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Franklyn House Sturry

A team from Canterbury Archaeological Trust undertook three phases of archaeological investigation at Franklyn House on Sturry High Street between 25 August 2011 and 6 January 2012. The works were commissioned by Canterbury City Council as a mitigation measure prior to redevelopment of the site for new retirement accommodation.Results from a bore-hole survey in December 2011 revealed that natural gravel extended across the site at a depth of between 2.6 and 3m below the present ground level. This was sealed across the south of the site by a layer of alluvium up to 0.40m thick. The alluvium lay beneath a layer of natural brickearth or head deposit of clay, up to 0.60m thick that extended across the majority of the site. The data suggests that the area of Sturry High Street was waterlogged and marshy and formed part of the flood plain of the great Stour that currently lies further to the south. Flood events were likely very common and can be seen within the data as fluvial deposits at the base of the brickearth.
1. Location plan 2. Stake-holes3. Stake-holes
An excavation of two areas outside of the footprint of the former Franklyn House was undertaken between 25 August and 7 October 2011 (1). A further excavation of the positions of two new lift shafts occurred between 3 and 5 January 2012. Remains of the earliest settlement of Sturry were recovered at a depth of 1.4m below the present ground level. Stake-holes and post-holes that may have formed simple timber structures (2-3) and a large cess-pit containing refuse material including an intact dog skull (4-5), all dated to the late twelfth and early thirteenth century. The occupation appears to have been determined by the level of the river and ground water and may have been of a temporary nature.
4. Dog skull5. Cess pit
By the thirteenth and fourteenth century a solution to the water level was found. A large surface of compacted flint (6) was encountered at a depth of 7.36m OD. This related to the construction of a flint and chalk walled building (7) that would have fronted onto what is now Sturry High Street. Evidence within the building suggests that it underwent several phases of occupation and re-development. A sequence of worn clay floors and a central hearth were identified, typical of a small dwelling (8). The final layout, with no internal features suggests that the building likely formed a store house towards the end of the fifteenth century.
6. Flint surface 7. Dwarf walled building8. Occupation deposit and central hearth
The building formed part of a ribbon development that sprung up in this location along a road that would have linked the trading ports of Herne Bay, Fordwich and Sandwich to the medieval cultural and economic hub of Canterbury.
9. Storage use 10. Jeton minted by Hans Krauwinckle
By the sixteenth and early seventeenth century the building was still standing, several alterations had occurred with the addition of a brick partition wall and likely repairs to the outside walls (9). To the rear of the building garden soils had accumulated with associated refuse pits. This period may have seen the structure maintain business functions. Found within the occupation tread was a Jeton (10) minted by Hans Krauwinckle in Nuremburg, Germany between 1586 and 1635. The coin and the unexpected discovery of an imported intact costrel buried within a floor horizon (11-12) suggest that the population in Sturry during this period had contact with and was serving traders from Europe.
11. Discovery of a costrel vessel 12. The costrel vessel13. Post medieval houses and shops
The latest features uncovered within the excavation included the brick built foundations of post-medieval houses and shops (13) that would have fronted Sturry High Street from the late eighteenth century.  Finds from this period included clay pipe stems and bowls, peg-tile and ceramics mostly found within refuse garden pits and a brick built cess pit to the rear of the building.  One area of the excavation identified the foundations of the former Red Lion pub (14-15) that were sealed by a brick surface laid down after the redevelopment of the pub in the 1930s.  This was designed to allow for a small car park that would serve the new trend of motorised day trips.
14. Remains of the Red Lion pub 15. Sturry High Street in 1910, looking towards the Welsh Harp pub
A single shard of shrapnel was discovered in the upper deposits of the excavation and is the only hint of the enormous impact that the Second World War had on the village of Sturry. The area was devastated with significant loss of life by the explosion of a parachute mine dropped on the night of 18 November 1941 during the Baedeker Blitz by the German Luftwaffe.Analysis and assessment of the finds and results of the excavation are underway and will be published together with the results of a further archaeological investigation beneath the former Fordwich Garage to the south of Sturry. Together the sites will form a key aspect to our knowledge of the earliest medieval occupation of Sturry and its development into a thriving village serving the passing trade to Canterbury.

Ross Lane
Site Supervisor

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