Lowestoft Archaeological and Local History Society

ANNUAL REPORT Volume 32 1999-2000
SOME NOTES ON THE BASEMENT FLOOR OF THE OLD SCHOOL HOUSE WILDES SCORE LOWESTOFT SUFFOLK
Paul Durbidge

During the latter part of 1999 Mr John Stannard a local builder contacted Mrs Lilian Fisher chairman of the Lowestoft Archaeological & Local History Society with regards to a possible limited archaeological investigation of a cobbled floor situated in a narrow store room in the basement of the Old School House.

The building in question stands to the rear of No. 80 High Street or Flint House which was built in 1586 and the school was originally connected to it in the form of a rear wing. When opened in 1788 the school provided free education for the sons of some 40 Lowestoft fishermen and continued as a school up until 1944 when the building was later used as a social club (The John Wilde Club) before finally being employed by the food company Birds Eye.

The area containing the cobbled floor was rectangular in shape and measured approximately 14 feet by 6 feet. This in turn was enclosed by plain soft red brick walls with only the east wall comprising of both brick and occasional Flint work. Entry was gained by a single external door situated in the centre of the north wall. The entire floor surface had been cobbled and there was a noticeable slump on both sides of the doorway, directly above was a boarded floor supported by eleven near square section joists approximately 5' 6" above the cobbles with the remains of both laths and reeds nailed to the underside of the floorboards. To start with half of the cobbles were lifted which showed most to be of fist size, with some exceptions and while there was evidence that some had been laid on a thin bed of sand the majority had been set directly into the dry earth.

On several cobbles mortar was present but it is more likely that this was the result of them being previously used elsewhere before being reused in there present location. With these now removed the earth directly beneath them was trowelled and later forked which in turn revealed small pieces of blue and white tile close to the doorway and the continued removal of the mixed soil resulted in animal bone, glass and glazed earthenware being found along with clay pipe stems. The majority of the finds were made where the floor had slumped and where the earth was noticeably quite damp and there was a lessening of material towards the centre of the floor. Three of the most interesting discoveries were two fragments of a biscuitware saucer and a small semi glazed peg with a faint trace of cobalt on the tip. These three items compare favourably with previous discoveries made in Factory Street in 1968 prior to the building of the multi storey block of flats and they can be safely attributed to the old Lowestoft China factory.

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