Stunning Manchester venue The Monastery reopens to the public after almost 18 months

The Monastery, pictured from Gorton Lane.The Monastery, pictured from Gorton Lane.
The Monastery, pictured from Gorton Lane.
The former place of worship is one of the city’s most significant historical landmarks.

The Monastery, in Gorton, has begun welcoming the public back after being closed for some 18 months due to Covid-19.

One of Manchester’s most beautiful historic buildings, the site is aiming to get back to being at the heart of life in its local community.

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Like many other organisations, though, coronavirus has brought about some changes in how it operates.

What is The Monastery?

The Monastery is a grade-II* listed building which was built by the Franciscans as a friary between 1863 and 1867.

Most of the building works were done by the brothers themselves.

It was designed by Edward Pugin, whose father Augustus is best known as the architect for the Houses of Parliament.

It was completed in 1872 and closed for worship in 1999.

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The stunning building is a prominent example of the High Victorian Gothic architecture style. In the 19th century architects returned to the medieval Gothic style as a preferred design for Catholic buildings.

The Monastery was once listed by the World Monuments Fund, alongside the Taj Mahal, as one of the world’s top 100 most endangered sites of historic interest.

Elaine Griffiths, chief executive of The Monastery, said: “The Monastery is a jewel in Manchester’s crown as an architectural treasure and is still incredibly significant as one of Manchester’s most spiritual sites. “

What happened during the Covid-19 pandemic and what has changed?

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Coronavirus rules mean people have not been able to go to The Monastery for the best part of a year and a half.

Since the lockdowns and closure in March 2020, The Monastery has been able to survive thanks to the support of its volunteers as well as government loans, furlough and grants from the Heritage Emergency Fund and the Cultural Recovery Fund.

As a result of this long period of closure the venue has made many changes in the way it operates, and is reopening its doors as a ‘Modern-Day Monastery’ ready to serve the city once again.

The venue hopes it will be the ideal place for people who want to go out and socialise again in a safe and gentle way, and has come up with a programme of events and activities to fit the brief.

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Elaine said: “This building has been part of the community for over 150 years so it was devastating to have to shut the doors to the public.

“However, this period of closure has given us time to reflect on what this building is about, and we are turning the focus back onto supporting the community in as many ways we can.

“Health and wellbeing will be a core of everything we do.

“We will still hold weddings and corporate events, but they will be limited to just Fridays and Saturdays, or after 4pm on all other days.

“The rest of the week we will welcome people in, to enjoy the space and take part in a range of activities which will lift the spirits.”

What can you do at The Monastery?

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The magnificent Great Nave is now open to visitors to enjoy from 10am until 4pm every day from Sunday to Thursday.

The Great Nave of The Monastery in GortonThe Great Nave of The Monastery in Gorton
The Great Nave of The Monastery in Gorton

The café, visitor facilities and shop will be open and entry and parking is free.

Every day at 12pm there is The Hour of Silence, held in the Great Nave, the intimate private chapel or alfresco in the gardens.

Guests can just turn up without booking and stay for as long as they like.

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Elaine said: “Whether you have faith or not, this is an open space for you to find yourself and locate your own, inner peace.

“The Silence is simply a place where you can recover the stillness and beauty at the heart of your being.

“Being in silence and peace is incredibly healing, a rest from the fast pace of modern life and a time to slow down.”

The Taste of the Monastery tours are back on Mondays at 10.30am and 2pm and can be booked for £6 per person.

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The tours delve into the building’s history, including how in recent years it was saved from dereliction.

On Tuesdays there are wellbeing dance classes, while Thursday mornings are given over to Tai Chi sessions.

For more information on the full summer programme visit the website

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