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Volunteers to unearth London’s history

By Krista Eleftheriou

Volunteers to unearth London’s history
  • Ninety volunteers to become amateur Crossrail archaeologists in east London
  • Foundations of a Tudor moated manor house and other important Stepney  houses were previously uncovered at the same location
  • Shoes similar to those worn by Henry VIII among the artefacts previously found

Londoners are picking up tools to take part in the UK’s largest archaeology programme by becoming amateur archaeologists for a day to unearth the early history of east London.

Crossrail is hosting a community archaeology dig at Stepney City Farm during the UK-wide Festival of Archaeology this week. Crossrail hopes the amateur archaeologists, working alongside archaeologists from the Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA), will unearth more remains related to the 15th Century Worcester Manor House which was previously re-discovered by Crossrail archaeologists during an earlier dig at Stepney.

Ninety volunteers have registered to take part in the community dig between 23 and 27 July.

Volunteers will learn archaeology excavation techniques and will be working alongside experienced archaeologists.

Public open days will be held on 27 and 28 July from 10am to 4pm, with the latest and previous archaeology finds on display. Tours and archaeology presentations will take place at midday and 3pm.

Crossrail Lead Archaeologist Jay Carver said: “Volunteers have a unique opportunity to be part of our exciting archaeology programme which is contributing to our knowledge of early London. At this site in Stepney, we have previously unearthed items owned by London’s 15th Century elite including shoes similar to those worn by King Henry VIII and his family, and a Tudor bowling ball made from exotic South American wood. We hope the volunteers will uncover more unique items, and help us map the boundary of this important site.”

Archaeologists previously discovered the foundations for King John’s Manor that was built between 1450 and 1550. The manor was later extended by the Marquis of Worcester in 1597 and became known as Worcester House.

Worcester House played an important role in the political and religious non-conformist movement in east London.  It was confiscated in 1645 during the Civil War and later acquired by a prominent parliamentarian, William Greenhill, who used it as a safe haven for early Protestant nonconformists or Puritans to meet.

A moat, cellars, walls, cess pits and wells associated with this and other Tudor houses have been uncovered, along with household goods including a distinctive chamber pot with the humorous phrase inscribed inside: ‘what I see, I will not tell’.

Four tonnes of bricks from the manor have been donated to English Heritage for use in restoring Britain’s Tudor manors and palaces.

Any additional archaeology finds will be documented and will form part of future Crossrail exhibitions.

For more information visit


For further information contact the Crossrail Press Office on 020 3229 9552 or email [email protected]

Notes to editors

The community dig is being hosted by Crossrail in partnership with Crossrail’s contractors Dragados-Sisk Joint Venture and MOLA, and Stepney City Farm -

About Crossrail

The total funding envelope available to deliver Crossrail is £14.8bn. The Crossrail route will pass through 37 stations and run 118 km (73 miles) from Maidenhead and Heathrow in the west, through new twin-bore 21 km (13 miles) tunnels to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.

When Crossrail opens it will increase London's rail-based transport network capacity by 10%, supporting regeneration and cutting journey times across the city. Crossrail services are due to commence through central London in 2018.

Crossrail is also delivering the UK’s largest archaeology programmes with works taking place across 40 construction site. Finds to date have spanned the past 70 million years of London’s history.

Crossrail is being delivered by Crossrail Limited (CRL). CRL is a wholly owned subsidiary of Transport for London. Crossrail is jointly sponsored by the Department for Transport and Transport for London.