PRE-CONSTRUCT ARCHAEOLOGY
Coin of Flavius Gratianus c.375-383 AD, obverse
 

Listed Buildings & Built Heritage

Strawberry Hill House, Twickenham

Strawberry Hill House

Pre-Construct Archaeology was commissioned by the Strawberry Hill Trust to undertake an archaeological watching brief and limited building recording at Strawberry Hill House, Twickenham, London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. The house is Britain’s finest example of Georgian Gothic Revival architecture and interior decoration and is Grade I listed. It began life in 1698 as a modest house known as Straw Hall and was developed as Strawberry Hill by Horace Walpole between 1749-76. it was extended and altered by Lady Waldegrave in the 19th century. Strawberry Hill Garden, the remains of Horace Walpole's 18th century landscape garden is Grade II* on the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest.

The archaeological watching brief consisted of recording features uncovered following the removal of some internal floors during renovation of the building. Further archaeological investigation was instructed on two trenches excavated during drainage work; one lay just to the south of the house, while the other lay immediately to the north. Five wall elevations at the house were recorded following removal of external render, internal plaster or other wall coverings prior to their being rendered, plastered or covered again The recording comprised written description of the walls; scaled hand drawn elevations, brick fabric analysis and photography.

The external groundworks revealed the partially demolished remains of brick-built culverts dated to the 18th century, one of which fed into a brick-lined soak-away. Similar 18th century red brick culverts were identified throughout the interior of the house. Additional 18th century features included floors, footings and truncated stub walls. These were predominantly dated to Walpole’s occupation of Strawberry Hill House. Evidence of Lady Waldegrave’s redevelopment of the property during the 19th century was limited to pipework and under-floor heating. The earliest identified features included a number of brick floors and walls contemporary with Straw Hall, dated to the very late 17th or early 18th centuries. Natural geological deposits were not encountered on the site. No archaeological features pre-dating the late 17th to early 18th century were encountered during the investigation.

The 18th and 19th century walls recorded as part of the building recording programme showed a number of alterations and changes, including blocked 18th century windows, inserted 20th century doorways and evidence for a 20th century lean-to on the exterior of the building.

The Little Cloister looking south after floor removal, mid to late 18th century 18th century brick built culvert and floor Underfloor heating system comprising of a rectangular brick structure capped with York stone Blocked archway in mid to late 18th century wall Early 18th century circular brick lined feature

Valentines Mansion

A programme of archaeological work was undertaken by PCA at Valentines Mansion a Grade II listed building, Illford, in mitigation of a refurbishment project. The work was part of a continuation of a program of historical and archaeological recording at Valentines Mansion. Work included a watching brief, trial pits, and building surveys.

The watching brief monitored underpinning operations in the library, Servants' Hall outside of the Estate Office within the East Quad and the basement as well as a pipe trench in the port-cochère. The watching brief also included an investigation of a tunnel that extended beneath the Estate Office. Historic building recording was undertaken in the East quadrant (Coal Yard), west quadrant (Butler's Pantry), the Kitchen/Scullery, the Vestibule, the Library, the Morning Room and the Drawing Room.

This work monitored the excavation of a new lift shaft through the floor of the library, the excavation of a new lobby at cellar level, underpinning in the library, and some removals, demolition and general opening-up of areas.

General shot of Valentines Mansion's southern elevation Ground floor plan of Valentines Mansion, red lines indicate investigated areas. Detailed shot of oven door in the Scullery East facing shot of doorway and stud wall 18th century graffiti

Oakwood House, Charleshill, Tilford

Pre-Construct Archaeology Ltd (PCA) was commissioned by Elspeth Beard Architects on behalf of their Client to undertake Level 2 building recording of a Second World War Anti-Tank pillbox at Oakwood House, Charleshill, Tilford, Surrey.

PCA provided advice to the client and liaised on their behalf with the Local Planning Authority to determine the level and nature of any building recording works and to undertake the necessary works to allow the discharge the planning condition.

The pillbox was part of some ancillary buildings, which were located in the grounds of, Oakwood House. The house and its ancillary building are not Listed Buildings, nor do they lie within a Conservation Area.

Three post-war weather-boarded ancillary buildings with clay-tiled roofs were located respectively on the roof off and on the south and south-west sides of the Second World War brick-shuttered concrete anti-tank (AT) gun emplacement/pillbox.

The building recording was required to meet a planning condition imposed by the Local Planning Authority. Planning permission has been granted for demolition of the three post-war ancillary buildings and the smaller chamber (east-west corridor) of the Type DFW3/28 gun emplacement. The gun house of the emplacement is to be retained and incorporated into a new building.

Surviving architectural features in the gun house of the emplacement, together with contemporary documents suggest that the emplacement was built to accommodate a Vickers QF Mark IX 2-pounder AT gun mounted on a Mark II carriage, which would have been deployed to the emplacement in the event of an invasion.

Documentary records held by The National Archives suggest that the emplacement was built during the summer of 1940 as an element of the GHQ Line B defences between Godalming and Farnham, which consisted of a series of defended localities situated at points at which it was anticipated that enemy armour might attempt to cross the River Wey.

The AT pillbox at Oakwood House appears to have been an outlier of the Elstead defences, its location chosen in order to cover a potential river crossing point to the west of the defensive concentration at Elstead. PCA's historical research indicated that the emplacement at Oakwood House was probably built by civilian contract labour working under the supervision of one of a small number of Royal Engineer (RE) units then operating in No. 4 (Bordon and Longmoor) Sector of Aldershot Command.

A number of original fixtures and fittings survived within the emplacement, including flip-up asbestos shutters, fitted to give protection against attacking troops armed with flame-throwers.

Interior view showing gun house portion of Type DFW3/28 gun emplacement and corner slots for gun carriage feet Interior view of precast concrete embrasure with rectangular slot for possible Bren gun mount and <i>in-situ</i> asbestos flap