Archive for the ‘Groundworks’ Category

Work continues to go well, despite the wetter weather in recent weeks, and some unexpected problems encountered. 

Drains, paths and fences at Grange Farm are nearing completion. The concessionary footpath around the Duke of Bolton’s field will re-open in the week beginning 7th December.

The door to the site museum has been widened, and the ramp leading up to it reconstructed – both measures to improve access for people with disabilities. New parking bays for blue badge holders are also being created outside the museum. 

Work to the main car park, off Barton’s Lane, is also nearing completion so pedestrian access to Cowdery’s Down will be restored soon too. 

Museums Service staff have stripped out the old exhibition displays from the museum and are now finalising plans for the new one. Simultaneously specialists are also working on selecting and conserving the objects that will go on display in the new exhibition.   

Volunteers from the Friends of Ancient Monuments (F.O.A.M.), continuing work begun last Spring, have now cleared more scrub to expose the western fishpond. 

Hampshire Highways Section have drawn up plans for a simple pedestrian crossing at Garrison Gate entrance, designed to improve the safety of visitors crossing from Grange Farm to visit the house and castle ruins.   Local residents and the local authorities are being consulted on the proposals.  

Scripting for all signage and information points, signage and multimedia presentations is well advanced.  Designs will be finalised over the next two months. 

Work is also continuing on the planning of an events programme for the opening next summer and beyond, and on preparation of the learning packs for teachers.  

Milestones expected to be reached before end of year: 

  • Re-opening of the concessionary public access across the Duke of Bolton’s field and from the site car park to Cowdery’s Down 
  • Completion of all major ground works before Christmas (weather permitting). Includes resurfacing of Grange Farmyard and Garrison Gate drive 
  • Removal of asbestos from WC block near Garrison Gate (one of those “unexpected problems”) 
  • Finalising of plans for road crossing 
  • Finalising of plans for museum exhibition 
  • Application to English Heritage for Scheduled Ancient Monument Consent for groundworks associated with information points and signage, and new footbridge over the bailey (west side)  
  • Application to Natural England for licence to carry out works in buildings where bats are present.

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Helping out at Basing House

Clearing at Basing House

F.O.A.M. working hard at Basing House

On Sunday (15th November), a dedicated team from the Basingstoke Archaeological and Historical Society, working as Friends of Ancient Monuments (FOAM) assembled on the site of the hunting lodge at Basing House.

Established by Julian Richards, archaeologist and broadcaster of series such as Meet the Ancestors, FOAM is succinctly summarised in this quote from Julian Richards’ own website:

“The simple idea is that there are lot of ancient monuments that need some care and attention (and by and large aren’t getting it) and lots of people who want to get out and get involved with archaeology but find it difficult to get on to excavations. So, put the two together and you have people going out at weekends and carrying out simple conservation tasks like tree and scrub clearance and removing derelict fencing. The end result, some healthy outdoor exercise, an understanding of the sites we work on and better looking monuments that everyone is far more likely to take care of in the future.”

The group meeting at Basing House were there to continue with the challenging job of clearing the scrub from around the edges of the fishponds at the edge of the site.  The fishponds date back to when the main Basing House was in use by the Paulet family, and were a holding place for the many fish needed to feed the large household and their distinguished guests (including Elizabeth I).

Clearing the thick scrub from the edges of the ponds is a daunting task, but this intrepid team were not to be put off.  Some were so dedicated that they even resorted to donning waders and standing in the cold waters to complete the task (see photograph of Barry below)! 

Barry braving the cold!

Barry braving the cold!

The team (ten strong) consisted of Marjolein, Mandy, Tony, Don, Alan, Dave, Peter, Ian, Mark, and Barry. 

FOAM – Where Next…?

Julian Richards and FOAM will be leading an assault on Old Sarum this weekend (21st-22nd November), and the team from Basingstoke Archaeological and Historical Society are planning to continue their good work at Basing House on the 29th November.

Basing House is always looking for more volunteers to contribute to projects such as the clearing of the fishponds, please do contact us if you would like to help out.  There is a comments form in the right-hand column.

Useful links:

The Basingstoke Archaeological and Historical Society have their own website:


FOAM is part of the Council for British Archaeology Wessex (CBA Wessex), whose website address is as follows:


You can read more about FOAM on Julian Richards’ website:


Clearing the fishponds

F.O.A.M. working on the Fishponds back in February 2009.

Alan Turton, Site Manager, helps with clearing

Alan Turton, Basing House Site Manager, helps F.O.A.M. with clearing in February 2009

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A new chapter begins at Basing House

It sometimes feels like it has taken for ever to get the project off the ground.

There were, inevitably, a number of hoops to jump through – feasibility studies, surveys, consultation, planning permission and scheduled monument consent, fundraising, commissioning special skills, and more.

Path laying outside the Great Barn

Path laying outside the Great Barn

The numbers of specialists involved has grown too. They include architects, exhibition designers, project managers, quantity surveyors, engineers, ecologists, archaeologists, archivists and marketing experts.

It was with some relief then, and a real sense of achievement that after about three years of  hard work, with funding and all the necessary permissions in place, the contractors at last began work on site on 1st September!


Happily we have so far been blessed with good weather too, so progress on groundworks (paths, drains, conserving brick remains, etc.) has been good.

Barns and Stables

Work on converting barns and stables is scheduled to take place in the spring to so avoid disturbing the many bats hibernating in them over the winter.

Museum Refit

Staff and volunteers have also been busy stripping out the old museum exhibition:

Work begins on stripping out the museum
Work begins on stripping out the museum.



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