2017 - E.W. Pugin didn’t not build all of the Granville Hotel
(Ramsgate, Kent)

Granville Hotel
The Granville Hotel today (SW view)

The destroyed part of the Granville Hotel, built by Edward Welby Pugin (and others), required a desk-based assessment prior to planning permission. Extensive shapeless ruins survived within the site, so an external walk-over and map-regression exercise was carried out to make sense of these. The examination of historic topographic records and secondary documentary sources showed that the remains supported the concert and banqueting halls, demolished in 1983. Documentary research demonstrated that these buildings were the work of a lesser figure than E.W. Pugin; this introduces more freedom into the proposed development than might have been the case. The Hotel has now however become the subject of a funding drive by CEO Heritage Lab CIC to create a new ‘creative centre’ (2020).

2014 - The Ramsgate Dry Dock; Smeaton or Rennie?
(Ramsgate, Kent)

‘Ice House’ dry dock
The ‘Ice House’ dry dock and its surroundings in the 1950s
(© KCC)

Conservation of this dry dock (traditionally thought to have been built by the engineer John Smeaton in 1788) required a desk-based assessment for Thanet District Council. A survey allowed comparison of the dock with unpublished sources in the Royal Society Library and the Institute of Civil Engineers. The analysis of these previously unexamined records showed that Smeaton’s dry dock was entirely replaced under the supervision of John Rennie senior in the period 1815-1817, the original having seriously deteriorated. The replacement occurred in tandem with sluice reconstruction and improvement to the Basin Cross Wall. The construction of the Morton Patent Slipways in 1838 meant the Dry Dock eventually fell out of use. A presentation was made at Queen’s College Cambridge during the Construction History conference (2018). This research is now available to researchers - Samuel, M.W., (2018), "The Ramsgate Dry Dock: Smeaton or Rennie?, A Developmental History" The Proceedings of the Fifth Conference of the Construction History Society, pp 327-44

2014 - More Thornhill frescoes at Bower House?
(Havering, Essex)

Bower House
The Garden front of Bower House, Havering
(© Ramboll)

Application for proposed ‘enhancement of accommodation’ in this early work of Flitcroft (1729) required a methodical archaeological re-assessment of fabric. This building contains a cycle of Thornhill frescoes on the main stair. Many unrecorded interventions have been carried out, despite protracted and high-level listing (Grade 2*). Further paintings may survive behind panelling in the ground Floor. Other intriguing survivals include traces of Regency wallpaper in the Ballroom, as well as the doorways to lost close-stool closets from the Back (servants’) Staircase. It has always been held that a medieval hunting lodge was demolished to provide stone for the house, but on what authority is unknown. The presence of re-used medieval building stone in the walls of the wine cellar shows that there might, as is often the case, be substance to the legend!

2014 - The George Inn – old or new?
(Great Missenden, Berkshire)

George Inn
The George Inn, Great Missenden
(© Amplio Developments)

A grade-2 listed medieval timber-framed inn and ‘barn’ were examined over the course of a week, in advance of planning negotiations by a major consulting firm on behalf of the developers. The date of the ‘medieval’ inn was in question. There was a surprising outcome - the ground floor of the inn had in the course of centuries been almost entirely replaced by later fabric. In contrast, the first floor remains a medieval timber-framed house of outstanding quality. A ‘Barn’ to the north was a stable block at ground-floor level. Documentary records hint that the first floor of that structure in fact served as a manorial court. It is likely that the two surviving buildings on the property represent surviving parts of a rectangular courtyard manorial house. The house developed into a major inn; but few if any medieval inns can be regarded as ‘purpose-built’. It was normal for a house (in this case of high status) to be adopted to the role.

2013 - ? Vanbrugh’s barn discovered at Stowe school

Vanbrugh-period brickwork
Vanbrugh-period brickwork emerged from below many layers of plaster
(© Stowe House Preservation Trust)

An overlooked building on the fringes of the complex was in 2013 adapted to form new teacher accommodation; having performed a variety of other roles. Stowe House has long been known to show Palladian influence: the Venetian architect Palladio designed several villas with integrated farm buildings and it seems that the English architect Vanbrugh took him as inspiration. AA worked in attendance with the builders and the complex history of the building soon became apparent. There seems little doubt that it was originally a barn, being one of two barns within symmetrical farmyards that once flanked Vanbrugh’s huge house. Gates for carts, a threshing floor and an array of simple but beautifully-proportioned brick windows were provided to this end. An early birds-eye-view (1722) has long been thought to be an accurate record of the House. This now proves unlikely; it seems more probable that the ‘Gough drawing’ was a presentation drawing including several features never actually built. Alternatively (like the first-floor of the ‘barn’) they were added at a later period.

2012 - Throwing Hitler’s forces back into the sea with fire
(Ramsgate, Kent)

Wartime image of Pegwell Bay
Wartime image of the defences of Pegwell Bay (John Guy)

Sea anti-flooding defences were funded by Central Government in 2011. Any documentation concerning the wartime defences of Pegwell has yet be located (many Invasion defence records probably fell foul of post-war archive ‘rationalisation’) Aerial photography and comparative analysis have however allowed lost surrounding defensive infrastructure to be reconstructed on plan. A mysterious extant concrete structure has been recognised as a forgotten WW2 fougasse (flame defence). A panoply of defensive infrastructure otherwise survives, including anti-invasion bollard defences, in the vicinity. Analysis of historic aerial photography illustrates that the revetted concrete structure apparently contained stacked oil drums. These most likely held a petrol/gas air mix distributed by a pump in a sunken pump room. Multiple feed pipes were used to distribute the inflammable mix along a massive structure of scaffolding that stretched kilometres towards Richborough Harbour. The subject was considered for inclusion in a series of ‘Coast’ (BBC) and a lecture was given by Mark Samuel on the topic at a Thanet Archaeology Trust conference (2014).