Although we are not running an ILAFS this week, you can’t keep us in the office when the weather is this nice! We have been digging a couple test excavations in the garden of an amazingly preserved and beautifully decorated 19th century house which has been fascinating to see.
Between 1886-1927, David Parr, artistic painter for the Cambridge based decorating firm F R Leach & Sons lived at 186 Gwydir Street, just off Mill Road in Cambridge. It is safe to say he often took his work home with him. Transforming his ordinary late Victorian terrace into a monument dedicated to the influences of the Arts and Crafts movements with influences from William Morris and others. After his death the house was lived in by his granddaughter Elsie Palmer and her family who did little to alter the fantastic decorations. Thus, this amazing body of work has been preserved and continues to be looked after by the David Parr House CIO charity.
A recent grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund has enabled them to begin conserving and renovating the house, in order to make it in some way accessible to the public. As part of this the David Parr House CIO are looking to do some archaeological work in the garden of the house, before that area is also restored. With such amazing records and preservation of the house, this is a perfect opportunity to carry out archaeology of in a very tightly dated period of use and of a time not often studied; the 19th century.
Prior to a larger archaeological excavation involving the local community, Alison, Cat and Emily dug two 50 cm x 50m test pits in the garden to ascertain how deep the archaeology goes and therefore what scale of excavation would be possible. Finds from these evaluation trenches revealed a few bones, brick and china as well as some tile which looks very similar to that used in the house. A good promise that we will be able to get an archaeological insight into the everyday life of those in the house. This project will hopefully be a great chance to get many more people involved with the investigation and restoration of the house. We’ll spend some time now planning our next steps, and hope to bring you more news about this project in future months.