What is it?

A unique and curated collection of original archive material about the history of Worsley New Hall, a Victorian mansion built in the 1840s for the Earls of Ellesmere and now the site of RHS Bridgewater. The collection brings together a range of material including architectural drawings, photographs, and documents, held by various repositories. It was the outcome of a research project to uncover the history of the site to better understand the local and national significance of the Hall and Gardens.

A highlight of the collection are Sir Edward Blore's architectural drawings of the Hall held by the RIBA Collections. Blore was an establishment architect, best known for completing Buckingham Palace. His drawings for the New Hall, include floor plans, elevations of the Gardener's Cottage and a detailed layout plan for the famous terraced gardens.

Correspondence digitised from the Bridgewater Estates Archive, provides an insight into the administration and management of a landed estate during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Letters from the Head Gardener, William Barber Upjohn point towards the work involved in managing the gardens, and there are reports of stolen apples and gambling. Correspondence from various visitors is evidence of the significance of the Gardens as a place for recreational and leisure activity and the role of the landed estate in the local society.

A strength of the collection is around the role of the Hall as a Red Cross Hospital for injured officers during the 1914-1918 Great War. This period of the Hall's history is vividly brought to life through a series of rare photographs digitised from a private collection showing the nursing staff and officers convalescing in the Hall groundsand lake. Also from this period is the front cover of The Worsley Wail, a magazine created by patients at the Hospital, giving an insight into their lives and experiences. Physical copies of the Worsley Wail are available at Salford Local History Library as part of the Frank Mullineux Collection.

The collection also includes seven oral history interviews that were conducted as part of the research project. Each interviewee had a connection with the site of the Hall or Gardens and during the interviews they recall their memories. For example, Ruth Campbell, granddaughter of the long-term Head Gardener at the New Hall William Barber Upjohn, recalls characters from her childhood whilst living in the Gardener's Cottage.

The research project was a joint venture between the University of Salford and Peel Holdings Ltd. It took place in 2012 and was accompanied by an archaeological excavation of the site. You can find out more about the history of the Hall and Gardens and the archaeological excavation on the project webpage.

How can it be used?

To understand the history of the New Hall and Gardens and the administration and management of an estate

Who might be interested?

Local and family historians; researchers of garden, architectural, social, and cultural history. Anyone with an interest in RHS Bridgewater.

Types of material

Photographs, architectural drawings, audio recordings, documents, publications

Related material

Worsley New Hall: A Guide to Sources