Archaeological Find at Drapers' Gardens

Drapers' Gardens on Throgmorton Avenue is the most high profile property in our investment portfolio not only because of the new office development now let to BlackRock Investment Management, but also because of what was found on site during the construction phase.
 
What was there before?
In the 16th century, the property was part of the gardens of Drapers' Hall and was bought by the Company in 1543 from Henry VIII who, in turn, had "acquired" the Hall and gardens from Thomas Cromwell. The land was cultivated and used as a pleasure garden until the 19th century when the first buildings were put up.
  
In 1966, a striking 29-storey concrete office block designed by Richard Seifert of Centre Point fame, took its place on the site. It was a lofty 100 metres high tower and podium development that was typical of buildings put up in the 1960s and was occupied for many years by National Westminster Bank. Although regarded in its day as an outstanding example of post-war design, it had served its purpose, did not provide an economic use of space or meet occupiers' demands in the 21st  century, and was therefore no longer suitable for use as contemporary offices. When it was demolished in 2007 it was the tallest building in London to be pulled down. 
 
What did they find on site?
There was an unexpected bonus during the first phase of the demolition works, when extensive Roman remains dating from the 1st to 3rd centuries AD were found. Initial tests had not indicated that there would be any items of significance buried under the old building and the extent and nature of the finds took everyone by surprise. Works were halted while archaeological contractors were appointed to ensure that the items were carefully excavated.

The antiquities found include nineteen metal vessels recovered from the bottom of a wood-lined well, a bear skull (stated to be only the second bear bone found in Roman London), an infant's coffin, an entire Roman timber door (considered to be a rare find anywhere in the Roman empire and the most complete discovered in Britain), ovens, kilns, coins, ornaments and tools - all in a remarkable state of preservation. The site's waterlogged, anaerobic condition had helped to preserve the artefacts and many of the metal objects were almost free of corrosion.


The Museum of London and the archaeologists were elated by the finds, which they have announced to be one of the most significant in London, providing new information about Roman occupation and the City of Londinium. 
  
We transferred the ownership of the finds to the Museum so that they can be suitably conserved for posterity. The archaeologists are continuing with their detailed study to piece together the fascinating history behind the finds. Owing to the quality and number of the items, this is likely to take a number of years.