A selection of the most interesting bits and pieces we’ve been working with recently here in Christchurch.
A selection of the most interesting bits and pieces we’ve been working with recently here in Christchurch.
This week on the blog we’re sending you over to Pieces of the Past, an online exhibition we’ve curated as part of Beca Heritage Week here in Christchurch. The exhibition features the staff of Underground Overground Archaeology and their favourite artefacts. There’s a wealth of different objects and stories there (and a suspicious number of caffeine related biographies for our archaeologists), from a sheep hoof on a stick to pocket watches, spinning tops and poems about cowboys.
In fact, we may have been so excited about it that we modified (or butchered, depends on your point of view) a famous song in our excitement.
Glass eyes on skulls and sheep hooves on sticks,
Old broken watches and bright orange bricks,
Upright pianos, still with their strings,
These are a few of our favourite things.
Lost spinning tops and pointy bone hooks,
Cheese jars and Marmite and Rantin’s old books,
Cowboys and boats and small figurines,
These are a few of our favourite things.
When the trowel scrapes,
When the glass breaks,
When we’re feeling bored,
We simply remember our favourite things,
And then we don’t feel so bad.
Check it out here.
Earlier this year, we excavated a site on Armagh Street that revealed not only a large quantity of artefacts, but also a historical and material narrative set in the swampy bowels of a fledgling city, a tale of politics, commerce, secret societies, nefarious happenings and …BETRAYAL (cue ominous music). Well, maybe not those last two. And maybe not quite as melodramatic as all that.
This story, told in turns by the objects and features we found on site and the records of those who owned them, included everyone from Oddfellows and Freemasons (even the United Ancient Order of Druids) to radicals (free radicals, even!) and liberals and some of the prominent voices of early Christchurch. Among the many figures whose history formed a part of the tale of this site, one who stood out was a Mr Edward Hiorns, tinsmith, hotelier, victualler, and protagonist of this particular post.
Mr Hiorns first arrived in Christchurch in 1862 on board the Victoria. A plumber, tinsmith and metal-worker, he operated a business from premises on Armagh Street East during 1860s and 1870s. By 1872, however, he had branched out into hotel-keeping, becoming the proprietor of the Central Hotel (later the Masonic), located on the corner of Colombo and Gloucester streets. He seems to have had something of a colourful time as a hotel proprietor, appearing in the courts several times as plaintiff and defendant in cases ranging from stolen watches to bail forfeit, forgery and the inappropriate sale of alcohol.
Like so many of Christchurch’s early residents Hiorns was a man of many hats, not just in terms of how he made a living, but also in regard to his involvement in the community. Among other things, he was a prominent member of the Licensed Victuallers Association (yes, this was a thing) from the 1870s onwards, as well as involving himself in local politics, both successfully and unsuccessfully. In 1875, he ran for the city council but only managed to finagle 21 votes, a meagre offering when compared to the winning candidate’s 634. Not one to be easily put off, though, he ran again successfully in the 80s and 90s. Hiorns was also a member of the Canterbury Freehold Land Association in the 1860s, a liberal organisation that aimed to assist working men with the purchase of land (an important part of socio-political independence and status at the time).
On top of all this, he was also active in the Oddfellows society, attaining the rank of Provincial Grand Master, an occurrence which seems to have been something of a prerequisite for the residents of Armagh Street in the 19th century (no, seriously, they’re ALL Oddfellows and I have the flowchart to prove it). If they weren’t Oddfellows, they were Freemasons, and if they weren’t Freemasons there’s every possibility that they were Druids. To modern ears, these societies (and their unbelievably amazing names, thank you “The Mistletoe Lodge of Druids”) sound incredibly anachronistic, but they were one of the major vehicles by which people (when I say people, I mean men, sadly) interacted with and supported each other. In the case of the Oddfellows, that support was largely aimed at the working classes. Ostensibly apolitical, they also likely fostered the growth of political ideas and movements enacted outside of the organisations, helped by the membership of men like W. S. Moorhouse, W. Rolleston, Rowland Davis, William Pember Reeves and many others.
The initial date of Hiorns’ arrival at our site on Armagh Street is a bit unclear, thanks to the existence of the similarly named Mr W. Hyorns, who leased the section in 1867 and may be the same person, a completely different person or a 19th century typo made flesh. Nevertheless, we know that he was active on Armagh Street in the 1870s and had leased the section on which our site was located by at least 1878 (for the period of 14 years, at the grand total of £20 a year; LINZ 1878: 337). Interestingly, one of the clauses of his lease was that he had to make £1000 pounds of improvements to the section at his own expense over the following two years, suggesting that he had a reasonable yearly income at the time (this is a LOT of money for the time). As it turns out, he later went on to buy and reside in Linwood House, the super fancy Georgian/Regency style house first built for Joseph Brittan. Pretty good for a tinsmith turned hotelier.
From historic photographs and maps, we know that between 1878 and 1884, significant modifications were made to the site. Two smaller buildings that are present on an 1877 map have, by 1884, been replaced with a large two storey brick townhouse (visible in the image below). It seems likely that this building tied into Hiorns’s £1000 pounds of modification to the section. Unfortunately, we found no structural evidence of either this building or the earlier one during our excavations. What we did find, however, were several other archaeological features, including a large depression to the rear to the building that was completely and utterly filled with artefacts (unfortunately for us, this was the asbestos site was we’ve talked about previously on the blog, in the case of which more definitely wasn’t merrier). A smaller, rectangular pit feature was also found at the front of the section, containing a large quantity of tin and iron and a handful of artefacts, in addition to another small rubbish pit filled with domestic artefacts.
While it is difficult to associate the features found on the site with any one resident during the 19th century, it is almost certain that some of them were deposited by Hiorns and his family, including some of the 1037 artefacts found in the large depression to the rear of the building. That particular feature looks to have been used for the disposal of rubbish over an unknown period of time, based on the presence of small concentrations of objects within the feature as a whole, the size of the assemblage, and the wide range of manufacturing dates found among the artefacts. Many of the artefact dates, however, fit in well with the period in which Hiorns was resident on the section. On top of this, the assemblage contained a large number of alcohol bottles and several artefacts which are considered to be “higher status” items, or objects more often associated with people of reasonable wealth. It would make sense for the man who a) ran a hotel and wine bar and was in court more than once on alcohol related charges and b) later purchased the prestigious Linwood House, to have owned items like these.
The assemblage also contained large quantities of ceramic tea and table wares, as well as household and hygienic items like chamber pots, wash basins and ointment pots, a quantity of shoes and fabric, food containers, pharmaceutical bottles and children’s artefacts. One of the most interesting finds, however, was a cluster of clay tobacco pipes that included pipes with political motifs as decoration. These pipes – bearing the name and bust of William Gladstone, liberal English politician, and the name of Garibaldi, famously nationalist and progressive Italian general – can easily be tied into Hiorns’ political engagement (which I sort of alluded to above, but haven’t had time to go into detail about) and the politically charged narrative of this entire Armagh Street site (which I definitely haven’t had time to go into). They’re an example of material culture that is actively entangled with the more intangible ideas and ideals of the people and society by which they are made and used (a topic for another day, I think).
I may have started this post with a melodramatic paragraph that reads more as pulp fiction than historical narrative, but in truth, the story of Edward Hiorns (and all of the residents of this block of Armagh Street) is not all that sensational. What it is, however, is a tale we come across all the time in Christchurch. There are many interesting themes to be found in the archaeological and historical records of his life, but two of the most interesting from my perspective are the way he “improved” his situation in life, so to speak, and the way he involved himself so readily in the governance and development of the city in which he had settled. It’s a combination that we see again and again in the lives of Christchurch residents from the 19th century.
People talk a lot about the fluidity of class and social affluence in the 19th century, especially in colonial settlements like New Zealand, and the significance of the capitalist ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ in the prospering of Victorian society. These are both more than evident in the case of Mr Edward Hiorns (and Mr Jamieson, and Mr Ruddenklau and Reverend Fisher). What is just as evident, however, is the active engagement made by people like Hiorns with the present and future of the community in which they lived – be it at the local, national or global level. I could, with the aid of Mr Hiorns and others, very easily take you all down the rabbit hole with me here into the fascinating world of political and social change in 19th century Christchurch (the labour movement! radicalism! women’s suffrage!) and the lives of the people who fought to change the world around them, but that is too much for any one blog post, let alone this one. Nevertheless, it bears remembering that theirs were the hands that shaped a city and, though the city, helped to shape a nation.
LINZ, c. 1850. Deeds Index – A – Christchurch town sections and town reserves. Archives New Zealand, Christchurch Office.
McAloon, J., 2000. The Christchurch elite. In Cookson, J. and Dunstall, G., eds). Southern Capital Christchurch: Towards a City Biography, 1850-2000., pp. 193-221. Canterbury University Press, Christchurch.
Wright, G. R. 1998. The Petty Bourgeoisie in Colonial Canterbury; A Study of the Canterbury Working Mans’ Political Protection and Mutual Improvement Association (1865-66) and the Canterbury Freehold Land Association. MA Thesis, University of Canterbury.
Papers Past. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz.
This week on the blog, we look at what we found beneath a local landmark in the community of Lyttelton: the newly refurbished Albion Square.
The Albion Square, on the corner of London and Canterbury streets, is home of the Lyttelton War Memorial Cenotaph. It also acts as a community focal point, and is a testament to the recovery of the port town. However, the longer-standing residents of Lyttelton may recall that this was also once the site of the square’s namesake: the historic Albion Hotel.
We can trace the establishment of the first hotel at this site to 1858, when local merchant John Collier was granted a liquor licence, transforming his grocery store into the Albion Hotel. A year later he added a saddle horses for hire business to the rear of the hotel. An 1862 advertisement in the Lyttelton Times, for the lease of the hotel provides the first known description of Collier’s hotel:
The premises consist of a commodious bar, bar parlour, dining and sitting rooms, with 15 bedrooms, making up 24 beds; also skittle ground and outhouses. This establishment has for the last three years, been favoured with the support of the settlers of the Peninsula particularly.
Lyttelton Times 1/11/1862: 6.
A map of Lyttelton drawn in the 1860s shows the Albion Hotel fronting London Street. Two smaller buildings are shown to the rear of the hotel. These probably represent the outhouses and stables mentioned in newspaper sources (Lyttelton Times 8/1/1859: 5, 1/11/1862: 2).
Collier was fortunate that his hotel survived the Lyttelton fire of 1870, which destroyed much of the Lyttelton central business district. In 1881, the original building was sold and removed from the site (Press 14/1/1881: 4). The sale advertisement described the old building as:
Covered with slates, and contains a large quantity of timber and bricks while the intended replacement was a stylish brick edifice to be substituted in its place, whenever the ancient hostelry is removed.
Press 21/1/1881: 2.
Later in 1881 the stables behind the hotel caught fire (Press 22/8/1881: 2). Little damage was done, but the resulting newspaper item indicates the stables were constructed from galvanised iron. The new Albion Hotel continued operating into the 20th century and can be seen in a photograph taken in 1911. In 1943 a new façade was added to the building (Burgess 2009).
Over the course of the 19th century, the Albion Hotel and horse for hire business had at least 17 proprietors between them, and more still after the turn of the century. This high turnover complicated the task of attributing the artefacts recovered from the site to a specific individual. The dateable artefacts that were recovered from the site all post-date 1857, confirming that the assemblage was associated with the Albion Hotel. However, serval discreet archaeological features may have been deposited at different times. The deposition dates of these features range from 1861 to the late 19th century. It is possible that the piece of salvaged roofing slate may have been part of the original Albion Hotel which was removed from the site in 1881 (Press 21/1/1881: 2).
The archaeological material that was recovered was found in a series of rubbish pits, located mainly toward the rear of the hotel site. From this evidence it is apparent that the back of the section was seen as a convenient location to dispose of the breakages and detritus associated with the day-to-day operation of the Albion Hotel. It is possible that the proprietors of the hotel may have deposited waste into these rubbish pits to avoid rubbish collection costs.
The rubbish pits contained combinations of artefacts that are signatures of 19th century hotel sites, such as alcohol bottles, matching serving ware sets and food remains. The alcohol bottles consisted mainly of black beers, though wine bottles, case gin bottles, spirit-shaped bottles and matching glass tumblers were also present. The contents of these bottles cannot be confirmed, as specific alcohol bottle shapes were commonly re-used for alternative purposes. However, it is probable that beer, wine, gin and other spirits were being served at the Albion Hotel. These vessels are also likely to only represent a fraction of the alcohol that was served. The presence of disposable clay pipes with use-wear indicates that the hotel patrons were also smoking at this site.
The matching decorative patterns that were found on ceramic tableware and servingware sets are representative of a standardised material culture, and this fashion can be associated with the Victorian idea of social respectability (Samford 1997). It is possible that this servingware is an indication that food was served at the hotel. However, there was a notable absence of condiment bottles from this site. This is unusual, as condiment bottles are typically abundant in 19th century hotel sites.
A number of animal bones with butchery marks were also recovered, the most common of which were cuts of lamb and mutton leg. It is probable that these cuts were being served to the patrons of the Albion Hotel. Shellfish, including oyster, rock oyster, cockle and cat’s eye were also recovered. These are all species that were locally available. There is a notable absence of fish and bird remains from the faunal assemblage. This is unusual, as 19th century hotels have been found to be more likely to serve fish and bird than private houses (Watson 2000).
A newspaper advertisement indicates that the Albion Hotel had rooms at the back that were for the owner’s family (Press 9/5/1882: 3). While both commercial and domestic items were recovered from this site, there appears to be a lack of domestic items that are typically associated with family homes. With the exception of chamber pots, this may be because hotel guests would bring these personal items with them during their visits, and would be unlikely to leave them at the hotel to be discarded.
The Albion Hotel artefact assemblage is comparable to other 19th hotel assemblages in Christchurch, such as the Oxford-on-Avon Hotel and the Zetland Arms/Parkers Hotel. All three sites yielded large quantities of alcohol bottles, with black beer bottles being the most prominent. Glass servingware and matching decorative ceramic servingware sets were also present at all sites: the Asiatic Pheasants pattern was dominant at the Oxford-on-Avon, and Willow pattern was well represented at the Zetland Arms/Parkers Hotel, while the Albion Hotel appears to have had sets of Willow and unidentified sponged and leaf tableware sets. Unlike Zetland Arms/Parkers Hotel, no evidence that could be associated with the neighbouring stables (such as horseshoes) was recovered from this site, despite the fact that the saddled horse for hire business appears to have been long-running at this address.
By combining the historical and archaeological information from the Albion Hotel site, the activities of those who lived there was revealed to show the use and modification of the section over time. This assemblage has shed light on the operation of a 19th century hotel in Lyttelton, and the provision of food and drink in this context. This site is also comparable to other 19th century hotels within Christchurch, and has the potential to add to our general understanding of similar establishments in the area. This analysis has salvaged a snapshot of one of Lyttelton’s historic watering holes, adding to the charisma of the vibrant entertainment hub of modern Lyttelton.
Burgess, R., 2009. Registration Report for Historic a Area: Lyttelton Township Historic Area (Vol. 2). Unpublished report for New Zealand Historic Places trust Pouhere Toanga.
Lyttelton Times. [online] Available at: www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz [Accessed July 2014].
Press. [online] Available at: www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz [Accessed July 2014].
Rice, G., 2004. Lyttelton: Port and town. An illustrated history. Canterbury University Press, Christchurch.
Samford, Patricia M., 1997. Response to a market: Dating English underglaze transfer‐printed wares. Historical Archaeology 31 (2): 1‐30.
Watson, K., 2000. A land of plenty? Unpublished Masters thesis, Department of Anthropology, University of Otago.
As the study of human history, it comes as no surprise that archaeology can be an exercise in contradictions. Humans are, after all, complex and paradoxical creatures. From a material culture perspective, one of the most obvious and frustrating incongruities lies in the dissonance between a profession with classification at the heart of its investigative method and a subject – a world – that defies easy classification. People, and the things we create, the objects we use, are not easy to put into tidy little boxes, however much we might like to do so.
This is particularly obvious when it comes to understanding the role of objects in the past, specifically, the different ways in which we have used them. Many of the artefacts we find in the archaeological record are likely to have had more than one function during their ‘uselife’. Sometimes this is a result of re-use: a teacup repurposed as a measuring cup, a beer bottle base used as a preserving jar, a coin turned into jewellery. Sometimes an artefact can have several different purposes, depending on how you look at them and why they are being used: ointments with both medical and cosmetic qualities, for example, or coffee cans that are as much souvenirs as they are objects for drinking out of. Children’s ceramics that were simultaneously intended to be vessels for children to eat off and objects which reinforced educational and social ideals.
Another good example of this is the humble clay pipe, an object which, on the surface, has a fairly definitive and obvious purpose – smoking tobacco (or flammable substance of your choice, I suppose). Yet there are numerous recorded instances in the past of clay pipes being used for activities that have nothing to do with smoking. Archaeological investigations in the United States have discovered clay pipe stems converted into penny whistles through the addition of drilled holes, while other accounts describe the use of stems as hair curlers (when warmed, of course), gardening aids (for killing bugs in carnations, specifically) and even murder weapons (Walker 1976). One record recounted the use of clay pipes as a prop in dancing, “where about a dozen pipes were laid close together on the floor and the dancer placed the toe of his boot between them while keeping time to the music” (Walker 1976: 125). Our own New Zealand newspapers advertise their use as bubble-blowing instruments for children and the occasional adult (Observer 17/05/1902: 7). There’s even an excellent and somewhat disturbing illustration of their use in the application of horse enemas for the treatment of ‘lilac passion’ in the 17th century (I kid you not).
With the exception of the bubble blowing, which used new pipes, all of these alternative uses were, presumably, carried out after the pipe in question had been smoked (although in the case of the horse enemas, all bets are off). They’re cases of re-use, the 19th century (or earlier) recycling of an object that was no longer wanted or needed for its original purpose. We see this with quite a few artefact types, but most often with glass bottles and jars (we’ve talked about it a little on the blog before). There’s another use for clay pipes, however, that relates directly to their nature as a highly visible and easily available object on which any motif, slogan or name can be displayed. This function was exploited by people in the 19th century for all kinds of political, social and commercial objectives including, as is evident in Christchurch’s archaeological record, advertising.
We recently found a large assemblage of clay pipes on one of our sites in central Christchurch, including fourteen pipes bearing an oval mark with HEYWOOD / LYTTELTON / NZ impressed on the bowls. The mark refers to the business of Mr Joseph Martin Heywood, general commission agent, insurance agent, customs agent, goods transporter and all around 19th century entrepreneur. Heywood first set himself up in business as a general commission agent in Lyttelton in 1851 in partnership with Messrs. Tippetts and Silk, which I think sounds like the name for a detective agency and my co-worker argues sounds like a tailor’s shop (crime fighting tailors?; CCL 2013). The partnership dissolved, and Heywood went on to expand his business into Christchurch: in addition to his premises on Norwich Quay in Lyttelton he also had a building on the corner of Colombo Street and Cathedral Square in the city (Star 22/10/1897: 2, Press 19/12/1908: 8). His business interests expanded as well, going from ‘general commission agent’ to operating a customs house and a ‘cartage’ company, involved with the storage and transportation of goods between Lyttelton and Christchurch. He was exceedingly successful, securing the railway contract for the delivery of goods between the two towns in 1879 and holding it until 1896 (Cyclopedia of New Zealand 1903).
We’ve found pipes with his mark on them on a couple of sites in the city, dating from the 1860s to the 1880s. All of them refer to the Lyttelton store, suggesting to me that this was the premises most closely associated with Heywood or the one from which the pipes were sold (although they could easily have been sold from the Christchurch store). At least one advertisement for the Norwich Quay store lists “pipes, meerschaum washed (Heywood’s)” available for purchase, telling us that, although the ones we’ve found aren’t meerschaum, Heywood definitely sold pipes bearing his name in his store (Lyttelton Times 31/07/1861).
All the pipes that we’ve found with the Heywood mark were also made by Charles Crop, a prolific London pipe maker, making it likely that Heywood commissioned pipes exclusively from the one manufacturer. It’s not likely to have cost him very much: one price catalogue from 1875 for D. MacDougall and Co. gives a price of 2 pence for a gross extra (12 dozen or 144) of “pipes stamped with name on bowl or stem” (Sudbury 1978: 106). He also wasn’t the only one to do it. We’ve featured pipes bearing the mark of Twentyman and Cousin and Trent Brothers here on the blog before. This suggests to me that not only was this a common thing for pipe-makers to offer, but it was a relatively common thing for Christchurch businesses to commission and use clay smoking pipes as a means of advertising for their own companies. Not just Christchurch businesses, either: we’ve found at least one pipe with the name of an Australian tobacconist business on it as well.
It’s not that surprising, when you think about it. As a cheap and disposable item (one of the 19th century’s first truly disposable objects), clay pipes provided an excellent medium for advertising a range of products and businesses throughout the European world. They were everywhere: pipe smoking was exceedingly popular during the 19th century, and was one of the few activities that crossed almost all social and status boundaries in society. Anyone could smoke a pipe. They were highly visible: marks or decoration on the front of a pipe bowl would be seen by anyone in conversation with or even just sight of the smoker, while marks on the back of the bowl were in the eyeline of the smokers themselves. Even their fleeting existence was an advantage: being disposable items allowed advertisers to not only continue to sell or distribute them, again and again, but also to change or update their marks, emblems or decoration as they wished.
They were most often used to advertise the associated paraphernalia of smoking, as one would expect, from tobacco and tobacconists’ shops to the pipe makers themselves (Walker 1976). Increasingly, though, as the 19th century unfolded, they were used to advertise the general businesses of merchants and agents, locally and internationally, and it’s interesting that this is the only type that we’ve found in Christchurch. All three of our locally commissioned pipe examples relate to businesses that have nothing to do with the smoking industry itself. Heywood had many fingers in many pies, but none of them were specifically related to tobacco, while Trent Brothers operated a chicory farm and Twentyman and Cousin were wholesale and retail ironmongers. I suspect that this simply reflects the fact that by the time these businesses were operating, the value of pipes as merchandise had begun to equal their value as smoking paraphernalia, resulting in their commissioning by a wider variety of business types.
There are all kinds of directions we could go in with these pipes and what they tell us. The use of mass-produced disposable items as an advertising medium is both something that relates to the modern day (basically the 19th century equivalent of the tote-bag?), as well as to the rise of modern consumerist culture and the huge role advertising played in the development and maintenance of that culture. As commissioned objects they tie into the increasingly globalised nature of international trade and goods production, representing in physical forms the relationship that existed between colonial businesses and British manufacturers. Their simultaneous function as an implement of smoking and a form of advertising also has implications for how we look at and understand the role of objects in our lives, both in the past and in the modern day. They fulfil certain purposes in our own lives, but they’re also part of wider social and cultural phenomena that we may not even think about which shape, and have shaped, the world around us.
CCL (Christchurch City Libraries), 2015. [online] Available at www.christchurchcitylibraries.com.
Cyclopedia Company Ltd., 1903. Cyclopedia of New Zealand: Canterbury Provincial Distict. Cyclopedia Company Ltd., Christchurch. [online] Available at www.nzetc.victoria.ac.nz.
Lyttelton Times. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz.
Observer. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz.
Press. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz.
Star. [online] Available at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz.
Sudbury, B., 1978. Additional Notes on Alternative Uses for Clay Tobacco Pipes and Tobacco Pipe Fragments. Historical Archaeology, Vol. 12: 105-107.
Walker, I., 1976. Alternative Uses for Clay Tobacco Pipes and Tobacco Pipe Fragments. Historical Archaeology, Vol. 10: 124-127.