talks were provided throughout 2004 at Burton Court to visitors and
to local WI groups.
The Archaeological Projects Group has organised a programme of talks to take place during the time when all field work is curtailed as a result of the foot and mouth epidemic. The aim has been to provide a wider public insight into our work and also to enable us to gain more understanding of aspects of the projects being undertaken where we lack the expertise to interpret our data or the history we are looking at.
On 19th April we had a most helpful question and answer discussion with Tim about the project to date. The range of work being undertaken was outlined and issues arising clarified. Concerns about the way to deal with the collection of artifacts was raised (some can be researched, and the assemblage given to a local museum, eventually); the problems created by the foot and mouth epidemic were specified and future plans when it was resolved were outlined. Further meetings are planned when the geo-physics data will be interpreted and suggestions about how to proceed in Quinton Orchard will be considered.
On May 3rd David Whitehead came to talk about the Gardens of Burton Court and their significance in the times of the Brewsters and the ways in which the landscape has changed since that time.
He explained the background to the house and estate the known written history of which dates to 1331. A dovecote was referred to in 1388. Another (perhaps a replacement) dates from 1700, although this was demolished in a storm in the early 1990s. Details of its gardens have not been uncovered as yet in the Court Rolls, but he explained that there would have been landscaped gardens in the 17th century when the Brewsters lived there, because they were apothecaries and doctors, who would have used the gardens for herbs and the expansive lands around as possible park-land. The park and pools would have been an important visual feature.
The Brewsters were obviously wealthy people, as early as 1664 he was a resident of the parish and assessed for 7 hearths (the highest in the parish). The extensive library that was built up was dispersed in 1715 to Hereford (subsequently to the chained library) in the Cathedral and Oxford Colleges. Among these were many important gardening books which may well throw light on the way the garden was laid out at Burton Court. The library made Burton Court the finest repository of gardening knowledge in Herefordshire, if not the Welsh border. The likely lay out of the gardens was illustrated by reference to those of other large properties about which there is clear knowledge, for example Langstone Court and Trewyn. David Whitehead speculated that there may have been spectacular water features, a possible bowling green (there is one in his garden in the house he owned in Hereford, the oldest in Britain) and an entrance that was over water. The two ancient sweet chestnuts inside the gates confirm its antiquity. It is likely that as late as c1800 Burton Court was surrounded by formal gardens which fell out of favour in the early 19thc. Careful fieldwork would perhaps confirm some of these suggestions.
THE POTTERY FOUND ON THE MOUND
He said that the assemblage was in good condition, judging from the relatively large size of some sherds and their unabraded state. This suggested that much could well be in its original position. It comprised a good group of early medieval pottery from a region where there have been few such assemblages in the past. All the pottery was cooking pot with evidence of scaling and sooting. Three types were recognised:
Worcester type ware
The dating is assessed as mid to late l2thc and early l3thc. The presence of Cotswold ware is indicative of mid 11th to mid l2thc for some activity on the site and it is a particularly exciting find as it has rarely been seen to date in a rural context. Derek Hurst concluded by noting that the assemblage was a remarkable one and possibly quite important. He showed illustration of the types of pots that the sherds would once have formed and explained how they were constructed and manufactured. He added that the finds probably showed the significance of trade with Worcester (rather than Hereford or Wales) and this was probably related to the fact that the Leominster Priory had special trading links with Worcester, which influenced the trade from Eardisland in that direction also.
BACKGROUND HISTORY TO THE MANOR OF BURTON
In 1278 the institution of the vicarage of Eardisland (Erleslone) by
the Abbey of Lyre (Erleslene has a vicar appointed by the Abbey of Lyre).
LIGHT SHED ON GREAT HALL
CHANGING OUTER LANDSCAPE AROUND BURTON COURT SINCE 1840
David Lovelace is perhaps the only person in the country who is undertaking this kind of analysis so were are very fortunate to have his input into our project. The beauty of this technique is that it enables us to examine in close detail features in the landscape not otherwise clearly visible on the ground. It provides an opportunity to examine the surveying skills of the l9thc cartographers, which proves to be of the highest standard. In some cases trees marked on the tithe map of 1840 are shown by the 1995 aerial photographs to be in their precise spot. This work fits beautifully with that of David Whitehead, so that whilst he can provide indications of what the landscape around Burton Court was like in the 16th and 17thc, the work of David Lovelace shows how its has changed in the 19th and 20th centuries.