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Hampshire excavations # 5

An occasional series covering Hampshire digs large and small; the Greyhound and Albany Hotel sites, 1989 and 1997.


Part of the zoomorphic roof finial (see below). The nose is 70mm across.

Fordingbridge lies just to the west of the New Forest, about 4 km to the south-east of Rockbourne Roman villa. It sits on the west bank of the Hampshire Avon, the river being spanned by a seven-arched stone bridge dating from the 14th or 15th centuries. Fordingbridge functioned as a market centre at least from the 13th century and was the head of a Deanery including Ringwood and Christchurch. Archaeological excavations in the area just to the north of the bridge have revealed a sequence of 13th and 14th century buildings with interesting decorative features, as well as a 17th to 18th century tannery.


Flint wall footings of the earlier (Phase 2) occupation

Hearths and Fires

The first archaeological work, by the Avon Valley Archaeological Society under the direction of Anthony Light, took place in 1989. This followed the demolition of the Greyhound and Albany hotels. The core of the Greyhound had been known to date from the second half of the 17th century. Excavation revealed that this area had been occupied by a small medieval cottage to which a hearth of reddened clay had been added in the 15th century. In the following century the cottage was rebuilt and given an inglenook fireplace. An additional room with a hearth of overlapping peg tile was then added, using the old hearth as a foundation. The house was destroyed by fire, probably in the late 16th century. The Greyhound Inn was built a little before 1663 – a fairly worn Charles I farthing (c.1640) was found in a footing trench – but the building was destroyed in 1672 during a fire which affected much of the town. It was reconstructed two years later, using some of the original foundations. A half-cellar, employing natural springs to cool the stored barrels of beer, was utilised into the second half of the 20th century.


Wessex Archaeology work begins: Phil Harding in attendance.

In 1997 Wessex Archaeology undertook further excavations, with Phil Harding directing the work. One of the three trenches included the footprint of the Albany Hotel, premises which had been rebuilt as tenements in 1879 and documented as the Albany Temperance Hotel in 1881. Excavation revealed an earlier rectangular building of the 13th or 14th centuries with flint foundations. The gable end faced Bridge Street and the substantial structure extended back at least two bays. The archaeological report of 2003 suggests that the unusual siting allowed the owners to collect tolls from traffic using the bridge. These owners were probably of some social standing as the overlying demolition layer contained a fine assemblage of ceramic building material. This included fragments of at least three louvres. The absence of sooting on their interior indicates that they were used for ventilation, rather than the escape of smoke. They all have some green glaze and the fabric suggests that they were produced by the kilns at Laverstock near Salisbury.


The cow reunited with its ear- a leg and other fragments were also found.

Other roof furniture included coxcomb ridge tiles. These are also of Laverstock-type, as was a very interesting find – a ‘zoomorphic finial’ fragment. This relatively realistic representation of a cow’s head would have been attached to a ridge tile. It has applied ears and horns (one missing). Other fragments include a leg and possible tail.


The view from the bridge shows the proximity of the River Avon


One of the ‘barrel pits’ (right)

It has been suggested that the cow finial may have had symbolic value, linking with the later tanning activity. The ‘Albany Hotel’ trench revealed features associated with tanning activity dating to the 17th and 18th centuries. A stone-lined trough with a brick floor contained lime and clay deposits, one of which yielded an 18th century pottery sherd. In addition, four barrel pits were probably used for the immersion of hides in tanning solutions. The animal bone evidence suggests that both cattle hides and sheep skins were processed at the site.

Further reading

A1989.30 & A1997.37 Archives deposited with the Hampshire Cultural Trust

Hampshire County Council 1997, ‘Fordingbridge Archaeological Assessment Document’ in Hampshire Extensive Urban Studies. Online:< http://documents.hants.gov.uk/archaeology/28414FordingbridgeExtensiveUrbanSurvey.pdf>

Harding, P. and Light, A. 2003, Excavations in Fordingbridge, 1989 and 1997: The former Albany and Greyhound Hotel site, Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club and Archaeological Society, Vol 58, pp. 130-176. Online: < http://www.hantsfieldclub.org.uk/publications/hampshirestudies/digital/2000s/vol58/Harding.pdf>

Light, A. 1990 ‘Fordingbridge – Greyhound Hotel’ in Hughes, M.F. [Ed] Archaeology in Hampshire 1989, Hampshire County Council., pp.25-30.

Series by:         Anne Aldis, Dave Allen, Sarah Gould, Lesley Johnson, Jane King, Peter Stone.


Great survivors – the Angel of Andover

When Andover entered into an agreement with the Greater London Council and grew rapidly in the 1960s and 70s, it was promised a new town centre. This massive redevelopment swept away many buildings and even threatened the old Angel Inn at the top of the High Street.  A ‘Save the Angel’ campaign was mounted and most of the structure was saved. Investigations by Richard Warmington and Edward Roberts have confirmed that it is ‘arguably one of the most significant timber-framed buildings in Hampshire’.

Work in progress, June 1969. The Angel is top right, on the other side of the High Street from all the white-fronted buildings.

Work in progress, June 1969. The Angel is top right, opposite all the white-fronted buildings on Upper High Street.                            Photo RAF Andover

In 1414, the rectory of Andover was purchased by St. Mary’s College, Winchester, and brought with it income in tithes, urban land and freehold property in an important medieval cloth-producing centre.  It stood at a crossing of trade routes from London to Salisbury and Southampton to the Midlands and was almost certainly a long-term investment. When the town was devastated by fire in 1434, the College re-built extensively, including the construction of a brand new timber-framed inn.

The half-timbered heart of the Angel

The half-timbered heart of the Angel

In March 1445 the College Warden, Robert Thorbern, entered into a contract with carpenters John Hardynge and Richard Holners for a building consisting of four ranges around a courtyard to be situated on a rectangular plot of land measuring 90’ north to south by 80’ east to west. A separate contract provided for the building of a ‘long house’, probably on a separate site, that would contain kitchens.

Although the Angel was associated with the main contract, published by the College in 1892, other references made no mention of it. Research by architectural historian Richard Warmington (1972) and later availability of other documents, have led to the firm conclusion that the structures specified in the 1445 contract and the Angel Inn are one and the same.

View from the courtyard, showing the gate to the east (and the old London Road)

View from the courtyard, showing the gate to the east (and the old London Road)

The documents include a College ‘chattels only’ listing (1462) and an inventory of Richard Pope, inn-holder, of 1633. The latter shows the inn to have consisted of a hall, parlour, and seventeen chambers, with ninety-one beds! It also refers to fifteen fireplaces. Staff accommodation (hostery) and an innkeeper’s chamber are also noted along with numerous service rooms such as kitchens and cellars and ‘ffyve stables’.

Present day structural evidence points towards substantial alterations between the 16th and 18th centuries, resulting in the excavation of an additional cellar, a gallery overlooking the courtyard behind the east gate, lean-tos and internal partitions, as well as chimneys

These alterations changed the external appearance of the building significantly with demolition of the west range and substantial reconfiguring to most of the south range. The east front, facing the High Street, was re-built probably in 1775, as evidenced by an inscribed brick, when the jettied gable ends of the cross wings were taken down and roofs truncated.

The brick clad east front

The brick clad east front

In 1793 the building was divided into two tenancies with a carpenter occupying it to the south of the gate with access to a timber yard. To the north a brewer took the building now called ‘The Old Angel’. The division is shown on a plan of 1839 when James Grant, presumably the landlord, was the occupier; a carrier named Reynolds held the south range.

The plain walls of the adjacent shopping centre (Chantry Centre) have bbeen enlivened by a host of Hogarthian characters.

The plain walls of the adjacent shopping centre (Chantry Centre) have been enlivened by a host of life-sized Hogarthian characters.

An investigation of 1990/91 showed that the remains of three original ranges contain some interesting features that conclusively support the opinion that the core of the present day building closely follows the specification laid down in 1445. Of particular interest was the scissors brace in the east range hall, which itself had dimensions of 20’ by 30’ in line with the original specification. The northernmost bay of this range contains the arched gateway still in use.

Another survivor is a large chimney-stack, attributed to Thomas Beere in 1449 -50. Also, the 5’ width of a present day closed corridor has led to the conclusion that it is the original ‘oriell’ (open gallery).  The south range contains the remains of a cross wing which mirrors that of the north range. The chimneypiece and stack of this range were removed in the 20th century. The cellars beneath it and the north ranges have dimensions as listed in the 1445 contract.

Of the west range there is no trace.

More 18th century revels

More 18th century revels



Roberts, E (1991) A Fifteenth Century Inn at Andover, Proc Hants Field Club & Arch Soc. Vol. 47 pp 153-170

Series by:  Dave Allen, Sarah Gould, Lesley Johnson, Jane King, Peter Stone

Buried in time – a fulling mill at Beaulieu Abbey

A bird's-eye-view; the estate road separates the 'annexe' from the 'barn'

A bird’s-eye-view during the dig; the estate road separates the ‘annexe’ from the ‘barn’

In the late 1980s the ruins of a building to the north of the original Beaulieu Abbey Church were investigated and excavated by the Hampshire Museums Service; there had been some previous work at the site in the early 1970s. The building, dated by pottery evidence to the 14th and 15th centuries, was known locally as ‘the Wine Press’, presumably because of its proximity to an early 18th century vineyard. However, the nature of the subterranean features and water-logged conditions of the site rule out any connection with wine-making.

Getting to grips with the 'wet end' while Ken Barton discusses progress with Lord Montagu

Getting to grips with the ‘annexe’ while Ken Barton discusses progress with Lord Montagu

The L-shaped complex comprised an east-west orientated barn-like structure and a north-south wing (called the ‘Annexe’ in the report). The survival of the complex after the Dissolution of the Cistercian Abbey, in 1535, may be due to its subsequent use as barn.

The 'wet end' of the annexe; culverts, tanks and channels.
The ‘wet end’ of the annexe; culverts, tanks and channels.

Though much of the masonry was robbed in the 18th century, partial walls of roughly dressed limestone remained. The excavation revealed interesting features such as a 5m square ‘tank’ in the NE corner of the Annexe, containing an arched and capped drain and six rectangular vats. The report calls this area the ‘Wet End’ of the Annexe. A linear mound running north from the building has been interpreted as an aqueduct – the height of the bank being such that water obtained in this way could have driven an overshot wheel.

'After you' excavating the silts from the culvert - the things we do for archaeology

‘After you’ excavating the silts from the culvert – the things we do for archaeology!

Cistercian monks were required to meet all their needs through their own labours and those of lay-brothers, and estate management included industrial processes in addition to agricultural ones. A Beaulieu Account Book of 1269-70 records that there had been a limekiln and brewery as well as a large piggery and vegetable-growing areas.

The arched exit for the culvert

The arched exit to the culvert

The Abbey’s main revenue, however, was derived from wool: its wool exports were so considerable that a large Wool-House (now the Dancing Man Brewery) was built in Southampton in the late 14th century. The processing of cloth also took place at the Abbey – the 13th century Account Book records that there was an early fulling mill where the finishing of woollen cloth would have been carried out.


In later years the Wine Press building may have housed such processing functions. These involved the dampening and stretching of cloth, and water power may have driven falling stocks which beat the cloth mechanically in order to scour and felt it. Formerly, this process would have been done by beating with the hands or feet, or by hand-wielded clubs. Weaving and drying could have been carried out in the large barn-like structure which, incidentally, had been shortened by 10m during its working lifetime.

The limestone sconce - or candle holder.
The limestone sconce – or candle holder.

Among the finds was a limestone sconce, found in the Wet End of the Annexe. This was a bracketed candle-holder, and would originally have been attached to a wall.

A last day 'party' - I think we were just sad that the dig was at at end! or possibly exhausted.

A last day ‘party’ – I think they were just sad that the dig was at at end! or possibly exhausted.


Further reading

Proc Hants Field Club and Arch Soc, 52 (1997), K.J. Barton, R.B. Burns and David Allen, Archaeological Excavations at the ‘Wine Press’, Beaulieu Abbey, 1987-1989, pp. 107-149.

Series by Dave Allen, Sarah Gould, Lesley Johnson, Jane King, Peter Stone, with help from Stacie Elliot.