ARCHAEOLOGISTS have moved onto one of Bexley's most historic sites to prepare for its restoration.

Hall Place, the Tudor house in Bourne Road, Bexley, and its gardens, are about to undergo major renovation and conservation work to better reflect its past.

But before the work begins, investigation pits are being opened up all over the site, both in the house and the grounds.

The investigations are the first stage of work being carried out by the Museum of London's archaeological services and include geo-technical test pits and boreholes in the garden.

Inside the house, senior archaeologist Aaron Birchenough has been raising the flagstones in the downstairs corridors and lifting linoleum and floorboards upstairs.

Among other things, it is hoped the work will reveal the depth and composition of the house's foundations.

The oldest part of the house dates back to 1537, when it was built for former Lord Mayor of London Sir John Champnies.

So far, the most successful pits have been in the downstairs corridors enclosing the courtyard, which were built onto the house by Sir Robert Austen in 1650.

Archaeologists have found moulded stone fragments, pieces of pottery and the bones of various animals.

Bexley Heritage Trust's curator, Fay Newman, said: "Although the finds are not remarkable in themselves, being able to open up the house in this way and see for the first time what is going on under the floors is really exciting."

Some of the pottery found has already been dated to between 1550 and 1700.

Once the finds have been cleaned and analysed, they will be returned to Hall Place and displayed in the museum in the house.