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The Medieval to Post-Medieval Vill of Sturry Excavations at the former Fordwich Garage Water


The medieval to post-medieval vill of Sturry: Excavations at the former Fordwich Garage, Water Lane and Franklyn House, High Street, Sturry

ross lane

With contributions from

Alison Locker (fish bone), Luke Barber (post-Roman pottery), Sheila Sweetinburgh (historical documents) and Sue Jones (animal bone)

Two development sites located on the western side of Sturry High Street have produced new evidence for the formation and development of Sturry from the medieval period. Nine phases of activity dating from the twelfth century trace the fluctuating fortunes of the village from its initial foundation up until the nineteenth century. The excavations revealed several buildings occupied by traders, inn keepers, labourers and crafts people.

The village of Sturry is located in the basin of the Great Stour valley and lies on the northern edge of the river floodplain at an elevation of between 3.5-7.5m aod. The area surrounding Sturry has produced a high signal for prehistoric activity, almost all discovered through chance finds during gravel extraction at Bretts Quarry during the early part of the twentieth century. These finds include Palaeolithic and Mesolithic flint artefacts along with Bronze Age and Iron Age cremations and settlement features (Jenkins 1950). An evaluation conducted to the rear of No. 6 High Street (Found 2005) identified potential prehistoric features cutting the natural ground. The line of a Roman road linking Canterbury to the Wantsum Channel at Grove Ferry and Thanet beyond (Margary route 11) runs through Sturry, passing to the north of the church north-eastwards to a later fork (Margary route 110) which heads north to Reculver (Margary 1955, 34-5; Stafford 1960). Further discoveries at nearby Westbere Marshes to the south-east in 1948 (Jenkins 1950) suggested that this was the site of a Roman quayside, possibly serving as a port for Durovernum Cantiacorum (Canterbury).

Very little is known of the development of post-Roman Sturry. Documentary evidence (Sweetinburgh 2014) reveals that the vill of Sturry was located close to a fording point of the Stour for which Fordwich is named. The first known reference (albeit in a forged charter of King Ethelberht said to date from 605) is villam nomine Sturigao, alio nomine dictam Chistelet (Cullen 1997). This incorporation of *ge denotes that the name refers to ‘Stour district’ indicating, as Paul Cullen and others have noted, that Sturry in this sense should be seen as an early estate and lathe centre, an important feature of the regional landscape. But little in the way of archaeological evidence for the Anglo-Saxon period has been identified in the centre of the present day village. However, an excavation adjacent to Popes Lane in 1995 uncovered at least one early Anglo-Saxon sunken-featured building, suggesting that the Saxon centre may lie further to the north of the present day village centre (Allen and Cross 2002).

Equally very little was formerly known about the nature of the medieval settlement at Sturry, with no previous archaeological works having been undertaken along the line of Sturry High Street. Documentary records relate to a grant of the vill to St Augustine’s Abbey, originally by King Cnut and later confirmed by King Ethelred (Sweetinburgh 2014). The assessment of 1086 clarifies the abbey’s holding that included 39 villagers and 32 smallholders who also had 12 ploughs. There was also a church, 10 mills, 7 fisheries and 28 acres of meadow, as well as woodland pasturage for 30 pigs (Morgan 1983). St Augustine’s Abbey was also granted lordship of Fordwich by 1086 increasing their share of the borough originally granted in 866. Fordwich was particularly favoured due to its key river wharves and status as a limb of the Cinque port of Sandwich with associated economic prosperity.

Through its connections with St Augustine’s Abbey and its close proximity to Fordwich, Sturry formed a small yet significant vill that continued to flourish throughout the medieval period. The village layout appears to have been modelled around the establishment of the abbot’s curia (Sturry Court; present day Junior King’s School) that was located adjacent and to the north of St Nicholas’ Church perhaps diverting the main road to the south. The curia served as a demesne or home farm by the late thirteenth century at least (Sparks 1975) supplying the monks at the abbey in a similar fashion to Barton Court in Canterbury (Helm 2008). The prosperity of the village at this time is indicated by alterations in the fabric of the church, with its origins in the early medieval period; the church continued to be modified throughout the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

The layout of Sturry appears to have remained the same for the next five centuries (see Fig. 1) whilst the 1841 Tithe map shows the High Street with associated buildings in much the same arrangement as the present day village. The First Edition Ordnance Survey (1871) shows that Sturry had by this time two mills known as the white mill and the black mill for corn processing and fulling respectively. The Tithe map also denotes the presence of several public houses one of which, the Red Lion, was located within the site boundaries of Franklyn House.

Fig. 1 Extract from Andrews, Dury and Herbert map (1769) showing earlier layout of Sturry (see modern layout in Fig. 2).

Much of the historic centre of Sturry was destroyed during the Baedeker Blitz of the Second World War. The immediate surroundings at Franklyn House, including the remodelled Red Lion, were devastated with significant loss of life by the explosion of a parachute mine on the night of 18 November 1941.

Results of the archaeological investigations in Sturry 2010-11

The archaeological investigations were undertaken by the Canterbury Archaeological Trust (TR 617700 160200 centred) in advance of development (Fig. 2). The first, begun in October 2010, lay on the south corner of the junction of Water Lane and Fordwich Road on land that was formerly occupied by Fordwich Garage. The excavation consisted of an L-shaped area of land measuring approximately 85.1m². An initial strip and map revealed that the top of the preserved archaeology lay just 0.20m beneath the present ground surface.

Fig. 2 Site location plan. Scale 1:2000

The second investigation, begun in August 2011, was located on the west side of Sturry High Street adjacent to the former Franklyn House. The excavation consisted of three areas (A, B and C) as well as two additional trenches (1 and 2), with a total area of 136.25m². An evaluation (Wilson 2011) had already identified the remains of a medieval building with surviving walls and clay floors. The investigations abutting the historic High Street in Sturry thus formed the first opportunity to assess the nature, extent and preservation of the archaeology within the village.

This report provides a summary and discussion of the archaeological remains split into chronological phases within the context of previous archaeological investigations in the local and regional area. A full stratigraphic analysis report (Lane 2014) has been completed and can be accessed online at The post-Roman pottery assemblage was quantified, using the CAT fabric series (for full CAT fabric descriptions see Blackmore 1988; Cotter 2001; 2006).

During stratigraphic analysis, the archaeological contexts were formed into sets (prefixed S) and groups of related activities (prefixed G). The depth of excavation at both sites was determined by formation level for the respective developments which coincided with the basal level of archaeological features dated to the medieval period. Several sondage trenches were dug to gain an understanding of the earliest deposits; however due to the high water table these were also limited in scope. A borehole transect was carried out at Franklyn House in order to map the underlying geology and identify any surviving features to the rear of buildings that fronted the High Street.

The natural geology identified at Franklyn House was river terrace gravel located at approximately 3m below the current ground level at a height of 1.35m aod. This was overlain in small isolated patches by fluvial sand up to 0.12m thick that may have been deposited by frequent flood events. The fluvial material and gravel was sealed by a layer of Head-Clay with Silt up to 1.7m thick. The surface of this deposit was located approximately 1.3m below the present ground surface at a height of 3.05m aod. At Fordwich Garage natural alluvium was uncovered during the excavation at a height of 2.77m aod; it contained abundant organic material as well as fragments of river-rolled flint.

No evidence for the prehistoric or Roman periods was identified within the excavated areas and no residual artefacts from either period were recovered. Late Anglo-Saxon to Norman activity was hinted at by the recovery of residual finds of a clench nail, a probable loomweight and an antler comb but no direct evidence for this period was uncovered. Clench nails were discovered within medieval contexts at Townwall Street, Dover (Parfitt et al. 2006, 310) and attributed to their occasional structural use.

Early Medieval: late eleventh to early thirteenth centuries (Phases 1 and 2): at Franklyn House the earliest settlement occupation identified in Area B (Fig. 3; Phase 1) began in the late eleventh to early twelfth century and was characterised by multiple post-holes and stake-holes (G2-4) that formed timber post-built structures located close to the line of the present High Street. To the rear of these structures, several refuse pits and levelling deposits (not illustrated) contained occupation material dated to 1100-1175.

Fig. 3 Franklyn House: Phases 1 and 2. Scale 1:200.

At the Fordwich Garage site, similar timber post-built structures (G102) were built during Phase 1, albeit slightly later in the mid to late thirteenth century (Fig. 4). Cultural artefacts recovered included pottery (1150-1250) as well as bone pins and a bone comb (see illustration at Fig. 9 below, no. 9). Less intensive refuse deposits indicate that the water table at the Fordwich Garage site may still have been an issue affecting settlement.

Fig. 4 Fordwich Garage: Phases 1, 3 and 4. Scale 1:200.

Subsequently at Franklyn House the post-built structures in Area B were replaced with a second phase of development (Fig. 3; Phase 2) that consisted of two clay-floored buildings (Buildings 1 and 2; G19 and G20) the remains of which were heavily truncated. Both of these structures included a small peg-tile hearth (S1110 and S2024) and would originally have been timber-framed with sill beam foundations. The full extent of each building could not be determined but it is likely that they fronted onto the original High Street. Pottery recovered from subsequent occupation and floor deposits dated from 1150-1250. These simple buildings contained only low status material items and were likely inhabited by families occupied in farming, trade or craft industries. No similar Phase 2 development was seen at Fordwich Garage.

The animal bone assemblage from Phases 1 and 2 was all derived from Franklyn House most likely due to the lack of refuse pits at Fordwich Garage. The species identified included cattle, sheep/goat, pig and dog. Butchery marks identified within the cattle, sheep/goat and pig assemblage indicated that occasional meat processing was occurring at the site. Smashed cattle cranial and long bone elements were indicative of deliberate breakage for the retrieval of the brain and marrow components of the carcasses. Similarly the majority of the twelfth-century fish bone remains were identified from Franklyn House and consisted of a few herring and flatfishes primarily plaice/flounder which can be difficult to separate.

The majority of the pottery for Phases 1 and 2 comes from Franklyn House and is dominated by Canterbury Sandy Ware (EM1), which accounts for 66.7% of the Franklyn House assemblage. The presence of a few early flaring rims of simple form suggests activity from the end of the eleventh, or beginning of the twelfth century (Fig. 5, 1). However, the majority of the assemblage is likely to date to the mid twelfth to early thirteenth century characterised by bulbous or more squared club rims. Non-local wares are confined to the Franklyn House assemblage and consist of four sherds from imported North French/Flanders vessels in EM7, EM18 and EM38. These imports make up 2% of the Early Medieval assemblage suggesting the occupants had access to a well-connected market through the ports of Fordwich and Sandwich.

Fig. 5 Pottery.

1. Cooking pot with slightly bevelled flaring rim. Mid grey core with oxidised brown surfaces. Externally sooted. EM1. 2. Bowl with stabbed & thumbed rounded club rim. Light grey core with patchy brown/grey surfaces. Patchy sooting all over. The coarseness of this vessel, together with the presence of rare voids, possibly from shell suggests this to date between 1200/25 & 1275. M1. 3. Bowl with stabbed thickened rim & horizontal strap handle, centrally stabbed. Dark grey core with dull orange interior & pale brown exterior surfaces. Unintentional spots of clear glaze internally. Exterior sooted. M1. 4. Cooking pot with flared lid-seated rim. Dark grey core with thin dull orange margins & dark grey outer & grey brown inner surfaces. Internal green spots & patches of glaze. LM1. 5. Pitcher with hollowed rim & simple pulled spout. Brick red core with dark grey/black surfaces. External spots/patches of clear glaze. LM1. 6. A near complete standing costrel with rim & part of neck missing. Dull orange throughout. The pierced lugs are at 90° to the normal orientation, remains of an external thin clear glaze, but most of this has been removed by quite notable weathering of the vessel. PM1.9. Scale 1:4.

These findings at the two sites seem to indicate ribbon development along a track running south from the Roman road to a river crossing at Fordwich. The establishment of small dwellings along this route in the twelfth century indicates that the abbot’s curia was in existence by this period, likely diverting the road southward away from route of Roman road. By the twelfth century, Canterbury was already a thriving commercial and religious centre with new developments such as Gravel Walk at Whitefriars (Hicks forthcoming). The majority of the land within Canterbury was tenanted belonging either to Christ Church Priory, St Augustine’s Abbey or the crown, with each competing to increase the value of their holdings. Sturry, under the lordship of St Augustine’s Abbey appears to have rapidly developed from north to south as land was reclaimed from the marsh.

High Medieval: early thirteenth to mid/late fourteenth centuries (Phase 3): at Fordwich Garage the Phase 1 post-built structures were removed by the development of two buildings adjacent to Fordwich Road (Fig. 4; Phase 3) in the latter half of the thirteenth century. Buildings 3 and 4 (G110-113) were constructed with sill beam trenches for a timber-framed structure and contained worn clay floors with peg-tile hearths. Building 3 was internally divided by a clay wall and the floor was covered by an occupation deposit (not illustrated) that contained a silver farthing (Edward II, 1307-27). These buildings were extant until at least the mid fourteenth century and underwent successive alterations that consisted of further clay floors and larger peg-tile hearths (not illustrated). At Franklyn House Phase 3 (not illustrated) occupation activity in the late thirteenth century continued within Buildings 1 and 2. During this period the land within Area A and trenches 1 and 2 appears to have been used for temporary post-built structures and refuse pitting that contained abundant cultural material including animal bone, oyster shell and traces of hammerscale. The pits contained a significant assemblage of pottery dated 1225-1300, including two sherds of Saintonge wine jug.

The pottery assemblages from this phase are dominated by Tyler Hill sandy ware (M1), which accounts for 93.2% and 97.7% of the Fordwich Garage and Franklyn House assemblages respectively. It is quite probable that the earliest of these chronologically overlap with the preceding period and the latest of these begin to merge with the LM1 vessels of the Late Medieval period between 1350 and 1375. The majority of M1 vessels are quite typical of domestic assemblages and appear to consist of cooking pots and bowls, usually with squared concave or horizontal club rims (Fig. 5, 2-3). There are also sherds from a single storage jar and pipkin from Franklyn House. Non-local regional material consists of fragments from four thirteenth-century M5 London ware jugs present at both sites. Imported vessels are rare but were found at both sites.

Timber-framed buildings were present on both of the sites by the early thirteenth century. The style and construction of these buildings resembled the earliest medieval structures identified during excavations at Whitefriars Canterbury and at Townwall Street, Dover (Hicks forthcoming; Parfitt et al. 2006) albeit built approximately 100 years later. By the thirteenth century the major towns in the region, including Canterbury, Sandwich and Dover were already well established with communities of traders and merchants. Canterbury as an ecclesiastical centre was growing rapidly, fuelled in a large part by the pilgrim trade, whilst the port of Sandwich was a hub for trade with the Continent that included the import of wine (Mate 2010, 4). By the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries the rise in Canterbury’s prosperity was leading to expansion into extra-mural areas along established routes such as Wincheap and North Lane (Hicks and Shand 2013; Rady 2009). Sturry was ideally located to experience increased development lying mid-way on the river between Canterbury and the gateway to London and the Continent at Sandwich.

Late medieval: mid/late fourteenth to early/mid sixteenth centuries (Phases 4-6): the start of late medieval activity was marked at both sites by the deposition of a series of deliberate make-up deposits (not illustrated) that contained cultural material dated from 1375-1450. At Fordwich Garage a new area was claimed to the north-west with the addition of a 0.20m thick deposit of compacted gravel.

Settlement activity at both sites during this period was characterised by the construction, use, and subsequent alterations of two substantial buildings during the late fourteenth and early fifteenth century (Phase 4). At Fordwich Garage (Fig. 4; Phase 4) a compacted gravel deposit formed the foundation for Building 5 (G107), a large specialised structure with an associated oven. The building consisted of a 0.24m wide rear dwarf wall (S5598) composed of flint and peg-tile, with a beam slot (S5539) forming the eastern wall. The dwarf wall and beam slot would have supported a timber-framed building that most likely included an upper storey. The internal space was divided by a further two walls (S5578, S5579) that created three sub-rectangular rooms (1-3) covered by layers of patchy clay floors up to 0.10m thick.

Built directly onto the gravel foundation within Room 1 was a heavily worn sub-rectangular oven (G108). Only partially exposed within the excavation area, the mouth of the structure was composed of degraded heat-affected sandstone and peg-tile pressed into light yellow clay. Spread across the oven room and the rear passage of the building was a black charcoal rich occupation deposit (S5595) associated with the heavy use of the oven that contained abundant cultural and environmental material. Sampling identified building material including mortar, tile, small brick and heat affected clay; trace metalworking residues such as slag and hammerscale and occupational waste containing a small assemblage of large mammal (sheep/goat, cattle and hare) and domestic fowl, egg shell, traces of mussel and oyster shell and barnacle plates along with the remains of several species of fish including thornback ray (Raja clavata). Abundant pottery was also retrieved from the room dating between 1375 and 1475.

The land fronting Fordwich Road at the Fordwich Garage site was developed at some point in the late fourteenth century; a timber-posted structure that consisted of several post-holes and stake-holes (G160-3) cut the area which was formerly the location of Building 4. The posted structure was short lived as the remains were truncated by the construction of a compacted gravel and flint yard (G165) with a 4.60m wide cambered track-way that led out to Fordwich Road. Marine shell, chalk and pottery recovered from this surface dated from 1350-1475. In addition a service pipe (G121) was installed that ran from the back of Building 5 through to Fordwich Road; excavation revealed 236 in situ sherds of ceramic pipe, all in Late Medieval Tyler Hill ware (LM1X), similar to the main Tyler Hill pottery fabric of the same date (LM1). The pipes are of the collared type with diameters of their narrower (collared) end typically measuring 120mm expanding to 130-140mm at their plain wider ends (Fig. 6, 7). Collared water pipes are well known in the later medieval period (Briscoe and Dunning 1967) and have also been found at Lewes Friary (Gardiner et al. 1996, 103, no. 8), in the outer court of St Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury (Bennett, 1986, 101) and in North Lane, Canterbury (Macpherson-Grant 1978). The latter site produced a number of complete examples each measuring just under 500mm long and, with the exception of stabbing round the collar, are almost identical to those at Fordwich Garage.

Fig. 6 Water pipe and roof louver.

7. Male end of a collared water pipe & female end with inturned squared rim that has been manually chipped off post-firing to allow junction to next section. Grey brown core with wide brick red margins & grey brown surfaces. LM1X. 8. Fragment from a four-arched aperture louver with knob finial at the arch apex. Dark grey with grey brown interior surface. Exterior covered by a good clear/greenish glaze. LM1X. Scale 1:4.

Building 5 at Fordwich Garage continued to undergo alterations and adaptations with laminated occupation material deposited inside and out dominated by charcoal along with daub and mortar that may have been deposited from redevelopment works within the building. Within Room 1 an additional stone hearth structure (G136) composed of heat-affected sandstone blocks and peg-tile was inserted to the side of the main oven. The original oven (G108) was extended with a linear convex cut that formed a clay-lined flue (G140). The base was covered by 0.05m of thick black soot that contained abundant round wood charcoal. Barley grain and small seeds were represented along with rare large unidentifiable charred mammal bone. Room 3 was modified (G119; not illustrated) with the addition of a 0.12m thick rammed clay and chalk floor that was regularly cleared of occupation material. A similar rammed chalk floor was identified within Building 32 at Townwall Street, Dover (Parfitt et al. 2006, 74) and formed a hard wearing surface for multiple activities and movement of people.

A fragment of roof louver (Fig. 6, 8) was discovered in later demolition material associated with the building and indicates the presence of a specialised ventilation system probably necessary because of the large oven. Near complete examples of roof louver, with similar opposed pairs of elongated arched apertures, have been found in association with wealthy town-houses in Winchelsea (Martin 2004, 157-158).

At Franklyn House Phase 4 development consisted of the construction and use of Building 6 (Fig. 7; Plate I) in Area A. Construction work was preceded by the deposition of levelling material (G14; not illustrated). The foundations (G17) of the building consisted of a dwarf wall (S381) 0.54m wide and 0.45m high composed of abundant small to medium unworked flint, large faced flint nodules, peg-tile and worked ragstone blocks bonded with pale white lime mortar. The building was only partially exposed within the excavation area consisting of a single room that probably fronted onto the High Street. The room contained a clay floor cut by twenty stake-holes (S378) which perhaps represented furniture or a partition within the room; similar stake-hole features were identified within medieval structures at Townwall Street, Dover (Parfitt et al. 2006, 52-4). A large sub-rectangular peg-tile hearth (G21; S368) was located in what would most likely have been the centre of the room. The hearth was abutted by a laminated sequence of occupation, rake-out deposits (S365) and further clay floor horizons. To the north of Building 6 the ground was used intensively (G22) with multiple refuse pits, post-holes and midden levelling deposits. To the rear of Building 6 and behind the existing medieval buildings in Areas B and C the land was covered by a 0.15m thick compacted flint yard surface (G16) that connected with the High Street through Areas B and C (not illustrated). Pottery (1375-1475) and other cultural material lay on the surface of the yard.

Fig. 7 Franklyn House: Phases 4 and 7. Scale 1:200.


Franklyn House: Phase 4 late medieval development of Building 6. Scale 1m

A final intensive period of development and occupation (Fig. 8; Phase 5) occurred at the Fordwich Garage site in the first half of the fifteenth century. Building 5 was significantly altered during demolition and rebuilding works. The external southern wall was partly rebuilt and the internal walls were removed transforming rooms 2 and 3 into a single space sealed by a 0.12m thick clay floor (G157). Occupational refuse (G156; S5407) was identified within this new room that contained pottery dated 1350-1475 and various domestic artefacts including a copper alloy pin (SF 30), a worked bone pin or bodkin (Fig. 9, 10) and a fragment of iron plate (SF 34). Environmental samples from this deposit identified abundant mixed domestic refuse that included: waste from food preparation and/or consumption, including fragments of mammal bone, some calcined, eggshell, bird bone, fish bone, scales and mussel shell; a partial skeleton of a mouse that must represent a natural inhabitant of the house; and cooking fuel in the form of abundant charcoal, though with little evidence for other charred material.

Fig. 8 Fordwich Garage: Phases 5 and 8. Scale 1:200.

Fig. 9

Bone objects from Fordwich Garage. 9. Pin beater SF 45. Single-ended pin beater or ‘picker-cum-beater’, with one pointed end and one flattened spatulate end. 10. Pin or needle SF 31. Pin or needle shaft, made from a pig fibula, broken at the top where, if present, the eye of the needle would have been. 11. Comb SF 25. Fragment from the centre of a bone comb, comprising seven fine teeth in situ opposite one broad tooth, also in situ, separated by a length of decorative banding, and a broken tooth from the same comb.

A beam slot with a central threshold (G158) formed a dividing wall between the new room and Room 1. Within Room 1 the previous oven and flue (G140) was dismantled and replaced with a large stone-built structure (G139; S5533; Plate II) the remains of which were heavily heat affected. In addition a large sub-rectangular peg-tile hearth (G154) was inserted in what would probably have been the centre of the room and both features were abutted by a new clay floor (G155). The heavily degraded nature of the large oven sequence suggests that it was in use for an extended period of time. An environmental sample of the hearth and oven rake-out deposits contained abundant charcoal, with a small assemblage of charred cereals of both barley (Hordeum) and wheat (Triticum) grains as well as occasional grass (Poacae) seeds. The fish remains were dominated by common eel (Anguilla anguilla) vertebrae and the bird bone consisted of the coracoids of a partridge (Perdix perdix). The presence of partridge is worthy of note since it was generally regarded as a ‘luxury’ food in medieval England (Wilson 2003, 119; Lasdun 1991, 6) and occurs most frequently on high status sites (Sykes 2004).


Fordwich Garage: phase 5 late medieval stone oven structure S5533 within Building 6. Scale 1m

Phase 5 included a new development at the Fordwich Garage site fronting Fordwich Road; Building 7 was constructed sealing the flint track-way. The building consisted of a rear dwarf wall (Group 166) aligned north-west to south-east and two rooms (1 and 2) with a dividing wall (S5258) composed of clay with flint nodules and shaped chalk blocks bonded with mortar. The structure included a beam slot (G168) in Room 1 that may have served as an internal partition. The walls were abutted by a patchy clay floor overlain by occupation material that included wall plaster fragments, pottery (1350-1475), copper alloy objects (SF18, SF19, SF12 and SF11) a heavily worn late medieval jetton (SF13) one side of which bears a motif of three fleur-de-lis, and a worked Norwegian ragstone hone (SF 919).

No visible activity appears to have occurred at Fordwich Garage after the mid fifteenth century. At Franklyn House Phase 4 activity extended up until the late fifteenth century at which point the compacted flint yard to the rear of the buildings was covered by a 0.20m thick layer of imported garden soil (Phase 6; G24) (see Fig. 7; Phase 7) containing abundant cultural material (1475-1550). Alterations were also made within Building 6 (not illustrated) where the central hearth and remainder of the room was covered by up to three phases of worn clay floor and occupation horizons (G25). Activity outside of the building in the newly established garden consisted of several post-holes and associated refuse pits along with midden deposits (G26-7; not illustrated). In Areas B and C the Phase 1 buildings also appear to have gone out of use by the fifteenth century as the area was cut by post-holes and pits (G28-9; not illustrated). This activity contained abundant domestic refuse, most likely from adjacent structures including charcoal, animal bone, oyster shell and pottery (1475-1575). Many of the features also contained demolition building material especially mortar and peg-tile that may have been deposited as a result of renovation or removal of adjacent properties. Unfortunately the full extent and nature of these post-holed structures could not be established due to the limited excavation area.

The late medieval period produced a moderate assemblage of animal bone mainly derived from occupation layers within buildings and external refuse deposits. Franklyn House produced a total of 54 fragments whilst Fordwich Garage produced 82 fragments. The species identified included cattle, sheep/goat and pig; Franklyn House produced fragments of horse whilst Fordwich Garage produced limb bone fragments of hare. Of the cattle no main meat-bearing bones were observed, whereas the pig assemblage from both sites was almost all from main meat-bearing elements, tentatively suggesting that pigs may have been slaughtered elsewhere. Horse elements consisted of non meat-bearing butchery waste, incisor wear patterns indicated that at least one horse was over 20 years old when slaughtered. Evidence of portioning or carcass division was apparent at both sites. At Fordwich Garage cattle had been chopped through the central sagittal axis of the body, suggesting that the carcasses had been hung during butchering. Further impact scars and smooth helical fractures were identified on bones from both sites indicative of marrow extraction.

Fish bone was recovered from occupation deposits (S5595 and S365) within both Building 5 at Fordwich Garage and Building 6 at Franklyn House (dated to the late fourteenth and early fifteenth century). The majority of the remains consisted of flatfishes, whiting, herring and eel. Concreted material identified within occupation deposit (S365) contained the articulating vertebrae of sprat.

A significant assemblage of pottery from this period was recovered at both sites demonstrating continuous activity from the preceding High Medieval period, but the near absence of LM1.2 and LM2 sherds from Fordwich Garage suggests that refuse disposal here ceased by the mid fifteenth century. The overall assemblage is totally dominated by hard-fired late Tyler Hill wares (LM1). Vessels mainly consist of a mix of cooking pots, usually with internally clear/green glazed bases and concave-topped expanded rims, and jugs/pitchers (Fig. 5, 4-5). The latter usually have heavily thumbed bases and are often undecorated save for a few patches of clear/green glaze and a little rilling. A few vessels do however have smears of white slip or incised line decoration. Other forms include a scatter of bowls and a pipkin.

In contrast to the hiatus of activity at Fordwich Garage, later fifteenth- to early sixteenth-century wares are well represented at Franklyn House where LM1.2, LM2 and the Wealden Buff LM4 fabrics make up 15.6, 24.4 and 6.4% of the Late Medieval assemblage by sherd count. These fabrics continue to represent a low status domestic assemblage. Of note is a large fragment of LM1.2 jug with applied and incised decoration. Two regional fabrics are represented, both from the Surrey whiteware industry and both recovered from the Fordwich Garage site. There is a low level of imported sherds at both sites, all consisting of Rhenish stoneware that is not a particular indicator of status.

The development of substantial dwarf-walled buildings in the late fourteenth century appears to represent a greater investment within the village of Sturry and coincided with an increase in prosperity for the poor after the decimation of the population by the Black Death that struck Kent in 1348-49 (Mate 2010, 11). Both Canterbury and Sandwich were still prosperous and tenancy rates were increasing as demand grew with an influx of cloth manufacturers from Flanders. At Fordwich Garage the function of the elaborately constructed Building 5 appears to have been specialised. Environmental samples as well as evidence for onsite butchery suggest that the oven was initially and predominantly used for food production on a large scale and the building may have acted as a wayside inn with a serving area in Room 3 up to the middle of the fifteenth century. Later occupational deposits included a mixed assemblage of food remains that included some high status produce. Perhaps some of the food produced was being made for the monks or abbot during their residency at Sturry Court. The specialised and expensive features of the building suggest that it was built on commission most probably by the abbey but the predominantly low status domestic pottery assemblage would suggest that occupancy of the building was by tenant inn keepers with a majority low status clientele.

Buildings that incorporate ovens have been found on previous large scale urban excavations in Kent such as in Canterbury at Whitefriars and Rose Lane as well as in Dover at Townwall Street (Hicks forthcoming; Weekes 2012; Parfitt et al. 2006). Within thirteenth-century Canterbury these structures are often separate from the main body of the medieval building, commonly due to their high fire risk. More comparably at Townwall Street, Dover, Building 31 was located within the centre of several tenement blocks. Here the sub-circular oven structure was fully excavated and was thought to have been for malting grain and/or baking bread. Interestingly this building did burn down and was replaced almost immediately with Building 32 that included a new oven.

At Franklyn House Building 6 would have been a high status structure compared with the simple medieval buildings around it. Indeed the presence of imported pottery dating from the early fourteenth century indicates that this may have been occupied by a comparatively wealthy trader with connections with the merchants and cloth makers from Flanders at the ports of Fordwich and Sandwich. By the end of the fourteenth century the building appears to have been converted with the removal of the hearth and insertion of a thick clay floor. The conversion suggests that the ground floor of the building was given over to commercial activities with domestic activity taking place on the upper floor. Examples of these activities can be seen within fourteenth-century rentals recorded by the abbey in The Black Book that indicate some of the surnames of tenants that were pertinent to their trade, for instance Weaver, Dyer and Butcher. Similar shop-fronted properties were recorded at Whitefriars, Canterbury (Hicks forthcoming).

Early post-Medieval: mid sixteenth to mid/late eighteenth century (Phases7-8): at Fordwich Garage the start of the early post-medieval period saw a continued hiatus of activity. In contrast Franklyn House Building 6 continued in use up until the eighteenth century (Fig. 7; Phase 7). The property underwent minor development in the mid to late sixteenth century; a brick-built wall was inserted across the centre of the main room (G32; S278). The remains of the wall consisted of three courses of hand-made red bricks and small flints bonded with lime mortar. Abutting both sides of this was a 0.15m thick clay floor (S259) that contained a jetton (Hans Krauwinckle, 1586-1635). The central room of Building 6 was thus split in two; in the north-eastern half a brick-built hearth was inserted (G33; S244), the surface of which was heavily heat affected. The final occupation deposit within the building contained abundant charcoal, building material, pottery and clay tobacco pipes (1680-1730). Metal objects included two nails (SF27, SF9026), a copper alloy sewing pin (SF9030) and a decorative fitting (SF28). At some point during the final use of this building an intact locally-made earthenware costrel vessel was placed upright in the floor. To the rear of the building a garden soil (G36) was imported that contained abundant cultural material; this was cut by pits and post-holes possibly related to subsistence cultivation (G34).

By the mid seventeenth century at Fordwich Garage the surviving Phase 5 remains of Building 5 appear to have been removed. Within the area formerly occupied by the building was a deposit of gravel and three pits (Phase 7: G159-60; not illustrated). The pits contained demolition and refuse material including a double-sided bone comb with a decorative banding (Fig. 9, 11). A similar, though less elaborate comb from the Linacre Garden site in Canterbury was dated to the mid/late seventeenth century (Greep 1990, fig. 68: 101, 190-191).

At Franklyn House the Phase 7 garden soil (G36) in Area B was truncated by the construction of Building 8 (Fig. 10; Phase 8) that would have fronted onto the High Street. The surviving remains (G39) consisted of a rear wall (S1010) that extended for 8.08m composed of unfrogged red bricks bonded with Portland mortar in a common English bond. Within the building there were at least two large rooms that appeared to have been divided by a large sub-rectangular structure (S1049), possibly a stair case or central fireplace. The walls were abutted by a levelling deposit (S1068; not illustrated) that contained occupation refuse including pottery and animal bone (1700-1740). This was overlain by a brick floor that created a hard-wearing internal surface. Occupational material discovered to the rear of the building included clay pipes (commonly given away to customers with tobacco in the eighteenth century), London stoneware tankards and a few bottles indicating that the property may have been built as the first phase of the Red Lion public house. In Area C further brick-built walls (G40; not illustrated) likely formed a separate building the full extent of which could not be identified.

Fig. 10 Franklyn House: Phases 8 and 9. Scale 1:200.

At Fordwich Garage new development (Fig. 8; Phase 8) began at the beginning of the eighteenth century and followed the complete demolition of the remnants of the medieval buildings. Building 9 was built (G174-5) using stone and flint foundations for brick-built walls. The walls were positioned on much the same alignment as the previous building, although the back wall (S5210) was located approximately 0.50m to the north of the earlier wall line. Consequently the internal layout was much the same; the walls were abutted by a levelling deposit (S5233) of crushed peg-tile and clay that contained domestic refuse including pottery dated 1700-1775. The levelling layer was covered by a layer of green sand that would likely have formed a bedding deposit for a brick floor. A brick-built hearth (S5248) was inserted within Room 1 while in Room 3 a small pit contained refuse including pottery and clay pipes (1730-1780). Occupation material identified within Building 9 included a collection of clay pipes, occasional thimbles and dressmaking or haberdashery pins with wound wire, flat and spherical heads.

In addition Building 10 (G77-80) was constructed on the same alignment as the earlier Building 7 and would have fronted onto Fordwich Road. This consisted of two rooms with a dividing wall that included a threshold and no further visible occupational features. A seventeenth-century farthing or token from Deal was discovered within the surface deposits of this building, issued by Peter Underwood a candlemaker. Garden soil and features to the rear of both buildings were sealed by a backyard surface (G176; S5219, S5241 and S5253) that consisted of rough flint and brick that contained demolition material dated 1780-1820.

Franklyn House produced 134 fragments of animal bone whilst Fordwich Garage produced only 24 fragments related to later development (Phase 8). Identifiable species included cattle, sheep/goat, goat, pig and roe; only Franklyn House produced horse and sheep. A total of 81 cattle fragments were identified, the majority from Franklyn House, these largely consisting of elements from primary butchery waste with cranial fragments, loose teeth or foot bones; only 9% of the cattle bones related to main meat-bearing elements. The majority of butchered remains were cattle and the range and location of the butchery marks suggested a number of different processes were taking place during this period that included disarticulation, primary carcass division, portioning, skinning and marrow extraction.

The pottery assemblage indicates a clear hiatus in refuse disposal at Fordwich Garage between at least the mid/late fifteenth and later seventeenth century: a gap also noted in the clay tobacco pipe assemblage. In contrast, the early post-medieval assemblage from Franklyn House is significantly larger. The local red earthenware PM1, which includes sub-divisions PM1.2 to PM1.9, accounts for 65.4% of the early post-medieval assemblage. A typically wide range of domestic vessels is present including jars, bowls, plates, dishes, pipkins, jugs, cups, mugs and costrels with good internal, external or all over glazes. There is an exceptional near complete squat standing costrel (Fig. 5, 6), which was located within an individual cut (S300), of probable later seventeenth to mid eighteenth century date. There are also buff earthenwares, thought to be of Wealden origin (PM2 with its sub-divisions) that account for an additional 4.2% of the assemblage, including fragments from a couple of chamber pots. The other Kent wares at Franklyn House are Canterbury slipware vessels (PM45) and a single sherd from a calcareous peppered vessel of uncertain form (PM64).

A significant quantity of English regional wares are present. These account for 20.4% of the Franklyn House assemblage of this period. The earliest are two sherds from yellow glazed Border ware vessels (PM10.2) and a single sherd from a Metropolitan slipware plate (PM19) of seventeenth-century date. The 33 sherds of tin-glazed earthenware (PM9 including its sub-divisions) all probably derive from London and include a range of vessel types and decoration dated to the seventeenth century. London stoneware (PM25) is also well represented in the assemblage mainly deriving from cylindrical tankards, though a few bottles are also present. The other regional ware, contemporary with PM25, consists of Staffordshire earthenwares (PM21) that account for 17 sherds.

The early post-medieval assemblage also contains a notable quantity of imported vessels, mainly from the Rhineland and Low Countries. These imports constitute 7.5% of the Franklyn House assemblage of the period (no imports were recovered from Fordwich Garage). Notably these were predominantly found in a garden soil deposit (G36). Although a wide variety of imported vessels of this period have been noted in Canterbury (e.g. Macpherson-Grant 1990) no detailed analysis has been undertaken to establish the percentage range they normally make up in any one assemblage. The current sixteenth- to early seventeenth-century assemblage includes fragments from a late Raeren (PM3) jug, a probable German whiteware green glazed jug, sherds from Frechen stoneware (PM5) bottles and from seventeenth- to early eighteenth-century Westerwald tankards (PM6). Dutch redware and a Martincamp earthenware flask (PM62c) are also present. As such it would appear that from at least the mid seventeenth to mid eighteenth centuries the inhabitants of the Franklyn House site were well connected with continental trade, though whether this was direct or through a secondary source is uncertain.

The cessation of activity at Fordwich Garage and the limited development at Franklyn House (Phase 7) is a reflection of a general down-turn in the economy of the region during the late sixteenth and seventeenth century. This was brought about by the decline of the ports of Fordwich and Sandwich due to the silting up of the River Stour and a reduction in the pilgrim trade that hit Canterbury in the early sixteenth century (Mate 2010, 23). These problems would have been exacerbated by the dissolution of the monasteries in 1538 although the abbot of St Augustine’s Abbey was allowed to retire to Sturry Court. The hearth tax records of 1664 for Sturry Street show that other than Viscount Strangford’s property that had 20 hearths the majority of properties had a single hearth while a further 13 were listed as not chargeable (Harrington et al. 2000). The apparent decline in prosperity on both sites was in keeping with large swathes of rural Kent during the seventeenth century, where a combination of population pressure and a decline in textile manufacture led to movement of labourers to urban areas or places as far away as Ireland, Europe and the New World (Dobson 1995, 11).

The beginning of the eighteenth century (Phase 8) saw new development take place at Franklyn House. A substantial brick-built property (Building 8) was located within Area B that included a brick laid floor and possible staircase. To the rear of the property there was abundant refuse material, including multiple clay pipes, tankards and imported bottles that may be associated with a public house; this suggestion is confirmed on the Tithe map of 1841 that denotes the property as the Red Lion public house. A large assemblage of pottery including London Ware along with a number of imported pottery wares mainly from the Rhineland and Low Countries suggest that the owners of the Red Lion may have acted as agents receiving produce such as wheat as well as passengers before transport on hoys to London or the near continent; a common practice in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Kent (Mingay 1995, 64).

The start of the eighteenth century also saw development take place at Fordwich Garage. Building 9 formed the final property to be located facing onto Water Lane and was built in brick and stone with a probable timber frame. Constructed with the same layout as the previous phased buildings this property had a single brick hearth and occupational material that included haberdashery pins and dressmaking tools. Further development along Fordwich Road included Building 10 that lacked any formal domestic features. With two open rooms this property may have functioned as a storage area or shop front. Although it is unknown by whom the buildings were constructed it appears that they were used domestically and potentially for small scale industry such as dressmaking. The lack of foreign or regional pottery imports as well as the presence of a jetton from Deal suggests that this activity was for a local market.

Late post-Medieval: mid/late eighteenth to mid twentieth centuries (Phase 9): development in Area A at Franklyn House (Fig. 10; Phase 9) occurred in the late eighteenth century slightly later than the building of the Red Lion in Area B. The remains of Building 6 (Phase 7) were replaced with the construction of Building 11 (G37) that consisted of brick-built walls, the north-western of which lay approximately 0.20m to the north-west of the previous medieval wall line. The walls were composed of four courses of unfrogged red bricks bonded by grey white Portland mortar in no particular bond. Within the building the space was sub-divided by an H-shaped fireplace (S122) and the floor height was raised by a 0.12m thick levelling deposit that contained abundant occupational and construction material dated 1780-1800. Additional thin strips of brick wall were laid directly on this surface and formed the support for wooden floorboards. To the rear a further brick, ragstone and chalk built garden wall (S120) extended along the north-western property boundary.

The early nineteenth century saw continued occupation within the Phase 8 buildings at Fordwich Garage and the structures appear on the 1841 Tithe map. But by the First Edition Ordnance Survey of 1871 the land on the junction of Fordwich Road and Water Lane was marked as arable (not illustrated). Robber pits (G81) cut through the upper occupation deposits within the buildings that contained pottery and clay pipes dated 1800-1850.

Both Building 8 and 11 at Franklyn House underwent minor alterations during the early nineteenth century with the insertion of new walls (G42; not illustrated). The rear garden soils were cut by several post-holes and pits (G 38 & 43) and a brick- and stone-built cess tank (S113) that contained a large pottery assemblage. Occupational refuse scattered throughout the garden deposits included pottery and clay pipes that ranged in date from 1780-1810 to 1800-1850 and 1850-1925. The early eighteenth-century Red Lion public house in Area B appears to have changed use during the late nineteenth century with the insertion of a clay floor and a small hearth (not illustrated). This unusual modification was short lived however as the building was demolished to make way for a remodelled public house. Still operating under the name The Red Lion (G45) the pub was rebuilt in the 1930s with a brick-laid car park (S1007; not illustrated) in order to cater for the increasing motorised trade.

It appears that all of the buildings at Franklyn House were demolished in the middle of the twentieth century, most likely after they had sustained significant damage from the explosion of a parachute mine in 1941. Demolition material was spread across the site and contained abundant cultural items that included a single shard of shrapnel potentially from antiaircraft fire.

Animal bone came predominantly from Franklyn House during the late post-medieval period and totalled 110 fragments. Identifiable bone included cattle, sheep/goat, sheep and pig with sheep/goat being the predominant species. The identified butchery waste was associated with sheep/goat remains that included head and foot bones and may have been a by-product of activities associated with the final phases of fleece processing. The cattle remains were dominated by meat-bearing elements and alongside some sheep/goat remains the long bones and vertebrae showed clear signs of portioning, being sawn above and below the articulations creating shaft segments. This represented consumption and cooking waste with butchery activities occurring onsite almost certainly supplying the Red Lion public house.

The majority of the late post-medieval pottery assemblage is of local LPM1 glazed redwares in a range of forms, including jars, bowls, dishes, cups and jugs. The lack of very large vessels suggests the majority are of the second half of the eighteenth or early nineteenth century, a date in keeping with the corresponding finewares. Other kitchen wares include LPM2 unglazed earthenware and LPM5 yellow ware. The LPM5 baking dishes include two examples with the remains of incomplete maker’s stamps, one of which has WR either side of a crown (William IV: 1830-7). There is a scatter of late stoneware sherds with pieces from five different LPM10 English stoneware bottles (mainly blacking), including one of Joseph Bourne of Denby (1812+), and a single rouletted LPM23 Nottingham sherd.

The finewares are essentially composed of domestic LPM11 creamware vessels and LPM12 pearlware in a variety of decorative styles. Most of the transfer-printed decoration consists of Chinese type landscapes, though English landscapes and foliage designs are notably more common at Franklyn House. Other finewares include sherds from a PM32 red basaltes coffee can with engine-turned decoration and a few pieces of English porcelain.

Finewares post-dating the 1820s/30s are far less common and were all recovered from Franklyn House. Typically for this period imported wares form a very small proportion of the overall assemblage. The base fragment from a PM40 Chinese porcelain tea bowl is the earliest, possibly being of early/mid to late eighteenth-century date. The remaining pieces are all of nineteenth-century date and include a few fragments of late Normandy stoneware margarine pots (LPM29) and part of a stoneware Seltzer bottle (LPM31), all types imported for their contents and to be found at all levels of society.

Except for enterprising public houses the economy of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Sturry appears to have continued a static trajectory after the decline in the late sixteenth century. The pottery assemblage for the period was similar to the medieval period with a high percentage of local domestic wares with sparse regional and foreign imports generally associated with vessels that contained other commodities. The construction of new brick-built houses in the late eighteenth century was most likely for farming or labourer families and reflects the continued demand for housing in the village that still lay on an important turnpike linking Canterbury to the east and north coast of Kent. But much of the trade that formerly passed via Sturry had diminished by the late eighteenth century as the port at Whitstable became favoured (Barker 1995, 140).


The two archaeological investigations conducted in Sturry have identified tene-ment plots of land that have been occupied and developed from the early twelfth century. This occupation appears to have been a ribbon development along what is now Sturry High Street with land gradually being reclaimed from the River Stour towards the south. The earliest occupation (Phase 1), consisting of timber-posted structures and refuse activity, was identified at Franklyn House with similar activity at the Fordwich Garage site by the thirteenth century. Gradually formal timber-framed buildings (Buildings 1, 2, 3 and 4) were constructed by the mid thirteenth century (Phases 2 and 3), the majority of which had clay floors and peg-tile hearths resembling small domestic dwellings.

The late medieval period saw a marked increase in prosperity at both sites. At Fordwich Garage the late fourteenth-century (Phases 4 and 5) development consisted of a large specialised building (Building 5) equipped with an oven within Room 1 that almost certainly required specialised ventilation in the form of a roof louver. The building had a compacted flint yard to the rear and was supplied via a ceramic water pipe. This building was intensively used predominantly to produce foodstuffs and may have been supplying passing trade and pilgrims as a wayside inn along with helping to supply the abbot’s estate at Sturry Court. At Franklyn House the late medieval development (phases 4 and 5) focused within Area A and consisted of a flint and chalk built domestic building (Building 6). The building appears to have been relatively high status compared with the earlier medieval buildings some of which in Areas B and C may still have been in use during this period. Imported pottery suggests that the inhabitants had close connections with continental trade; indeed slightly later in this period the internal space of the building was converted for either storage or commercial activities.

The range of animals identified on both sites during the late medieval period derived from domesticated species that were likely being kept nearby. The animal bone represented a high degree of primary waste suggesting that butchery activities were taking place on site. There was a lack of meat bearing elements except for pig, suggesting that, after primary processing and perhaps cooking, consumption was occurring off site. Wild animals were extremely rare in the assemblage, typical of most medieval sites (other than high status ones) due to laws imposed after the Norman Conquest which restricted the right to hunt and exploit wild animals.

Overall the fish bone assemblages from the late medieval period shows a reliance on a coastal marine and estuarine fishery for small fish, all of which could have been caught locally. Cod and haddock, prime large ‘white fish’ species, were few and could have been caught along the shoreline especially in the winter months. Other marine fish include roker (a shallow water ray), gurnard, also found in shallow water and mackerel which migrates into inshore waters. Freshwater fisheries are primarily represented by eel, which matures in freshwater and were valuable fisheries all through the medieval period.

Archaeologically the downward turn of the economy that affected the region by the end of the sixteenth century (Phase 6) is strikingly clear. As the ports of Fordwich and Sandwich ceased trading on a large scale the passing trade through Sturry may have significantly declined with an immediate impact on the economic fortunes of the population. The properties (Buildings 5 and 7) at Fordwich Garage appear to have been demolished with a significant hiatus of activity. The tenants, perhaps severely impoverished, may have migrated to wealthier port towns and cities. Activity at Franklyn House (Building 6) in Area A may have been an exception, where perhaps there was a small butcher. Stability only returned to the village in the eighteenth century (Phases 7, 8 and 9) as new domestic accommodation (Buildings 9, 10 and 11) was built for village labourers, farmers, trades and craftsmen. The Red Lion (Building 8) built at the beginning of the eighteenth century would have been a significant commercial enterprise.

The excavations within Sturry have produced the first clear understanding of the establishment and subsequent development of the village through the late and post-medieval periods. The well preserved archaeological sequence has illuminated the lives of the occupants within two areas of a relatively low status rural village located close to Canterbury, the material evidence from which should assist future interdisciplinary research.


Thanks are extended to the field teams at both sites and to the post-excavation team and volunteers who archived all of the material finds. Illustrations were produced by Barbara McNee and Peter Atkinson. Special thanks are extended to Angela Pullen (Sturry Community Officer) who publicised the excavations and instigated several community events which highlighted the findings of the excavations within the local area. The Trust was happy to welcome several school visits to the excavation at Franklyn House.


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