Sixty Fourth Dig Day – Friday 6th December 2013

A beautiful (cold) sunny day and more cleaning of the site. However, a welcome visit from a volunteer digger we hadn’t seen for a while enabled some more of the flint cobbled surface of the path just beyond the front garden gateway to be excavated. Unfortunately, for various reasons, I did not take any photos – so I have used those taken on previous occassions.

Looking S at cobbled surface N of garden gateway with chalk rubble to right
Looking S at cobbled surface N of garden gateway with chalk rubble to right.

The cobbles had been very roughly laid, indicating rough repairs. A number of rusty metal, small decorated ceramic shards, some bone, and a few glass finds (one decorated) were found from the demolition fill and the path surface on which it sat.

Looking S at 'shed' on E side of cottage
Looking S at ‘shed’ and possible base of a ‘copper’ on E side of cottage.

The above photo clearly shows the roughly paved brick floor of the ‘shed’ on the east side of the house, and the possible base to a ‘laundry copper’ behind it. These structures were both further cleaned up. The possible copper was described following its discovery on 29th September. This enabled further consideration of the circumstantial evidence that the structure which was butted onto by the ‘shed’ was indeed a copper:

  • This structure is of about the right size
  • It is against the outside wall of the 19th century washhouse or scullery
  • Peter Mercer, in The Huns Mere Way, interviewed the last tenant of nearby Cambridgeshire Farm (formerly Hill Cottage) which was similar to Newmarket Farm but a smaller nineteenth century farm labourer’s cottage and barns; it had ‘a copper to which a tap was added later but was never used’
  • The shed, which butted against it was therefore built after it
  • However, the shed was probably contempary with the original building;
    • Its (mostly) brick cobbled floor was very badly laid with a fairly random selection of bricks, broken floor tiles, and stone blocks, at a level slightly below the original floor level, suggesting an original earth floor wore away and was replaced at later stage, and indicating that this structure was particularly old
    • A structure in this location has been drawn on all maps and plans dating back to its original construction
    • It has been recalled that the shed was an integral part of the frontage of the cottage, with the upstairs rooms under the gable fronted roof extending right across its top
    • Therefore shed doesn’t appear to be a later replacement of an earlier structure,
  • And thus, since the shed is likely to be original, this mystery structure is also likely to be contemporary with the original cottage,
  • Many early nineteenth century labourer’s cottages had laundry coppers
  • The Newmarket cottage was too far – a mile and a half and a steep climb – from the nearest alternative laundry facilities in the village of Kingston.
  • Also, no memory of any backdoor, no sign of an steps down to the ground surface about half a metre below it.

No proof, but a lot of evidence points towards its having been the base of a laundry copper for heating water.

Its construction appears to be a form of high quality bungaroosh, such as that of the walls of the cottage. Solid built flint wall faces with strengthening brick quoins at the corners, holding loosely bonded flints. The surviving bulldozer cut top was bonded with a lime mortar concrete, but there are one or two small holes in it through which unbonded, or poorly bonded flints can be seen. Both the wall of the shed and those of the base of the (probable) copper were one brick length wide, half a brick narrower than the cottage walls.

2 replies on “Sixty Fourth Dig Day – Friday 6th December 2013”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s