SJ8796 : Gorton Monastery, St Elizabeth (?)

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

Gorton Monastery, St Elizabeth (?)
Gorton Monastery, St Elizabeth (?)
The Great Nave is the main space at Gorton Monastery. The large, open room features stunning architecture and beautiful partially-restored original features. Amongst the many striking features and artefacts are the twelve canopied statues of saints standing 40 feet up on their pedestals below the clerestory windows.

The figures were installed when the monastery was built and spent 133 years looking down on the aisles but were removed in the early 1990s by the developer when the building was to be converted into flats. They were spotted on an auction list at Sotheby’s in 1994 by local historian Janet Wallwork and bought by Manchester council after Gorton MP Gerald Kaufman negotiated their withdrawal from the auction. After a short period on display at Manchester Town Hall, the works had been kept in storage in the city centre but were eventually re-installed at the Monastery in May 2012 after being carefully cleaned, restored and re-gilded. Made of French limestone, each statue is eight foot in height and weighs half a ton. Some of the replacement parts were carved in wood (LinkExternal link The Monastery, Manchester LinkExternal link Manchester Evening News).

Each of the statues represents a different Franciscan saint. I think this one may be St Elizabeth of Hungary LinkExternal link

See other images of Saints at Gorton Monastery
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, 133 images   (more nearby search)
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Date Taken
Monday, 23 March, 2015   (more nearby)
Thursday, 26 March, 2015
Geographical Context
Historic sites and artefacts  Religious sites  Suburb, Urban fringe  People, Events 
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Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! SJ 876 968 [100m precision]
WGS84: 53:28.1074N 2:11.2351W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! SJ 876 968
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