SJ8796 : Gorton Monastery, Manchester

taken 7 years ago, near to Gorton, Manchester, Great Britain

Gorton Monastery, Manchester
Gorton Monastery, Manchester
It is actually the Friary of St. Francis, but the difference between monks and friars seems to have been overlooked by the Victorian working classes! The architect was Edward Pugin, son of Augustus Pugin, who designed the Houses of Parliament.

The first Franciscan brothers came to Gorton in November 1861, but it was 1872 before the Church was completed and officially opened.

In 1989 it was left empty, following years of declining congregations, closure of local factories, and finally, wholesale demolition or "slum clearance" removed the last of the church-goers. A developer bought it, and went bankrupt. Then the vandals moved in.

In 1996 it was "rescued" by Paul and Elaine Griffiths who, with a tireless band of supporters, have done repairs and turned it into a useful building once more.
Gorton Monastery
The Church and Friary of St Francis, known locally as Gorton Monastery was built between 1863 and 1872 by Franciscan monks who had come to Manchester in 1861; most of the building work was done by the friars themselves. Designed by Edward Pugin, whose father helped design the houses of Parliament, Gorton Monastery is considered to be one of his finest masterpieces. It was put on the World Monuments Fund Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites in the World in 1997, alongside Pompeii, Macchu Picchu, The Valley of the Kings and the Taj Mahal. This was a milestone that led to the Monastery being recognised internationally for its architectural and spiritual significance and gave rise to the nickname of “Manchester’s Taj Mahal”.

The Monastery was the hub of religious, social and cultural activity for some 120 years - the Franciscans ran 3 schools, a theatre group, brass band, choir, youth club, successful football teams and numerous other activities for the community. Sadly, by 1989 only six elderly friars remained and the Church closed for worship. The building was sold to property developers who stripped out the Church for conversion into flats. However, this venture failed and the building was abandoned by the developers in 1993. Left unprotected, it became prey to significant vandalism and theft.

The Monastery of St. Francis & Gorton Trust was established in 1996 and, following a 12-year fundraising campaign by the charity, which still owns the building, and grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage, the Architectural Heritage Fund, North West Development Agency and the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund), the site and buildings have been saved from ruin and partly restored to create a weddings, banqueting and special events space, a conference and meeting facility and a cultural and community venue. It is currently only open to the public for general viewing on most Sundays from 12 to 4pm.

The Monastery is Grade II* listed (English Heritage Building ID: 388148 LinkExternal link British Listed Buildings) and in the top 8% of buildings in England. Although known as Gorton Monastery it is actually a Friary as explained in the book "Beggars and Builders - My story of Gorton Monastery", which was researched and written over seven years by historian Tony Hurley, the building's former heritage and tours director (LinkExternal link Manchester Evening News).

More information at LinkExternal link
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SJ8796, 114 images   (more nearby )
Photographer
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Date Taken
Monday, 3 December, 2012   (more nearby)
Submitted
Friday, 13 December, 2013
Geographical Context
Religious sites  Suburb, Urban fringe 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! SJ 876 968 [100m precision]
WGS84: 53:28.0999N 2:11.2323W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! SJ 876 968
View Direction
Northwest (about 315 degrees)
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Other Tags
Manchester  Gorton  Gorton Monastery  Monastery  Griffiths  Edward Pugin  Pugin 

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