DISCOVERING THE HIDDEN HISTORY OF RAVENSCOURT PARK
A project in partnership with the Museum of London
Stage two: 2015 – Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund
Given the scale of development works across the borough, undisturbed and accessible sites with this potential are comparatively rare, so the possibility of investigation was irresistible.
Continuing our collaboration with the Museum of London, the Friends successfully applied for a small grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. This enabled us to commission Archaeology South-East, part of UCL, to carry out an archaeological evaluation of the site.
Based on the findings of the geophysical survey, this comprised three evaluation trenches designed to further explore the site of the moat and the house. The dig took place over four sunny autumn days, and both press and public interest was intense. Finds soon began to emerge, and our information stalls – which included maps and images of some of the owners of the manor down the centuries – attracted over 950 enthusiastic visitors. Several schools got in touch, keen to be involved, but this time around resources were limited and reluctantly we had to turn them away.
ASE’s subsequent report pointed out that although the works at this stage had necessarily been limited both in scope and depth, the evaluation had successfully identified remains of the former manor house and revealed evidence that the ancient cellars had survived relatively intact. Brick structures found in the smaller trenches appeared to be a culvert and revetment that were probably related to the early 19th century infilling of the moat. The results broadly corroborated the findings of the geophysical survey. The report concluded that further work should be undertaken, based on this evaluation, which might focus on the site’s medieval and earlier post-medieval past.
Stage two: 2015 was funded by Heritage Lottery Fund
What was found, together with our ongoing research into primary sources, has important implications for Ravenscourt’s future. This confirms that many existing descriptions and histories of the Park and the estate have copied secondary-source errors from one to another. The presence and location of this valuable site will influence Council planning documents and the Park’s management plan.
In discussions with the MOL, we have agreed to go forward with a further grant application to enable us to explore the site at greater depth, involving local schools and the wider community as we do so. These plans, which have the support of Historic England, will not get in the way of the local community’s continuing enjoyment of the Park.