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Archeological Dig Site progess update
    House East Wing            August 2023

The dig now in its 8th year, has concentrated for the past two years on the East Wing of the Manor house.

(Participating in the excavation - TomasAnderson/ Seraphina Bowers/ Peter Marsano/ Murial Morley/ Peter Riley/ Cameron Tait/ John Woods/ Alan York)


It was meant to be just a test trench to find the east wing of the recently discovered cellar. But as we dug ever deeper, way past what expected, we did not find the cellar, but much to our surprise, the remains of Tudor foundations and culvert. From the photographs you will see a 20 foot long culvert (Below Left). This assumed carried away waste water. We knew from our research that Dagnam Park or Dagenhams as it was then known, had large Tudor origins, but to date we had not found a single trace of proof.


Fortunately, we had knowledge of similar culverts from other Tudor buildings, in particular Marks Hall near Coggeshall in Essex. Their friends group produced an excellent archaeological report revealing such culverts and low walls, strikingly similar to Dagnams.

Dagnam Park in this period had a moat surrounding the main hall and out buildings ( see the 1633 estate map on our web site) We were able to put a camera down the tunnel, which revealed how far away from the house it stretched and most likely drained into the moat.

The photographs clearly show how the culvert was blocked off at one end. This indicates that the Culvert would have continued outside of the east wing travelling due south. The south facing wall displays the cemented repair infill of brick and rubble.

Just above the infill you may observe that the brick line is at a 90 degree transverse angle (See Pic Right). It could be concluded that this was the start line for the second house rebuild that diarist Samuel Pepys visited in 1665. He helped arrange a marriage between Jemima Montague and Philip Carteret, off spring of his close friends (see Samual Pepys Diary entry)

The very large gap in the east wall brickwork was the result of the nearby tree roots pushing the bricks away, a lesson to all to not let any tree grow too close to your house!


Look back at the site photographs, and see the low wall leading away from east wing, this could either be an internal wall, however it lacked any foundations, built only on clay, so it is doubtful it was load bearing. It is possible though, it could have supported rafters for a post Tudor floor? More digging is required to confirm either of these theories.

On the subject of wall foundations, the Tudor east wall that the culvert goes through has a two inch high foundation of wood. It remains preserved, as it sits in the water table level, the moisture has blackened the wood, but it’s still perfectly preserved. A small sample was cut out and is kept in a water filled jar. It is hoped that at some point, one of the highly funded universities or museums could test and carbon date it.

HOWEVER, before it is forgotten, where is the east wing of the cellar? 

During recent restorative building work to the cellar steps support walls, the elusive cellar east wing wall was uncovered, (See Pic Right) sadly it had to be covered over again, but will be revealed and recorded again during a later dig. Watch here for more about the Cellar Steps. 

Finally, the east wing site has provided a bevy of exciting finds not found before whilst uncovering the Georgian west wing. So far, we have two Tudor gaming tokens called Jettons (See Pics Below), also three 17th century penny smoke pipe bowls; these were usually discarded by snapping in two. Many of the stems also found. Much broken ceramic pieces, but by far the biggest amount of finds are oyster, cockle and whelk shells, too many to count! I think we

can confidentally state, this was the cooking and food storer area !

Above ''Penny Smoke'' Pipes found 

Above Hans Schultes Jetton found by Tomas, dating sometime between 1553 - 1612

Above Jetton found by Cameron is believed to be a "Lion of St Mark" Jetton dating between 1580 and 1608

Tomas finds a part of a ''Penny Smoke'' Pipe

Some of the many Oyster Shells found

To date, we’ve no clear prints of how Dagnams looked during the Tudor period, please view the below photograph showing the National Trust building; Grays Court in Oxfordshire. Notice its similar three gabled frontages. By inspecting the previously mentioned 1633 Dagnam estate map, using a magnified viewer, such gables can just be seen.


Click Photo to enlarge



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