Excavation - Renovation - Celebration!
Snowdrops in January...
Snowdrop time again and although not as many as last year, they are still looking wonderful.  

.....and snow in February
Hello all,

 I hope everyone had a peaceful and enjoyable Christmas and that 2019 has started favourably.

This year is set to be a big one for us here  and we are very excited about sharing with you all updates on the transformation of the gardens and news on the archaeological investigations.

We will soon be updating our website and social media with details about upcoming events for this year. We will also be adding some new articles and pictures to our gallery. 

I was happy to recently discover some old photographs of my grandmother,  my mother and friends with donkeys and a pony.  I would have to guess the pictures were taken around 1970-1972. Does anyone recognise any of the faces in these pictures?  It is nice to see the happy times and the garden before some of the walls fell.  

I would like to thank everybody for all the lovely support and kind words it really means a lot to us.
Wolfhall in the 1400s

The history of Wolfhall is closely intertwined with one family, who have been present in the Burbage and Savernake area since the time of Domesday (1086). The earliest member of the family was called Richard Esturmy, who was a servant of William the Conqueror. The family name changed as it went through female lines, to Seymour, Bruce, and Bruce-Binney today.  Members of the family became wardens of the royal hunting forest of Savernake, were extensive landowners, and frequently held and enlarged the property of Wolfhall.

Even by about 1400, Wolfhall would have been massive.  Recent archaeological excavations which reveal towers and turrets along a huge courtyard wall, may date from this time.  During this period Wolfhall was occupied by Sir William Esturmy, one of the most powerful men in the country.  He was a Member of Parliament on 12 occasions in Hampshire, Wiltshire and Devon, was speaker of the House of Commons, an ambassador to Rome and elsewhere, a sheriff, Justice of the Peace, and a courtier with close links with Richard II, Henry IV and Henry V.  It was he who got a special dispensation from the pope to build a chapel at Wolfhall. This chapel had close links with Romsey Abbey.  The fragments of stained glass found in the recent digs may have come from the Wolfhall chapel.  In addition to Wolfhall, Sir William held Elvetham Manor in Hampshire, where a large house was set in a magnificent park.  Although little of the original house remains, this may provide clues of the architecture of Wolfhall, as these were comparable, alternative family homes.   

(Engraving) Elvetham House in Hampshire, the sister house to Wolfhall, as it was in 1788.

[Photo]  Elvetham House today, now a hotel and conference centre.
The 2018 Archaeological Discoveries
The archaeologists working on Wolfhall had a tremendously exciting season in 2018, as trench after trench began to reveal the scale of the Tudor and medieval buildings.  It must be remembered that the current Wolfhall, although a stately and grand manor house, may represent just 5 or 10% of the vast buildings present in the 16th century. At that time there was a king’s chamber, reserved for royal visits, a long gallery, armoury, chapel, treasury, evidence room, gatehouse and extensive accommodation. 

In 1535 Wolfhall welcomed the Henry VIII, Queen Anne, Thomas Cromwell and the court, together with hundreds of noble guests. Feasting involved cooking 18 cattle, 24 sheep and over 400 birds for a single day’s event. But where were such premises, capable of holding such entertainments?  The excavations of 2018 brought real progress in our understanding.

This year’s activities were focused to the east of Wolfhall in two areas, one adjacent to the front path and the other in the secluded walled garden known as ‘The Secret Garden’. These revealed the well-preserved foundations of red brick Tudor rooms, together with stone structures of limestone, sarsen, chalk, greensand blocks, and flint nodules.  One Tudor brick-built room contained the remains of a hearth, in which was found an Elizabethan shilling. Abutting onto or connected to these walls were two structures, one appearing to be a hexagonal tower, and the other a projecting turret.  Hence, there seems to be a long wall, projecting north-south (on the same alignment as the surviving Wolfhall), bearing ornamental towers or turrets, which might either represent the edge of a courtyard, or the external east face of a building complex. 

The season also ended in excitement as the archaeologists excavating around the turret discovered that the wall continues northwards towards the Bedwyn-Burbage road.  This provides a clear focus for next year’s work.  At some point there must be a corner (and quite possibly a further tower) and whether the main wall turns east or west will help determine the scale of the works here. 
Many finds were recovered from the trench throughout the season. They included animal and bird bones, hundreds of oyster shells, coins, window and vessel glass, iron objects, pottery sherds, clothing fasteners and numerous dateable bronze artefacts.    

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Excavation - Renovation - Celebration!
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Friends of Wolfhall · Wolfhall Manor · Wolfhall Road · Nr Marlborough, Wiltshire SN8 3DP · United Kingdom

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