Voyages to the House of Diversion
Seventeenth-Century Water Gardens and the Birth of Modern Science
March 2019 - West Side Story
March 4th. to the 7th. saw us putting in four days of digging, however,
the weather had definitely turned after a couple of gloriously mild and
sunny days. It was cold and increasingly wet. Even so we managed to
make good progress in clearing, cleaning and recording the upper
surface of the spread of rubble in the moat beyond the west wall of the
octagon. There were certainly hints at structures within the rubble
spread, remember the possibility of a bridge on this side. so the
actual removal of this rubble which we also got started on will need to
done with enormous care. A couple of highlights from the first week:
first off Peter got to work in his Aladdin's cave of all things
archaeological to rebuild;d one of our more elaborate garden urns...
pot 12 as it happens and a new volunteer, Jerome, managed to discover a
very fine piece of lead crystal glass, probably the rather bulbous stem
of a wine glass. All this plus nobody actually got to slip and plunge
into the trench, always a positive outcome when the weather is wet.
Jerome and Chris at the start of the week exposing rubble and later on starting to work into a corner.
Later in the week work starts on drawing the rubble beginning at the
south end and progressing to the north end where we had to balance on
boards to finish off
... and here is our splendid piece of lead crystal, upside down as it happens.
Everything cleaned up and ready for photographing down below whilst up top everything is seriously slippy.
Here it is, pot number 14, a fairly conventional flower pot with a
central hole and a shallow rim but rapidly disappearing below water.
Meanwhile tucked away in the warm and dry marvelous things are happening, the rebirth of pot 12...
... is getting closer and closer
The aftermath of storm Gareth, one tree collapsed across the t Temple
of Flora with a couple of stones dislodged and on the corner of the
water parterre another one down.
After the week of windy weather a certain amount of clearing up then Chris cleaned up then lifted our latest pot...
... and Peter took it away for cleaning, drying and restoration.
Not Hanwell at all but over to
Stowe, this is part of the Temple of Modern Virtue currently under
excavation. for the next few months work will alternate between Hanwell
and Stowe and you can read all about that here.
Work continues to define the upper surface and the back edge of the
retaining wall and Peter checks over the ground before the next layer
of rubble comes out.
Also the big clear up continues as a layer of decayed winter leaves is
scraped away to reveal, well in this case distinct tip lines associated
with making up the ground withing the octagon.
Heavy smokers? A whole new set of clay tobacco pipes emerges from amongst the destruction rubble.
As the month
drew to an end we continued with a bit of a run of dry weather enabling
us to finish the post-winter scrape down of all the exposed surfaces
cleaning them up and getting rid of dead leaves plus the water levels
have continued to drop. We may not need to pump at this rate although
there will be some very smelly sticky slime to clear away. In the
western extension there remains no sight of a bridge plus, having moved
past the scattering of rubble the rest of the trench was just full of
silt with no signs of an outer limit to the octagonal moat. Perhaps I
have just misread the surface earthwork indications and what we are
excavating is what Plot described as being an island, not a water
parterre. The other thing that has become clear is that the eastward
face is not like the two sides previously excavated. It is over a metre
shorter and has no sharp angle to the west. Given this irregularity I
decided to open a larger area to the south to try and make sense of the
geometry so lots of turf and topsoil removal underway. In the meantime
Peter has continued to work his magic on the pots and the on-going
campaign of tree planting uncovered an intriguing length of iron chain
that plunged down below the limit of excavation of the planting hole...
The sun is shining and the waters are receding but what a mess they leave behind.
Peter cleans off the last of the rubble and the silt stretches out
behind him so.... we start a new area, the southern extension.
Pit with chain.
Table with pots looking absolutely marvelous.