Archaeologists discover home of Charles I's surgeon at medieval Stratford site

By Culture24 Reporter Published: 13 December 2013

Charles I's surgeons, Roman rivers and Tudor buildings loom large as archaeologists investigate a site in Stratford

A photo of people working on an archaeological dig
Archaeologists have dug up part of the story of Stratford beneath the site of the former Empire Theatre© Courtesy East Thames
The remains of the 17th century family home of Charles I’s surgeon, William Clowes, have been unearthed near to Tudor buildings and ditches hinting at the Roman road thought to run beneath Stratford Broadway in London.

Rokeby House took its name from the Revered HR Rokeby, an estate owner in Stratford 160 years ago. But the earliest occupant of the house was the King’s doctor, and the rest of the site hints at a medieval history.

“The focal point of this investigation for us has been the possibility of a Roman road running through the area,” said Helen Hawkins, whose Pre-Construct Archaeology group had been commissioned by English Heritage after the site was allocated prime archaeological interest status.

“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.”

One of the pair of parallel ditches could be Roman in date, suggesting a Roman road, running near the modern Romford Road, may lie near the dig.

“It has been a real treat to get a taste of what medieval Stratford might have looked like,” said Trevor Burns, of housing company East Thames.

“It’s not every day we have archaeologists on site at one of our developments, so the process has been both exciting and interesting for us.”

New flats and commercial properties are being proposed at the site.

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A photo of a large brown Roman pot on an archaeological tray at a dig site
This 17th or 18th century cauldron was found next to the foundations of Rokeby House© Courtesy East Thames
A photo of a hand holding a piece of mud-clad Roman pottery at an archaeological site
A medieval jug handle© Courtesy East Thames
A photo of a hand holding a shard of Roman pottery covered in mud at an archaeology site
More medieval pottery© Courtesy East Thames
A photo of diggers in high-visibility jackets working at an outdoor archaeology site
Archaeologists taking environmental samples. The foundations of Empire House are visible in the background© Courtesy East Thames
A photo of an outdoor archaeology site full of trenches and metal hoardings
This shot, facing west, shows Rokeby House between the foundations of Empire House and the Empire Theatre© Courtesy East Thames
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