Fire and Iron - our site & story

Fire and Iron is based on a site that has many facets and many stories to tell.

'Rowhurst', Lucy Quinnell's house opposite Fire and Iron, has three main builds. Two of these have been dated by dendrochronology to 1346 and 1632, and one pre-dates 1346 and is currently being investigated - we are trying to prove that the pre-1346 'semi-basement' is the missing minster church from King Alfred's will in the 800s. A pre-Roman gold coin was found on the site in 1960. Numerous exhibitions, lectures and open days have taken place to explain the house and its place in historic Leatherhead.

Lucy has done a great deal of geneaological research over three decades, revealing an interesting insight into the history of a craft from the 1500s and the social history of America, India and the UK from the 1700s. Aspects of this story are highlighted for special events, such as a display at Loseley House in 2010.

Fire and Iron's site is ecologically significant and is managed organically to protect its abundant wildlife. Woodpeckers, Great Crested newts and endangered flora are often seen by visitors.

In 2011, Lucy headed the campaign to 'Save Teazle Wood' - a 57 acre woodland (including an Ancient Woodland) that was marketed as land with development potential. The woodland was purchased in July 2012, and is managed as a Site of Nature Conservation Interest with gentle community access for therapy, conservation activity, education and social benefit. www.teazlewood.org.uk

Lectures on the various aspects of Rowhurst, Fire and Iron, Teazle Wood and blacksmithing are given by Lucy Quinnell - on site to small groups and off site to WI, Rotary, Probus, U3A, specialist organisations, colleges, etc. Fees are donated to support the education and improved living conditions of children in India, Friends of Teazle Wood and The Jinny Quinnell Memorial Trust (palliative care and travel scholarships for blacksmiths).

I have promised to keep some of our visitors updated re. progress on the research into the 'semi-basement' - here is the current draft:

 

Resolving Rowhurst

The ‘semi-basement’

November 2016

Introduction

As a home and workplace, ‘Rowhurst’ has been owned and occupied by my family since 1932. I am 50, and have known it all my life; I have lived here full-time as the owner/occupier since 1990.

Intrigued by the history of this Grade II* building since I moved here, I have done a great deal of research over the past 26 years, I have participated every year in Heritage Open Days (a great spur to follow specific lines of enquiry) and I commissioned a dendrochronological survey in 2005. Time has flown, and I realise that if I don’t consolidate and present the information I now have in my possession, like all these things it may fade away and not be available to future interested parties.

The house in its current form was in poor condition in 1932 (and records describe its poor condition (“ruinous”, even) as early as the 1700s); it has been ‘patched up’ many times, but now requires a very careful and intelligent approach to what will be a long-term programme of restoration and conservation.

I have identified a highly-experienced listed building surveyor to help me understand what should be done and in what order, but before I embark on establishing how the building should be restored and conserved, I need to know what I am trying to restore it as. This, in my opinion, depends on establishing a clearer picture of its history – for example, restoring the semi-basement as part of a family home is very different from restoring it as the remains of an Anglo-Saxon church that experts and the general public might be very interested to see on an ongoing basis; I need to know what it has been in order to decide what its future is.

“Anglo-Saxon church”? At the moment, I have no idea whether Rowhurst has any firm connection to Leatherhead’s missing minster church which is in King Alfred’s will (c. AD 885), and which is thought to be ‘lost’ in the Pachesham area of modern Leatherhead, where Rowhurst is centrally located in the original Pachesham manor demesne. However, archaeological finds, the atypical architecture of the flint semi-basement, the evidence in historical records and the geographical position of Rowhurst on a high ridge between two streams, combine to make it a plausible candidate.

I set out in March this year to more actively prove or disprove the church theory. With expert and amateur input, we now reach November with a greater collection of theories than we started with. The purpose of this document is to start to list the theories – however ‘wild’ or basic some might seem – and present in very simple form the evidence for each one, in order that we have something assembled and concise to show to new experts with interest in relevant fields, and so that we can pursue further or discard each or all of them.

My instinct is that Rowhurst is not straightforward, and that the current ‘house’, now dated in its two main builds to 1346 and 1632, is obscuring a much older story. Whether that story includes any or all of the elements that have been discussed this year remains to be seen, but I am determined to investigate this as far as I can while the property is in my care.

The current suggestions for an earlier history of Rowhurst, based largely on inspection of the semi-basement when combined with local evidence, include:

Roman temple

Cult room

Roman funerary tower/mausoleum

Roman bath house

Anglo-Saxon church

Anglo-Saxon royal vill

Court house

Burh

Saxon/Norman tower

Medieval hall

Medieval dovecote

Carolean undercroft

A combination of two or more of the above at different times

(The history from 1712 is fairly clear)

I will now expand on each of these.

 

Roman Temple

This was proposed because the semi-basement is strikingly square (20’ x 20’ internally, c. 25’ x 25’ externally), and we were debating with Heritage Open Days visitors buildings in history which have tended to be square in shape.

A Roman temple was suggested (or at least that the current semi-basement was built on the foundation of a Roman temple).

People did settle in the immediate vicinity in Roman times. A pre-Roman coin was found in Rowhurst’s garden in 1960 – a gold British Q blank on one side and with a stylised horse and chariot design on the other (Southern/Atrebatic).

A ‘Roman Building’ is shown on a MVDC map, approximately 740m west-northwest of Rowhurst . A Celtic bronze roundel was found here; this is of the type found elsewhere on Romano-Celtic temple sites. See following link for more details:

http://pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=397205#aRt

Roman pottery was found in a test pit in Rowhurst’s garden.

A Roman key was found just inside adjacent Teazle Wood in 2016.

3 small folded lead pieces were found along the top of the ridge from Rowhurst (into Teazle Wood) in 2013, and these appear to be Roman curse tablets.

Several large, thick terracotta tiles and narrow bricks have been found under and around Rowhurst to date. These are not from the existing standing building. Date of these tiles and bricks to be confirmed.

Roman tiles were found close to ‘The Mounts’ medieval moated manor site (Scheduled Monument), approx. 700m south-west of Rowhurst.

Ashtead Roman Villa is approx. 2.5km north-east of Rowhurst.

 

Cult Room

Strong similarities have been noticed between Rowhurst’s semi-basement  and Lullingstone Roman Villa’s cult room / house-church (see below – courtesy ofHistoric England; illustration by Peter Dunn/Richard Lea)

It may also be relevant that Rowhurst’s semi-basement is built into a slope, with a building platform higher up beyond it on the top of the ridge. Lullingstone was built into a slope, with a temple-mausoleum higher up beyond it (later incorporated into a chapel).

**We do not yet know whether Rowhurst’s semi-basement was always half underground, or whether it was above ground and the ground level built up around it (more so on the south-eastern side) over many centuries**

 

Roman Funerary Tower/Mausoleum

This has been suggested because of the size and depth of the flint foundations of the semi-basement. These are very substantial (flint does not occur on the London Clay site, so it has been imported) and two eye witness accounts (the late Don Davy, and Richard Quinnell) report that when the outside steps were created for the semi-basement in the 1960s, the flint foundation went ‘out and out and down and down’. RQ states that the foundation went down a further 2 metres from the current bottom of the semi-basement steps and the bottom had not been reached, and Don Davy’s report to us a few years ago backs this up – he said that they went down 15’ from current ground level and still didn’t find the bottom of the splaying flint foundation. This is a mighty foundation, and perhaps suggests that whoever built it was planning to put something major on top of it – hence the various ‘tower’ theories.

Did the Romans even have funerary towers in England?

The five ‘niches’ and the arches inside the semi-basement are striking, and correspond in some ways to mausoleum niches. The large flint niche in the north-eastern wall is certainly ‘body-sized’ (see attached niche details).

 

Roman Bath House

This was suggested again because of the squareness of the semi-basement.
 

Three observations may be relevant here:

1.      The ‘plumbing’ of Rowhurst’s site is interesting, with three wells and a damp patch in the current car park which may relate to spring activity. The semi-basement fills with water if the pump fails.

2.      Rowhurst had a semi-circular patio extending from the house when I moved in – this shows in old photographs and was definitely in place before 1932. Whilst I strongly suspect it was simply the work of a keen ornamental gardener in the early 1900s, it is something of an oddment for a rural house, and just may have been inspired by an existing anomaly in the landscape. Roman bath houses often had a semi-circular room at one end.

3.      We found a very odd complex of tightly-built terracotta remains 20 metres south-east of the eastern corner of Rowhurst, up the slope. This reminds us of the layout of Angmering’s Highdown Roman Bath House, with its ‘east sump’ – what was a Roman sump like, and is there any possibility at all that this terracotta structure could have been associated with a bath house? (See illustration showing Highdown Roman Bath House)

Anglo-Saxon Church

Many expert and amateur historians and archaeologists have concluded that the minster church listed in King Alfred’s will lies lost in the northernmost part of Leatherhead, which was once the ancient manor of Pachesham.

The church was associated with a royal vill, so we can assume that there would have been a complex of buildings – church, manor house, courthouse, buildings to accommodate collected tithes, etc.

By Domesday, the church land was attached to Ewell manor, and held by Osbern de Ow. Godalming minster had the same history as Leatherhead minster – it was, like Leatherhead, one of the five listed in King Alfred’s will; it then disappeared, and its foundation has now been located and it measures 6m x 12m. A description on the website www.ladywellretreat.org.uk reads:
“We know that there was an Anglo-Saxon settlement in Godalming in the late 6th and early 7th century. Because of the Anglo-Saxon belief that evil spirits or even human enemies would not cross water, the settlement was situated at the bottom of the present Holloway Hill. The ground was raised here and was bordered by the Rivers Wey and Ock. The rise of land behind Holloway Hill afforded perfect protection and the broad sweep of land in front down to the river gave good pasture and grazing land. Woodland surrounded the settlement and it was in that woodland that the Anglo-Saxons built their shrine to the God of War – Tew or Tiw, hence we have the name Tuesley in use today.
The general geographical location of Godalming minster is striking similar to Rowhurst’s geographical location (see the LiDAR map provided by volunteer Keith Lelliott, and my sketch), and perhaps resembling even more closely the ‘Roman Building’ site near to us in Oaklawn Road.

‘The Mounts’ – the site of a medieval moated manor – is not the original manor house site for Pachesham, but rather was active from the 1200s-1400s.

So where are the original manor house, church and associated buildings?

Could Rowhurst and its site be the original lost royal, religious and legal centre of Pachesham? If not, what other candidates are there?

Rowhurst is located very centrally in the demesne of Pachesham Manor – were manor houses usually central to their corresponding land, or did they tend to be at the edges, or is there no pattern?

In 2015-2016, volunteer Nigel Bond did a great deal of research into the history of the Pachesham land, and especially the 40 acres associated with the church. He concluded that Rowhurst and land in Teazle Wood were viable candidates for the 40 acres, and therefore possible candidates for the minster church site.

As late as 1842, the Tithe Map shows a very large barn to the west of Rowhurst house, and another narrow tall barn at 90 degrees to the northern end of the main barn, forming an ‘L’ with the main barn. This no longer exists. The plan diagram on the Tithe Map shows what appear to be two large entrances to the main barn. This substantial building with its two entrances looks very like a tithe barn/monastic grange barn, but at this stage its age is unknown. I would imagine that an Anglo-Saxon tithe barn would not have survived until 1842, but perhaps the 1842 barn might have been a successor to an earlier barn or barns on the same footprint?

Rowhurst’s garden features a very large man-made building platform, up the slope from the house and right on the top of the ridge. We have found a packed chalk ‘corner’ here (whilst burying the cat!).

It is worth noting here that all over the Rowhurst site, at a depth of a few inches, there is a very obvious layer of chalk and terracotta fragments with burned black fragments (charcoal, I think, but it is slightly ‘glassy’). These are very obvious and evenly spread, and the black is not a film/layer, but individual scattered pieces. The chalk and terracotta pieces are clean and not charred at all.

Some of the very large tiles have been found in or very close to this part of the garden.

Older maps show a very large pond (bigger than the house footprint) close to the north-eastern wall (approx. 17 metres from the house).

I also noticed a very striking M-shaped road to and away from Rowhurst on John Rocque’s map of Surrey (1762). This is still discernible ‘on the ground’. What does this suggest? The Common Land starts immediately beyond this ‘M’ – might it be defensive, or to ‘funnel’ people, produce and animals into a centre for collecting tithes? Or is it a later feature? (See Rocque map – attached).

** A plain Byzantine altar cross has ‘always’ been in my house, used as a door stop, etc. No-one in my family knows where it came from. It may have come back with my grandfather from the Middle East in World War II. It is just possible that it was found on site, so worth mentioning. It looks very old but appears to me to be brass rather than bronze, and I know the history of brass is complicated.**

Rowhurst’s semi-basement could be read as ‘church-like’ – the arches are at a strange height in the wall, and I wonder whether they are windows of the type seen in many early churches – the internal height of one of the arches is 54” – probably just too short to have been a doorway, but similar in size, again, to the arched window recesses in many early churches I have looked at. I have sketched the flint and brick south-east facing wall of the house as if we were to ‘remove’ the brick house above it:

Aumbries: In the semi-basement walls there are four ‘niches’ and a large alcove. The niches to me look very like ecclesiastical aumbries. The large alcove is 7’ wide. See attached PDF for niche & alcove sizes and images, but here are two examples:

 

 

 

Anglo-Saxon royal vill

If Rowhurst’s semi-basement is not the remains of the Anglo-Saxon church, could it be the remains of one of the associated buildings – the manor house, for example?

 

Court house

As above, could the semi-basement be the remains of the buildings associated with justice that were part of the royal settlement?

Jurors in 1259 stated that the county court bench had until recently ‘always’ been held at Leatherhead (it had moved to Guildford and later Kingston).

Even if the semi-basement was not originally a building associated with justice, could its survival be due to court activity in the Pachesham area?

John Paddon offered the following theory:

“The survival of your building probably lies in its secondary use as a court house, the cupboard type cavities [see aumbry notes above, too - LQ] in the random flint mortar walls are supportive of this interpretation, and the large platforms could be relics of taxation barns and possible home of redundant building material…

I think the layout of your challenge is the court house, as it has the massive flint in mortar walls with their cupboard cavities, which do not penetrate the thickness of the wall, which is not thick enough for a single span vault, so the possibility that it was capped by a timber floor, the beam slots having been eroded and/or also their position was above the current ceiling/floor. The Minster would have contributed the high level dressed flint work to the house, Saxon windows could easily have placed above the surviving levels, I recall seeing the Saxon, west end window, in the Godalming parish church which is nearly above the level of the tops of the inserted late gothic windows. The next Church west is Compton, Saxon with a 2story chancel and quite large. Further north and west and into Hampshireis Yately which has a thin north wall between its chancel and the north doorway which has Saxon window quite high up in centre of the length of wall. It has been readily visible since the church was burnt and rebuilt in the 70’s. S.W. of Odiham at least one of the Candover churches has a narrow chancel arch, round headed but plain which said to be indicative of a Saxon build. This is using the well known late Saxon small church at Bradford on Avon as a guide, a description is “small but showy”.”

 

Burh

A blacksmith specialising in ancient ironworking techniques and battle re-enactment, Ian Thackray, responded very strongly to the Rowhurst/Teazle Wood landscape because he was struck by it as ‘burh-like’. A ridge between two streams, with definite man-made defensive boundaries halfway down each bank, and the end of the ridgetop overlooking a village on flatter ground closer to the main river. He explained that the villagers, if threatened, would retreat to the high ground and a fortified place. He felt that the semi-basement might have been a structure designed to protect from attack, because of its stout construction.

 

Saxon/Norman tower

David Hartley of Surrey Archaeological Society has suggested that the semi-basement might be the bottom of a tower. Again, the square shape, the thick walls and extensive foundations imply that it was designed to support a substantial structure.

It is worth noting here that in one hidden part of the house, the flintwork continues right up to the second floor, and seems to be ‘jagged’, like a ruin – this might be worth investigating.

**In Domesday, Ralph Baingard (Baignard/Bainguard/Baingard/Baynard) holds one smallholding in Pachesham. This is the Ralph Baingard who built ‘Baynard’s Castle’ in London at the time – an ambitious builder. If the semi-basement is not associated with the church and vill, and is only that old (Norman), could this be his Pachesham home? Pachesham was divided into Pachesham Magna and the smaller and more fragmented Pachesham Parva, which appears to include part of Teazle Wood and the Rowhurst plot. If not the church lands held by Osbern de Ow in Domesday, could this Teazle Wood/Rowhurst plot be the single smallholding listed under the Lordship of Baingard? A tantalising entry in the 1200s suggests that Baingard may actually have lived at his Pachesham holding rather than just be attached to it by name as an absentee Lord – Levina Bayngard was raped by William Balemund in 1241. More than 150 years after Domesday, but surely the name is no coincidence? Was Levina a descendant of Ralph Baingard?

 

Medieval hall

All expert and amateur building historians have agreed that the 1346 wing of Rowhurst was once attached to an earlier building (probably a medieval hall), and was built on as a service wing. It has been re-set/raised, to make it more useful to the new brick house which dates to 1632. I’ll call the two wings (still standing) 1346W and 1632W.

So:

•Has the building 1346W was once attached to completely vanished, but was on the same site as the 1632W new house (i.e. its foundation would now be concealed underneath the 1632W house, and the semi-basement also only dates to 1632)?

•OR, is the building 1346W was once attached to still standing, and the semi-basement is the remaining lower part of the building to which the service wing was attached as an ‘improvement’ in 1346?

•OR, was 1346W originally attached to another building very close by on the same site (1346W hasn’t been dismantled; it has been raised or re-set, so we can perhaps assume that it hasn’t moved far at all, if it isn’t on its original footprint)?

Whose house was improved in 1346 by the addition of 1346W? In 1343, the word ‘Rowhurst’ (Anglo-Saxon meaning ‘Rough Wood’ - or my very long shot theory of ‘Owhurst’ – wood belonging to Ow; in Domesday, the land of the church of Leatherhead was held by Osbern de Ow [Eu in Normandy] – wishful thinking!) is listed alongside an entry for ‘a pigeon house’. This suggests that there was certainly a property on the site before the 1346 wing was constructed, and it also offers evidence of a place of some importance – pigeon houses / dovecotes were status symbols at the time, and were only permitted at castles, monasteries, churches and manor houses.

 

Medieval dovecote

One unexpected theory to emerge from 2016’s Heritage Open Days was the suggestion that we might be living in the dovecote.

I have noted crop marks in an aerial photograph in a field, just over 100 metres from Rowhurst, which seemed very like an excavation I had seen of a large circular dovecote.

With dovecotes in my mind ever since as circular structures, it hadn’t crossed my mind that we might be living in the dovecote, and that Rowhurst might actually be a house lying buried somewhere in our garden.

•Could 1346W have been added to turn the dovecote we know was standing in 1343 into a house, and later simply raised up a little when the house was improved by adding 1632W?

•OR, could 1346W have been built as a service wing to a medieval hall (say, on the building platform at the top of the garden or on the site of the large barn shown in 1842), with the dovecote nearby, and in 1632 – the large hall destroyed or abandoned, or indeed dismantled by the Pachesham vandalism of William Wimbledon well-documented in the late 1300s – someone decided to convert the sturdy dovecote remains into a house or hunting lodge, moving the surviving 1346W into position beside it and creating a substantial new house?

Wild, yes.

It is very difficult to imagine a dovecote built from scratch justifying the importation of flint and such sturdy and deep foundations. However, could ‘dovecote’ be a new use for an older building – a conversion of a strong, square building?

Certainly, there are some extraordinary examples of English and French huge, square dovecotes, with arches all round, or on three sides like those in Rowhurst’s semi-basement. The largest niche can even be explained – some dovecotes seem to have a deep covered recess with a stone basin, so that pigeons could bathe and drink without their droppings contaminating the water.

 

** The possible chronologies of 1346W need to be seen in the light of comments from dendrochonologist Andy Moir, who observed that the 1346 timber frame had been badly weathered on the inside - open to the elements and in situ (not dismantled) for a long time (he estimated a century or more). In 1348, two years after 1346W was constructed, the Black Death had a more vicious than usual impact on the Pachesham population (compared to neighbouring settlements such as Thorncroft, for example), and effectively wiped Pachesham off the map, permanently, as a significant village. In 1383, William Wimbledon, tenant of Pachesham’s lord, Sir Ivo Fitzwarren (Dick Whittington’s father-in-law) was accused of raiding the Pachesham manor buildings for their timber (this primarily relates to ‘The Mounts’ at this time, but were other buildings nearby – like Rowhurst and its dovecote -  affected? We do know that ‘a dovecote’ was on the list of buildings he took timber from), although there were almost certainly two dovecotes in Pachesham – one in Pachesham Magna, and the one listed alongside Rowhurst – a clue to the possible location of the Magna dovecote is a later name for a piece of land adjacent to Randalls Road – ‘Dovecote Close’. Oak was Surrey’s main crop, and the Black Death had wiped out he labourers and left oak-framed buildings empty. In the absence of men to cut down trees and surrounded by unoccupied buildings, it made sense and was common practice to dismantle timber frames and sell the wood.

So when did 1346W stand empty, without its roof, in order to become so weathered on the inside? The current roof timbers have the date 1481 carved into one of them – such dates were carved in this way at that time, so this date could be authentic.

•Perhaps when it was first constructed, it was never finished, and the Black Death meant that it never received its first intended roof.

•Perhaps in 1383, along with the hall it was attached to and the dovecote nearby, it stood unoccupied, and vulnerable to William Wimbledon’s greedy and deceitful timber pillage.

•Perhaps it survived intact until it slowly declined into the “ruinous condition” of Rowhurst in the 1700s, and that the weathering did not happen until then. This fits less neatly, however, with the 1481 date carved into the roof timbers, and the fact that the 1632 timber is not weathered, although that part of the house may not have lost its roof tiles. I would need Andy Moir to look again at the 1481-dated roof timbers and see whether those, too, are weathered in situ, in order to narrow the timescale down to the 1346-1481 period.

•Or, of course, another cause that we as yet know nothing about

 

Carolean undercroft

It is of course possible that the flint semi-basement is absolutely contemporary with the 1632 house above it, and, although eccentric, it was all brand new in 1632, apart from the re-set 1346W.

If it turns out to be this recent, I suspect that the semi-basement was always just that – a semi-basement/undercroft to serve the new house above it. It bears a striking resemblance to an undercroft in Guildford, but then this Guildford example dates to the late 13th century, so maybe this takes us right back to the theory that the older hall to which 1346W was attached is still very much standing as the semi-basement.

I am also slightly confused re. why a rural house with plenty of land would have an undercroft – I have usually seen them in town streets, where space was limited and the undercroft created a valuable extra level. Were they used for food storage because they were cooler, perhaps?

I am also unconvinced by the notion that the whole 1632 building was built in one go, from scratch – the semi-basement has the sense of being a ruin that someone has later made good – the flintwork is ragged along the tops of the walls within the semi-basement, and in many places has been repaired and built up with bricks. It just doesn’t look or feel like one coherent, new 1600s building; the niches have been tampered with; the doorways and arches bricked up.

Would the flint foundations of a 1600s house have been so substantial? Is it relevant that the walls above the foundations are approx. 24-30” thick (I read that Saxon walls were usually only 2’6” thick because they used very strong mortar compared to later builders).

Buildings of 1600 are usually longer and narrower, with more bays. 1632W is only two bays long, and strikingly square in shape, as already discussed.

It is also important to note that the floor levels inside the 1632 building have been changed – when, and why?

We have also found distinctive and clearly older bricks and tiles through a hole inside the semi-basement wall. How did these get here, unless they were from an earlier building on the same footprint, or from the roof of the building that the semi-basement had been part of before, assuming it existed before 1632 as I suspect?

Can I stick my neck out, and state that I believe that the semi-basement is NOT contemporary with the 1632 building above it? Whatever it was part of before, I feel certain that it existed before someone built it up – and added or raised 1346W - to create the new 1632 house.

I have failed to date to establish the owner of Rowhurst in 1632, which would be very helpful in understanding the chronology of the building and the reasons behind such a major re-build in 1632. The improvement shows signs of high status – an ornate beam, covered ceiling beams, a wig cupboard, etc. The word ‘Rowhurst’ seems to disappear from written records after 1418, when it was owned by Richard Wrenne, and it doesn’t reappear until 1712 when it is surrendered in lieu of payment of a debt from Robert Marshe to Robert Ragge. I have my own theory about 1632, which I am currently investigating further – a key player and Royalist called George Mynne lived nearby at Horton, and he is known for stashing gunpowder and iron in various places around the county at the start of the Civil War. Rowhurst in its 1632 form is very much like a hunting lodge (access to adjoining and extensive good hunting land, plenty of space for food storage/preparation/eating, sleep provision for just a very few high status people, a very large pond on arrival, by 1842 a very large barn which would accommodate plenty of horses/dogs/people) and it is located in a wider landscape that we know was later used for hunting by Prince Leopold I and the Surrey Union Hunt. Rumours of it being a Royal hunting lodge abound, but I have no substantial evidence of this; Charles I did love hunting in the more peaceful early years of his reign, and Rowhurst is 6 miles exactly due south of Hampton Court Palace and 5 miles south-east of Nonsuch Palace, with wooded land still forming a discernible ‘V’ from both palaces that ends at Teazle Wood/Rowhurst (see image below). We asked Simon Thurley to check in Hampton Court’s records, and the word ‘Rowhurst’ does not feature on first investigation. Did someone like George Mynne construct a hunting lodge to entertain his prestigious friends, and was Rowhurst later used as a hiding place for gunpowder, iron and perhaps even people? Lots to explore.**It is also important to explain that in 1948 there was a major gas explosion on the Rowhurst site – this did damage to the roof and to the wall beside what is now our front door (western side). I have photographs of the damage, which could confuse those inspecting the fabric of the building**

**We are currently investigating a flint wall or flint-paved path/road/hardstanding found in a test pit in October on the north-eastern side of the house**