Then & Now

2015 - 2021. Worsley new hall's walled garden, Greater Manchester. Shot during the end of a long stint of dereliction before it was extensively restored into RHS's newest gardens, taking on the name 'Bridgewater' from the estates original owner. The Duke of Bridgewater is best known for building Britain's first inland navigation - the canal of the same name which runs adjacent to the site. The furnace in the distance once used coal from the Duke's own local quarries to heat the walls of the garden, allowing for exotic non-native plants to be grown.

The Duke Of Bridgewater, Francis Egerton was not entirely over-joyed with his new Estate at Worsley and he was recorded as describing the area as “a God-forsaken place, full of drunken, rude people with deplorable morals.” Nonetheless, he commenced with a new building project to create a new country seat. He decided to replace Brick Hall, which was built in the eighteenth century, with Worsley New Hall. The foundations for the New Hall were laid in 1839 and the Gothic-revival building was completed in 1846. Below is a comparison between the entrances of the gates in 1905 compared to now, showing what was once known as 'church lodge' guarding the entrance to the estate as per tradition.

At the same time Egerton began to plan his new country house, he also redeveloped the gardens and grounds of his Worsley Estate. Edward Blore (1787 – 1879), the architect who designed Worsley New Hall, was also commissioned to design a gardener’s cottage in a sympathetic Gothic-style to the architecture of the main house. Blore was a leading architect of the early-nineteenth century and he was perhaps most famous for his restoration of Lambeth Palace and the completion of Buckingham Palace. There is some debate over the age of the head gardener’s cottage. It was originally presumed the cottage was completed in 1834, however more recent archival research by the Archaeological team at the University of Salford has determined that the cottage was more likely constructed around 1840, and this ties in more with the construction of the New Hall itself. The first gardener to occupy the cottage was Peter Clare lived there with his wife, Alice and it survived along with the estate as it progressed through generations right up until the first world war when it was vital to the running of the estate and to the war effort, as they supplied the Red Cross hospital which had been set up in the Hall. This period of use sadly resulted in a fire breaking out, leading to it's inevitable demolition. No trace of it exists now, leaving the gardeners cottage as one of the only clues to what the main hall would have looked like to this day. The image shows the cottage in 1905 compared to now at the recently opened RHS Bridgewater.