ARCHAEOLOGISTS have launched a dig to unlock the secrets of a historic merchants’ house.
It is part of a bid to restore the 120-acre Philips Park at Whitefield, near Bury.
The Park House, built in the style of a period Italian villa, was the home of the Philips family, successful merchants in the 19th century.
Anna Maria Philips was the last family member to own and live in the mansion. After her death in 1946, the estate, which included a number of buildings and gardens, was bought by the local authority and became a public park in 1948.
The house, first occupied by the family in 1790, was demolished in 1950.
Bury council has teamed up with Oxford Archaeology and the Greater Manchester Archaeological Unit to unearth the remains of the historic home, beneath a car park.
Experts hope the dig will provide vital clues about its internal layout and uncover important artefacts.
All findings will be recorded to help the council develop proposals for restoring the park and bid for funding.
An open day will be held tomorrow from 10am to 2pm.
Norman Redhead, director of the Greater Manchester unit, said: `This is an exciting project to see what survives of the Philips’ house.
“Philips Park is also one corner of the medieval Pilkington Park deer park, so we believe there is a lot more for us to come back and investigate in the future.”
Bury’s environment spokesman Coun Dorothy Gunther said the house was the home of former Greater Manchester MPs Robert and Mark Philips.