Voyages to the House of
Seventeenth-Century Water Gardens and the Birth of Modern
Closing the Circle... or rather the Octagon
The year 2022 saw two 'big digs'
one at Easter and the other during July, as well as other dates, that
was time well spent on some of the peripheral sites. The complex of
walls to the south east of the main site continued to be baffling,
what can we do but dig and record and think about it all? Meanwhile up
at the library trench we took it down to the likely depth required for
foundations and documented a couple of drains: one early, but undated,
one recent in brown-glazed ceramic pipes. We were also delighted to
welcome several new volunteers to the site some of who were also able
to gain work experience on other commercial projects that came our
The walling beyond the water parterre, cleaned up and drawn after a
little further examination.
We have a number of volunteers over the years who have
contributed artistic efforts towards our understanding of the park
but in 2022 we commissioned local artist and fledgling stone mason
Louise Regan to paint for us her 'fairy tale' vision of the garden ,
based on archaeological evidence, but interpreted in a naive style
seen in other landscapes from the seventeenth century.
Hanwell Park by Louise Regan (2022)
Work on the library trench in the late spring, look at that fallen
blossom around the discovery of an early stone lined drain.
Down on the main site we decided to extend the trenches to the
east and north in order to investigate the position of the outer
edge of the moat surrounding our octagonal island and to do that we
had to get a digger in to shift earlier spoil heaps and remove some
of the upper layers of silting At this point it has to be said that
we remain uncertain about what is happening with the outer
perimeter, again, more work is needed.
The digger digs... so we don't have to.
Here we are on the east side of the island scraping away a winter's
worth of rotten leaves then extending our trench further to the east.
... and then later in the summer going round the bend, literally not
metaphorically, to undertake another extension of the trench, this
time to the north.
Curiously another dog burial, mixed in with destruction rubble was
... and loads more drawing done.
One of our stated objectives was to try and recover more evidence for
the fountain bowl and sure enough another big chunk emerged.
... and that was it, a final burst of recording then the tools get
cleaned up and put away for the winter.
There were a couple of side excursions during the summer for
volunteers seeking work experience: Yasmin on a watching brief in a
churchyard in Warwickshire and Tessa drawing the remains of a
boathouse at the Vyne in Hampshire.