Gorton is an area of the city of Manchester, in North West England. It is located to the southeast of Manchester city centre. Neighbouring areas include Longsight and Levenshulme.
A major landmark in Gorton is Gorton Monastery, a Franciscan 19th-century High Victorian Gothic monastery.
According to local folklore, Goreton derives its name "Gore Town" due to a battle between the Saxons and Danes nearby. This has been dismissed by historians as "popular fancy". The name Gorton means "dirty farmstead", perhaps taking its name from the Gore Brook, or dirty brook, which still runs through the township to-day. The brook may have acquired that name because of the dirty appearance of its water, perhaps caused by discolouration due to peat or iron deposits.
In 2006 the Motor Insurers' Bureau named West Gorton as the worst place in the UK for uninsured cars.
In 1849 a locomotive works was built for the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway, later the Great Central Railway. It was known locally as the "Gorton Tank". It carried out repairs and major overhauls, producing new boilers and all LNER castings. There was also a carriage and wagon works which had been built in 1881 which carried out light repairs. Both were closed in 1962. Gorton was also the home of the Beyer-Peacock locomotive Company at Gorton Foundry, from 1854, until it closed in 1966. Today the site is used by Manchester Council to house its bin collection fleet. One of the company's partners, Richard Peacock subsequently became Liberal M.P for Gorton in the 1885 general election.
Architectural styleHigh Victorian Gothic architecture
Open to the public most Sundays from 12:00 until 4:00pm. Refreshments are available in the Friars Pantry and there is free on-site parking.
Tours, Concerts and Special Events take place every week.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0161 223 3211 for Tour availability and details.
Our office hours are 8:30am to 6:00pm Monday to Friday.
The Church and Friary of St Francis, known locally as Gorton Monastery, is a 19th-century former Franciscan friary in Gorton, in east Manchester, England. The Franciscans arrived in Gorton in December 1861 and built their friary between 1863 and 1867. Most of the building work was done by the friars themselves, with a brother acting as clerk of works. The foundation stone for the church was laid in 1866 and completed in 1872; it closed for worship in 1989. It is believed to be one of the finest examples of High Victorian Gothic architecture in the world. It was designed by Edward Welby Pugin (1834–1875), whose father, A.W.N. Pugin, promoted the revival of Gothic as the style of architecture which was the ideal expression of Roman Catholic faith and worship in church buildings.
In the 1970s E.T. Spashett, consultant architect to the Benedictines and architect of the Church Army Chapel, Blackheath, re-designed the accommodation over the cloisters, combining cells to make small dormitories and studies, and designing a new iron gate for the cloisters. This work included a large, reflective, gold, cross-shaped window (now lost), which at certain seasons caused a gold cross-shaped reflection on the public roadway. The gate and the new three-windowed cells still exist.
In 1997, Gorton Monastery was placed on the World Monuments Fund Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites in the World alongside Pompeii, the Taj Mahal and the Valley of the Kings.
The church and associated friary buildings underwent a £6 million restoration programme supported by funds from the Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage and European Regional Development Fund. The project was completed in June 2007 when the restored buildings opened as a venue for conferences, business meetings and community events. The building is also used for a range of concerts.
1996 – The Monastery of St. Francis & Gorton Trust formed as Building Preservation Trust by a group of volunteers.
1997 – Gorton Monastery placed on World Monuments Fund Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites in the World alongside Pompeii, Taj Mahal and Valley of the Kings.
Buildings sold to the Trust for £1 by Royal Bank of Scotland. Major grant applications and fundraising begin.
1998 – The Monastery Trust begins its unique work delivering local education, training, enterprise, arts, health, restorative justice, cultural and community projects in Gorton.
July 2002 – The Trust offered almost £4 million of grant support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage, The Artitectural Heritage Fund and other Trusts.
April 2004 – £1.8 million of European Matched (EDRF) Funding is granted which kickstarts detailed planning and procurement process.
March 2005 – After over 8 years of campaigning work the Monastery is at risk once again, if the Trust can not prove that the building will be well used, then our heritage grants could be withdrawn.
April 2005 – Generous donations, support from New East Manchester (NEM) and an additional grant from North West Development Agency (NWDA) have provided the Trust with enough funding for the restoration to begin. £6 million of the £7 million required has now been raised.
October 2005 – Heritage specialists William Anelay’s are appointed as contractors. Detailed surveys and enabling works start on site. The Trust moves into its new community base, The Angels, in the former primary school opposite the Monastery.
December 2005 – At last Restoration Begins. Fundraising continues to find much needed funds to restore the High Altar, Lady Alter and many other works of art.
2005 – The Monastery opens to visitors on pre-bookrd tours. The public are able to see the building as it is brought back to life.
April 2006 – The Story of the Monastery shown on national TV in “Passion for Churches” a 30 minute BBC2 documentary.
May-September 2006 – Friary completely rebuilt from the inside out. Church restoration continues. Madonna and other valuable artefacts returned.
October 2006 – The Crucifix returns home with grateful thanks to London Art Dealer Patricia Wengraf.
February 2007 – Royal visit of HRH The Prince of Wales and HRH The Duchess of Cornwall who were impressed with the Heritage and Craft Skills being employed on the project and they expressed their good wishes and continued support for the work of the Trust.
March 2007 – English Heritage and the North West Development Agency gave extra grants to enable the kitchens, café and painting of the church to be completed.
June 2007 – “The Monastery” opens for business hosting conferences, meetings and events as well as wedding receptions, concerts and community celebrations.
Sir Howard Bernstein and Sir Richard Leese of Manchester City Council host our first ever corporate event, A Midsummer Night’s Feast.
Elaine Griffiths was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for her Services to Heritage.
July 2007 – BBC Songs of Praise tells the story of the restoration featuring Aled Jones, Heather Small, John Griffiths, Manchester Cathedral choir and our very own Gorton Voice Choir.
August 2007 – Planning permission for the Monastery Village residential scheme on the adjacent English Partnerships site is approved. The Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment set extremely high design and eco standards for this prestigious development.
August 2007 – The ‘Spirit of Love’ Sculpture in memory of Ilir Caka and dedicated to Mother Teresa is unveiled in the grounds of the Monastery.
September 2007 onwards – The Monastery’s excellent reputation continues to grow as Manchester’s most exciting new venue, hosting Banquets, Awards Dinners, Fashion Shows, Meetings, Weddings, Concerts and Conferences.
Sell out performances by Gorton Philharmonic and St George’s Singers generate capacity audiences.
2008 – The Monastery continues to host many of the North West’s most prestigious occasions and collects the following awards:
Civic Trust Awards - Finalist – 2007
LABC National Built in Quality Award - Winner for Best National Community/Public Project - 2007
Regeneration & Renewal “Heritage Led Project of the Year” Finalist - 2008
The BITC Sieff Award - for Outstanding Community Contribution - 2008
English Heritage - Monastery celebrated as one of the country’s top 20 Heritage led development schemes
RICS North West Awards – shortlisted for Best Conservation Project (judging May 2009)
2009/10 – Wedding license for Civil Weddings and Partnerships granted and the first weddings are planned.
‘Music at the Monastery’ events are planned including a new partnership with Manchester Camerata.
Development work begins on the plans to finish the front wing of the friary and create a prestigious new frontage and entrance area.
Fundraising continues for additional Heritage and Conservation work on the statues, angels, altars and works of art.
The Monastery launches weekly Sunday open days from 12 noon - 4pm. The Friar’s Pantry Café will also be open, serving a delicious lunch menu offering home cooked dishes with a simple, rustic theme to reflect the essence of the original Francisican Monastic values. Afternoon tea will also be served with a choice of home baked cakes, scones and pastries.
All income generated through the use of the building is invested back to cover the running costs and ongoing maintenance of the heritage building and into the wide range of charitable, educational and cultural projects run by the Monastery Trust in the community.
September 2010 - His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales returns to The Monastery, choosing it as a venue to host a Civic Dinner for his START sustainability initiative.
2011 – The Monastery is established as one of Manchester’s premier events venues for weddings and corporate events and is a regular concert venue.
February 2011 - The Monastery wins a Silver Award at The Meetings and Incentive Travel Awards, for Best Unusual UK venue, beating Alton Towers Resort and The Natural History Museum, London.
March 2011 – The Monastery earns AIM Accreditation with the Meetings Industry Association, as a mark of the consistently high standard of service and provision for corporate clients.
April 2011 - Awarded a Mark of Excellence plaque by The North West Multi Faith Tourism Association, for The Monastery’s standard of excellence in welcoming visitors and for the experience we offer to visitors.
May 2011 – The Monastery celebrates its 50th wedding, less than two years after getting the License for Civil Wedding and Partnerships. There is at least one wedding booked each week for the rest of the year and through 2012.
June, July and August 2011 – Weddings abound with wonderful feedback from our delighted newlyweds. The Monastery also hosts regular concerts including St George’s Singers in June and Gorton Philharmonic in July.
September 2011 – Nearly 20 years after they were removed from the building the 12 Franciscan Saints statues are returned to The Monastery site. They are installed in two new workshops where they will be carefully repaired and restored by our sculptors Andrew Scantlebury and Shawn Williams. It is an emotional day for some of our volunteers and supporters who have waited for this day for over 16 years, since Manchester City Council bought the Saints to secure them for the sake of the city’s heritage.
May 2012 - The Return of the Saints. Now completely restored, the job of returning the Saints to their original positions, high up in the Great Nave, was taken on by two of our valued corporate sponsors, Speedy Services and Killelea. At last the Saints are home and their presence lends a new atmosphere to the Monastery.
Nov 2013 HRH the Queen visit to The Monastery for a private lunch.