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:
‘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.
For more information on Conferences, Weddings, Events, Tours and the work of the Trust please contact us on 0161 223 3211 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to us at The Monastery, Gorton Lane, Gorton, Manchester M12 5WF.