What links a famous 16th century Archbishop of York and a dedicated band of 21st century archaeologists?
The connection was revealed during a fascinating and enlightening illustrated talk by Sharon Hutton-Mayson at our last meeting. Sharon and her family moved into the Grade 2 listed Edwin’s Hall at Woodham Ferrers, a magnificent Tudor mansion in 2001.
Since then the family has been restoring the home to its former glory complete with wood-panelled walls and a grand staircase.
Although there has been a home on the hilltop site overlooking South Woodham Ferrers for hundreds of years the wooden manor house was replaced by the brick building standing today around 1570 by Edwin Sandys, the Archbishop of York who used the hall as his summer palace for his family.
Since then the home, complete with two moats,, has seen many dramas, including sieges and being used as a makeshift prison for French officers captured during the Napoleonic wars.
So where do the archaeologists fit in to the story? A few years ago the family wanted to replace crumbling garages with a swimming pool. Because the home is a listed building Maldon Archaeological and Historical Group was invited to investigate the site in 2005 and found many artefacts and pottery dating back to the Tudor period. Perhaps they had been used by the Sandys family.
During the Civil War of the 1640s Edwin’s Hall, renamed by the Archbishop, was besieged by Cromwellian troops who smashed down two wings of the manor house during their ransacking
Sharon said this year the archaeologists returned, including yours truly, to try and locate the remains of the smashed walls under the garden lawn. A couple of days later they found the footings, 14 brick courses deep and almost in the moat A Tudor coin was found at the base of the wall. A couple of weeks ago the investigators found a further section of the wall four feet under the grass, lots of pottery dating from the Tudor period and a floor tile.
The family plans to continue its restoration programme on this imposing but hardly known jewel in the county’s crown.
An excellent attendance and after the talk- the discussion