The Hanwell Park Project

JANUARY 2014 - Getting the Ball Rolling Again

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The new view at Enstone, looking north sans Leylandii

For a variety of reasons it took some time to gather together the resources for fieldwork so we didn't actually get going out of doors until Thursday 16th. at Enstone. That's not to say that time was wasted. I was able to track down Sir Anthony Cope, the fourth baronet, and establish his arrival at Oriel College, Oxford in 1649 by examining his college bills, known as battels today. These were accounted for weekly and in the case of Oriel recorded in tall thin parchment ledgers. It is clear that as the only student entered as nobleman Sir Antony was doing his best to keep up with expectations spending twice as much as anyone else most weeks. He had left by 1651 but unfortunately the volume for 1650 was missing so we can't say exactly when. The other library based task was to track down a copy of Gough's 1930s biography of Thomas Bushell in the rather surreal Gladstone link, a hi-tech underground chamber beneath the Radcliffe Camera... really. Not much new to read in this account except for a section which suggests a greater level of involvement with the work at Enstone on the part of Charles I than I had hitherto realised.

The Superlative Prodigall:  A Life of Thomas Bushell
By J.W. Gough M.A.
University of Bristol 1932

Pages 33 - 34

“The King indeed had given him very unusual support in his work at the rock itself. Bushell must have already had access to the King, very likely through his former position in Bacon’s household and his other connections with prominent men in London for it appears that the King had “come over from Woodstock to see the rarity of nature at Enstone” shortly after it was first unearthed [This must have been around 1628 SW] and had heartily fallen in with Bushell’s design that the rock should not only be preserved but also be “ornated with groves, walks, fishponds, gardens and waterworks and to that end he has taken said work into his protection”. In order to make way for the groves and walks instructions were sent to the earl of Danby “for better enabling Bushell’s endeavours…. To call on such as it may concern for disposing the highway to some other place which may be most convenient to his Majesty’s design, trusting he will find no man so refactory as he should have cause to certify his obstinacy to the King”.

Nevertheless there were persons who did object to the proposed diversion of the highway and we read that some of the copyholders of the manor "out of a malignant disposition the next court day fined Bushell for having turned the said highway, some have cut down trees for beautifying the said rock and others have presumed to forbid his workmen employed in setting up the wall for preserving the groves and walks not at al regarding his Majesty’s directions”. Bushell was to pay reasonable compensation to the occupiers disturbed but the justices were to call alleged delinquents before them and hand over and found guilty to the brought before the Lords of the Council. This was a year after the ceremonial visit [ In 1637 SW]  of the King and Queen but the King evidently contemplated enjoying further visits for the justices were urged “to take especial care that the wall there now erecting and other works in hand may go on with all diligence so that it may be finished by the time his Majesty shall come to Woodgrove” [Woodstock? SW].’

The references quoted are Cal. S.P.D. 1635 p. 366 and 1637 p. 198

I really don't know quite what to make of this. I need to take a look at the original papers at some point.

The highlight of the return to Enstone was to see the way in which the landscape had been opened but by the felling of a monstrous stand of overgrown Leylandii which occupied the ground to the north of the barn. You really get a feel for the open aspect that users of the garden and especially the flanking alley would have enjoyed.  As far as work was concerned Peter continued the detector survey of the grounds and the section across the top wall on the upper terrace was dug explored.

January      January
The trench in the middle of the upper terrace needs to dry out a little, however, the buried portion of the top wall is starting to emerge, it's a nightmare keeping the section edges square.

January      January
A couple of sections of dry stone wall had collapsed over Christmas whilst down on the lower edge of the garden a start was made on clearing blackthorn to reveal... another collapsed wall.

Later in the month we returned to complete the earthwork survey by poking about in the garden next door, many thanks to Sally and Andrew - tea and tea cakes were especially welcome. We were able to establish the continuation of the terracing and identify further remains of the canal as well as spotting a rather nice bit of architectural detailing built onto a twentieth-century garden wall. We also continued with the detector work along the alley way, around the line of the uprooted Leylandii and into the small paddock above the barn. Sadly very little of interest turned up although we were able to point to the large number of short scaffolding pipes scattered around the latter location.

January     January
The walling here is part of some fairly modern landscaping but the carved stone is reputed to have come from the top of a nearly gate pier, looks typical of Bushell's home spun Gothic.

January     January
The earthworks next door: the terrace above the line of the canal/fishpond looking north east and the terraces (there are two of them here) below looking north west.

Meanwhile back at Hanwell a start was made on closing down the cascade site. There was still a little more recording to be done, notably some section drawing to complete and then we started to think about the mechanics of restoring and conserving the site. The wettest January for ever and ever did not help us in advancing this cause but at least we made an effort.

January     January
The section below the Cascade, I really should have drawn this in the summer when I didn't need to stand ankle deep in cold water, and the path starts to be relaid.

Down at the sunken garden work was in hand to preserve the walling holding up the terracing. This meant buttressing the unsightly bulge next to the steps and strengthening the other corner below the sharp turn in the path above. As part of the general quest for recyclable stone a number of very nice architectural fragments have emerged from the undergrowth to be set aside for recording.

January     January
The ground is cleared and a small pit is dug in the north corner to expose the footings of the wall, there are some massive stones in these lower courses. 

January     January     January
Re-emerging stones: a short length of gutter with a pronounced fall, the kind of thing you would run through a parapet below the battlements to drain a flat roof,
a very nice little egg-shaped finial and some paving at the foot of the steps

Surprisingly we didn't have too many sessions rained off but there was lots to do indoors anyway. Once the essay on the English gentry had been completed it was time to carry on with the interim report summarizing the digging done last year. before getting on with the text it was necessary to complete the drawings by scanning the originals in to the computer then tracing over them to create digital images. It takes ages. below is the almost complete east elevation of the cascade. Lots more to come.