Monday March 18, 2019
FOLRV - Friends of Littlecote Roman Villa
Today saw the first meeting of a new group of volunteers, formed by the Hungerford Historical Association with the specific aim of restoring and maintaining the Littlecote Roman villa complex. The impetus for the group came from the director of the 1978-1991 excavations, Bryn Walters. Bryn and his colleague Bernard Phillips, who was responsible for all the archaeology, were at the meeting, together with Luigi Thompson who designed and produced all of the literature and information boards.
The Chairman of the HHA, Dr Hugh Pihlens, has been able to find a total of 18 volunteers, most of whom arrived this morning with trowels and brushes, ready to start work. The first part to be tackled was the Roman gate house, and good progress was made to remove moss and soil from the walls. The plan at the moment is to have fortnightly sessions over the coming months. This will not impact the work of the Warner ground staff, who have overall responsibility for the site. Bryn can be seen in the centre of the photograph above, instructing the volunteers; Hugh is on the far left.
Thursday, December 20, 2018
Warners New TV Ad about to air!
Whilst you are enjoying your Boxing Day evening, keep an eye out for the new Warner Leisure TV advert for Littlecote breaks. It is due to air around the early evening prime time slot, 7-7.30 pm. The prominent theme is the Roman mosaic, the first time I have seen it used for marketing purposes. I am not sure when it was filmed, and the advert does use a bit of artistic licence in terms of its exact location (it appears to be on the North lawns where the ornamental pond is) but I am pleased that the management team have thought it worth promoting. 2019 promises to be a good year for the Roman site - watch this space!
William Leyborne RN
Last evening I was invited to a preview of the Dreweatts Fine Art Auction due to take place on 5 December 2018. The preview included, as Lot 35, a portrait with which I am very familiar (see www.dreweatts.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/14134-catalogue.pdf). It used to hang in the old house, and had a plaque at the time which caused great confusion, bearing the legend "William Leyborne Popham RN". But he was not called Popham - he was William Leyborne.
Sir John Popham’s line of male descent failed in 1779 with the death of Francis Popham, eldest son of Edward Popham MP. Francis had married Dorothy Hutton, daughter of the Archbishop of Canterbury. They had no children, and when Francis died, Dorothy inherited. When she died in 1797, she left the Littlecote estates to Francis’s illegitimate son. However, he only outlived Dorothy by six years, and under the terms of her will, the estates then reverted to Francis’s nephew, Edward William Leyborne, eldest son of Anne Popham and William Leyborne, who was obliged to add the name Popham to his own in order to inherit.
In 1762 Francis's sister Anne had married General William Leyborne Leyborne. The Leybornes lived at Westwell House near Burford in Oxfordshire, and had four children. The youngest, William, born 1773, entered the Royal Navy and died in service shortly afterwards aged only 17. He was buried in Chilton Foliat, where a memorial tablet in the church records his early death.
I shall attend the auction and see what becomes of him. I hope he goes to a good home.
POSTSCRIPT: William sold for £12,000 to an anonymous telephone bidder. Perhaps they will contact me for more information??
Friday, August 31, 2018
Guide meets guide and goes on and on and on ....
On Tuesday I had the pleasure of meeting another tour guide and his wife. He works at St George's Chapel in Windsor and although I was there for Garter Day in June, we did not meet on that occasion.
I have been interested in St George's Chapel since I discovered that Henry VIII and Jane Seymour are buried there side by side. It has been said, in support of the theory that Jane was Henry's one true love, that he chose to be laid to rest beside her. In his will Henry certainly expressed this desire and made provisions for a great monument to be erected for them both. He had previously confiscated a black marble sarcophagus from Cardinal Wolsey and had it re-designed for himself. But his wish for a joint memorial was not fulfilled and the sarcophagus now adorns Lord Nelson's tomb in St Paul's Cathedral.
Needless to say, the two guides had a lot to say to one another. A conversation to be continued in the future perhaps?