Possible 16th century chapel unearthed

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Historical detectives may have uncovered evidence of a 16th century chapel at a public park in Marlow. 

The Rookery Park dig [Credit: Bucks Free Press]

Members of the Marlow Archaeological Society, excavating Rookery Park, have found a chalk block wall at the site which may date back to the 1500s. 

The group set out primarily to find out more about a ‘significant’ 18th century farm – which may actually date back much further – and a house built in 1850 and demolished in the 1960s. 

But the time sleuths appear to be on the trail of a much older discovery.  

Initially, the team found brickwork, apparently from the 1850s house, but then uncovered a flint work wall. 

MAS spokesman Doug Courtney said: “This is thought to be from the earlier 1750’s farmhouse as close inspection of early photographs show small areas of flint work and the record indicates that the farmhouse was only part demolished and altered into the house. 

“Most exciting was the revelation that under this flint work was a chalk block wall, and comparison with other sites in the vicinity indicates that this maybe 16th century or earlier. 

“Whilst by no means certain it is possible that this chalk block work is from a farmhouse that pre-dated the 1750 flint work or even a remnant of the rumoured Chapel.”  

He added: “While this is not ancient archaeology, what is being revealed is a significant, previously unknown part of the history of Marlow.” 

The archaeologists are continuing their investigation at the park, between Trinity Road and Chapel Street, which are being led by accredited field archaeologist Colin Berks. 

Permission has been given for a larger, more complex and expensive excavation. MAS has applied for a grant for the work. 

The group have been aided in their research by Marlow historian and author Tony Reeve and Alastair Worrall who was born and lived for many years in Rookery Lodge, where his grandfather was head gardener at the house from about 1932.  

Author: James Nadal | Source: Bucks Free Press [March 31, 2012]

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