Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Tudor’

Dave Allen, Keeper of Archaeology at Hampshire Museums service writes…

A current project at Basing House is the provision of a ‘viewing platform’ on the crest of the Norman ringwork and during a recent visit to look at the foundation pits for the platform supports I was ‘presented’ with a splendid example of a Palaeolithic handaxe, found in the associated service trench. 

When the works project manager called me to say it was a good time to take a look he mentioned that one of his team had found a flint handaxe.  As lumps of flint are common at Basing and handaxes are rare in northern Hampshire I had my doubts, but it turned out to be an absolute peach of an example (see photo). It’s a roughly hand-sized tool about 13cms long and the working edge, around most of the circumference, is still very fresh. The whole axe has a white ‘patina’ from being buried in chalky soil but the flint would originally have been grey in colour.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Handaxes like these belong, of course, in the Old Stone Age or Palaeolithic.  They were the multi-purpose tools of our earliest ancestors and can date back as much as half a million years.  There have been a few Middle Stone Age flint finds at Basing before, but they go back only 10,000 years, so this new discovery is a fantastic reminder of a time when small groups of humans roamed the landscape hunting woolly mammoth, wild horses, reindeer and aurochs.

 And then….

A couple of weeks after the handaxe discovery at Basing House, the call came through that another unusual find had been made at the site.  Those familiar with the place will know that what is missing at Basing is the ‘House’.  When Oliver Cromwell and his forces took Basing in a final assault in October 1645, and trashed what had once been ‘the greatest of any subject’s house in England, yea larger than most of the King’s palaces’ Parliament compounded the episode by declaring that anybody could take away brick and stone from the ruins ‘and keep it for their pains’.  This invitation to treat the site as a quarry was taken up with gusto, and only the Great Barn survived intact.

Most of the foundations remained, however, and many of these were revealed during the excavations of the 1880s to carved stone head1910.  In exploring floor levels and cellars, Lord Bolton’s gardeners found numerous architectural fragments, some of which – like the stone corbels featuring sculpted human heads  (see photo) – were actually built into the walls of the ’Bothy’, the small house constructed at the time as the site museum.  No detailed study of these fragments has yet taken place, although it is hoped that this omission will be remedied soon.  

Tudor fireplace

The news that an in situ fireplace had come to light was therefore of considerable interest.  Brickwork conservation is a constant theme at Basing and the ravages of the two hard winters we’ve experienced recently have required a good deal of remedial work.  This particular section of loose brickwork was near to the location of the viewing platform and it had clearly been built against an interior wall – a plastered wall – although it’s difficult to be certain just when.  Some modifications took place during the life of the building, some at the death, when the defences were strengthened, some after the Restoration, when the area was probably turned into a garden, and some following the excavations a century ago.  The fact that the wall removed was very ‘rough and ready’ make it a candidate for the most recent of those potential episodes, but it is built on firmer foundations that may well be of 17th century date.  Be that as it may, the fireplace is undoubtedly of 16th origin, probably of Caen stone.  We will be looking through the fragments we have in store to see if there is anything to compare.

Another mystery is just what did the fireplace serve?  The perimeter wall, the plastered wall, has quite definite returns to both east and west (putting the fireplace at the centre).  It also has a series of fixing holes suggesting that it was originally covered with oak panelling, but there is no clear indication of how far the room extended into the interior.  We may well be able to investigate the area in a little more detail during the summer.  If any of the floor level associated with the hearth remains in situ, then perhaps a basic sequence can be established.

Forthcoming Excavations

From 22nd July to 11th August the University of Southampton Archaeology Department, working alongside Hampshire County Council Museums Service and volunteers from the Basingstoke Archaeology and History Society,  will be running a training excavation at Basing House for undergraduate and postgraduate Archaeology students.  The team will be expanding on a recent geophysical survey of the grounds, as well as re-excavating trenches not investigated since 1962  and carrying out an extensive building survey of the remains of the Old House.

On Tuesday and Thursday afternoons during the excavation, the archaeologists will be running free drop-in sessions (normal admission charge applies) including: An Introduction to Osteo-archaeology, Geophysics for Beginners, and New Recording Techniques for Archaeology, and lots more! Why not come along and see how the dig is going, and try your hand at archaeology?

For more information about the work of  University of Southampton Archaeology Department at Basing House see their blog.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Apologies to all our readers that it’s been so long since the last update. With only 7 weeks to go before Basing House re-opens for “Preview fortnight” on 14th August this is an incredibly busy time for the team. The good news is that although there are a thousand and one things still do the project remains on track.  

New Operations Manager joins the staff

The big news is that Basing House now has its new Operations Manager! We welcome Claire Capel into her new post and wish her every success. We look forward to working with her. Claire will do her best to meet as many local residents as she can in the coming weeks.   

Construction and Conservation

On the construction side highlights of the past few months have been the completion of the new tile roof on the Little Barn and all of the ‘first fit’ electrical work, the laying of limecrete floors in the Learning and & Community Centre, the completion of the toilets at Garrison Gate and the museum, and the start of work on the new museum space. Villagers will have noticed too that our new tourist road signs have been installed.   

New roofs…

...and new floors…

Services

From next week and for several weeks there is likely to be some disruption to traffic on The Street and Basing Road while a new broadband service for the village is installed, and also the new road crossing at Garrison Gate and water supply for Basing Grange. The County Council will do it all it can to minimise disruption but ask residents to be patient while this essential work is carried out, or find alternative routes.   

Volunteers

An introductory meeting for prospective volunteers was held on Saturday 8th May, which was attended by 21 people including some existing Friends of Basing House.  

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 the ‘Future Plans’ page of our website.  There will be another introductory meeting at Basing House on 10th July.  Induction for new volunteers will start at the beginning of August.   

Marketing

Behind the scenes the main emphasis now is on putting the marketing plan into action. Look out for changes to our website very soon. There will be lots of new information on display, for example about our new opening times, admission prices, and forthcoming events.   

A new tourist sign

Interpretation & Exhibition

Exhibition consultants PLB Projects are putting the final touches to all the graphics for the site information points and these will go into production very soon. Also progressing well is preparation of the sound track for the Great Barn audio-visual presentation and of the site models. Meanwhile the Museum Service’s own exhibition team is forging ahead with putting together the new museum display.   

August Bank Holiday – a date for your diary!

The centrepiece of the celebrations to mark our re-opening will happen on August Bank Holiday weekend, when there will be whole series of exciting things going on both on-site at Basing House and on Basingstoke Common next door.  Highlights will be two magnificent (and fierce!) Civil War battle re-enactments performed by The Sealed Knot telling the story of the long sieges and final dramatic downfall of Basing House to Oliver Cromwell’s Parliamentary army on the fateful morning of 13 October 1645.   

The Sealed Knot in action!

The Sealed Knot in action!

Look out for more information coming on our website shortly.

Read Full Post »

So what’s next at Basing House?

With less than a year to go before we open next summer the team are already feeling the pressure and are busy working on a number of things that need sorting out soon.

For example interior designs, catering, events planning, finalising the scripts for information panels and audio guides, designing the new museum, tourist road signs, teaching resources, recruiting new staff and volunteers, and yet more fundraising.

Watch out for our next update!

Just for fun:

In the meantime, here are some images of just a few of the fascinating objects found at Basing House:

Charles I Sixpence

Charles I Sixpence

Tudor Rose Floor Tile

Tudor Rose Floor Tile

Stoneware Bottle

Stoneware Bottle

Carved Stone Head

Carved Stone Head

Read Full Post »

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!

Groundworks

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.

 

 

Read Full Post »

Hello and welcome to the new Basing House project blog!

In future posts we will bring you news of the project as it develops between now and the big relaunch next summer – plus some stuff we hope you will find interesting about this fascinating historic site, and some of the challenges we’ve faced and how we’ve decided to tackle them.

Elizabeth I visiting Basing House in 1601

A bit of background…

Recognising the great importance of Basing House and the vulnerability of some of its remains Hampshire County Council bought the site in the 1980’s to preserve it and to allow it to be enjoyed and studied by all.

Although parts of the site have been open to the public for many years (during the summer months only) we have lacked resources to provide the first class facilities that Basing House and its visitors deserve,  from basics like on-site refreshments and good toilets to a range of aids that will help schoolchildren and families – indeed people of all ages and backgrounds – to learn about the tremendous history of the site.

Achieving these long-held ambitions has now been made possible by generous grants from the County Council itself, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Basingtoke & Deane Borough Council, Renaissance South East and the Friends of Basing House.

Our Ambition

We feel sure that anyone who is already familiar with Basing House and its stories will, like us, love its natural beauty, treasure its historic remains and be enthralled by its great stories. Our aim is to share this gem with more people – encouraging them to visit, helping them to learn in new ways about the people who lived there and the dramatic events that happened, and providing them with the facilities and services that will make them want to come again  – and tell their families and friends and about it too!

For more information about the history of Basing House and future plans visit our website: www.basinghouse.org.uk.

Read Full Post »