2 March 2015

Gorton Monastery, Gorton, Manchester (UK)

The superb Gorton Monastery, Gorton, Manchester, UK, is the popular name for the Saint Francis Church and Friary. Built by Franciscan friars in the early 1860s – more specifically by Edward Welby Pugin – this Gothic Revival wonder was closed in 1989, when only six ageing friars remained here. It was included in a list of the world's one hundred most endangered monuments in 1997, and restoration on it is still continuing.

The eastern part of the nave looking towards the chancel. The purple hue is from the church lighting, and not from any image manipulation on my part.

A closer view of the chancel windows.

And a closer view of the altar and part of the reredos.

The north aisle, necessarily skewed as I had to avoid light flooding in from the west window: what had begun as a snowy morning – and I post this on the same day that we visited the church – turned into a sunny, blue sky day.

This was not labelled, although I imagine it must be the original piscina mounted on bricks.

The Lady Chapel, currently under restoration.

A number of plaques adorn the pillars, and I was particularly attracted to this one dedicated to Saint Leonard (1676–1751) of Port-Maurice from Liguria, whose complete works (essentially concerning the spiritual and the ascetic) run to eight volumes.

The cloister garden, showing the apse dwelt on in the book below.

Much more about this church is in the above book: Beggars & Builders: My Story of Gorton Monastery by Tony Hurley (1953–2011), the second volume of which was published by The Monastery of St Francis and Gorton Trust in 2013, and is edited by Janet Wallwork and Ray Hanks. I can't begin to understand the odd bits about geometry and mathematics in it, but it is obviously an indispensable guide to this architectural delight.

I look forward to the completion of the restoration, which should take about two more years.

No comments: