A busy 4 days at Bushey HQ

Between Thursday 22nd October and Sunday 25th October, we held a number of activities for young and old at our Bushey HQ Weekender at the 1940s Experience Museum, Bushey. Home during World War Two to the US 8th Army Air Force Fighter Command Headquarters – RAF Bushey Hall

Thursday 22nd October, 2015



On Thursday a team of volunteers led by Kris Lockyear, Senior Lecturer in Archaeology from the University College London, spent the day searching for the remains of Bushey Hall, a large mansion house constructed in the 1865 for a wealthy landowner and demolished in 1955.

(below) They were using an archaeological technique known as magnatemotry, a type of geophysical survey. The team were surveying the meadow where the mansion house was once located……. and they spent the day walking up and down….up and down , all in the name of archaeology.



What is magnetometry you may ask? Well, magnetometry is the technique of measuring and mapping patterns of magnetism in the soil. Ancient activity,  particularly burning, leaves magnetic traces that show up even today when detected with the right equipment.  Buried features such as ditches or pits, when they are filled with burnt or partly burnt materials, can show up  clearly and give us an image of sub-surface archaeology. bushey

The results weren’t fantastic, but we had a feeling they may not be. Magnatometry doesn’t work well on ‘historic’ sites due to the large amounts of magnetic responses that you can get on more modern sites.

(right) The results show 2 service pipes or cables running across the site from left to right and a large concentration of black and white “noise” at the top of the image. This noise is a large magnetic response and could indicate a concentration of demolition material, relating to Bushey Hall. (North 45 degrees to the top right)


Friday 23rd October, 2015

The “geophys” team returned on the Friday with a different bit of kit, and were more hopeful of the results. This time they brought with them their Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) which creates a series of “time slices” looking at increasing depths.

slice 3 smallerslice 5 smaller

(Left) The slice on the left shows a slice near the surface with many modern services.

(Right) The slice on the right is taken from slightly deeper and you can make out the building foundations of the Hall including bay windows and a porch.

These results are fantastic and prove the existence of sub-surface archaeology. We would like to return in the near future to carry out some excavation over the top of the building foundations.


Friday 23rd and Saturday 24th October, 2015

On the Friday and Saturday 12 volunteers came along to Bushey Hall to help out with the building recording of the surviving WW2 structures and other structures located on the site. The volunteers were trained in the art of archaeological building recording, including how to document the structures construction materials, the current state of repair of the structure and what the structure was used for during war time; accompanied by a photographic record of the external walls and internal rooms.

From a 1930s squash court, a WW2 Nissen hut and a Cold War fire station all were recorded so the information can be inputted onto the Hertfordshire County Council Historic Environment Record (HER), and enhance our understanding of this type of World War 2 site.

Sunday 25th October, 2015 -Museum Open Day

On a very sunny Sunday the Eighth in the East team joined all of the re-creators and volunteers at the 1940s Experience Museum to put on displays and activities as part of the museums open day. Along with our displays highlighting the history of Bushey Hall during World War 2, we were also joined by Hank the Yank. Hank has an AMAZING array of original WWII memorabilia that can be handled and tried on by young and old alike. He also has some really fantastic wartime stories that he loves to share. Along with Hank we were also joined by author Sean Kelly who was promoting his book “Home Bases- Memories and stories of US military bases around London”.  “Home Bases” sets out the history and fate of the various bases, installations and offices used by the US Military in and around the British capital primarily from WWI to the present day.

We would like to thank Hank and Sean for their input and help in making the weekend such a success.

Other events held on the Sunday included a “walk through history” around RAF Bushey Hall, led by the Eighth in the Easts Community Archaeologist . The walk was an opportunity to explore the unique landscape of this World War Two Headquarters Site and learn about the fascinating history behind the Bushey Hall estate.

We would like to thank all of the staff at the 1940s Experience and the Lincolnsfield Children’s Centre for welcoming us during the four days we were on site, especially to Phil Knight, an unpaid volunteer at the 1940s Experience, and our main point of contact before and during the events.

We would also like to thank Kris Lockeyear of UCL and all of the volunteers who came along and helped record the buildings and geophys the site, without their input the archaeological surveying at Bushey Hall wouldn’t of been able to take place.

Here’s what some of them said about their experiences at Bushey Hall:

A great opportunity to learn a new skill in the open air with like minded people”

I had a great day of learning new skills- thank you”

Despite being very interested in WW2 I didn’t know much about Bushey, so this event has been very interesting and a stepping stone into learning more about Bushey Hall.

We will be running similar events over the next 11 months across East Anglia. If you would like to volunteer for any of our future events then please drop us a line or contact us for further information.