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Three aerial images by Tim Doman taken by his drone from 121 metres on 21st May 2018. The foundations of Dagnams so far uncovered can be seen clearly. This is the rear of the house with its central bay facing the lily pond.

This one was taken on 6th July following the June/July drought on 2018 it clearly shows the ground floor layout of Dagnams'

archeologican dig 2 Tim Doman, May 2018.jpg
archeology dig 1 Tim Doman, May 2018 (1).jpg
L-R..G.Dewing, J Pugh, D. Tait, J. Sargent, J. Gregory, B. Bearmen. 11th June 2018. P.Rile

 The Dig Team get to work

A Brief Summary, who, how and when ...........................

Dagnams layout of house.jpg

The dig team members for the House site and east wing consisted of: Belinda Bearman, Gary Dewing, Tim Doman, Jo Gregory, Peter Hadleigh, Rebecca (Becky) Hunt, Ken Lynn, Colin Pettiffer, John Pugh, Peter Riley, Jan Sargent, Cameron Tait, Don Tait and Alan York.

Due to commitments by various members of the dig team it meant that excavating the site of the house and east wing could only be undertaken on two mornings of the week.  Initially this was to be Monday and Friday mornings however after a period of time this was altered to Tuesday and Friday mornings. Work on the house site ceased in March 2020 due to the nation having to adhere to restrictions on movement as set out by the UK government because of the Coronavirus pandemic. In August of the same year work was tentatively restarted on the site of the wing of the house.

Following on from the work that the dig team took part in on clearing the stable block area it was decided to clear the site of the house of vegetation and earth to show the footprint of its outer walls so that members of the public would gain an insight to the size of the building that was once the home to the Neave family from 1772 to 1946.  Since the house being demolished in August 1950 the site had become overgrown with vegetation which in the main consisted of Bramble and Nettle and which in the last few years leading up to when the team started to work on the site had become quite dense which meant that the site itself had become impossible for members of the public to walk through unhindered.

Working with Havering Parks Department, and in particular with Tom Fradd, Parks Officer for Parks and Open Space’s in the north of the borough ( 2014 – 2019) and Taylor Smyth-Richards ( 2020 - ), the dig team commenced clearing the vegetation from the site in July 2017.  Whilst they managed to clear away some of the bramble and prune back some of the tree branches it was found that a different approach to clearing the site would have to be found due to the amount that was there.  It was therefore decided to have the whole site cleared by the local authority with machinery, something that the FODP members had tried to avoid doing but in this instance they had no alternative.

Having had the area that covered the site of the house cleared of all bramble and nettle by Tom Fradd of Havering Parks Department the dig team first broke soil on the site on the east wing of the house. However prior to doing this the team took the time out to clear the area in front of the supporting wall situated between the two white gate posts (and where the steps were on the left of the drive ) leading northwards and the entrance to the stable block and walled garden on the right of the drive which stands opposite the end of the supporting wall.

It was whilst clearing this area it became apparent that there had been a secondary pathway laid down at some point that led off of the main drive and heading towards an entry point on the north side of the east wing.  This pathway is illustrated on the maps of the periods between 1890 and the 1920’s.  Due to the style of construction the dig team drew the conclusion that part of the pathway had been overlaid with a mixture of concrete and shingle and would have possibly have dated from the period when the estate was taken over by the armed forces

during the 2nd World War as other discoveries would later found to be dated from that period

Working throughout the summer of 2017 in an attempt to get as much of the east wing uncovered before the winter months set in the team were able to continue up until 8th December due to the mild weather when, because of the change in weather as well as the approaching Christmas period, the team ceased any work on the site until they resumed back on 19th January 2018.

By the end of the second week of March 2018 the dig team had unearthed the foundations of the west wall of the house ( built between 1772 and 1776) which, when fully uncovered, measured 52 feet (15.8 metres) in length.  They then proceeded to unearth the foundations of the south facing wall of the house.  The full length of this wall was finally uncovered on 16th March and measured 90 feet ( 27.4 metres) from outside ( West ) corner to outside ( East ) corner.  This measurement also took in the bay window area.

On uncovering this side of the house it was found that both corners of the building were constructed with buttresses to give strength to the structure.  Because of this find it was decided to dig around and down on this feature on both corners. When opened and cleared of soil it was found that the foundations at the corners  extended down by nine bricks and extended outwards by two bricks width from the main body of the building.  This gave the measurements at being 2ft ( 0.6096 m ) in depth.

There then followed a three week period of digging out a trench 7 feet in length ( 2.1 metres ) along part of the east wall of the 1772-1776 house in a northernly direction from the south-east corner of the house which eventually exposed the foundations of the house at this point.  At the end of the three week period the dig team had located evidence of where the foundations of the earlier 1665-1667 east wing of that house had been “fixed” to the “new build” of 1772-1776.


However by doing this it only threw up more questions than answers for the dig group to get their heads around.  One of which was how the old and new

Clearing the house site - looking west -  22nd August 2017.jpeg
East wing of the kitchen to the house on the left - east foundation wall of house on right

buildings were married up to become one structure. It became apparent that when building the 1772-1776 house a trench of about four foot (1.2metres) had been cut into the brick foundations/wall of the earlier building to facilitate the building work for the “new” house and had been replaced by a double (brick) width brick wall that joined the two buildings together This was found to be replicated on the north-east corner of the building where the old wing fitted against the new house.

During the spring ( and leading right into the end of June 2018) the weather was good and work continued on the site of the house meaning that work was speeding along however due to the heat that the dig team were encountering on the days that they were in attendance and the fact that the ground that they were working on had become so dry and rock hard it became apparent that work on the house site had to cease until the ground was workable and better cooler temperatures in which the team could work in was had.

From late June and throughout the rest of the summer months the dig team worked in what was at one time the walled garden where they found it easier to clear vegetation and to expose some of the brick remains left over from when the buildings inside the walled garden were demolished.  By doing this it made it easier for the team to take measurements of the Dipping Pond as well as from foundations of a couple of the greenhouses that once occupied the site.

In October 2018 the dig team held a six week exhibition of what they had uncovered in the Havering Museum, High Street, Romford.  Whilst well received by visitors to the museum it showed that there was an interest in local history as on the back of the exhibition numbers of visitors to the dig site, both when the dig team were in attendance and at other times, rose and it was gratifying for the team to see that their hard work in uncovering not only the remains of the house but of the stable area and walled garden as well had interested so many.

Breaking off for the Christmas period and finding that they were hindered by the weather conditions that befell after Christmas and throughout January it wasn’t until 19th February 2019 that the dig team would return to carry on with the work on the house site that they had to leave in June the previous year. Once back on the site of the house the dig team pushed on with uncovering the steps and front entrance to the house as well as starting on the north face of the East wing where it joined the Neave house.  In October 2019 the dig team turned their attention to going back to where they had started in 2017 and carrying on clearing  earth from the eastern side of the east wing near to the supporting wall.  It was felt that this was needed as it would provide a “directional point” for the team for when they resumed their dig on the north face of the wing itself.

Between their restart in October to having to cease work within the nature reserve in March 2020 due to the restrictions placed on the populace by the UK government because of the Coronavirus outbreak that was sweeping around the world and the UK the dig team, now joined in their ranks by Colin Pettiffer, were able to uncover the eastern wall of the old wing of the house as well as an outside floor area. 

Dig Update Manor House incl East Wing 2019

dagnams drone image tim doman in drought 6-7-18.jpg

Click Photo to enlarge


Dig Aug 2023
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