HAARG Hastings Area Archaeological Research Group  
Registered Charity No.294989

NEWSLETTER - September 2007

Top of page HAARG MEETING ROOM: we have at last been able to move into the new "Hastings History House" at 21 Courthouse Street in the Old Town. This is a large two-storey warehouse, lately used by the Stables Theatre as a scenery store. It has a small frontage but opens out considerably inside. It has been acquired by Old Hastings Preservation Society on a large mortgage - legacies are always welcome! - and HAARG and Hastings Local History Group were invited to share the facilities. Many members belong to two or all three of the groups. Our first meeting there was on 5 September.

There will be a session every Wednesday morning from 10.30 to 12.00. Coffee and biscuits are available - a minimum donation of 50p is asked, to cover running costs, and there will shortly be full access to the HAARG library and maps, and to our archives.

Top of page Evening meetings will also be resumed, on the second Wednesday of each month , from 7.30pm to 9.30pm commencing on Wed. 12 September. These evening sessions will include activities organised by Lynn and Kevin such as finds sorting and marking, and there will also be opportunities for research, with assistance if needed. We are also able to move the many boxes of finds accumulated over the past 35 years from exile - most recently they have been housed in Lynn and Kevin's garage, and prior to that in a variety of sheds, since our eviction from the former HQ at Priory Road School some five years ago, The removal and provision of new storage has been undertaken mainly by the two Field Officers, and we also extend thanks to Dennis Collins and Anne Scott who have made the whole venture possible, and to the other members who have turned up to assist.

Finds and library are stored upstairs, and are accessible to members, but at present the actual meetings are downstairs as we must not leave the door unsupervised unless it is locked. Different arrangements may be necessary at times such as Old Town Week when exhibitions are being staged. At present the ground floor is also open to the public every Thursday morning from 10.30 to 1.0pm.

Top of page The Library and maps are being sorted and cared for by Barbara Young (Vice-Chairman) and Maureen Elledge who have volunteered to keep a check on access and loans. Any member who currently has items on loan is asked to return them as soon as convenient, for stock-taking. No questions will be asked if they are overdue!

A telephone is installed in the building for emergency contact - (01424) 424744.

Top of page THE ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING OF HAARG is planned as usual for the last Wednesday in February - 27th - at the History House, and details will be circulated with the January Newsletter.

Top of page Castle Croft, Ninfield : This autumn the Field Officers are planning further work at this multi-period site on the edge of Wallers Haven. An excavation within the earthwork will target a number of resistivity anomalies highlighted by recent survey work (interim report in the enclosed Summer Journal). Additional resistivity work will be carried out on the adjoining fields in an attempt to highlight other areas of interest. A large field-walking exercise will also be conducted on our nearby Roman site. E-mails will be sent nearer the time giving further details. If you wish to take part and are not on our e-mail distribution then please phone Lynn or Kevin on 01424 224405 to state your interest.

Top of page ST. HELENS CHURCH RUINS : members will find enclosed a questionnaire, and a leaflet provided by Sussex Heritage Trust who own the site, also a location map as it is not easy to find. Many members will recall that HAARG was closely involved in previous attempts to save this rapidly deteriorating ruin of the oldest building in the Borough. Almost 20 years ago, when the Trust first took over the site from Hastings Borough Council, we raised, jointly with Hastings Museum, several thousand pounds including a grant from English Heritage. This enabled architectural drawings, rectified photographs, and a geological report on the fabric to be produced between 1988 and 1994; after funding ran out the drawings were completed by our member Alan Dickinson, and we also recorded the surviving tombstones and published them. At our 1996 AGM Anne Scott, then Chairman, expressed optimism that conservation would follow almost immediately.

Subsequently our repeated expressions of concern over neglect and vandalism through lack of funding, shared by the English Heritage inspector, led to the appointment in 2002 of a new Project Manager and we had several meetings to discuss detailed plans for landscaping the graveyard with a new footpath, with further recording of the building followed by conservation work. Several professionals were appointed and HAARG undertook to provide some archaeological support for nominal expenses.

Several years later, after housing estates had developed both north and south of the site, bringing the unwelcome attraction of young people seeking a smoking den, we heard that both the Project Manager and the Trust Chairman had resigned. In August 2006 HAARG was again approached by new representatives of the Trust who were reopening their files, and they have been surprised to learn of the close involvement of our Group over so many years. Victoria Williams, Curator of Hastings Museum, is again involved in fund-raising, and new consultants have been asked to produce fresh plans. We have reminded the Trust that any intervention needs Scheduled Building Consent and where ground-work is involved, supervision by a professional archaeologist.

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