Newsletter-344-December-1999

HADAS DIARY

Tuesday 7 December Christmas Dinner at The Cock Tavern following a visit to Dr. Johnson's house.

This event is now fully booked and there is a waiting list. If you find you cannot come, let Dorothy Newbury know as soon as possible (203 0950) so that she can re-allocate your ticket.

 

THURSDAY 13 January Prehistoric Egypt        by HADAS member Okasha El Daly

 

Please note not on our usual Tuesday evening. For the rest of the year lectures will be on Tuesdays as usual. Further details of Okasha's lecture will appear in the January Newsletter.

 

BROCKLEY HILL STUDY DAY               by Peter Pickering

 

Some 32 people assembled in the grandly named but rather shabby Training Centre by Avenue House on 30th October for a fascinating and instructive study day. Besides old stalwart members we had dis­tinguished visitors from other organisations, including Fiona Seeley of the Museum of London Specialist Services, and, most gratifying of all, seven people attracted by the publicity Tim Wilkins 'had got into the local press and libraries, and who joined HADAS on the spot.

Before an excellent lunch (quite misleadingly called 'sandwiches' in the original announcement) Joan Schneider and Barry Home, Chair and Secretary respectively of the Manshead Archaeological Society, described their excavations in Dunstable. Dunstable is on the junction of Watling Street and the Ickneild Way and may - or may not - be the place called Duricobrivis in the Roman Antonine Itinerary. Their Society has, over the years, made many discoveries but has as yet found no actual Roman buildings. Particularly fascinating were the skeleton of a Barbary Ape (a pet, perhaps, or the property of a travel­ling entertainer), a burial containing a pot with an inscription inter­preted as 'Reg_ illus a branch-bearer of Verulamium' (branch-bearers were devotees of the Asiatic goddess Cybele) and several wells, neces­sary because Dunstable lacks surface water, one of which was 92 feet deep. And, of course, hundredweights of pottery: Barry Home kept us enthralled with his account of the research being carried out on this. He breaks bits off sherds with a fearsome pair of pincers (he assured us that the pottery felt nothing, and was a source of information rather than of intrinsic value), and identifies its fabric from the appearance of the fresh break under the microscope. Then he (or rather his comput­er) compares the distribution of fabrics in one assemblage of pottery with that in others - for instance those from Verulamium - to establish similarities and dissimilarities; this is not as simple as might appear, since pots vary in size, as do the broken bits archaeologists find, so work has to be done in eves, not pieces of pottery. An eve is not what you might think but an Estimated Vessel Equivalent.

Then after lunch Stephen Castle gave us the history of excavations at Brockley Hill from the first, just before the last war, until HADAS's recent efforts.

Until the site was scheduled as an ancient monument in the late 1970s, the tale was one of opportunities snatched, or missed, in the face of imminent development. (As Mr Castle experienced excavating between 1969 and 1975. For instance, he was opening trenches to the west of the road in a field which was being used by Joe Bygraves, a well-known boxing-champion-turned-farmer, as a dumping site). Kilns have been found, and quantities of pottery, but there has never been a systematic programme of research into what was one of the principal manufacturing centres for pottery in the early centuries of Roman Britain, Mr Castle also showed us pictures of the elegant mansion, belonging to a Mr Napier, which had stood from the late seventeenth to the early nineteenth century just to the north of the area where we walked the fields in 1998. He suggests that a building which stood on the site later occupied by the now-demolished hilltop café was a sum­merhouse associated with the mansion. This would explain the con­centration of post-medieval brick close to this area, and we will bear this in mind when we process the building material from the field- walking.

It was indeed with pictures of that fieldwalking that Vikki O'Connor brought a most interesting day to its end. But that is not the end of the project by any means. Stephen Castle has suggested that inter­ested members could undertake further research on the area, and with this in mind we plan to meet him at Stanmore in the new year - details will be circulated in the newsletter.

Thanks to Tessa Smith and Brian Wrigley for helping to organise the 30th, arid to Sue Whitford, Arthur Till and other willing hands for their help on. the day. Tessa has reminded us that Brigid Grafton Greene, who was HADAS Secretary at the time, was instrumental in getting the area on Bury Farm scheduled - an Act was passed in 1979 which was implemented in 1980.

PROGRAMME NOTES                            from Dorothy Newbury

New arrangements for lectures

As announced in the October Newsletter, slight changes to timings are being tried, with the lecture starting at 8.00pm, followed by questions with coffee served at the end of the meeting, There was an excellent attendance at the November lecture, probably the largest audience since we moved to Avenue House, and the speaker was very well received. However, I have received varied opinions about the change. Several members arrived after the start of the lecture and some during the talk; some had coffee before the lecture and others during it; some were pleased to get away early while others missed the social time before the meeting. It remains to be seen if the changes settle down. Do note that lectures start at 8.00pm.

 

Bookings at Avenue House

A policy of "first come, first served" is now used for bookings and our meetings for next year have been fixed for the second Tuesday of each month as usual. However, some meetings will be held in the Drawing Room (which some members find cold, badly lit and impersonal) and others will be in the Stephens Room (considered to be more comfort­able but with difficult access). To ensure that our meetings are held regularly on Tuesday evening we must book several years in advance but - which room?

 

Programme for 2000

All speakers are now booked and a complete programme will be issued with the January or February Newsletter. We are planning to hold a Ted Sammes Evening in April, with several speakers who knew him well Ted was a founder-member of HADAS and a knowledgeable, dedicated member until just before his death in November last year. If any cur­rent members have particular reminiscences of him on excavations,outings or Prehistoric Society activities, please let me know

 

 

"LONDON PARISH MAP"                        reviewed by Roy Walker

 

 Ann Saunders, HADAS President, is Honorary Editor to the London Topographical Society whose publications have formed the basis of historical research since its foundation in 1880 and have served to awaken an interest in London's past. This year saw the issue of Publication No 155, "London Parish Map - A Map of the Ecclesiastical Divisions within the County of London, 1903."

A map of Church of England parish boundaries, perhaps, is not an exciting prospect but consider the changes that have occurred since 1903. The Diocese of Southwark did not exist - the Diocese of Rochester prevailed over those parts not covered by the Diocese of London. Today's Southwark Cathedral was St Saviour's Church within the See of Rochester. Certain "detached" parishes were administered by the mother church of a Parish geographically distant due to low population not necessitating a separate church - parts some‑times being on the opposite bank of the Thames. Such a map is therefore invaluable to the family historian trying to reconcile records, parishes, forebears and the modern day Church divisions. And how many times have we looked at parish boundary markers with just initials and dates and tried to identify the parish?

For students of politics and the administrative history of London this map provides a background for, as the guide accompanying the map points out, when the Metropolitan Boroughs were formed in 1900 they were based on groups of parishes which up until then had been responsible for such functions as lighting, paving and street cleansing. They were the predecessors of the present day London Boroughs.

Copies of the map are available from: Roger Cline, Flat 13, 13 Tavistock Place. London WCIH


 

NEWS OF MEMBERS

Olive Banham, a founder-member, has written recently and although she cannot attend meetings or outings any longer, she still takes a great interest in the Society and enjoys the Newsletter. We thank her for her generous donation to Mini-Mart funds.

John Enderby another founder-member, features in a new book pub­lished by Countryside Books. "Dorset Privies" by Ian Fox is being sold by the National Trust and includes two photos - one of John's wooden privy which has an engraved headstone dated 1857 for the floor and one of a large night soil bucket which John unearthed from his garden. He attributes his flourishing vegetable garden to the contents of the bucket!

Alec Gouldsmith, once a regular attender at all HADAS functions, now lives in a retirement home in Dorchester. Marion Newbury visited him recently and found him fit and well and very pleased to see her.

Freda Wilkinson has recently moved to Magnolia Court, 181 Granville Road, NW2 2LH (0181 731 9881).

 

OCTOBER OUTING

Friends' House, Bloomsbury and the Magic Circle  Report by Stewart Wild

On a beautiful autumn morning, some two dozen HADAS members joined Mary O'Connell for a fascinating walk round Bloomsbury. We started at Friends House, opposite Euston Station, purpose built in 1924-25 as the headquarters for the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

The building comprises a large meeting house, a small meeting house and a library, with other areas leased out as office accommodation. It serves as the focal point for some 25,000 Quakers in Britain and Ireland and about ten times that number worldwide. In the library we were welcomed by Michael Hutchinson, the Assistant Recording Clerk, who spoke about the origins of Quakerism in 1652, and the beliefs of its founder, George Fox.

There were many Christian sects in the 17th century and Quakerism is the only one to have survived.(The appelation derives from a term of abuse aimed at George Fox by a judge at the Derby Assizes in 1651). Quaker testimony consists of Truth, Integrity and Simplicity; there is no organisational hierarchy, no appointed leadership and no formal structure in their meetings and worship. Decisions are reached by con­sensus, not by voting.

The Quakers are very good at keeping records and the library is a ver­itable treasure trove of historical documents, local history and accounts of Quaker meetings. The Librarian, Peter Daniels, was kind enough to show us 17th century pamphlets and records of early Quaker meetings in our own area of Hendon and Mill Hill. The earliest dates from 1692 and by 1733 there are details of monthly meetings at Gutter's Hedge, later Guttershedge Lane (later Hall Lane) and now Page Street, NW4. We learned about William Penn and the Quaker connec­tions of Penn in Buckinghamshire and Pennsylvania,USA. In modern times, Quakers have been instrumental in many successful business­es, among them Cadbury's, Fry's, Rowntree, Huntley & Palmer and Barclays and Lloyds banks.

Back in the sunshine, Mary spoke more about the early days of Euston station and its redevelopment in 1961-62 which led to the demolition of the famous Doric arch, erected in 1838. The station dates from 1837 when two platforms were constructed for the London and Birmingham Railway which offered six trains a day to Harrow and Watford, In September 1838 services to Birmingham began, with a journey time of 5 hours.

Our next visit was to the headquarters of the Magic Circle in nearby Stephenson Way. The building was transformed in 1997-98 into a pri­vate club for the 1,500 members of the most famous magical society in the world, founded in 1905.

We were welcomed by Henry Lewis, a member of the prestigious Inner Magic Circle and curator of the Society's unique (and entertaining) museum. He showed us the state-of-the-art theatre and a trick or two. Fascinating exhibits throughout the building include pictures, posters, equipment and memorabilia of magic legends like Harry Houdini and Chung Ling Soo. who died in an accident at the Wood Green Empire and was found not to be a Chinaman at all but an American named Robinson.

Outside the Institute of Archaeology in Gordon Square, our guide recalled the Bloomsbury set, that famous group of writers and artists who included Lytton Strachey, T.S.Eliot, Vita Sackville-West, Virginia Woolfe and Clive Bell, and whose unconventional lifestyle led to them being dubbed "couples living in squares and loving in triangles".

Our next stop, in Tavistock Square, was at BMA House, a Grade II listed building designed in 1911 by Sir Edwin Lutyens for the Theosophical Society. After World War I the uncompleted building was sold to the British Medical Association and was opened by King George V and Queen Mary in 1925. The central courtyard is home to two war memorials: Lutyens designed gates commemorate the 574 BMA mem­bers who fell in WWI and a bronze fountain and surrounding statues honour medical personnel who died in WWII.

En route to our last visit we admired Woburn Walk, a short street designed by Thomas Cuba in 1822 as a shopping mall. As we passed the delightful little bow-fronted shops and restaurants, our attention was drawn to the blue plaque commemorating the home of William Butler Yeats.

Around the corner, in Duke's Road, we reached The Place, a centre for dance companies. The Place Theatre is the busiest contemporary dance venue in Europe, programming 32 weeks a year of British and international dance. A fine example of secondary re-use: the building started life in 1889 as the headquarters of the Art Union and Artists Rifles, a regiment which served with distinction in World War I.

Until 1967 the building continued to serve as a drill hall and rifle range - the old officers' mess is now a dance studio while the shooting gallery has been converted into a theatre. Further redevelopment and refurbishing is now under way, aided by q £5million grant of lottery funds. The centre's fundraising manager, Helen Lewis, showed us round and explained the range of activities that take place in the International Centre for Contemporary Dance. Finally, we enjoyed a light lunch in the centre's canteen which is conveniently also open to the public.

Our thanks to Mary O'Connell for organising and leading a most informative tour of a fascinating part of our capital city.

 
RECONSTRUCTING ROMAN LONDON

Peter Pickering reports on a Museum of London Study Day

I saw no other HADAS members among the crowd at this study day on 13 November, the day of the Lord Mayor's Show, which made walking from St. Paul's Underground station more entertaining than usual.

The day was a lead-in to the new Roman London display which the Museum plans for next year. I should like to share with other members some of the many new insights I gained from the day.

Professor Millett of Southampton explained the oddity of London among the cities of the Roman Empire as stemming from its origin as a trading centre, to which people flocked as what we now call "economic migrants". It was not a pre-Roman centre (and indeed for some time its legal status may have been seen as a settlement subordinate to Canterbury), nor was it military in origin.

Julian Hill of MoLAS told us what had already learnt from the large scale excavations at No. 1. Poultry, where the diversity of building types at the very beginning of the Roman occupation destroyed preconceptions of a slow development from small timber-framed dwellings to larger stone ones.

Damian Goodburn set about reconstructing the timber buildings of Roman London, pointing out that even in damp Britain many buildings were of mud brick, that most Roman buildings were prefabricated and that the Romans used only straight timbers, not the curved elements found in medieval buildings. He observed how much easier it was to have privacy and separate areas for separate functions in rectangular Roman houses than in the round houses of pre-history. He showed us the scorch-marks that are evidence for light fittings in Roman buildings. Apparently there were some lamps at knee height, for light when you were sitting down, and some at head height.

Professor Ling of Manchester showed slides of mosaics and wall plaster and illustrated the way in which the Romans set off bright walls with more subdued floors and vice versa. There were some inconsistencies as wall plaster needs renewing while mosaics are virtually indestructible.

Joanne Berry then took us away from London to a house in Pompeii to show how difficult it is to know what the various rooms in a Roman house were actually used for. Just like us, different Romans organised their space and their activities differently and changed them constantly, for example using their garden and their beautifully decorated rooms to store wine amphorae when they went into the wine business.

Then we were told about furniture and soft furnishings. Scenes from funery monuments provide much evidence here as well as archaeological finds. The Romans liked basket-weave chairs and patterned textiles. I must say that I found several of the reconstructions just too tidy and taste­ful in a modern way. It will be interesting to see if the galleries give the same impression when they open next year.

Finally we were taken through the evidence for animals and plants in Roman bond. A. You will be please to know there were no rats and not many mice. You may be less pleased to learn that dead horses, which were not used for human food, were dragged outside the city and left by the side of the road for the dogs and ravens. Finally, their skeletons were mangled by men digging graves to bury dead people.

 

COMMEMORATIVE PLAQUES

This new HADAS publication, a revised and enlarged edition of "Blue Plaques" published by HADAS in 1973, is now nearimg completion and Joanne Cordon and I have reached the point where assistance from members would be much appreciated, We should be grateful if members could check that the plaques are still in position, notify us if any are missing and (perish the thought!) let us know if there are any lurking in odd corners of the borough that we have missed. If any member could run round their local area to check, please contact me for a list of address­es.

There are 10 plaques in the Barnet area; 7 in Finchley: 14 in Hampstead Garden Suburb; 9 in Hendon and 10 in Edgware/Mill Hill. This includes all plaques, blue, green, white, bronze and black; round and square - not just blue ones.

There are a number of queries to be resolved before copy is complete. Sue Whitford has been beavering away while at home recovering from surgery and has managed to solve some problems. However, details about Kenneth Legge have so far alluded us. Son of Mary Legge,

 a former Mayor of Finchley, he was a fighter pilot killed in the Battle of Britain. A plaque to his memory has been placed in Windsor Road Open Space. We do not know his date of birth or death (1940?), where he lived or any details of his service record. Can anyone help with this?

The National Portrait Gallery has agreed that we may repro­duce portraits of our subjects if they have them in their collec­tion but there will be some for whom we have to search other sources. Help here would be appreciated.

We anticipate that Commemorative Plaques should be ready to go to the printers in February to be published in the spring.

Please telephone me if you can help. Liz Holliday

 
 

"BARNET - THE TWENTIETH CENTURY"

This new book by the dynamic two - John Heathfield and Percy Reboul was published by Sutton Publishing a few months ago. Price £14.99, it offers a wealth of local photographs complete with informative cap­tions. Some illustrations are from the Local Collection or Barnet Museum but most have been specially taken by Percy for the book.

Grouped in ten sections, each of which is prefaced by a concise intro­duction, the book provides a wonderful record of changes in the Borough. The last section contains ten evocative photographs, one for each decade, illustrating a memorable event or change.

The book will be the focus of a special exhibition Barnet: a century of change which opens at Church Farmhouse Museum on 4 December and runs until 13 February. (Note: the Museum will be closed 25, 26, 27 December and 1,2 and 3 January)

Rush to the Museum and buy your copy - well worth the price!

MAGNIFICENT MINIMART

Report by Dorothy Newbury My apologies for not letting everyone know our final figure in the last Newsletter. Andy Simpson and Bill Bass counted the takings after the MiniMart and we found them to be the best "on the day" total ever - £910 in three hours!

Attendance was higher, due I think to two newspaper adverts and Micky Watkins placing posters all over the local area. We received donations from Myfanwy, Andrew Pares and Olive Banham who could not be with us on the day. I did not sell so much before the sale his year and the adverts and hall hire had gone up in price. Nevertheless, we made a clear profit of £1,125. This would not have been possible without all the help I had sorting and pric­ing in the weeks before the day and of course all the goodies which members contributed.

My thanks to all.

 

 

SEAHENGE at Flag Fen Fifty-five uprights from a timber circle discovered at Holme-Next the-Sea in Norfolk have been taken to Flag Fen. After cleaning clay and sea water from the 4000-year old timbers, they are now displayed in clear water tanks. The upturned oak tree which was in the centre of this circle is also on show. The tim­ber circle will be kept at Flag Fen for the coming year to allow preservation work and research to be carried out.

Flag Fen is three (signposted) miles from Peterborough city centre and is open 7 days a week, except from 24 December until 3 January. Details from 01733 313414.

 

 

FINDERS KEEPERS A hoard of 9,377 Roman silver denari was unearthe d in August by a first-time user of a metal detector. Trying out the equip­ment in a barley field at Slapwick near Glastonbury, two cousins found the coins just ten inches below the surface. The hoard had been buried about AD230 on land which is thought to have been the site of a villa inhabited by a British family who had adopted the Roman way of life.

The Somerset coroner has ruled that the cousins should receive the coins' full market value from Somerset County Museum or keep the hoard if the museum can't raise the money.

 

 

MAKE WEIGH

FOR THE DIGGING TEAM

by Vikki O'Connor Processing the fruits of our field- walking last year was just a tad hampered by our two sets of ancient kitchen scales. The measurements coaxed from these temperamental instru­ments by the three or four teams hunched together round the tables in the Garden Room were the subject of some amusement the smaller the objects to be weighed, Anything under 50g was liable to an error of +or - 50g (!) according to our scales. (To be fair, they had probably contributed to many a perfect Victoria sponge.          However, Mary, Doug, Jeffrey, Peter. Eric and many others, acquired an ability to profess the weight of objects as light as 5g - we hope that one day they will find a use for this skill.

Now for the good news!

Although HADAS member Louise de Launay moved away from London several years ago, she has maintained an interest in the Society and, as a gesture of support and encouragement, sent a donation to the Committee to help with our activities. The Digging Team got in first! We bought a Salter All- Purpose Weighing Scale - accurate to 5g - with Louise's donation and will be raising our coffee cups to Louise when we weigh our first pot sherd. Thank you.



EVENTS

Most local societies will be hold­ing festive events in December rather than lectures. LAMAS, however, have a lecture on Thursday 9th December: the George Eades Memorial Lecture by Chris Ellmers, Director-desig­nate of the Museum of Docklands, Shipbuilding on the Thames. Venue: Museum of London, Interpretation Unit, 150 London Wall EC2, 6.30pm fol­lowing the LAMAS AGM at 6.15pm. If you were fascinated by Mike Webber's account of the Thames Foreshore Project, this talk should be well worth the journey - if you can fit it in between the mountains of mince pies and seasonal get-togethers?

Looking ahead to February, will you be ready to spend £30 (£15 concessions) on yourself for a study day on your favourite topic? Birkbeck College have two one-off events to offer:

Saturday 12th February 10am to 5pm MEDICINE, HEALTH & DISEASE IN ANCIENT EGYPT at the Faculty of Continuing Education, 26 Russell Square, WC1. The day is led by Joyce Filer, presently Special Assistant for Human & Animal Remains in the Dept of Egyptian Antiquities at the British Museum.

Saturday 26th February 10am to 5pm THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE RIVER THAMES: Highway to the Past. Eight sessions cov­ering several aspects of this sub­ject, presented by Bob Cowie, Dave Lakin and Jane Sidell.

Enquiries about enrolment on either of these days should be made to Anna Colloms, Faculty of Continuing Education, Birkbeck College, 26 Russell Square, WC1B 5DQ Tel: 0171 631 6627 or fax 0171 631 6686



OTHER SOCIETIES' DECEMBER EVENTS

Sunday 5 from 1l am-5pm Christmas Fair at College Farm, Finchley Thursday 9 at 7.30pm Camden History Society at Burgh House, New End Square, NW3 Reminiscences of a Patent Agent by Roger Cline,

Thursday 9 at 8.15pm Hampstead Scientific Society in the Crypt Room, St John's Church, Church Row, NW3 Mars Revisited by Jerry Workman Tuesday 14 at 8pm Amateur Geological Society in The Parlour, St Margaret's Church, Victoria Avenue, N3 The World of the Mammoth by Dr Adrian Lister

All these societies welcome visitors and appreciate £I donation
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