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RHS Garden Bridgewater and BBC Philharmonic: Sibelius/Debussy/Tom Coult/Respighi

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by David Keyworth (subscribe)
I’m a freelance journalist and published poet, based in Manchester. keyworthdavid@gmail.com https://uk.linkedin.com/pub/david-keyworth/49/b3a/b83 My debut poetry pamphlet is available at www.wildpressedbooks.com/david-keyworth.html
Event:
Tune into Salford’s new national garden
Garden, Worsley New Hall, Salford, BBC Philharmonic, Tom Coult, Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), Bridgewater Hall, Queen Victoria, Benjamin Disraeli, history
Artist's impression of the new Walled Garden at RHS Bridgewater taken from an aerial perspective. Tom Stuart-Smith.


Musical colour will be added to the revamp of the former site of Worsley New Hall by the BBC Philharmonic and composer Tom Coult (b. 1988). Pleasure Garden, his 27-minute violin concerto, is a co-commission, in partnership with the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), BBC Radio 3 and Salford University.

The new composition is scheduled to be premiered at Bridgewater Hall on Thursday 4 June. Please see the website for any updates. The Worsley New Hall itself adjoins the Bridgewater Canal, just off Leigh Road.

Garden, Worsley New Hall, Salford, BBC Philharmonic, Tom Coult, Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), Bridgewater Hall, Queen Victoria, Benjamin Disraeli, history
Tom Coult. Photo credit Maurice Foxall.


The opening of RHS Garden Bridgewater itself has been postponed from July 2020 to 11 May 2021, as a result of health and safety concerns in the context of the ongoing Covid-19 situation. See https://www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/bridgewater

The 154-acre garden redevelopment will be unveiled by the RHS as the country's fifth national garden.

Features promised include a Chinese-inspired woodland garden - a collaboration with the Chinese community in Greater Manchester. Added to that will be a Paradise Garden, Kitchen Garden, Wellbeing Garden, Community Growing Spaces, adventure play space, Orchard and a Learning Garden, with free school workshops for school children.

Also mentioned are a restoration of a tree-lined approach to the estate, and the reconstruction of the walled garden, which contained a sequence of kitchen gardens and protects plants from the cold and rain.

Orchard Gardens will be dedicated to a mix of mulberry, plum, cherry and damson trees, with a focus on endangered varieties, especially those local to the North West.

The ground's lake has been dredged of silt and planted with native species to further attract wildlife.

Garden, Worsley New Hall, Salford, BBC Philharmonic, Tom Coult, Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), Bridgewater Hall, Queen Victoria, Benjamin Disraeli, history
Worsley New Hall in 1868: from the Mechanical Curator collection, a set of over 1 million images scanned from out-of-copyright books and released to Flickr Commons by the British Library


Worsley Old Hall is believed to have been built in the 15th century on the sites of a previous building.

Francis Egerton, First Earl of Ellesmere (1800-1857), a politician and writer. inherited an estate which included Worsley Hall which he had dismantled and replaced with an Elizabethan style larger hall, in Gothic style.

Worsley New Hall was built between 1840 and 1845 by architect Edward Blore. It cost under £100,000 to build, the equivalent of around £6.7 million today. By 1875 the lake had been enlarged and a grotto built on its island, which was reached by a footbridge. It had a croquet lawn and a tennis court.

It twice played host to Queen Victoria (in 1851 and 1857). She arrived via the Bridgewater Canal, dyed blue in her honour. Benjamin Disraeli - Conservative Prime Minister (1868,1874–80) - was another visitor in 1844, during a visit to northern industrialists.

Victoria wrote in October 1851: "The barge glided along in a most noiseless and fairylike manner, amidst the cheers of the people who lined the banks of the canal (the Bridgewater Canal) and passed under 2 beautifully decorated bridges, belonging to the villages, connected with the east collieries belonging to Lady Ellesmere."

Queen Victoria's Visit to Worsley in 1851 (University of Salford)

Garden, Worsley New Hall, Salford, BBC Philharmonic, Tom Coult, Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), Bridgewater Hall, Queen Victoria, Benjamin Disraeli, history
The Bothy at RHS Garden Bridgewater. December 2018. Mark Waugh


The hall was sold to Bridgewater Estate - a group of Manchester businessmen. It was used as a hospital in the World Wars. In 1943 the hall, already suffering from dry rot, was badly damaged by fire and demolished, after being sold to a scrap dealer.

Worsley New Hall became a British Red Cross hospital during the First World War. In the Second World War parts of the hall were requisitioned by the War Office, its gardens used as training grounds by the Lancashire Fusiliers.

After the War Office requisitioned part of the site in 1951, a reinforced concrete bunker was built, where the servants' wing had been, along with two anti-aircraft radar masts.

In subsequent years parts of the grounds have been used as a garden centre, a Scout camp and a rifle range.

The seeds of the new project were sowed by Peel Land and Property who bought the Bridgewater Estates Company. Peel decided to construct a new hotel and recreate the gardens of the demolished hall. This plan then blossomed into the project to create RHS Bridgewater.

Garden, Worsley New Hall, Salford, BBC Philharmonic, Tom Coult, Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), Bridgewater Hall, Queen Victoria, Benjamin Disraeli, history
View through the Walled Garden to the Gardener's Cottage at RHS Garden Bridgewater. December 2019. Mark Waugh


The RHS last acquired a garden in 2001 - in the shape of Harlow Carr in Yorkshire. It took pride of place alongside the RHS' portfolio of gardens at Wisley in Surrey, Rosemoor in Devon and Hyde Hall in Essex.

Tom Coult's Pleasure Garden is made up of four movements. The second movement is entitled Dyeing the lake blue for Queen Victoria. The first movement is inspired by the 9th century, rain-making contest at the 'Sacred Spring Garden' of Kyoto's Imperial Palace. "In this movement there is often the sense of light drops of rain giving way to a deluge as the enormous monster appears."

Garden, Worsley New Hall, Salford, BBC Philharmonic, Tom Coult, Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), Bridgewater Hall, Queen Victoria, Benjamin Disraeli, history
Clay base of the Lake revealed by desilting process. RHS Garden Bridgewater. 23 October 2018. Mark Waugh.


The RHS is partnering with Salford University to gather the memories of those who lived, worked and played in the grounds of Worsley New Hall. Share your recollections here.
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Why? New music for new garden in old grounds
Phone: 020 3176 5800
Where: RHS Garden Bridgewater Leigh Road Worsley MANCHESTER M28 2LJ
Cost: See websites
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