The University of Salford’s archaeology department and local people are to excavate a park in Salford that contains a historic home designed by the architect of the Houses of Parliament.
The site, Buile Hill Park, situated off Eccles Old Road, is made up of two former estates which each contained a mansion house. One of them, Buile Hill, still stands in the centre of the park and is a Grade II Listed Building.
Built in the 1820s, Buile Hill was designed by Charles Barry, future architect of the Houses of Parliament, at the behest of Thomas Potter, a Manchester linen draper.
A second mansion house, Hart Hill, once stood towards the north-west of the park but was demolished in the early 20th century. It had been built in 1859 for James Dugdale, a merchant, and comprised a house in Elizabethan style with adjoining service rooms, a glasshouse and conservatory together with a yard and coach houses.
Census returns from 1861 show that Dugdale was the head of a large household which included more than a dozen servants. By 1891 the house was the residence of Louis Schwabe, a yarn merchant.
The house built by James Dugdale replaced an earlier structure, shown on a map of 1815 as the property of a Mr Simpson. It was situated in wooded grounds and by the 1840s was approached via a lodge on Eccles Old Road. This residence in turn probably replaced an earlier farmhouse. ‘Harts Hill’ is mentioned in the Eccles parish registers as far back as the 17th century.
Volunteers will be helping to uncover some fascinating insights into the history of Salford and its people. The mansion constructed in 1859 was a substantial structure and it is likely that some remains survive underground, waiting to be re-discovered.
Excavation of the former outbuildings towards the west of the site may also uncover the remnants of earlier structures which once stood within the grounds of the present park.
Brian Grimsditch, Senior Archaeologist from the Centre for Applied Archaeology at the University, said: “This site is a great part of Salford’s history and we hope to bring fresh insights to light. We’re having an open day at the end of the dig as well, so local people can come and see what we’ve found for themselves.”
The project is part of Dig Greater Manchester, which provides opportunities for communities across Greater Manchester to discover their own history and heritage through a series of archaeological projects. It is funded by the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities and managed by the University of Salford.
Places for volunteers are now fully booked but there’ll be a special open day on Saturday 12 October, when anyone can come to the site to speak with archaeologists and see the finds.