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Dartford & District Archaeological Group (DDAG)   -    Rediscovering Dartford - Page 30

12   St Saviour's Avenue
The excavations featured in this chapter relate to the narrow strip of land located between the Holy Trinity Church wall to the west and the River Darent to the east. This was the avenue that led to the terrace of houses established by the Wardens of St Saviourís in Southwark. A further terrace was situated in Home Gardens.
   Working backward in time the terrace of houses overlooking the Darent was built c1901 (demolished 1978). They replaced a large house demolished in 1899 which was the home of James Snowden, who worked in the drawing office of John Hall. He was also a friend of Richard Trevithick, the well known Cornish inventor. Snowdensís house was approached by a carriageway which ran along the Darent riverbank from the High Street to the south side of his property.
   Our excavations first revealed this carriageway, made of compacted chalk   with gravel spread over it. Below this, and nearer to the High Street, we  found evidence of a small industrial site. A portion of an oven or hearth was

uncovered, constructed of roofing tiles. 17th century documents show the land was owned by a series of people, all of whom were glovers by trade. Near to this tiled feature was found a large quantity of skeletal remains, the majority of which were sheep or goatís leg bones, confirming the leather-craft connection.
   In 1817, the same area of land was used as a cooperís yard (barrel maker). From our excavations it would also appear that the churchyard wall which runs along the West side of the site has long been a boundary. No evidence of any human burials was found during our excavations. The grid dug against the churchyard wall proved that there was as much wall below ground as above.
   We had hoped that our excavations might reveal evidence of the course of the Roman road, and although a fair amount of Roman pottery was found, no evidence of any Roman structures were noted. The oldest object found on site turned out to be a flint implement of the Acheulian type c.250,000 years old. The Group was surprised by the amount of evidence gathered and the variety of uses to which this narrow strip of land had been put.

13. The Mill House, Hawley
   This listed building was demolished during the early part of February 1978. It was situated next to the Hawley Road on the left side of the entrance to Louis G. Ford (of the Graham Group). The building was described by the Department of the Environment as being 18th century in date, which was based purely on an external examination. A photographic survey was carried out by the Group on the 3rd February, 1978 just as the demolition had begun. During this survey it was noted on entering the roof space that the remains of an earlier timber-framed house existed which had been entirely built around, sometime during the 18th century. As the demolition proceeded, further evidence was uncovered as to the real age of the house. It now seems that the original building was a single storey timber-framed construction dating back to the second half of the 16th century. It then had a two storey extension built at its western end. The original house was later heightened by constructing a second storey. Finally the building was Ďmodernisedí in the 18th century covering the whole of the earlier structure. Up until fairly recent times, the house formed part of a large mill structure, which extended eastwards over the Darent and was equipped with water wheels. The mill has been used for
various processes including the manufacture of paper, the extraction of oil from seed and dyeing and finishing of leather products. The early history of the Mill House is at present sketchy although Edward Hasted, a local historian and antiquary, mentions the house being rebuilt by Samuel Percival, although he does not give a date. Rear Admiral Robert Robinson of Eltham later owned the property following his marriage to Percivalís surviving daughter and heir. It then passed to Thomas Frazer and was occupied by Hussey Fleet, a local brewer.
   Shortly after demolition was completed, the Group carried out a limited excavation on the site in an effort to find further dating evidence which would assist us in following the evolution of the Mill House. Whilst following the foundations of the house, a filled-in cellar was located. This proved too large to excavate totally, so by means of a trial trench, details of its size, its date of disuse and final backfilling were obtained. Dating was confirmed by means of clay tobacco pipes and Chinese blue and white porcelain. It was unfortunately not possible to trace the foundations of the early building up to the mill race as they had been destroyed by more recent foundations and a large underground storage tank.

The Mill House, Hawley

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