Monday, 18 June 2018

Archaeological and historical group discover medieval history

ANOTHER medieval building has been discovered at the northern entrance to Henley, behind the Palladian front of No 9 Northfield End, also known as the Old Bell House.

Dan Miles, of the Oxford Dendro Laboratory, has once again helped us to get a better understanding of the historic development of this house by dating the timber framed rear wing to 1471.

The aerial view shows what a jumble of roofs is hidden behind the straight classical frontage. The medieval rear wing has smoke-blackened timbers of its former aisled, open hall under a steeply pitched roof.

The dendro dating became possible thanks to a change in ownership. The new owners of the house, who are members of this group, are very interested and commissioned the investigation, recording and dendro works.

The latter was granted-aided by the group and the Oxford Architectural and Historical Society.

This now brings to five the number of medieval houses known to have been built in the 15th century along this stretch of road between the manor of Fillets (now Phyllis Court) and the 12th century planned town.

All are substantial houses of quality, consisting of four to five bays, set parallel to the street — always a sign that there was plenty of room to do so, unlike many of those built on the long but narrower burgage plots in the town centre.

Our two group visits during the summer were much enjoyed.

In June we went to Broughton Castle, near Banbury, and in July to Vintners Hall in London. Both visits were well supported.

The next lectures season starts next month.

On October 3 Liz Woolley will be talking about “Oxfordshire and the Spanish Civil War”. She has an MSc in English local history at Oxford University and is particularly interested in the social, economic and industrial history of Oxfordshire in the 19th and 20th centuries.

On November 7, Tom Walker’s subject will be “Sand at Gwithian, Cornwall: palaeoenvironment, molluscs and archaeology”. He will be discussing the findings of his PhD study of sand dunes in Cornwall at Reading Unversity. Gwithian, on the east of St Ives Bay, has revealed evidence of human presence from Mesolithic to the 20th century tin mining.

December 5 will be the annual general meeting. Refreshments will be followed by members’ contributions.

All lectures are held at King’s Arms Barn at 7.45pm. All welcome, members free, non-members £3.

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