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

September 2018 -The View to the West

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As work started to wind down along the north west side - see below, steps were taken at the start of the month to strip the turf and topsoil from the new area along the the west face of the octagon. This should be important because it faces the great east terrace and the castle itself and is the most likely location for an approach bridge and in-coming pipework.

Meanwhile a fourth pot emerged from the rubble field, this one definitely a planter with central hole and a boldly flared rim, something very shallow, perhaps a pot for bulbs. Clearance of the three coping slabs uncovered suggests that perhaps they were carefully laid in their present location rather than just tipped in and the presence of elements, which we excavated, of a second dog skeleton are especially puzzling. A metre wide extension of the excavated area to the east revealed a deposit of tile and stone sloping quite steeply upwards towards the east suggesting that the far side of the moat was not far away, the key discovery to made here is whether or not there was a retaining wall on the outside of the moat plus were there other buildings beyond the octagon to the west? Time will tell...

Work nearly complete on uncovering the coping stones.

Hannah examines the latest pot.

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Chris begins the long slow process of cleaning up an urn ready for drawing, photographing and lifting.

The far side of the moat starting to appear and, as it happened, no wall.

The second week in September remained fine and we were able to continue with the pot cleaning regime except as we cleaned around the pots it became clear that they were part of a much larger debris field - it reminds me of some of the ship wreck sites I've read about! Emerging from the silts into which they were thrown we began to see significant quantities of glassware: numerous fragments of wine bottle , a piece of a small fine clear glass bottle which may have held a spirit, possibly genever (gin), the base of a large glass beaker, the foot and stem of a wine glass... and a dead cat. Must have been quite a party. The unfortunate thing was with water levels rising and autumn coming on the site then had to be covered over for a couple of weeks whilst I went to fulfill my commercial obligations at Chastleton, Packwood, Hestercombe and Wormleighton. Roll on October when we can get back to it all again.

An immaculately cleaned pot ready for photographing, thanks Andries for the final polish.

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But then as cleaning proceeds more and more pots - up to 14 now I think.

Saskia and Kirsten give Chris a hand to further explore the upper layer of silt to reveal...

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... a wine glass and a couple of bottles... where are the balloons?

So the final two weeks of the month proved a little on the frustrating side as delivery dates weren't met and contractors had to defer starting this or finishing that and what looked like a sensible timetable turned in to a bit of a mess at times, still we managed to meet all our commitments and here are some photos to prove we weren't just sloping off. Then of course there were the seven days on the trot at Wormleighton... down amongst the dead men... and women.

Packwood, the caisson dam is in place but has a distinct lean on it, pumping out yet to commence.

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A very dull photo from Chastleton, foundation trench cut into sand for the new visitor centre. A much nicer photo from Hestercombe, the Jekyll / Lutyens garden which we had not been invited to examine

The north wall of the west tower at Wormleighton, a lot of high quality stonework now buried.

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In the trench through the churchyard a dozen interments some of them just 40 cm below current ground level. On the right one of the few coffined burials and on the left a medieval
grave cut into by a much later, possibly eighteenth-century grave. the femur was chopped through and redeposited with the later burial.

As the start of October approached I thought it time to pop back to Hanwell to see how things were looking...

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Unfortunately the water parterre was refilling with water although the area for digging under the blue sheet was reasonably dry, fortunately another fallen tree missed the dig and the gazebo.

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I managed to get some tiles washed to contribute to the epic round of finds processing but the star of the show has to be Peter with pot number 6 reassembled!