BLOOMSBURY, St George’s Church, Bloomsbury Way (TQ 302 815), Gallery 

Felling date: 1719/20

All timbers (1/7). Pine floor beam 1719(85C). Site Master 1504-1719 GBL01 (t = 7.9 JEMGRP03; 6.1 SWED_HL1; 5.9 MRGASQ05)

The gallery was found to have been constructed entirely of softwood (probably pine) but was sampled, along with some of the oak panelling. Only a single sample dated, showing the wood to have come from the Baltic region, and to have been cut in 1719/20. This beam had been truncated at its west end. The areas around each end (stairway) have been altered and the front may have been extended. It is not known how long timbers cut in the Baltic countries may have been stored before being incorporated into buildings in this country, though evidence from other sites suggests the delay was usually only a few years. Dating commissioned by the architects. (Miles, Worthington, and Bridge 2007, VA 38, list 189)

LONDON, White Tower, H.M. Tower of London (TQ 336 805)

(a)Primary Phase

Felling date ranges: After 1050; 1068; 1049-81; 1055-87; 1072-1104; and After 1101

Dungeon drawbar linings (1/2) 1059; S entrance drawbar linings (4/5) 992, 995, 999, 1041; Ground floor spine wall drawbar lining 1012, 1028, 1040(H/S), 1043; First floor embrasure lintels 1023, 1046(H/S), 1063(H/S), Second floor gutter boards 1005, 1081, 1092. Site Master 907-1092 WHTOWER1 (t=7.7 MASTERAL; 7.5 REF3; 7.3 SOUTH)

(b) Edward III: Subcrypt door

Felling date range: After 1346

Door planks (14/15) 1337, 1329, 1323, 1322, 1320, 1321, 1319, 1316, 1315, 1313, 1301, 1274, 1234. Site Master 1109-1337 WHTOWER2 (t=8.8 REF4; 7.7 GRIMSBY1; 7.5 STHELEN2)

(x) Henry IV: Door to bottom of Great Vice, Flamsteed Tower

Felling date range: After 1458

Door planks (5/6) 14112, 1432, 1440, 1449. Site Master 1245-1440 WHTOWER8 (t=10.01 BALTIC1; 8.96 MAGDALN3;8.41 WNCHSTR1)

(c) Henry VII: Roof reconstruction

Felling dates: Spring 1488; Spring 1489; Spring 1490

Ridge beam 1489 (20¼ C); Tiebeam 1488 (22¼ C); Purlin 1484 (22); Rafter 1468 (H/S); Second floor boards 1487 (17¼ C), 1472 (10), 1472 (H/S), 1425. Site Master 1301-1489 WHTOWER3 (t=10.8 MASTERAL; 9.9 HANTS97; 9.7 OXON93)

(d) Henry VIII: Flamsteed Tower

Felling dates: Winter 1531/2; Spring 1532; Spring 1533

Roof ribs 1531 (21¼ C), 1532 (23¼ C), 1505 (H/S); Ogee braces (2/3) 1531 (17C), 1504 (1). Site Master 1370-1532 WHTOWER4 (t=6.8 OXON93; 6.2 ROMSEY; 5.8 WC KITCH)

(e) South-East Turret

Felling date ranges: 1503-1535; After 1512

Top floor joists (2/3) 1495 (H/S), 1508.

(f) Elizabeth I: First Floor East Chamber

Felling date: Winter 1565/6

Arcade posts 1565 (20C), 1448, 1407.

(g) James I: West chamber

Felling dates: Summer 1602; Winter 1602/3; Spring 1603

Ground floor arcade posts 1601 (19½ C), 1578; First floor arcade posts (2/3) 1601 (14½ C), 1602 (25C); First floor main arcade beam 1602 (21C); First floor ceiling joists (4/7) 1602 (11C, 18C, 23C), 1602 (11¼ C). Site Master 1463-1602 WHTOWER5 (t=10.9 MASTERAL; 10.7 WC KITCH; 9.0 SALOP95)

(h) South-west turret

Felling dates: Winter 1616/17

Diagonal ties 1616 (16C), 1616 (18), 1599 (1). Site Master 1517-1616 WHTOWER6 (t=10.4 MASTERAL; 9.8 OXON93; 8.7 NUFF)

(i) George III: South-west turret

Felling dates: Winter 1778/9; Winter 1779/80

Braces to centre post 1778 (20C), 1779 (19C). Site Master 1688-1782 WHTOWER7 (t=8.4 MASTERAL; 7.5 BAREFOOT; 7.0 HANTS97; 6.8 MDM17B)

(j) South-east turret

Felling dates: Winter 1780/81; Spring 1781

Centre beam to roof 1780 (19C); Perimeter beams to roof 1780 (9C), 1780 (22¼ C)

(k) North-west turret

Felling dates: Spring 1777; Winter 1779/80; Winter 1780/81

Diagonal beam top floor 1776 (53¼ C); Brace 1779 (17C); Centre beam to roof 1779 (15C); Secondry beam roof frame 1780 (20C); Axial beam top floor frame 1780 (14C).

(l) Flamsteed Tower

Felling dates: Winter 1782/3; Spring 1783

Main centre beam 1782 (14C); Principal ribs 1782 (13¼ C, 15¼ C, 18¼ C).

Samples from the White Tower of the Tower of London have been collected and analysed as part of a project directed by Dr Edward Impey of the Historic Royal Palaces Agency and carried out in conjunction with investigation and recording by the Oxford Archaeological Unit.

There was little hope of finding first phase material from the Tower, but fragments of linings from drawbar sockets, both at the south principal ground-floor entrance and in the basement, gave suitably early dates of after 1050 and after 1068 respectively [a], while the discovery of a series of rainwater drains in the primary parapet walks (present gallery level) may indicate that the primary build continued into the 12th century, and that only subsequently were the walls heightened. An early door of vertical edge-pegged boards with horizontally-boarded core, sometimes referred to as the `Norman Door', was found to be from after 1346, probably during the period of Edward III, and was built of imported Baltic oak [b]. The main roof was found to have been replaced exactly the era anticipated from the use of double tenons (one with diminished haunch) in about 1490 [c]. Complementary documentary studies have not yet been completed, but expected Henrician work was found only in the roof of the Flamsteed Tower (north-east turret), [d] and floor of the south-east [e] turret.

The major internal floor carpentry, serving the naval and record stores seem to belong to 1602/3 [g], but following the construction of the east chamber some forty years earlier [f]. A timber and iron tying system is found in the south-west turret and dates to 1617 [h], whereas the major series of roof replacements and repairs in the turret roofs belong to a sequence between 1780 and 1783 [i-l], and for which an entry was found in the Minutes of the Board of Ordnance for August 1780. (ref pers comm Geoffrey Parnell). Notes by Julian Munby, OAU. (Miles and Worthington 1997, VA 28, list 82).

Subsequent sampling of additional elements after 1997 included the Norman lintels to the niches in the first floor embrasures, another drawbar socket lining in the spine wall to the ground floor, and the door to the bottom of the Great Vice in the Flamsteed Tower. The new Norman material has given several heartwood/sapwood boundaries which have provided valuable felling date ranges, greatly helping to interpret the construction history of the building.

WESTMINSTER, Liddells, 19 Dean’s Yard, Westminster School (TQ 300 794)

Felling dates: Winter 1540/41

Re-set transverse beams 1540(21C), 1521(h/s), 1516(h/s); Rafters 1540(25C, 23C, 17C); Principal rafters 1540(34C), 1523(h/s); Purlins 1538(20), 1537(23); Tiebeam 1540(22C); Raking strut 1540(27C); Landing beam in staircase tower 1540(26C). Site Master 1346-1540 LIDDELLS (t = 12.3 LONDON; 11.6 SENG98; 10.9 KENT88)

The buildings now comprising 19 Dean’s Yard were thought by the RCHM to have been constructed between c. 1370 and 1390 (Tatton-Brown pers comm). The main medieval fabric surviving from this period is Blackstole Tower and the adjacent late-fourteenth century stone west wall fronting onto Dean’s Yard. In the Blackstole Tower some original roof beams have been reused, probably in the seventeenth century, but lack enough rings for sampling. Four timbers from the reconstruction phase were sampled but failed to date. In Liddells, the building adjacent to the Blackstole Tower, a number of the second-floor beams and the entire roof structure is comprised of timbers which have clearly been re-used. The main transverse beams have been turned upside down and probably flipped from front to back when the top storey was raised in the mid seventeenth century. Tree-ring analysis of all elements of the roof structure, as well as the re-used beams in the floor below, showed that all were felled in the winter of 1540/41 and must come from the original building on this site. This date coincides with the founding of the school by Henry VIII in 1541. A contemporaneous brick staircase tower accessed through the Blackstole Tower gave access to the building and still stands as built. Dating commissioned by Westminster School. (Miles, Worthington, and Bridge 2007, VA 38, list 189)


WESTMINSTER, Westminster Abbey (TQ 300 795), North nave triforium roof

Felling date ranges: 1349-75, 1357-89

Purlins (2/10) 1348(14), 1349(1). Site Master 1280-1349 wa34 (t = 7.0 LONDON; 6.9 SNOXALL; 6.0 SCADBURY)

Westminster Abbey is a large, multi-phased building with origins predating 1066, but much of the standing structure dates to the mid 13th century. Subsequently, the roofs have been rebuilt, the last major repairs done in the late 1960s when the majority of the high roofs were replaced or substantially altered. Given this recent loss, the Westminster Abbey Fabric Commission wished to ensure that any further repairs to the historic fabric were carefully recorded. During 2000 and 2001, repairs to the north nave triforium were nearing completion, and the dean and chapter commissioned a programme of dendrochronology to ascertain the dates of the timbers which were being replaced. Whilst the main beams belonged to the present 18th or 19th -century roof, the purlins were evidently reused from an earlier structure. They most likely relate to the reroofing of the western part of the nave during the late 14th century. (T. Tatton-Brown, ‘Westminster Abbey: archaeological recording at the west end of the church’, Antiq. J. 75 (1995), 171-88). (Miles and Worthington 2002, VA 33, list 126)

WESTMINSTER, Westminster Abbey (TQ 300 795) South transept, east triforium roof, repair     

Felling date range: 1701-31

Beams (1/4) 1701(11). Site Master 1606-1701 wa13 (t = 7.6 bct78; 7.2 HILLHAL2; 6.7 OXON93)

Work on the triforium roofs of the Abbey has progressed to the south transept.  The date range is entirely consistent with the adjacent early eighteenth-century rainwater hopper heads, probably part of the repairs begun in 1699 under Sir Christopher Wren. Dating  commissioned by the Dean and Chapter and the Westminster Abbey Fabric Commission. (Miles and Worthington 2003, VA 34, list 140)

WESTMINSTER, Westminster Abbey (TQ 300 795)                                            

(a)     The door called ‘Pyx’, Chapter House Vestibule 

Felling date range: 1032-64

(b)     Pyx Chamber outer door

Felling date range: After 1283

(c)     Pyx Chamber inner door

Felling date range: After 1282

(d)     Pyx Chamber inner door middle lock      

Felling date range: 1595-1627

(e)     North Transept – North-east vice door   

Felling date range: After 1227

(f)      South Transept – South-east door to passage    

Felling date range: After 1338

(g)     Door to Chapter House undercroft         

Felling date range: After 1224

(h)     Jerusalem Chamber Undercroft - Primary phase ceiling   

Felling dates: Summer 1369 and Spring 1370

(i)      Jerusalem Chamber Undercroft - Alterations to raise floor           

Felling date: Spring 1617

 (a) Boards (2/4) 1030(10), 1026(H/S); (b) (3/5) Boards 1275, 1267, 1266; (c) Boards 12742, 1273, 1270, 1263; (d) Lock case 1593(7); (e) Boards 1219, 1191, 1187, 1181; (f) Boards (4/5) 1330, 1328, 1322, 1314; (g) Boards 1182, 1165; Stile 1198; braces (1/3) 1111(H/S); Rail 1181; (h) Joists (2/5) 1368(19½C), 1328(H/S); Samson post 1369(32¼C); Bolster (1360(6); Axial beam 1329(H/S); (i) Wedges (5/7) 1616(19¼C), 1593, 1588, 1579.   Site Masters (a) 924-1030 WMNSTR1 (t = 7.3 GREENSTD; 5.9 WHTOWER1; 4.7 EASTMID); (b) 1165-1267 WMNSR2 (t = 6.2 GRIMSBY; 6.1 GDANSK; 6.0 Bridge St Ipswich); (c) 1137-1275 WMNSTR3 (t = 5.0 Weserbergland; 5.0 Southern Poland; 4.6 STHELEN2); (d) 1442-1593 wa65 (t = 7.3 SHALFORD2; 6.5 PRBRIGHT; 6.2 BDLEIAN3); (e) 1004-1219 WMNSTR4 (t = 11.6 Peterborough nave CG working mean; 9.1 Niedersachsen; 7.6 West Denmark); (f) 1162-1330 WMNSTR5 (t =  8.6 BALTIC0; 8.2 Southwark; 8.1 HULLBLDS); 1168-1328 wa83 (t = 5.8 GRIMSBY; 5.3 BALTIC0; 5.1 Southwark); (g) 1000-1182 WMNSTR6 (t = 7.8 LONDON; 7.2 WALES97; 7.1 HANTS02); 1083-1198 wa94 (t = 5.5 LONDON; 5.5 PETERC; 5.4 HANTS02); 1097-1181 wa95 (t = 6.6 LONDON; 6.1 REF75; 5.8 MASTERAL); (h) 1262-1369 WMNSTR7 (t = 7.7 CLBASQ01; 7.1 HANTS02; 7.0 TODDNGTN); (i) 1504-1616 WMNSTR8 (t = 7.4 CHAWTON3; 6.8 CHAWTON6; 6.3 HANTS02).

Six doors were sampled as part of a programme of reassessing the historic medieval timberwork initially dated by Dr John Fletcher in the 1970s, and expanded to include all significant doors within the Abbey as well as chests and fittings in the Pyx Chamber, Muniment Room, and Lapidarium over the north Choir aisle. This work has been funded by English Heritage and carried out with the co-operation of the Dean and Chapter of Westminster Abbey (Miles, D, and Bridge, M, 2005, The Tree-Ring Dating of the Early Medieval Doors at Westminster Abbey, London, CfA Rep 38/2005).  The chests and other fittings will be published in VA37.  Work on the Jerusalem Chamber undercroft was commissioned directly by the Dean and Chapter.

(a) The door from the Chapter House Vestibule into the under-stairs cupboard on the south side has historically been called the ‘Pyx’ door, not to be confused with the two large doors from the cloister into the Pyx treasury itself (b and c). The door is described by Hewett who was one of the first to appreciate its significance. It is constructed of five rebated boards, all of them converted tangentially by sawing through and through, not quarter-sawn as stated by Hewett (1985, 155-6).  They were secured by three flush, inset ledges in the shape of two opposed dovetails, the edges cut slightly concave.  The ledges were placed top and bottom on the back, and in the middle on the front, which was covered with animal skin.  There is the impression of a Romanesque C and strap hinge with split-curl terminals at the top of the door (Geddes 1999, 344; Rodwell, 2002, 7), and a centre strap still survives. The door has been reduced by about 4” (100mm) and inserted in its present position back to front on the south side of the Chapter House vestibule when it was reconstructed together with the Chapter House circa AD 1250.  It is not known where in the Abbey the door would have originally been located, although Hewett suggests it may have originated from the original Pyx Chapel.

Two boards from the door were initially measured by Dr J M Fletcher in the 1970s, but these remained undated.  These two boards, plus two additional boards were sampled using a micro-borer developed for the Historic Royal Palaces Agency for work in the Tower of London.  These produced a number of additional sequences which matched well with the original measurements from J M Fletcher.  A number of these were compared, and the site master matched well with the Greensted Church chronology and another from a series of boards from the Tower of London. A number of the boards remarkably retained some sapwood, producing a felling date of AD 1032 – 64, making it the oldest securely dated door in Britain, and the earliest example of post-Roman sawn timber boards.  As such, it is of Saxon origin, and must have been part of the original Abbey complex built by Edward the Confessor between AD 1050 and 1065.  The carpenter responsible for the Abbey during the 1050s was named Teinfrith, and the dendrochronology has shown that the timber was of English origin.  The date range produced by this door has pushed back the earliest known examples of square-rebated boards by about half a century (Geddes 1999, 28-9).

(b, c) A pair of doors lead from the east cloister range just south of the Chapter House vestibule into the Pyx Chapel.  These are very substantial in nature, clearly constructed at the same time, and are composed of a series of 5½” (138mm) boards slotted in between vertical muntins rather than between two sets of ledges as suggested by Hewett (1985, 174).  The framing material was all too fast grown and small-sectioned to be suitable for sampling, but the boards in between were all very slow grown with good dating potential.  Five boards from the outer door, and four from the inner door were sampled.  None retained any evidence of a heartwood/sapwood boundary, but the clustering of dates between AD 1266 and 1275 for the outer door, and between AD 1263 and 1274 for the inner door, suggests that the minimum of heartwood had been removed with the sapwood, with a felling period somewhere around circa AD 1300.  This accords well with the documented burglary of the Royal Treasury in AD 1303 for which these doors must be directly related (Rodwell 2002, 4).  Although the doors are very similar in construction,  diagonal ledges are used on the inside of the outer door, whereas the ledges are horizontal on the other faces. This has raised the question as to whether one of the doors was a replacement resulting from the burglary, and the other was an original which had been undamaged.  Dendrochronology however, strongly suggests that the doors are coeval, despite the poor matching between the groups of boards.  Study of the stone jambs of the doorway suggests that they are coeval with timber doors and that the entire doorway was inserted into the Pyx Chamber following the burglary, which is now thought to have been in the Chapter House undercorft which served as the Royal Treasury at the time (Rodwell pers comm). Dendro-provenancing has shown that some of the boards were imported from the eastern Baltic region.  Although not sampled, the fast-grown durns and muntins seem likely to be of local origin.

(d) On the inside of both doors are three massive wood-cased locks.  The middle lock on the inner door retained some sapwood, and was considered worth sampling.  Seven sapwood rings were retained, and a felling date range of AD 1595-1627 was derived for this lock.  The timber used in this was of English origin.

(e) In the north transept, the small two-centred headed door leading to the north-east vice consists of four boards with V-edge joints.  There are three chamfered ledges on the back, but the cross-boards are later.  Decorative ironwork includes two strap hinges with two pairs of tendrils and pointed lobe, and a raised bar over the weld (Geddes 1999, 344).  The north transept is thought to have been completed by AD 1253 when the north porch adjacent was being leaded, and is basically contemporary with the Chapter House.  All four boards were sampled, and although none of the boards retained any evidence of a heartwood/sapwood transition, three last measured ring dates cluster between AD 1181 and 1191.  However, the line of sampling of these boards was through the V-edge, resulting in the loss of 20 or more rings to the outer extremity of the feather edge. However, the last board which did not have a V-joint formed on the outer edge produced a last measured ring date of 1219, which is entirely consistent with a circa 1250 construction date.  Dendro-provenancing suggests a source to the west of the usual Baltic region, possibly Germany.

(f) The corresponding door in the south-east corner of the south transept is different in construction.  This door, as seen from the main body of the Abbey, has a series of seven vertical square-edged boards, clench-nailed in a square pattern to horizontal cross-boarding on the back.  Four of the five boards sampled dated, giving last measured ring dates ranging from 1314 to 1330.  None of the dated boards retained evidence for sapwood, therefore a terminus post quem or felled after date of after AD 1338 can be given for this door.  Stylistically, this door is very similar to the sub-crypt door in the White Tower at the Tower of London, which produced similar last heartwood-ring dates.  Unfortunately a fifth board with some sapwood failed to date.  Dendro-provenancing suggest an eastern Baltic origin for the timber.

(g) The passage entered from door (f) leads to the stair vice leading to the triforium level as well as continuing downwards to the Chapter House undercroft.  At the bottom of the first flight of steps leading to the undercroft is a large door which has been reused from elsewhere.  The outer face consists of four old planks abutting a replacement hanging stile, probably repaired by Sir Gilbert Scott in the nineteenth century (Warwick Rodwell pers com).  The inside face of the door consists of a locking stile, a bottom rail with a dovetail joint into the stile, and a series of diagonal braces / ledges which are set at different angles.  Seven timbers were sampled, of which five dated. The timbers with the latest heartwood-ring dates are the external boards, two of which were found to originate from the same tree and produced a 'felled after date' or terminus post quem of after AD 1224.   The bottom rail and locking stile produced termini post quem or 'felled after dates' of after AD 1190 and after AD 1207 respectively.  These four last heartwood-ring dates are consistent with each other and would suggest a felling period circa AD 1250.  However, one of the braces dated with a clear heartwood/sapwood boundary date of AD 1111.  This would give a felling date range of AD 1120-52, which is a full century earlier than the other dated elements of the door. This board could be reused but the heartwood/sapwood boundary identified may well represent included sapwood, an anomalous anatomical feature sometimes found in timbers (Miles et al 2004).  Dendrochronology shows that all the timber is local in origin.  The dating of this door to circa AD 1250 would suggest that it was subsequently reused from one of the main doors of the Abbey, and was probably sited in its present position by Scott in the 1860s (Rodwell pers comm).

(h) The undercroft ceiling to the Jerusalem Chamber consists of an axial beam running 5/6th the length of the room, jointed with a bridled scarf joint and supported on two samson posts with tapered, rounded-ended bolsters with concave braces.  Some 28 joists are lodged on the axial beam and supported at their ends on a plate supported by stone corbels.  The southern two-thirds of the joists have been raised up 6 in by an inserted packer and wedges which dated to 1617 (i). Although the Abbot’s account roll for 1369-70 is missing, when work might have begun on the undercroft, that for 1370-71 shows some £42 expended on the Abbot’s ‘novi edificii apud Westm’.  The following year’s expenditure was the largest, with £118 being spent on the works, including canvas for the windows of ‘my lord’s new camera’, which must  refer to the Jerusalem Chamber. A protracted period of building is indicated, with the shell, including the undercroft ceiling being completed within a couple of years, and the main roof, internal fittings, and glazing being completed by 1376.  (J A Robinson, 1911  The Abbot’s House at Westminster, Cambridge).  Dating commissioned by the Dean and Chapter. (Miles and Worthington 2005, VA 36, list 166)

FULHAM, Fulham Palace (TQ 241 762)

(a)     Hall        

Felling date: Spring 1493

(b)     West Gateway   

Felling date: Spring 1495

(c)     Gates     

Felling date range: 1490-1500          

(a) All timbers (2/9); Collars 1486(13), 1492(12¼C). (b)  All timbers (5/6); Door posts 1463(H/S), 1468(H/S), 1473(H/S): Spandrels 1470(H/S), 1494(21¼C). (c) Boards 1440, 1469, 1472(13+1NM), 1480, 1484(4+1NM). Site Masters (a-b) 1356-1494 FULHAM1 (t = 12.9 SENG98; 11.9 WHTOWER3; 10.6 WC_KITCH), (c) 1319-1484 FULHAM2 (t = 11.6 BALTIC1; 8.5 WNCHSTR1; 7.4 MAGDALN3).

Many of the major structural elements of the roof of the hall were found to be of elm, but the two oak collars suggest a date about a decade earlier than previously expected. The similar date for the gateway suggest that it is part of the same campaign. The gate leaves are made from Baltic oak and are contemporary with the gateway. They have horizontal ledges on the lower half and canted ledges on the top half.  M. Bridge and D. Miles, ‘Tree-ring analysis of timbers from the Hall Roof, West Gateway, and Gates at Fulham Palace, London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham’, CfA report 79/2004. Dating commissioned by English Heritage. (Miles and Worthington 2005, VA 36, list 166)