New Lodge, Bank Mill Lane, Berkhamsted
The redevelopment of a plot of land adjacent to Bank Mill Lane in Berkhamsted, Fortfordshire, allowed for the archaeological investigation of a medieval and post-medieval landscape dating back to the 12th century. Excavation of the site on behalf of Chase (Berkhamsted) Limited revealed land and field boundaries as well as a large amount of household debris including fragments of cooking pots and pottery jars. The finds indicated that a medieval house once stood on the site though all that remained were footings made of flint rubble.
The original house was superseded by a farmhouse with courtyards and then again in the mid 18th century by a ‘gentleman’s house’. This fine dwelling had formal gardens and a new fashionable garden feature the ‘ha-ha’ instead of a fence or wall. A ha-ha relied on a sharp vertical drop to allow unspoilt views of the countryside around and prevented grazing animals from wandering into the garden. If a visitor should wander around the gardens enjoying the view and chance upon this feature they would exclaim ‘ha ha!’ in surprise and the amusing name stuck.
As well as carrying out the excavation of the site, AOC carried out a standing building recording of the remains of the house.