As part of the Whitworth Art Gallery’s exciting plans for development (see http://www.whitworth.manchester.ac.uk/aboutus/capital/), an archaeological assessment was undertaken by the archaeological consultants Oxford Archaeology North (a division of Oxford Archaeology: http://www.oxfordarch.co.uk).
Several trenches were opened at the back of the gallery, where the new extension, entrance, Landscape Gallery and Art Garden will soon be constructed. Before it became the Whitworth Institute, this was the site of Grove House – an impressive suburban villa. The unit found evidence of the brick footings for original greenhouses which would have grown fruit, vegetables and flowers for the main house, together with original floor surfaces. They also uncovered deposits of demolition debris and domestic rubbish. In one trench, the possible remains of a path associated with the house were also uncovered, as well as a few tantalizing features which might predate Grove House itself. This era of the Park’s history is a great unknown, and could shed light on the use of this land before settlement from the growing urban centre of Manchester spread out into the suburbs.
Ariel shot from 1922 of Whitworth Park showing area at back of Gallery, Grove House circa 1900
Staff from the University of Manchester’s Whitworth Park History and Archaeology Project visited the site, bringing finds and images with them for any interested visitors. We hope to work closely with Oxford Archaeology North, in any future work undertaken to investigate these features further. It is likely that there will be some form of community engagement and activities later this summer – so watch this space!