The Geological Gallery at Biddulph Grange Garden
A Victorian curiosity created by James Bateman that first opened to the public in 1862, the Geological Gallery is an ambitious structure. Bateman hoped to convince visitors of theories that combined new geological finds with the Christian story of creation.
The Gallery contains a selection of fossils and geological strata displayed in a chronological order determined by both mid-19th century geological knowledge and the Christian story of Genesis. The form in which the fossils are displayed – separated into bays numbered according to the days of creation – makes the structure the only survival of its kind.
A number of the fossils were rescued in the 1970s by Dr John Stanley, a geologist from Keele University. At the time, the Gallery was part of the hospital and was being used as a storage room and workshop. The National Trust took control of the Gallery in the late 1990s and efforts to restore it continue.
Recent research has found that its creation was informed by the theories of Scottish evangelist and geologist Hugh Miller. Individuals such as Professor Richard Owen and Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins are also thought to have been involved in the building's design and creation. However, ultimately the Gallery is another example of James Bateman's desire to position Biddulph Gange Garden at the forefront of Victorian natural history.