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Sudley estate memories sought for new heritage project

People’s memories of the old Sudley Estate in South Liverpool are being sought as part of a new heritage project.

Growing Sudley CIC, which has previously restored the Victorian merchant house’s walled garden to create a ‘therapy garden’, is now also converting the old changing rooms on site into a eco-friendly therapy centre.

And the not-for-profit community group has received Heritage Lottery grant funding to carry out research on the history of the garden and changing room building which was originally the estate pigsty before being converted.

Organisers are looking for memories of the estate, as well as a dozen ‘history detectives’ who can help with the research project. Anyone interested in being a detective will need to commit to eight, weekly, afternoon sessions from March 21 to May 9.

Lucy Dossor from Growing Sudley said:  "We can't wait to meet some fellow detectives, to hear people's stories and unearth more photos that have been hidden in boxes for decades.

“We’ve been working for so long with the local community on what we want the future of the walled garden to be that it feels exciting to be digging into the past.”

Sudley House, which is maintained by National Museums Liverpool, was built in 1821 by Liverpool corn merchant Nicholas Robinson, on land he had previously bought from the port’s Tarleton family whose fortune had its origins in the trade in enslaved African people. Robinson had also been involved in the ‘Africa’ trade.

Above: The Sudley estate from the air in 1937. Top: Ploughing the field.

In 1882, the estate was sold to merchant and shipowner George Holt who filled the house with artworks that can still be seen today. His daughter Emma, who died in 1944, bequeathed Sudley to the Liverpool Corporation in her will ‘for the benefit of the people of Liverpool’.

The heritage project will delve into the past of the Sudley greenspace throughout its life, including its colonial past and the development of the walled garden as a showcase for the botanical acquisitions of the Holt family.

While the house is run by NML, the public greenspace is maintained by Liverpool City Council and the volunteer Friends of Sudley Estate group.

The changing rooms were originally the pigsties, converted later to be used by the many sports teams playing on Sudley Fields before they fell into disrepair. Growing Sudley has almost completed a refurbishment of the derelict building into a low carbon therapy centre using air source heat pumps and eco materials. 

Anyone interested in becoming a history detective or sharing memories of Sudley should email


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