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Archaeologists uncover layers of history at Stratford Broadway

13:31 12 December 2013

Archaeologist excavating the remains of Rokeby House with the foundations of the Empire Theatre to the right

Archaeologist excavating the remains of Rokeby House with the foundations of the Empire Theatre to the right

Archant

The foundations of 17th century house thought to have been the home of King Charles I’s surgeon have been uncovered on site at a Stratford Broadway redevelopment.

The foundations of 17th century house thought to have been the home of King Charles I’s surgeon have been uncovered on site at a Stratford Broadway redevelopment.

The dig at the site of the old Empire Theatre has also revealed the remains of a Tudor building and part of a Roman road running along the line of the current Broadway.

The building site managed by East Thames housing association and contractor Wilmott Dixon has been home to archaeologists from Pre-Construct Archaeology in recent weeks.

Designated as an area of prime archaeological interest by English Heritage, the site was required to have a full investigation before construction on flats and a shopping area began.

The remains of 17th century Rokeby House were discovered during the excavation.

According to researchers, the earliest known occupants of the house were the Clowes family.

William Clowes, who lived from 1582 until 1648 had been surgeon to Charles I who was beheaded on January 30, 1649 following the Royalist defeat in the English Civil War.

Underneath Rokeby House were remains of a Tudor building and beneath this was a medieval building.

Below the medieval building, two parallel ditches were found, one of which may be Roman in date and suggests that the Roman road which is thought to run through Stratford and carry on along Romford Road may be very close to the building site.

Pre-Construct archaeologist Helen Hawkins said: “The focal point of this investigation for us has been the possibility of a Roman road running through the area.

“We’ve also discovered a few hidden gems which is always exciting.

“We’ve found a great sequence of archaeology on the site which illustrates the history of Stratford from the Roman period through to the present day.”

East Thames’ assistant director of development Trevor Burns said: “While our focus is on building new modern apartments, it has been a real treat to get a taste of what medieval Stratford might have looked like.”

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