Voyages to the House of Diversion 
Seventeenth-Century Water Gardens and the Birth of Modern Science

July 2018 - The Month Goes Potty


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     July
A stone paved arbour plus inscribed stone and the rather nice paved floor to the grotto were two of our main discoveries at Croft.



The first two weeks of the month saw us labouring away for the National Trust under a hot sun in the eighteenth-century park at Croft Castle, Herefordshire. As always remarkable discoveries, read more here, but we were glad to get back to Hanwell particularly as we had several pots, carefully covered over, to lift and wash. The key issue was recording the location of individual pieces of pot and we achieved this by using a rather useful app on the iPad called Arrette SCL which enables a photo to be used as a scaled background for a plan which can then be annotated, in our case with numbered sections of pot which were then bagged according to the same numbering system.Peter was well set up at the observatory to start on the gentle job of pot washing. in interestingly it became clear as we lifted the first couple of urns that they had been made bottomless suggesting perhaps that either they were never used a planters, as purely ornamental pieces the water would have to run away, or perhaps more likely plants were inserted in baskets or tubs and so could easily be removed and changed as the season advanced.




July     July
Sarah starts lifting P2 and here is one of the reference shots of P3.




July     July
Ian and Chris co-operate on removing P3 and Ian displays one of the larger sections with part of the handle and a leaf motif where it joined the main body of the pot.




July
Peter's pot washing extravaganza underway.



As we cleared the remaining pots we were left with the task of lifting the large chunk of stone fountain basin. What a tremendous moment to turn it over and see the underside carved with scallop style flutings. This was a serious piece of carving belonging to what must have been a beautifully made fountain. All we have to do now is find the rest of it.




July
The fountain bowl, underside revealed.




July     July
The last bit of lifting Sarah and Hannah clean the remaining half of P2 after the upper layers had been removed and bagged.




July
The scene on Friday before abandoning Hanwell yet again this time for Packwood.



As it happened we decided to finish at Packwood a little early, partly on account of the blisteringly hot conditions. Fortunately we were able to meet all our key objectives and things turned out to be rather simpler than we had expected so it was with great relief we returned to the comparatively shady cool of Hanwell.




JulyJulyJuly
Packwood in the heat: Helen checks out the end of the dam wall, the modern sluice with antecedents cleaned up and the mini-cascade drawn by Sarah.



With the pots out of the way it was time to investigate the silts that had built up against the wall of the octagon and indeed take a look at the lowest courses of the octagon itself. One particularly... no exceptionally puzzling feature are the remains of a bank of clay which seems to encompass the octagon with a circle (is that tautological?). Another source of worry (sigh) is the question of what the foundations are sitting on. It appears to be the same bind of silt we have dug out from around them, is it possible that the octagon was built up on the base of an existing pool? Still lots to think about but we were able to transfer labour to what will become the north west side of the octagon with a start made a exposing and cleaning the rubble surfaces that spell out the destruction of the feature.




July     July
Chris in a corner and Sarah tidying up after the  'great stoneware discovery' - see below




July
 A view looking east along the north side with the curious behaviour of the clay in the moat there for all to see.




July     July
Efforts resume along the east extension with the welcome return of the Stone clan plus friend. Later on Andries and Ian chase rubble.




July     July
Sarah gets to clean her pot with Pater's assistance and here's the great find from this week, they just keep coming.



Actually the fragment of German salt-glazed stoneware is a puzzle. It was well down into the very clean silts below our destruction level and it lay there all alone, no trace of the remainder of what would have been quite a large jug. It seems to have been burnt at some point and the armorial bearing, probably a German princeling or aristocratic family or town coat of arms, is extraordinarily elaborate. It will take some tracking down but it could be an enormously important piece of evidence.