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Archive for the ‘Volunteer’ Category

Here’s the summer instalment of our volunteer’s blog, lots of sunshine and visitors has resulted in an interesting month…..

Sunday 1st September

As the end of the school holidays draws nearer our thoughts are turning to Tudor Day (Saturday 14th September) and all that has to be put together to make it work.  The county museums staff, both at Basing House and in other parts of the county, are now working hard to get it all to work together.  Even for the volunteers it means that we are trying to field all twelve of us, rather than the two or three who are normally there.  Tudor Day is one of the biggest events of the Basing House Year.

Another one, the visit of the English Civil War Society is due for the weekend 5th/6th October.  This is the closest weekend to the fall of the House, and the society will be putting on their living history displays as well as a civil war skirmish. I’m sure there will be plenty of tasks for us volunteers to help out with this too…..!

Saturday 31st August

Today saw the last wedding of the season, with the walk from the car park to the Barn marked with signs tracking the progress of bride and groom from schooldays to wedding.

It also seemed to be the day when every child that went through the tunnel had to go through again and again.  Generally we find that children like Mum or Dad (although we do get brave grandparents) to go with them the first time but then are happy to go through alone and save Mum and Dad the effort. Which I’m sure is much appreciated as its much harder work for adults!

Monday 25th August

August Bank Holiday Monday – a busy day, with the numbers building up as the day went on.  One thing we have noticed during the holidays has been the visits from “wider” families.  Not just Granddad, Granny, Mum, Dad and Kids, but also those where Granddad and Granny are joined by their whole family in parties of up to 12.  On a fine day, Basing House is a lovely venue for this sort of outing, with much to interest the adults and plenty of play space for the kids.

One of the regular staff left today, and we were sad to see her go.  May her new job be her Wonderland…..

Sunday 24th August

A rarity this summer, a wet day.  But we still had a steady number of visitors and many of them opted to go through the tunnel.  Obviously it is dry in the tunnel, but we do have to think about not having mud and water trampled in, and about how slippery the steel steps at the exit are getting before we open it.

One thing we do every day is ensure that either a member of staff or a volunteer has been through before it is opened to the public.  We also never let anyone into the tunnel unless both ends of the tunnel are open, and for that to happen there has to be a volunteer at each end.

Saturday 23rd August

Well, the youngest person through the tunnel record fell today – to 18 months.  I’m not sure it can get any lower.

Thursday 21st August

One for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl, four for a boy is the magpie rhyme.  Is there one for Jackdaws?  While walking to the tunnel today we saw fifteen…..

And once again there were many picnickers around the site on yet another glorious English summer day.

Tuesday 20th August

It was an interesting day. We had some rather lively children in today who I had to remind to look after themselves as well as the historic monument! Later we found that the garden around the Lego model of the Great Barn in the visitor centre looked as though it had been hit by a tornado…..

Monday 19th AugustGargoyle

I showed some visitors the gargoyles from the House that are built into the walls of the Bothy.  One of the mothers made the mistake of asking which gargoyle was most like mummy; the child picked this one……

Sunday 18th August

As an outdoor site we always have to think about what to do when it rains, or when rain is forecast.  While the visitor’s centre is under cover, the historic ruin obviously isn’t!  Over there, the entrance kiosk, which houses the wonderful LEGO model of the House in all its splendour, and the museum provide cover for visitors when rain threatens, and I also try to open the Bothy (the original site museum) to allow more shelter on a variable day.

But if there is rain about it is always worth remembering to be prepared – it is quite a long walk to the car park!

At the other end of the scale when it is hot and sunny hats, sunscreen and water are all advisable when visiting the historic ruin; there isn’t always much shade to be found.

Saturday 17th August

A wedding in the barn today, giving us another example of innovative thinking by the families as we developed a very comprehensive set of signs from the car park to the church and the barn.

There was a fair old wind today and it was amazing how it whistled through the Tudor tunnel.  This must be caused by some piece of physics far beyond me, as the side towards the wind is in quite a deep shaft that the wind could not go down. Presumably the wind blowing over at the other end produces some kind of suction….

Thursday 15th August

A steady trickle of visitors today.  Perhaps it is a reflection of the times that Grandparents bringing the grandchildren must be about as common as parents bringing their own children.

A visiting Granny gave a splendid demonstration to her grandchildren of how to roll down a slope!

Slowly but surely I am taking opportunities to rub down the gates to the walled garden so they can have a coat of paint before Tudor Day, even if this does mean that I tend to greet visitors from behind bars!

Wednesday 14th August

This morning a lovely letter came through the post from the lady whose young son was stung by a bee last week (5 August).  It is nice when people do that because it does make those who work at the historic ruin feel appreciated, and it’s also good to hear that all is well and he has recovered.

We had the tunnel open and had one pair of children who went through three times.  The tunnel also entertained some French visitors.

“Bat girl” was in action again….

 Tuesday 13th August

Minds are starting to turn towards Tudor Day on 14th September.  This is one of the biggest days in the Basing House calendar with a fun-filled day of Tudor activities, experiences and demonstrations.

– Falconry flying display
– Meet costumed members of Henry VIII’s court
– Tudor minstrels and dancing
– Tudor toys, games and hobby-horse jousting
– Traditional Tudor crafts and herb medicines
– Guided tours
– Take a trip down the Tudor Tunnel
– Explore the historic garden
– Geo-caching treasure hunt, hog roast, competitions and downloadable audio tour
– Archery range (extra charge applies)

These preparations bore fruit for four of today’s visitors who benefitted from private guided tours – we had the right volunteers here and they were just itching to do a tour.

Monday 12th August

The Basingstoke Gazette arrived on the doormat this morning, complete with an article about the archaeological dig.

Today is the start of the nostalgic games fortnight, with opportunities for visitors to play all sorts of board games, like ludo, shut the box, tiddley winks, solitaire, Chinese chequers, happy families and even snap.  In other words all the games that we played before the arrival of consoles and computers!

We also had a number of parties walking round with GPS devices on our latest Geo-caching trail, and of course, the tunnel was open!

Sunday 11th August

We have many bats on the site, with some bat boxes in and around the buildings, but it is very rare we ever see them.  Today however two put in appearances! One surprising a member of staff (and itself) when it fell from one of the huge barn doors as it was opened, and the other finding its way into the staff room.

I must discuss with the other volunteers whether the staff member who faced this problem should now be known as “Batgirl”……

One of the other volunteers showed us the draft of the new trail she has put together for the site.  As a mixture of “pirate map” and “treasure hunt” it should provide a new way of helping older children explore the historic ruin.

Saturday 10th August 

This was the last day with the archaeologists here and we will miss them.  Not only was it an additional attraction for visitors but also they introduced a “buzz” to the place.

 I’ve spent a long time this summer tending the tunnel, and on the vast majority of days have carried out the morning safety inspection.  Today though  I noticed something I’ve never seen before – there is a small, brick side channel from the tunnel that runs away for some distance.

mini tunnelStaff member in tunnel

Obviously another route in for water back in the days when it was a drain.

Thursday 8th August

Yesterday we had a lady who was far too well dressed for the tunnel but who wanted to go through.  To our amazement she came back today in her jeans and went through!

Obviously the tunnel is not the place to go dressed in your finery, and we have to advise strongly against open toed sandals and flip flops.  A major reason for this is that if they aren’t up to the task (and some people do end up on all-fours),and  it is a very long walk (or hop) back to the car park.

Wednesday 7th August 

The brickworks restoration took a step forward to day with one particular wall being pinned to stop it falling over.  The jackhammer being used created probably the most noise in the citadel since the House fell in 1645.

Tuesday 6th August

Three child minders and a horde of children from push chair age to about eight turned up at opening time today.  They were wonderful, a great reflection on both minders and parents.  Most of them went through the tunnel and it really was lovely to hear so many happy children’s voices echoing through.  I wonder if they will be back in sixty or so years’ time with their grandchildren?

Later the tunnel was subject to a mass invasion by the archaeology students; its an adventure for all ages!

Monday 5th August

One of those days when everything happens.

I had to call the first aider when a small boy managed to get stung by a bee. It was a bit upsetting for the boy, but the first aider calmed him down and looked after him; it was good to see how well the system worked. Hopefully they’ll come back again soon to enjoy a full day here.

Our second conundrum of the day was a very handsome, very tame pigeon which showed no signs of wanting to fly and was very happy letting humans get very close!  We watched it carefully but eventually one of the archaeologists decided it was a lost or injured racing pigeon and we arranged for the group that rescues such pigeons to come and rescue it.

We always try to open the tunnel on the days we say we will – usually only bad weather stops us.  But today was a day when we opened it although we hadn’t said we would…  Three of the people who went through were a mother and her two sons.  Mother had been sent by her mother who went through when she was a small girl.

Then, shock of shocks, it rained.

Sunday 4th August

The good weather continues and it was another day of keeping the tunnel running.

Usually the tunnel is dry and dusty but one of the oddities of the very hot weather has been that condensation forms inside, as obviously not much of the heat gets underground.  That said the tunnel remains one of the coolest places around, and I leave readers to decide on their definition of cool!

Saturday 3rd August

Another wedding in the Great Barn; and another different way of using it! As previous entries show I am always amazed at the variety in how people find different ways of making their special day special.

http://idealimaging.wordpress.com/2013/08/25/basing-house-wedding-photographer-jo-james/#jp-carousel-2595

We volunteers again were mainly supervising the tunnel.  Those who go through now get tunnel explorer certificates! A special mention also to those lovely explorers who take their hats back to the start for us! We do have to warn people that some shoes, particularly those with open toes are not really suitable for the tunnel.

Thursday 1st August

Another wedding today, with the bride taking advantage of the rural situation and arriving on her pony! Backed by brilliant weather the Great Barn and its surroundings looked magnificent.

I had a quick update from the archaeologists who were telling me about the growing evidence of pre Norman occupation of the Basing House site.

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Here is the second of Andrew’s volunteers’ diary posts. Hope you enjoy it.

Wednesday 31st July

A good day for visitors with many of them taking a trip through the tunnel.  We had the usual mix. These included high speed children, children who went through several times, adults who had been through as children and even the adults who spend their entire trip in fits of the giggles.

It looks as if it is going to be another heatwave day tomorrow, so it is a good time to remind visitors that Basing House is an outdoor site and that hats, sunscreen and plenty of water are necessities on hot days here.

 Tuesday 30th July 

Not a good weather day, but there was still much going on at Basing House with the brick restoration and the archaeology continuing, and with many of the volunteers in for health and safety training.

We have recently been joined by two new volunteers, both students.  They aren’t only gaining themselves experience that could help them with getting jobs in the future, but helping us out.  Visitor numbers, especially on weekdays, soar in the summer holidays.

It was my birthday and my wife and daughter Andrew's Birthday Cakemade me an “Historic Ruin” cake.  You can even see where the archaeologists are at work…..

 Monday 29th July

More and more “parch marks” are appearing around the historic ruins, with the marks of the recent 1970s museum now being joined by traces of walls and what could have been a gatehouse from much longer ago.

 Sunday 28th July

We have re-enactors at the historic ruins at the beginning and end of the season.  (The English Civil War Society is here on 5th and 6th October).

But today we had the ultimate – a three year old warrior princess, clutching her sword and vowing to kill the dragon in the tunnel.  She was the definite highlight of the day even if the dragon wasn’t in the tunnel, but roosting (or roasting?) in the nearby pine tree.

Tree Dragon

Around lunchtime I was hit by a raindrop or two!  I’d nearly forgotten what they were!

 Saturday 27th July

It was sports day and many local sports groups set up stalls and demonstrations around the Great Barn.  Meanwhile at the historic ruins the county council and the brickwork contractors had a display all about the work that is going on to renew and consolidate the brickwork that has suffered so much in recent winters.  Among other things this showed the detailed planning that is involved and allowed visitors to see examples of the old bricks and the new ones that are being used in their place.

Meanwhile, “Archaeology on the go” continued at the civil war earthworks.  It was interesting to see the people who look after the finds methodically marking each piece that had been found – even the ones that to my eye it looked like pieces of a 1960s tea service.

 Thursday 25th July

They always say that being a grandparent is fun because you can always enjoy your grandchild but give it back to its Mum and Dad when it gets difficult.  Today was one of those days when you feel the same as a volunteer. Running a museum involves a lot more than selling tickets and ice cream! Today we saw just some of the many tasks that the staff have to undertake as they dealt with all manner of enquiries and small issues that arose, at the same time as continuing their great front of house service to the visitors.

 Wednesday 24th July

With the start of the school holidays “Archaeology on the go” was on the go and I arrived to find a score of archaeologists being briefed.  In a nutshell they are repeating, with modern equipment a dig carried out over 50 years ago which found Roman pottery, 4th century coins and tiles. Perhaps they’ll find more signs of just how long people have lived on the Basing House site.Archaeologists at work

Meanwhile we volunteers have been running the tunnel, and greeting visitors to the historic ruin.

Sunday 21st July

We were letting visitors pass through the tunnel today, as we try to every Sunday, and we will also be doing so on many days in the school holidays (see website).

It is amazing how many families have at least one person who went through as a child, and is keen to go back again.  It does show how the tunnel lives on in the memory.  Many adults will insist that it was longer when they were a child, although we can categorically deny that this was the case!   Some will even say that it ran to St Mary’s Church (500m) or the Holy Ghost ruins north of Basingstoke Station (2500m).

 Saturday 20th July

Hot again, but with a steady trickle of visitors.  We also had our first sightings of the archaeologists from SouthamptonUniversity who are here preparing for the dig they will be carrying out between 24th June and 10th August.  Several of the days of the dig featured “family friendly” activities associated with archaeology.

One of the ways that long lost buildings can be discovered is through marks, on grass and among crops, that appear when the ground gets dry.  We have a good set at the moment although I believe that they only show the site of a relatively modern building.

 Sunday 14th July

It seemed to be all the “B”s this weekend.  Battle of Britain, Butterflies, Bumble Bees, Beetles, Bastille Day and (sun) Block.  The insects were really out in force and were all of the friendly variety.  We spent a long time watching what I think was a cockchafer/maybug, a fairly sizeable beetle.  It climbed blades of grass only to find it was too heavy for them and return to the ground with a bump.

The Basing House ruins aren’t just history.  They have an awful lot of nature around too.

Saturday 13th July

It seems to get ever hotter.  Most of today’s visitors turned up with their picnics and retreated into the shade, some in the new house and others under the trees at the edge of what was the Norman bailey.  The sheer size of the grounds mean that there is lots of space for families to spread out over.

The Battle of Britain memorial flight put in an appearance mid afternoon, announced by the distinctive roar of six Merlin engines.  I suspect they were performing for the benefit of RAF Odiham, not Basing House, but one can always imagine…

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This is the first of what we hope will be come an occasional series of postings from the team of volunteers who provide invaluable support at Basing House. 

If you want to join the team then please come along to the visitor centre and ask for details, or contact us via the Friends and Volunteers  page on our website.

Thanks to Andrew H for providing these diary entries from recent days spent helping out on site. 

Sunday 7th July

With the best of summer weather here the visitor centre seems to have developed a new role, with many people dropping in to buy an ice cream, cold drink or coffee while having a leisurely stroll through the village of Old Basing or along the banks of the crystal clear River Loddon.  They can also sit and have a rest in the shade.  I always hope that those who walk through the village remember that all those nice Tudor bricks that so dominate the scene come from Basing House.

It is easy to think that the tunnel is only for children.  We had an adult couple in today who seemed to giggle all the way through! 

And congratulations to Andy Murray!!  When I got home I wasn’t allowed to watch by my superstitious daughter as he’d won two sets while I was at Basing House.  She eventually let me in at three Championship points before sending me away again when he lost two of them….

 Saturday 6th July

Today we had a wedding in the cart shed – another of the buildings around the Great Barn.  Again it was interesting to see how different families can use the buildings to their best effect.  The expanse of grass around the cart shed and barn made for a lovely “English Countryside” event on one of the best days of the summer. 

 Wednesday 3rd July

Lego model - photo courtesy of TripAdvisor

I dropped in at the visitor centre on my way through the village and found a fellow volunteer and his daughter there having just been over the road taking photos from inside the LEGO model of the House. This is part of a guide they are planning where images of the LEGO can be used to illustrate what the House used to look like.

Many of the other volunteers have projects that they are working on behind the scenes.  Two have been working on tours, and another on display panels and now the picture guide.  Another has been putting together more trails for our younger visitors.  On Saturday I am meeting a potential new volunteer who got in touch with me through the Friends of Basing House.

We volunteers have also been persuaded to find our artistic sides and the results are on display in the visitor centre.

 Sunday 30th June

The summer seemed to be truly here with the sun shining all day.   It is important for volunteers and visitors to remember Basing House is an outdoor site and to remember their sun hats and sun block.

Young tunnellerWe had the tunnel open today.  In reality it is a 100 yard long Tudor drain just over a metre high.  One girl so liked it that she went through three times – a seasonal record!  The other record is shared by two girls of only 21 months who went through a couple of weeks ago.  The odd thing about the tunnel is that the shorter you are, the quicker you can go through, so most children scuttle through leaving their parents to struggle with the practicalities of actually fitting in.  The tunnel has basic lighting, and is dark enough to be fun, but light enough to be safe.Newly discovered Tudor fireplace

We also took the opportunity to have a good look at the Tudor fireplace recently unearthed by the brickworks restoration team.

Natural history was in evidence as well.  There are tiny wild strawberries growing in the enclosure at the Lodge/Museum end of the tunnel.

Saturday 29th June

I spent the afternoon in the sun over at the house ruins, while the strains of the Basingstoke Amateur Operatic Society’s performance of the Mikado floated across the road.  This showed yet another way the Great Barn can be used.  Before the performance many of the audience and the performers came over the road to see the ruins while others had picnics on the grass around the barn.

Tuesday 25th June

I didn’t go to Basing House today, but was woken up by Radio 2’s Moira Stewart telling the world of the death of Time Team’s Professor Mick Aston.  He, of course, led the Time Team dig at Basing House in 1998 which “found” the Duke’s hunting lodge.  He dealt with questions at the end of the dig with Tony Robinson (I was there) and even answered a question from my then 6 year old son.  Oddly, I dealt with him in my day job (he complained about Severn Bridge Tolls) and even then he struck me as a lovely man.  We must never forget that he opened the eyes of many people to our heritage and to archaeology.  A great loss to us all.

Sunday 23rd June

Another quiet day due to the weather.  We opened the tunnel, as we try to every Sunday, in spite of there being only one boy who wanted to go through. Spending the day in the citadel let me see how the brickwork restoration is proceeding – I have to say “very well” although it may well not be completed until the end of the season.  Work on the new viewing gallery is also progressing, while our ranger has recently cut back all the undergrowth.  This means that there is much more detail to be seen now than at other times of year.

As the afternoon passed, fellow volunteers joined me in trying to understand just what all the walls mean.  The difficulty is that every time you look you find something new, and ruin theories you had built in the past.

Saturday 22nd June

The weather let us down today, so we had few visitors.  A wedding in the Great Barn meant a 20% lower admission fee applied.  Over at the house ruins the entrance kiosk (which houses the wonderful LEGO model of the House in all its splendour) and the museum provide cover for visitors when rain threatens.  I also opened the Bothy (the original site museum) to allow more shelter on what was a variable day.  Wedding in Great Barn

It is interesting to see how different  families can find different ways of arranging and decorating the barn for weddings, while still leaving it looking absolutely stunning. 

Sunday 16th June

Fathers’ Day at Basing House.  A quiet start but after everyone had eaten their barbecues over at the Great Barn things became busier.  We supervised  the tunnel while 40 people went through, ranging in age from two toddlers to someone who could remember the house ruins back in the forties and fifties. 

Woodworking demo

The Father’s Day activities over at the Great Barn included a barbecue and brick -making demonstration, while over at the historic ruin we had a display of traditional wood turning.

Sunday 2nd June 2013

 The ruins of Basing House aren’t just about history.  They sit in the Hampshire countryside, and have their fair share of wildlife.  (As well being a Scheduled Ancient Monument Basing house is also on English Heritage’s Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.)   

I was welcomed to the house ruins by a huge massing of crows – presumably because the local red kites had put in an appearance.  And later, while sitting at the exit from the tunnel eating my lunch a deer, travelling at full tilt, came up from the walled garden, round in front of the gun and then charged away from the ruins and into the undergrowth around Redbridge Lane!  And there were lots of butterflies in attendance, too. 

 Saturday 1st June 2013

An idyllic day at Basing House.  Sun shining (and I remembered my hat), flowers blooming (especially the horse chestnut tree) and a steady trickle of visitors.

A wedding reception was held in the Great Barn.  With the marriage itself at St Mary’s church the guests walked in the sun for 500 yards through the village.  An unusual touch, but with a very pretty walk.  I wonder how many of the congregation knew that many of the bricks that make Old Basing so attractive, actually started life in Basing House. 

(And, on a personal note, one of the visitors was someone I worked with in the seventies, who came to my wedding in ’88 and who I hadn’t seen for probably 20 years.  Lovely to meet you again, Keith!)

AH

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  Battle of Basing weekend1Battle of Basing weekend8 Battle of Basing weekend3Battle of Basing weekend5 Battle of Basing weekend10Battle of Basing weekend4

What a month it’s been!   

Our heartfelt thanks go out to the large number of people whose energy, commitment and enthusiasm helped to achieve the following milestones over the past few weeks.  

  • 14th August  Basing House re-opened after its £2.3 million refurbishment
  • 28th August  New museum exhibition opened
  • 28-30th August  the Battle of Basing. Thousands of people came to Old Basing at the bank holiday weekend to enjoy this spectacular event  featuring the Sealed Knot re-enactment society
  • 11th-12th September  Basing House was a popular destination for the National Heritage Open Days event
  • 15th September  a Special Viewing was held for funding partners, stakeholders and supporters of the development project (photo below) 
  • 17th, 21st, 23rd September  first schools visits since re-opening     

 Special Viewing 15 Sept 2010

 

 So what’s next?   Illustration of proposed footbridge

Work has not finished yet.  By next Spring Basing House will boast a new footbridge spanning the western ditch of the Norman bailey and sailing over the excavated remains of the western gatehouse to the Tudor house (illustrated right), and a new cafe too, The Bothy Tearoom, which will be run by a local catering firm.  

Looking a little further ahead, plans are being drawn up for exciting new themed play facilities for our younger visitors.  

On a sadder note, fundraising has begun for a programme of conservation for the Tudor house, which suffered greatly from the exceptionally severe frosts experienced last January.  Work is already under way but to complete the task and prevent further damage to this  important scheduled monument  more resources will have to be found.    

 

Upcoming events  

  • Saturday 2nd October  Geocaching day
  • Saturday 9th & Sunday 10th October Mary Rose Weekend
  • Saturday 30th October Halloween Ghost Walk!

    

And finally  

Please visit our website or Facebook page regularly for more information about events. You can see more  pictures and video of the Battle of Basing weekend there too,  and much more.  And don’t forget that new volunteers are always welcome! 

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Cabling in the Great Barn

Building works

Main contractor to the project, Durtnell & Sons, continue to maintain good progress.

Highlights are the completion of the extensive repairs to the Orchard Wall (which is really the remains of at least 3 successive walls dating back centuries!), and the stripping of the old corrugated metal roof of the Little Barn at Basing Grange, which will be replaced with handmade tiles. Work is well advanced, too, on adapting the little store building which will become the ‘gateway’ from/to Basing Grange, on refurbishing the WC block near Garrison Gate, and on the new accessible toilet near the museum.

Work has now begun too on the museum in The Lodge, and Museum Service staff are well advanced with their plans for the new exhibition.

The Little Barn minus roof!

Ecology
The works on the barns at Basing Grange began after Easter, following the granting of a “bat licence” by Natural England. This “European Protected Species Licence” is a permit to carry out such work but also safeguards the bats resident on the site. The licence application was prepared by consultants Thomson Ecology on behalf of the County Council. Thomsons carried out extensive surveys in 2009 to identify the presence of any protected species and then went on to identify the roosting bat species found to be present and to advise on measures that should be taken to protect them during the works and after.

The surveys found roosts for Brown Long-eared, Soprano Pipistrelle, and Common Pipistrelle bats at Basing Grange. Measures being taken now, under licence, seek to ensure that bats are not left without a roost during the works and that, once works are complete, enhanced roosting opportunities will be available.

Education and Interpretation

PLB Projects Ltd, Interpretation and Exhibition Design specialists, are now finalising their graphic designs for the information points, and are about to begin recording for the podcast and the Great Barn audio-visual presentation. Construction of 2 specially-commissioned site models is also under way.

The Museum Service’ education team have been busy consulting with primary schools and secondary schools across the county. Responses have been very positive and bookings are starting to come in.

Events programme

A programme of events for August and on into next year is being put together. To mark the re-opening of Basing House a spectacular Civil War event is being planned for August bank holiday. Watch out for news on that on that soon.

Staff and Volunteers

A new Operations Manager for Basing House has been appointed and will take up post at the beginning of June. Other members of the team will be recruited soon.

It is great to see so many people putting their names forward as volunteers. On May 8th from 2 – 4pm a special meeting for potential volunteers will be held on site. If you wish to find out more about sort of activities that you might become involved in as a volunteer and the training that we can offer please send in your details via the form on our website.

Traffic management

The design for a pedestrian road crossing outside Garrison Gate has now been finalised by the council’s Transport team and a start date for the works will be announced soon. A scheme for tourist road signs has also been approved. These news signs will direct visitor traffic from the ‘A road’ network to our public car park off Barton’s Lane, avoiding Old Basing village.

Coming next…

Recruit remaining staff
Sign up volunteers for training
Sign off final Interpretation designs and begin production
Finalise marketing and communications plans
Receive on-site services – telecoms, gas and electricity
Finalise scheme for The Bothy Tearoom and commission work to begin
Obtain Scheduled Monument Consent for new footbridge over bailey ditch (west side)
Announce date re-opening and admission prices
Finalise and announce plans for launch events

Shooting video for the new museum display

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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:

http://www.bahsoc.org.uk/

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

http://beehive.thisisdorset.co.uk/cbawessex

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

http://www.archaemedia.net/foam.asp

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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