been conserved. Up an old oak staircase, past many interesting pictures we came to Hogarth's portrait of Thomas Coram which the artist gave to the Hospital. Captain Thomas Coram was a master mariner who was involved in colonising North America. Appalled by the plight of the orphaned and illegitimate children he saw on the streets of London, he petitioned King George II to grant a Royal Charter to open a Hospital in which they could be housed and educated. Hogarth's portrait shows Coram as a short and portly man, bursting out of his uniform, with a plain but kindly face under an untidy wig. The Foundling Hospital was built on Lamb's Conduit Fields and was supported by the aristocracy and by artists, many of whom were persuaded to follow Hogarth's example of giving pictures to the Hospital. Thus the Hospital became a sort of early Royal Academy. Fashionable people visited to see the foundlings in their neat uniforms, view the pictures and sometimes hear Handel performing - his keyboard is still there. When he died he gave the score of the Messiah to the Hospital. We


were all surprised by the wealth of pictures. Hogarth's 'March to Finchley' arrested us. The scene is set in Tottenham Court Road in 1745 when a band of guardsmen is moving off to Finchley on the way North to fight Bonnie Prince Charlie's rebels. The soldiers are drunk, flirting with the girls, unaware of the spies; no wonder the King disapproved of it. Hogarth decided to sell the picture by lottery, giving the unsold tickets to the Hospital - and luckily the Hospital won the picture.

The Courtroom, like the staircase, was part of the original Hospital. When it was demolished in 1926, the Courtroom was dismantled and reassembled in the Thomas Coram Foundation. This room, in which the Governors held their meetings, was decorated by Hogarth and his friends. There is a lovely plaster ceiling, and on the walls 8 roundels with charming views of London hospitals. The large pictures are of scenes from the Bible showing abandoned children. Though the Foundation no longer has any resident orphans, it certainly has not abandoned its social work.

Leaving the Comm Foundation, we walked through Coram's Fields, a pleasant park on the area where the Foundling Hospital once stood. We peered through the railings at the sheep and hens in the playground: a notice told us that adults could only enter if accompanied by a child! In Conduit Street, Mary told us that in 1577 a conduit was laid to take water from the Fleet to the Greyfriars at Newgate. The benefactor was William Lamb, evidently a very sensible man for he also presented 120 buckets to the local womenfolk.

Great Ormond Street has many 18th century houses, and the Museum and Archive of Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children where we were told about the history of the Hospital. Founded in 1852, it was the first children's hospital in this country - though only the 17th in Europe. Its founder, Dr Charles West, trained in Medicine in Paris and Bonn, so when he returned to London to work in the Universal Dispensary in Waterloo Road he saw the need for a hospital for children. With the support of eminent public health reformers such as Lord Shaftesbury, Baroness Burdett-Coutts and Edwin Chadwick, the Hospital opened in 1852 in a house in Great Ormond Street (150 years earlier it had been the home of Queen Anne's physician). It was intended to serve the children of the poor and was conveniently placed close to the 'rookeries' and slums of Clerkenwell and St Pancras.

The Hospital rapidly expanded, took in a neighbouring house, and in 1869 opened a convalescent home at Cromwell House, Highgate Hill. By the 1870s the patients were very overcrowded and in 1875 a custom built Hospital was opened. The architect was Edward Barry, son of Charles Barry who with Pugin had designed the Houses of Parliament. This was a neo-Gothic building, but inside were state of the art paediatric wards and operating theatre and under floor heating. HADAS member Margaret Phillips told us that she remembered the old building very well: she was a nurse tutor there in the 1960s..

In 1994 the old Gothic building was demolished and replaced by the new Variety Club building. This new hospital has plenty of accomodation for parents and some nights there may be as many as a hundred parents staying here close to their sick children. Within the new Hospital, one part of the old Hospital has been preserved - the Chapel. Edward Barry's Chapel of St Christopher was boxed up and shifted by hydraulic rams to its present position where it was very carefully restored to its former glory. By chance, the restoration was undertaken by Peter Larkworthy who proved to be a descendant of the original builder! The Chapel is lavishly decorated with gold and alabaster, marble and mosaic. Oscar Wilde called it "the most delightful private chapel in London".

Mary was thanked for the excellent tour and for showing us the inside of buildings we had previously only passed by. Stewart Wild put it more aptly: "Mary is the guide who reaches the parts that other guides don't reach".


 

COPTHALL STADIUM SITE, 1950s                                                                                                                       ALBERT DEAN

 

I lived on the Great North Way at the time the stadium was built. The Copthall Fields were my playground when I was a lad. The fields were owned by the Council from at least the late 1940s, probably earlier. I never did get around to finding out when the Council actually acquired them, probably about 1930 when the great North Road was put through I suppose. No matter.

The first field on the right (entering from the Sunny Gardens side) was on two levels, the part nearest the entrance being on the higher level. About 1950 a bulldozer turned up and started levelling it to make a rugby field. At the end of the day he had to drive up the bank from the lower to the higher level. It had been raining and the bulldozer's track slipped on the wet clay. So he got out and tried to jab a long crowbar between one of the tracks and the clay. But something went wrong and he was caught betweeen the track and its wheels. His yells attracted attention straight away. The ambulance and fire crew arrived They finally got him free about midnight. But he died in hospital a few hours later.

The field was left until the Spring when a couple of fellows turned up with a very strange tractor that had a huge cutting wheel on one side. it was a weird looking machine, like a thin water wheel on wheels.They proceeded to cut herring bone trenches across the field with it. They wouldn't tell us why. Eventually we found out, field drains! Well we were only about six years old then, we didn't know fields could be drained. The effect was that the first field was stripped to natural and then its topsoil was re-scattered back across it. During that time I was out there every chance with half a dozen friends, 'skating' on the frozen winter puddles and generally buzzing about in that glorious ocean of clay, in the wet and in the dry. We found nothing except stones. Anything on or in the top-soil is either recent or it has been moved substantially.

The long field was the cricket field and had been used for that for years, possibly from before WWII. The pond was filled in about the time Copthall Stadium was built. Half way down the airfield side of that long field, just on the other side of the hedge, was a small radar station for the airfield. If there wasn't an officer about, then the RAF technichians used to let us go in and watch the planes come and go on the radar.

Copthall Stadium is built across the hedge line between two fields. My friends and I helped build it in a way. A little fellow, about as big as a jockey, appeared one day with a caterpillar tractor and land levelling unit in tow. It was during the summer holidays. During his lunch break he would go and sit under a big oak tree to have his beer and sandwiches, and we carried on with the tractor and land leveller! In those days stripping out a hedge or two meant nothing.

We were out there for the whole operation, we found nothing. If anyone finds anything there, where the ground has been obviously landscaped or within the stadium and track perimeter, or in the car parking areas, then almost certainly it will be recent or have been moved.

CLIVE OF INDIA'S GOLD IN A PIRATE WRECK

In 1755 Clive set sail for India aboard the Stretham., stowing his hoard of gold coins in a sister ship, the Doddington.. While rounding the Cape of Good Hope , the Doddington sank with the loss of 247 lives. The wreck was searched by divers in 1977 and 1996, but to no avail. Now a small heavily armed ship has been found nearby, containing 1400 gold coins dating from the 1750s. (Times 29.9.97)

 

SUMMER MEMORIES: AN OUTING TO HERTFORDSHIRE                                      SHEILA WOODWARD

"Hertfordshire" said E.M. Forster "is England at its quietest, with little emphasis of river and hill; it is England meditative". And so we found it on a hot sunny day in August: picturesque villages, quaint churches, a restored windmill, gently undulating countryside, castle mattes now peaceful and unthreatening. Our leaders Bill Bass and Vikki O'Connor had done their homework thoroughly. Vikki's 24 page guidebook was packed with fascinating snippets of history and legend and Bill's commentary during our journey made us appreciate how little we (well, I) knew about an area so close to home.

Much Haddam, our 'coffee stop', gave us an opportunity to watch a blacksmith at work, photograph some lovely timbered-and-thatched cottages, and pay homage to Henry Moore who sculpted a pair of heads on the door corbels of the cottage where he once lived. Anstey, our next main stop, has a fine church, its Norman tower topped with a Hertfordshire spike, that thin cheeky spirelet of wood sheathed with lead which is so typical of this county and no other. The Norman font intrigued me: chunky and rather clumsy, it is decorated with a frieze of mermen holding their tails. The rest of the church is later, mainly late 13th to 15th century, and there are some interesting early graffiti. The lychgate incorporates the village lock-up. The latter seems a surprisingly common feature in Hertfordshire villages. Was it such an unruly area? Or are the people thereabouts of a cautious nature, careful to preserve even this slightly unflattering element of their history?

Before leaving Anstey we walked round its much eroded castle-mound, site of a Hying Fortress crash in World War II, and admired the carp swimming in the moat. Then on via leafy Barkway, Great Chishill and Barley (with its delightful Fox and Hounds inn-sign bridging the road) to Buntingford and lunch.

Buntingford is an attractive little town. It was on the London to York stage-coach route and is recorded as having 20 coaching inns. Some still exist and traces of others can be recognised. One of these, The Angel, was surmounted by a bell which summoned people to worship, weddings and funerals - and to gleaning! The town's old buildings proved well worth studying and its pleasant Layston Court Gardens provided shade for a picnic lunch. The River Rib meanders through the town and the riverside footpath called "Pig's Nose" is flanked by a most beautiful 16th century house of that name, perhaps originally "Piggy's Eye" meaning a small secret place.

Our afternoon visits included Cottered where the church contains a 14th century wall-painting of St Christopher, now headless (go to Pickering in Yorkshire to see an almost identical one with head). Windmills are always a joy to explore and Cromer Mill was no exception. It was salutary to learn that it was still working in my lifetime! Now a preserved monument (the mill, not me) it has been beautifully restored and will be back in working order when the sail shutters have been replaced.

Pirton, our final main stop, has an imposing church of Norman origin though much restored. Both it and the modern village lie within the castle bailey; the shrunken medieval village can be traced, carefully aligned outside the bailey. The castle motte is extensive and impressive and we were given a guided tour by Mike Newberry, local historian. The mound is known as Toot Hill, meaning a look-out or meeting place, a name which may pre-date the castle. The latter was probably of 12th century date and may have consisted of a timber tower and palisade topping the mound.

Access to the beautiful moated Pirton Grange, currently being restored, was denied to us and we had to be content with a glimpse from the coach of its timbered glory. But a sumptuous cream tea in the tree-shaded garden of Hexton Village Hall did not disappoint; it was a pefect end to a perfect day.

Thank you, Vikki and Bill.

Recent Archaeological Projects in Hertfordshire - CBA Mid-Anglia Bulletin

A substantial excavation of a late Iron Age enclosure in Stevenage has just been completed by Johnathan Hunn on behalf of The Heritage Network. Archaeological investigations have been continuing at Leaysden Aerodrome near Watford, prior to redevelopment. The forthcoming phases of archaeological work will include the photographic and video recording of the extensive aircraft production and airfield buildings that date from World War II. During the war, the two large factory buildings were used to produce the Mosquito fighter bomber and the Halifax bomber. This year, one of the factory buildings is being used as a studio for the filming of the new Star Wars films.

The most extensive archaeological evaluations in the county tend to be carried out in response to planning applications for gravel extraction. Two of the largest proposals, one north of Hertford and the other near London Colney, were the subject of a programme of investigation by the Oxford-based company Tempus Reparatum.

The use of fieldwalking, aerial photography, geophysical survey and trial trenching found significant archaeological remains at both sites, including the remains of a Late Bronze Age settlement. Another evaluation carried out by the Hertfordshire Archaeological Trust at a proposed quarry near Hatfield discovered the previously unknown Iron Age site.

SITE WATCHING                                                                                                                       Bill Bass

The former "Wheels Parking Lot" at Potters Lane, Barnet. (NGR TQ 2540 9585)

The land lies at the bottom of Barnet Hill adjacent to the Great North Road, it was latterly used by a van hire business and is currently being developed for housing. A concrete layer 20cm thick covering most of the site was removed. Revealing at the northern end 30-40cm of a mixed clay top soil with sand and turf layers, the southern end was similar with a 50cm layer of top soil, concrete and sand directly over a 40cm black, silty clay layer. All these deposits overlaid the natural stiff natural yellow/brown clay. This site has been heavily disturbed and truncated in the past by concrete foundations and buried diesel storage tanks. No archaeological features were seen although several sherds of modern pottery including probable Victorian stoneware were noted from topsoil at the front of the site.

1263 - 1275 High Road, Whetstone, N20.

Members may have seen in the local press plans by the 'Halfords' chain of shops to locate a superstore on the junction of Totteridge Lane and Whetstone High Road where the present bakery/butcher and other assorted small shops are.

English Heritage are recommending a field evaluation here as the land lies in an area that "covers the site of the later medieval village of Friern Barnet that is thought to have relocated from around the church (St James) in Friern Barnet Lane to the newly constructed road to Chipping Barnet, at its junction with Totteridge Lane, in the 14th century" [HADAS 'A Place In Time' p58-59, 1991].

It may be interesting from an archaeological point of view to see what lies beneath this area. But it may be a greater shame to lose this part of the High Road, especially as other areas such as the row of shops opposite (some dating to c1500) have been restored sympathetically.


Last year, for the first time since my illness, I was able to go to some of the Society's events, and be in touch at the Church Farm House site where the Society's 'hands on' archaeology team was working, regrettably only to watch. The project there was to trace the source of the underground water feeding a pond in a corner of the house grounds. This may not only have been water for the farm, but in earlier times also for the house. It was found to come from very near the adjacent churchyard. The equipment used to trace this was used in finding the suspected Roman Road at the fields at the Copthall Centre. Towards the end of this project finally it became terminally ill, but luckily the stream had been found by then. Two London charities kindly granted funds to replace it.

The new project at Kenwood also involved underground investigation. Mr Sullivan, a resident of the Heath Extension area had, after much research, suggested that many old parish and manorship boundaries were on those of much earlier times, some of Saxon origin. Existing milestones still to be seen in the Kenwood grounds date back to the mid 1700s. Finding the boundaries might lead to the discovery of early habitation sites forgotten as a result of the extensive sand and gravel extraction for house-building and, in war-time, for sandbags.

The Society's excavation team led by Brian Wrigley, and now armed with a new USA made instrument

(used in the building industry in searching for underground objects ) was able to start the new project in late July, and kindly invited me along. The first survey session which took place on 20 July, with a team of five, was very successful. (For those who know the Heath, it was alongside the gravel path that runs from Kenwood car park to the estate boundary fence, at about a third of the way towards an exit to the Heath proper.).

The new equipment proved very fast and accurate. The four man operating team performed what appeared to me to be a well rehearsed country dance and made an astonishing 500 or so measurements. From these Brian could see the indications of a depression made by a boundary ditch. They later had three further sessions in suitable weather and showed, with increasing and astonishing accuracy, a wide channel. I undertook graphical analysis of the great mass of measurements, and think it possible with this accurate tool to get a guide to size, distance and depth of objects.

If any members are interested to join the archaeological 'dance', or do some research in local libraries, or come to see the team at work, please ring Brian Wrigley or Roy Walker.

BIRKBECK LECTURES

The Birkbeck series of 20 lectures, organised by Harvey Sheldon, entitled Portrait of a City: Illuminating London's Past through Archaeology continues with Londinium: The Roman City by Mark Hassall

(Thurs 6 Nov), Roman Southwark by Harvey Sheldon (Thurs 13 Nov), The Environs of Londinium: Roads, Roadside Settlements and the Countryside by David Bird (Thurs 20 Nov) and Roman London: Port and Riverside by Gus Milne (Thurs 27 Nov).

Venue: Institute of Archaeology, Gordon Square, all at 7.00-8.30pm. Admission: £5 (£2.50 concessions) on the door. The series began with a general talk on the development of the archaeological units operating in London. The Roman lectures end on 22 January, with Saxon to 18th century featuring in the Spring.

More information next month... ..... ( The Harvey Sheldon Fan Club! )


PULLMAN THE TRAIN MAN

An Exhibition at Church Farm House Museum

If you are interested in design, social history or railway trains in the age of steam, don't miss the chance to see the magnificent collection now on show at Church Farm House Museum. This special exhibition commemorates George Pullman, the American inventor who designed sleeping and dining cars for the railways. The local connection? England's first Pullman cars were used by the Midland Railway in 1874 and steamed through Hendon on their way north.

Pullman car services were renowned for their quality and comfort. You can see fine examples of fixtures, fittings, porcelain and cutlery made by leading manufacturers to meet the Pullman Company's exacting standards. Spode tea services seem a long way from polystyrene cups! The recreated 1930s dining coupe and selection of menus on show give some idea of the dining car service enjoyed by passengers on The Brighton Belle and The Golden Arrow. There are models, posters, signs, uniforms and countless other mementos which give the flavour of luxury steam travel in another age. The exhibitiion is on show until 23 November.

`CLEARINGS IN THE FOREST'               A COACH TOUR ROUND BARNET'S PAST

On Sunday afternoon 2 November, local historian and archivist Pamela Taylor (well-known to many of our members), will be guiding a coach tour round the borough. The tour leaves East Finchley tube station forecourt promptly at 1pm and will return at 4pm. During the three-hour trip round Barnet's past Pamela will reveal why people in the past settled in particular areas. Whether you're a new resident or were born and bred locally, you're sure to learn something new from Pamela. The tour costs £5 per person in advance, or £6 on the day. Phone 0181-203 0130 to book your ticket.

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