Randall Manor Environs Project

We have confirmed that there is a bay to our new building…but we have more to do to understand the function of the structure. Barn? Storehouse? Tenants house? What seems clearer now, thanks to input from Roger Cockett,  is that we are looking at a late medieval/post-medieval structure.

Discussion on site

The footings are full of worked stone and we have a very convenient source of dressed stone down at Randall Manor. So, we appear to have a late building, mostly timber, on a reused stone and chalk base and with a substantial tiled roof. Last week a large sarsen stone turned up on what must be one of the corners of the structure…and we know we are missing sarsens from the foundations at the Manor too!

Sarcen stone uncovered

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Shorne update: Randall Manor Environs Project

A small group of volunteers continue to dig near the site of Randal Manor. The area has revealed medieval roof tile and now a wall! Could this be an outbuilding for the Manor?

photos courtesy of A.Mayfield
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SWAG detectives uncover a local hero

A medal was recently found while excavating in the park. Upon inspection the details of the person that had been awarded the medal could be seen inscribed on the rim – 2048607   SJT. A. R. Blake R.E.

On the obverse side is the head of King George V1 and on the reverse side ‘FOR BRAVERY IN THE FIELD’. This is the Military Medal for bravery of which only 15,000 were awarded. It had obviously been in the ground a long time as the medal was heavily tarnished.

Could we trace A. R. Blake?

The quest started with an Ancestry search, where we found an Alfred Richard Blake who lived in Gravesend until his death in 2004. Was this the correct person?

We then contacted the Royal Engineers Museum at Gillingham, and they were able to confirm that this was the correct person and that he had been a member of the Gravesend branch of the Royal Engineers Association.

We contacted the Gravesend branch and received a response from them with the information that Alfred had been Chairman of their branch. We asked whether a public appeal could be made, and they put the information out on Facebook where there was soon quite a lot of activity. One lady said that she was a friend of Alfred’s son Alan and volunteered to telephone him on our behalf. We owe her a great deal for her contacting both us and Alan.

Following this, I explained to Alan when and where and how we found the medal. We arranged a meeting with Alan and his brother Robert, where they explained some of the circumstances leading to Alfred’s award.

As part of the XB Operations, the code name for British convoys in WW11, Alfred’s regiment were sent to Holland to blow up fuel depots to stop the supply to German troops. As well as this, they were responsible for getting the Dutch Royal Family to safety and moving gold reserves out and aboard a ship ready to take it to safety. The ship was blown up before this could be done and the gold remained on the seabed until after the war, when it was recovered.

It was a very proud day for Alfred and his family when he went to Buckingham Palace to be presented with his medal from HRH King George V1.

Alfred was rightly proud of his military service, as well as the Royal Engineers Association he was a member of the Dunkirk veterans and the Military League Medallists, for whom he was very proud to be their flag bearer.

Image provided by Alan Blake.

(With thanks to Trevor Bent)

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New Shorne Woods activity: Randall Manor Environs Project

SWAG are exploring another area of Shorne Woods. It’s a newly discovered medieval site. Test pits have revealed an area of buried tile scatter, near the site of Randall Manor. Keep updated with the new work at this site and throughout Kent on Archaeology in Kent Facebook Page.

With thanks to John for this photo

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Clay works air raid shelter

The excavation of the clay works air raid shelter was undertaken in February 2016. The entrance and part of the roof had been demolished and the rubble dropped into the shelter and also the entrance, so access was not immediately possible.

We had to remove the rubble that had been pushed into the shelter, no easy task with the size and weight of some of the pieces, once this was done we were able to start clearing out the interior. This was a much easier task as not too much of the rubble had not been pushed inside and it was mainly soil to be removed.

The above photograph shows where the entrance and some of the roof had been demolished. Some of the rubble that we had taken out and the first of the steps into the shelter are also shown.

The shelter does not look professionally built but it was quite substantial, the walls were between 23 and 28 cms thick. The roof 18 cms. Thick with Iron bars and struts, lined with corrugated iron, making a former for the concrete.

It also shows the remains of the iron sheeting, that covered the roof, for extra strength.

There is an escape hatch, half buried in this photograph that would have been used in an emergency.

The above photograph shows the corrugated iron sheet and iron pipe and angle iron that was used to support the concrete roof. The profile of the corrugated sheet can be seen in the edge of the roof.

Air raid shelters were not built to withstand a direct hit but to protect against shrapnel and debris from a bomb blast.

The clay works was a 24 hour a day, 7 days a week operation so the shelter was probably used quite frequently, first from the bombs being dropped and then in June 1944 the V1 followed by the V2 in September 1944. Some 6,725 were launched, mainly aimed at London but due to the lack of technology their accuracy wasn’t very good and they landed all over Kent. The first V1 landed in Swanscombe on the 13th June 1944, killing 13, wounding 22 and making 150 homeless.

(Thanks to Trevor Bent)

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