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

MAY 2015 - Playing Catch-up

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Once the excitement of May Day had passed and gone it seemed the right time to assess where we stood with regards to publication. News from the Journal of Garden History that they could not publish the material on Farnborough as they only covered original material and anything that had been exposed on-line was no longer original meant that we had to think long and hard about what to actually put out here, I'll have to be rather more circumspect in future about what goes on-line. However, this has all pushed me to complete the first full report from Hanwell on the cascade excavations from 2013 which will be made available one way or another fairly shortly.

Other follow-up concerned the key from the barn at Enstone which had been cleaned and given stabilizing treatment (thanks Peter), next up is sorting out the X-raying.


Digging back at Enstone involved more work on the pitched stone yard adjacent to the barn, it's not really a key part of the research programme but we had agreed that we would expose and record as much of the cobbling as we could and try and understand what the newly exposed stonework told us about the development of the barn. Unfortunately as Peter moved away from the barn it became clear that there was considerable damage to the surface and it would probably not make quite the attractive feature that we hoped. Round the corner at the cistern there were still plenty of features requiring further study. It looks as if the termination of the wall is original to its construction, a well marked steep sided cut could mark the position of a robbed out step from the seventeenth-century garden.

May     May
View of work next to the barn looking north west.                                                                       The end of the top terrace wall looking also north west.

May     May
The excavated area in the angle between the barn and south porch and detail of the chamfered block supporting the south east corner buttress of the porch.

Back at Hanwell I took the opportunity of a rather wet start to the day to wander along to the spring in the High Street to view the carved stone that had appeared in an earlier edition of the Banbury Guardian. Seeing it in situ and noticing a similarly carved block on the same rockery convinced me that this was a fairly modern piece of work.  Down on site at the Second Sluice we finally were able to define a new wall that seemed to edge the channel along its northern side. I was also able to confirm with Christopher some of the details of the areas we will be exploring next, particularly within the feature known as the sunken garden. The plan is to open two areas here to try and clarify the way in which this part of the garden has developed and to what extent there may be earlier seventeenth-century remains preserved here. Whatever happens it will certainly be a real sun trap by July.

May     May
The spring in the High Street, looking north east, there is a smaller decorated block up and to the right of the larger piece which is illustrated here.

A new wall is born, down on the Second Sluice, north towards the top.

    May     May
Weed killer has been applied to the area where our first section will go in during the Big Dig and here is the second area to explore on the opposite side of the Sunken Garden.

Back at the Second Sluice it was all looking rather complicated but quite interesting. Downstream of the crosswall after shifting yet another layer of rubble we came across something that looked like it might be a rubble filled cut for a channel of some kind whilst upstream we may have had evidence of a small culvert running under the cross wall. I had to have a day off just to ctach up with the recording and think about it all.

May     May
Down stream, possible culvert and rubble filled channel starting the emerge and upstream walling to the right and possible culvert under the wall.


And at the end of the month we spent a splendid day at Chantilly