Since the summer of 2018 The Centre for Applied Archaeology at the University of Salford have been running a Memories Project in partnership with RHS Bridgewater. We have been inviting local people in Salford to share their memories of the Worsley New Hall and gardens sites with us and thereby enrich the experience of visitors to the gardens when the first phase opens.
This builds on work the University of Salford initially undertook in 2011 and 2014 as part of the archaeological exploration of Worsley New Hall, its gardens and landscape (see elsewhere on this bog). As part of that project not only did we excavate the new hall and record the surviving estate buildings – we also interviewed members of local community for their memories of the hall, its gardens and the surrounding woodland and scout camp. These can be found on the University’s archive collections webpages here:
We also took the opportunity to capture the experiences of some of our archaeological volunteers who dug at the hall in 2012 and our own professional archaeologists involved in the project. These have now become part of the story of the hall site. One of the great strengths of archaeology is its ability to tell informed stories of the past from multiple view points. Working on a historical archaeology site such as Worsley New Hall allows those who have used the site in the recent past to tell their stories alongside the stones and bricks of the hall ruins. That of course includes the archaeologists interpreting the site, its landscape, and its buildings. With a project running over several years that also means following the moods and look of the ruins and landscape through the seasons, from high summer to the snow depths of winter.
It has been fascinating to revisit the Worsley New Hall site – now RHS Bridgewater – and to help in a small way to start the process of bringing this landscape back to its Victorian peak. The engagement and involvement of the local community are an important part in understanding how the landscape has evolved and what it means in the 21st century. The Memories project is thus part of understanding the gardens’ current context.
You can get in touch to share your memories of the RHS Bridgewater site by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org