There has already been publicity about the wonderful rainwater gulley found when the schoolroom floor was excavated, and how the steady watching brief of an archaeologist was welcome to oversee its ‘re-birth’. I was fascinated by the simple elegance of the structure, and puzzled that it could be so emphatically covered with dense and thick concrete with a fine, hard tile finish. This unlooked for discovery was the most exciting of the project so far; there was no doubt that we could not entomb it again, and must find the resources to keep it on view.
But that is not what I remember most about my first view of the gulley. I could go into detailed research about how long it has been unknown, unseen, unloved; how long it has been since the rainwater from the church was diverted into a pipe from the east to the west side of the school, thereby enabling the new floor to be laid, but that was less important than what actually happened.
There is no doubt that the floor in its form at the start of the project had been so for many decades, going back at least to the early 1900’s; good enough for me, someone who laments not having taken history more seriously at school when there was far less of it to worry about.
Having been told about the gulley, I went to see it immediately. There it was, freshly uncovered and looking proud of itself, and rid of the pipe that had lain over it for too long. This was after a long dry spell of weather, when the first drops of rain began to fall. Within a few moments we saw a tear, then a trickle, then a flow of water begin to flow the length of its shallow but wide surface across the width of the school and into the remnants of the removed drain. It was a special moment, a re-baptism, a benediction, a justification. Spine-tingling.
Churchwarden St Mary de Crypt