newsletter-455-february-2009

HADAS EVENTS 2009

The winter lecture series is held, as ever, at Avenue House, 17 East End Road, Finchley. Nearest tube Finchley Central. Lectures start promptly at 8pm, non-members £1, coffee/biscuits available for purchase.

 

Tues 10 February    Lecture by Tony Earle ‘The Building of the Underground’ 

“The excitement of the first lines”.  “The health benefits of traveling in the smoke filled tunnels”!!  An illustrated talk with pictures, models and
handouts covering the Underground from its inception to modern times with recollections from the mid 1950’s to the present day.  Audience participation encouraged! 
Tony Earle spent 40 years working for Kodak, starting in 1961 in the research workshop, and finishing as their Principle Scientist in 2001. 
Tony now gives short talks to clubs, societies & museums on a variety of different subjects around the Home Counties and Essex.

 

Tues 10 March lecture by Richard Thomas         The Royal Gunpowder Mills

 

Tues 14 April lecture by Ann Saunders – HADAS member and past President

An album of treasures

 

Tues 12 May lecture by Francis Grew – Museum of London

The Guildhall Roman Amphitheatre

 

NEW SERIES OF TIME TEAM

 

That time-honoured feature of winter Sunday evenings is back - the new series of Time Team. Channel 4, around 5.45pm (times and transmission order may vary-details from the Unofficial Time Team web site, www.timeteam.klz.com); Series started 4 January. See also the official site, www.channel4.com/history/timeteam.

 

  1 Feb –    Blood, Sweat and Beers - Risehill, North Yorkshire.

  8 Feb –    Buried Bishops and Belfries  - Salisbury Cathedral.

15 Feb -    Anarchy in the UK – Radcot, Oxfordshire.

22 Feb –    Mystery of the Ice Cream Villa – Yarwell, Colworth, Bedfordshire.

1 March -   Hermit Harbour – Looe, Cornwall

8 March -   Called to the Bar – Lincoln’s Inn, London

15 March – Beacon of the Fens – Warboys, The Fens

22 March – The Hollow Way – Ulnaby, County Durham

29 March – Skeletons in the Shed – Blythburgh, Suffolk 

                                                                       

Hampstead and North West London Historical Association

The above branch of the Historical Association meets on Thursdays at 8pm at Fellowship House, Willifield Way, London NW11. There is no problem with parking. Visitors are welcome at £3.00, members of Fellowship House, 50p.

The further programme for 2009 is as follows:

12 February. Gladstone's ever shifting reputation (illustrated). Dr Michael Partridge. Dr Partridge is the author of a recent biography, 'Gladstone' (2003), in which he delights in exploring the many controversies about this statesman, praised and reviled by his contemporaries, and still a subject of dissension among historians today.

12 MarchWas Madame de Pompadour a better influence on Art than on Politics? (illustrated). Professor Julian Swann (Birkbeck College). Professor Swann has been foremost in exploring the relationship between French elites and the absolutist monarchy during the decades before the Revolution. Other historians have looked at one or other side in this conflict, but few have examined the crucial interaction between the two - the dilemma facing the royal administration: to buy off or oppose the opposition, in the elegant metaphor of President Johnson, to have the opponents in the tent pissing outwards, rather than on the outside pissing in. On this general theme Professor Swann has written some much acclaimed books, 'Politics and the Parlement of Paris, 1754-1774' (1995) and 'Provincial Power and Absolute Monarchy: the Estates General of Burgundy, 1661-1790' (2003), besides a host of articles, notably on the neglected subject of Political Disgrace during the ancien régime.

23 April. Churchill as seen through his art, (illustrated). Mrs. Josephine Cole. Mrs. Cole has long been intrigued by the many surprising ways in which art illumines history. Her fifteen years of experience as a journalist to the Splash Team, which involved working on daily newspapers, radio and television, has helped her to become one of the leading communicators in the subject.

For further information please contact the Secretary Hugh Hamilton, 2 Wild Hatch, London NW11 7LD.  Tel 020 8455 8318.

A quick weblink; Subject: Festival of British Archaeology 2009; see  http://festival.britarch.ac.uk/

TRANSPORT CORNER – Buried steam loco at Scratchwood?      Andy Simpson

An interesting snippet from that voice of Middle England, the Daily Mail. Apparently during the making of the 1962 feature film ‘The Password is Courage’ 86 tons of Derby Works built ex-LMS Fowler  2-6-4 tank loco, BR number 42325 of 1929, was derailed down a pit at Scratchwood Sidings between Mill Hill and Elstree tunnels on the St Pancras – Bedford Midland main line, where Scratchwood motorway services now stand. Anyone know anything? Is it possibly still there? The film is a factually based account of Sergeant-Major Charles Coward, played by Dirk Bogarde. The relevant scene shows Coward and other POW’s on a prison train hurling lighted straw onto a passing munitions train, which subsequently explodes, the loco supposedly being buried where it came to rest after the end of filming. Given that it would have been worth probably a couple of thousand pounds scrap value at 1962 prices (a good three/four years wages for the working man, then), this seems unlikely, and web sources indicate she was broken up on site by a local scrappy having only been fairly gently toppled on her side, but who knows? A few bits may remain.

                                                                    

REVELATIONS ABOUT THE STATUE OF “LA DÉLIVRANCE” 

 

This is the Finchley Society newsletter report of the talk given a year or so ago about La Déliverance. The talk itself had a lot more information about the other similar statues (of various sizes) and the vicissitudes they have suffered, and about what led Lord Rothermere (a) to buy the statue and (b) to present it to Finchley.                                   Peter Pickering

 

Everything you did not know about the statue of La Délivrance and so never asked: Louise 

Curzon could not have been the model as she claimed, the statue is not a copy, La Délivrance is really the name of the sword not the statue, and why the first battle of the Marne in 1914 meant much more to the French than just a victory. Martin Bolton revealed all this and more in a fascinating talk to the Finchley Society on November 29, based on his work in co-operation with John Rickard, both amateur researchers. 

 

Louise Curzon could not have been the model because she was born in 1905 and the statue was started in 1914, when she would have been only nine years old. Also Emile Guillaume was a distinguished sculptor who would never have made a statue using only photographs, and is much more likely to have used a French rather than an English model. So who is the model? "I don't know," said Martin Bolton, "but I believe that the statue was inspired by Marianne, the symbol of the French revolution in 1792, and who was shown with an upraised sword, and again, naked, on a medal commemorating the battle of the Marne. 

Is the statue a copy or the original? A number of statues were cast from the original clay model which Emile Guillaume created, so that all of them can be regarded originals. 

The special significance of deliverance for the French was that in 1871 Paris was besieged by the Germans and they feared a repeat in 1914, from which the battle of the Marne delivered them. 

"Délivrance" is written on the hilt of the Finchley statue, and probably this was originally intended as the name of the sword but became attached to the whole statue. Martin Bolton described the statue as an extremely important example of the first art deco style and a remarkable work of art, perfect in its portrayal of the human form. 

Finchley Society information from www.finchleysociety.org.uk or 8883 2633. 

 

DAY 4   HADAS Long weekend               Wharram Percy            by Bill Bass

 

Our group is dropped off at the Bella Farm car-park and we set off westwards to the village. The path we follow has been used to access the Wharram Percy area for perhaps the last 2000 years so much so that the ‘ground level’ is a good 10 feet above our heads; we are walking down a worn ‘holloway’. At the bottom of the wold we encounter a more modern feature of the landscape – the disused trackbed of the Malton to Driffield Railway. The railway was conceived in the ‘railway mania’ of the 1850s as a main line between Newcastle and Hull, but in the event became a local line serving small settlements and quarries in the area; the railway was closed and lifted in the 1950s. After climbing the embankment we enter the English Heritage-maintained monument proper.

 

Wharram Percy is always worth a visit, tucked away in the chalkland Yorkshire wolds, it serves as an important type-site of a Deserted Medieval Village (DMV). Important, because although many DMV’s had been recognised across the country, their nature, use, date and reason for desertion had been open to much speculation until a long term excavation was started at Wharram in 1950. Over the next 40 years (say 6-8 weeks a year) a team led by Maurice Beresford and John Hurst meticulously surveyed and unpicked the archaeology of peasants ‘tofts & crofts’, a manor house, the church, mill and so on. 

                                                              

Walking along the path we come to an interpretation board, this shows the general layout of the village. On the higher slopes are peasant housing and two medieval manor house sites (one earlier, one later). Towards the lower slopes are further housing earthworks, a farm complex, church and watermill site.

 

Occupation of the area has been known from the pre-historic and Roman periods, in the Saxon era a farming settlement grew in the valley which evolved into the medieval village and surrounding ridge & furrow field systems.

 

To the left-side of the path there is a multitude of earthworks; these are the remains of croft houses on the lower slope of the wold with their kitchen gardens and access ways to the larger plots behind, which ran down to the stream. Next is the standing building of what was a mid-18th century courtyard farm, attached to the gable end of this structure is a dedication plaque to the excavation diggers (one of our group remembers visiting when the dig was in full swing) and a name board from Wharram station which was approximately ½ mile north of Wharram Percy on the railway line mentioned above.

 

The excavations and building survey at St Martin’s church perhaps reflect the story of Wharram Percy as a whole, and it was a rare opportunity to fully dig a standing church and sample its cemetery. The first church appears to have been built in the mid-10th century as a private church for the small settlement at that time. Gradually it expanded in size with added side aisles etc to become the local parish church, reaching its apogee in the mid 14th century then gradually thereafter (c1500) the village became depopulated. The church continued in a reduced capacity until the last service in 1949. Burials inside the building were fully excavated being post-medieval in date, whilst a large sample of the graveyard produced medieval and later burials. We inspected the now mostly roofless but preserved structure, the partial tower (half collapsed in a storm of 1959) and the remaining tombstones.

 

Some of the group had their packed lunch beside the picturesque and restored millpond. A stiff climb brings us to the higher plateaux, excavation here discovered the different types of building method of the peasants ‘long-houses’ e.g. cruck-framing, and their constant rebuilding and realignment on the same spot. 1956 saw the surprise discovery of a Norman 12th century manor house, the extensive undercroft was constructed of chalk block dressed with sandstone. A second manor house, later in date but unexcavated, lies slightly further north.

 

The reasons for these villages failing could stem from a number of situations, but the end came for Wharram Percy as the woollen cloth industry became more profitable than agriculture, thus the land was turned over to sheep farming and the peasants were moved on. The excavations have shown that far from being fixed features, the crofts, manor house and church etc were constantly changing according to the prevalent economic and other circumstances. Walking around it was good to see the site still attracted a fair number of visitors with an interest in the past - more feet for the 'holloway'.

 
MALTON                                                                                                           By Sylvia Javes 
 

On the way to Malton we passed through Norton, a town rather in the shadow of Malton, but almost as large, and having its own town council. Until 1974 it was in the East Riding, administered from Beverley, whereas Malton was in the North Riding. All the ‘Malton’ racing stables, and the Malton rail and bus stations are actually in Norton. The River Derwent marks the boundary, and the County Bridge separates the two towns.

 

It being Saturday, Malton market was in full swing, and there was a continental market as well as the general market and the monthly farmers’ market. In the middle of the market place is the old town hall, from where Edmund Burke, MP for Malton, addressed his constituents in the 1780s. This now houses the local museum. On the ground floor are displays of Roman artefacts found in the area, including urns discovered by gravediggers in Norton Cemetery, and wall-plaster showing a picture of a goddess. Upstairs is the Wharram Percy exhibition with a reconstruction of a medieval village house, complete with farmyard sound effects. There is also a finds tent, and recorded reminiscences by Maurice Beresford. The display builds a picture of the people of Wharram Percy, with artefacts including personal items, agricultural tools, bakestones, and a chalice from the church. The exhibition is dedicated to the memory of John Hurst, archaeologist at Wharram, who died in 2003.

 

St Michael’s Church in the market place and St Leonard’s church on the hill overlooking the town are both 12th century chapels of ease. St Leonard’s was gifted to the Catholics in 1971. Its clock tower and spire date from the 19th century. 

 

Those who followed the town trail ventured as far as Old Malton Gate, where The Lodge is situated. This was the gatehouse of Malton Castle, built in 1604. It narrowly escaped demolition in about 1670 when Margaret and Mary Eure quarrelled over ownership of the property. The sheriff proposed demolishing the buildings and sharing the building stone. They demolished the manor house but came to an agreement before destroying the gatehouse. After many years of neglect the Lodge became a hotel in 1996. Beyond and behind The Lodge, on Orchard Fields, are the remains of a Roman Fort.  Nearby, a Roman mosaic depicting the four seasons was excavated in 1949 and reburied. The Wharram Percy contingent arrived in Malton with time to slake their thirst before reboarding the coach for a surprise visit to the beautifully sited Kirkham Priory. 
 

Castle Howard                                                                                               by Stewart Wild

 

After a pleasant interlude in Malton, we headed southwest to Castle Howard, first stopping briefly at what remains of Kirkham Priory (and a look at the neighbouring vintage signal box and gated level crossing on the line to Scarborough for a couple of the usual suspects – Ed).  

 

These atmospheric ruins, in the care of English Heritage, are in a beautiful location overlooking the River Derwent.  The Priory was founded around 1120 by Walter l'Espec, the founder of Rievaulx Abbey, and housed a prosperous religious community that followed the rule of St Augustine.  After the Dissolution in 1537-39 it fell into ruin, and there is not much left today apart from the elaborate gatehouse and decorated façade.  Its lovely setting, however, means that it continues to be a popular destination for visitors like us and tour boats up and down the river.

 

Castle Howard was designed by Sir John Vanbrugh in 1699, and took over one hundred years to complete.  It is not a castle at all, but a fabulous country mansion – think French château.  It occupies, however, the site of a real castle, that of Henderskelfe or “Hundred Hill”, which was built in the reign of Edward III (1327-77) and burned down in 1695.  The estate came into the hands of the Howard family, the earls of Carlisle, when Lord William Howard acquired it by marriage to Elizabeth, a descendant of the baron of Greystock, around 1550.  The current owners, the Hon. Simon Howard and his wife Rebecca, are related to the Duke of Norfolk, and have two children, twins Merlin and Octavia, aged six. Set among one thousand acres of gardens dotted with statues, lakes and fountains, Castle Howard enjoys great views to the north and south.  It is well-known for having been a major location for the acclaimed 1981 Granada TV series Brideshead Revisited starring Jeremy Irons and Diana Quick. 

                                                                   
We entered the estate via the spacious Stable Courtyard, which houses the ticket office, stylish Courtyard Cafe, handmade chocolate shop, a gift shop/book shop, the Jorvik Glass Blowing Studio (handmade items in metal and glass for sale), and farm shop with quality local produce. 

 

A tractor-driven land-train was available to transport us to the house itself, but the weather was fine so most of us chose to stroll the three hundred or so yards to the entrance.  The rooms on show, reminiscent of Petworth House, contain much valuable furniture, many superb works of art, and family treasures and photographs - the tour is self-guided and there are knowledgeable stewards throughout.  One room displays a temporary exhibition of large atmospheric photographs of the landscape and architecture of Castle Howard, taken in the space of a couple of hours one misty dawn last October by the owner's brother Nick Howard.

 

But it has not always been so peaceful: in the early hours of 9 November 1940 a large part of the house was badly damaged by fire, which apparently started in a chimney.  Most but not all of the devastated rooms have been restored in the decades since, and the house has been open to the public since 1952. 

 

Some of the upper-floor apartments, still in a bare and unrestored state, were converted into a second Brideshead film-set interior earlier this year, and now house an exhibition with information boards that tell the story of the fire and how Evelyn Waugh's famous novel came to be filmed not once but twice at Castle Howard.  The 2008 version is a 133-minute movie that opened in the US in July and was due for release in this country in the first week of October (early reports suggested that you may prefer the novel).

 

The southeast wing is home to some permanent exhibitions that include Maids and Mistresses – The Women of Castle Howard and The Building of Castle Howard, although not everyone in our group made it this far. 

 

After touring the house, we made good use of the cafe and other Stable Courtyard facilities before boarding our coach, tired but happy, for the return to Bishop Burton.  On the way back our Treasurer announced the answers to the two clever quizzes he had devised; I cannot say who won the prize.

 

Bletchley Park                               A review of the November lecture by Jim Nelhams

 

Our lecture on 11th November, Armistice Day, was given by Hugh Davies. The lecture was subtitled “Enigma – how breaking the Axis codes led to the world’s first computer and what lessons it still has for us today”. The lecture itself proved to be a first for HADAS – a presentation using a computer projector – but with sound effects.

 

Bletchley Park is now controlled by English Heritage. HADAS has visited it in the past, but further work has been undertaken there, partly with Lottery funding, though they still need a lot more money. They have completed a full rebuild of the Colossus computer which is now fully operational.

 

The people who worked at Bletchley Park during WW2 made an enormous contribution to the Allies' efforts. At the time, they were known as the Government Code and Cipher School, which later became GCHQ. Fundamentally, it was a civilian organisation and they never fired a shot. They collected information but did not make military decisions. SIGINT – Signals Intelligence – dealt with intercepting signals, decoding them and analysing the traffic. HUMINT dealt with Human Intelligence – information from agents, resistance organisations and POWs. TECHINT – Technical Intelligence – handled information from radar and photo reconnaissance. 

                                                                      
With intercepted signals, direction finding equipment was used to locate the source of the signal, and because of a thorough study of the call signs, BP knew the location of the transmitters and to whom they were talking.

 

It was vital that the enemy should not find out that BP were reading their messages, which meant that our own people, excepting those at the very top, and those that needed to know, should not find out. Consequently, no action took place solely based on the intercepted information, and much information was attributed to false agents. There was no evidence that the enemy suspected that their signals were being read and understood.

BP aimed to discover – what the enemy was doing now (tactical); what he was about to do; what were his resources and capabilities; what he was thinking of doing; what was the effect of our actions; have we confused or misled him about our intentions and capabilities; was he doing the same to us.

 

During the Battle of the Atlantic, information led to successes against the U-boat fleet, and they were withdrawn in May 1943, allowing many more supply convoys to reach the UK. The U-boat offensive was rejoined later in 1943 but again withdrawn.

 

Approaching D-Day, BP knew Hitler’s belief that the main invasion would be across the Dover Straights. Without this knowledge, the Normandy Invasion would not have taken place when it did.

 

Most German messages were encoded and decoded using an Enigma Machine, though High Command messages later used a more complicated machine made by a company called Lorenz. To send a message, the originator had the plain language text and the decoding key to generate the coded message. The receiver used the same decoding key on the coded message to get back to the plain text. The decoding key changed daily. Bletchley Park only had the coded message and needed to discover the key to unscramble the message. Because of the large number of possibilities, manually discovering the code in a reasonable time was not possible.

 

They had received information from Poland about the Enigma machine. The Poles had developed an electro-mechanical machine to help decode this, but changes to the Enigma machines made this no longer usable. BP enhanced the original Polish design to produce their version, which they called “The Bombe”, which was successful, though slow.

 

The Lorenz machine was more complicated, and it took some time to decode the first message and understand how the machine worked. Because it had so many more options, a faster machine was needed and a machine christened “Colossus” was developed at the Post Office research department in Dollis Hill, built using electronic valves. The machine recently reconstructed at Bletchley Park is Colossus 2. 

 

The German systems failed for a number of reasons, but mainly because they did not allow for human nature. While computers do what they are told, people are cleverer, and will make mistakes. They will use the same words and patterns so that their messages are in part predictable. This helped in reducing the options to be checked during decoding.

 

At Bletchley Park, the people achieved great things because they believed in what they were doing. Unfortunately, with the continuing requirement for secrecy, the development of the first computer and so many of the other remarkable achievements were not acknowledged for a considerable time.

 

                                                                   

SPRING FUNDRAISING EVENTS FOR THE 150th ANNIVERSARY OF

AVENUE HOUSE, 1859 – 2009

 

18 Feb 2009, 7.30pm   Quiz Night   Tickets £8 per person, including finger food/nibbles, raffle and cash bar, tables of 6 or 8. A good time was had by all with the last quiz in November, and HADAS again hope to make up a table or two. Book a place by phone

(0208 346 78120 or e-mail info@avenuehouse.org.uk or book in person at Avenue House.

 

OTHER SOCIETIES’ LECTURES & EVENTS                  ERIC MORGAN
 

Monday 9th February, 3pm Barnet & District Local History Society  Church House, Wood St, Barnet (Opposite Museum) – Heraldry: The Picture-Book of History Talk by Dr Andrew Gray

 

Wednesday 11th February, 8pm Mill Hill History Society The Wilberforce Centre, St Paul’s Church, The Ridgeway, NW7 Beneath The City Streets: London’s Unseen History. Talk by Peter Lawrence (Preceded by AGM)

 

Wednesday 18 February, 7.30pm  Willesden Local History Society. Scout House, High Rd, NW.10 (Corner Strode Road)   The New River & its History  Talk by Jean Linwood.

 

Thursday 19th February, 6.15pm  LAMAS Terrace Room, Museum of London, London Wall, EC2  Presidential Address; Preceded by AGM. Refreshments 5.30pm.

 

Thursday 19 February, 7.30pm Camden History Society, Burgh House, New End Square, NW3  The Strange History of Dr. Thomas Southwood Smith of Highgate. Talk by Isabel Raphael.

 

Wednesday 25 February, 8pm  Friern Barnet & District Local History Society St John’s Church Hall (Next to Whetstone Police Station) Friern Barnet Lane, N20 

100 Years of the North Circular Road  Talk by Reg Hart Visitors £2.

 

Thursday 26th February, 2.30pm  Finchley Society Drawing Room, Avenue House, East End Road N3  The City’s Old Lady – The Story of the Bank of England Talk by Brenda Cole. Non-Members £2.

 

Thanks as ever to this month’s contributors; Bill Bass; Stephen Brunning; Sylvia Javes; Eric Morgan; Jim Nelhams; Peter Pickering; Stewart Wild.

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