To discuss holding your wedding or any event at The Monastery, contact Kate or Fran to arrange a personal welcome tour.

Call 0161 223 3211 or email Kate or Fran now.

We would love you to visit us at The Monastery! You’ll be sure of a warm welcome, and we know you’ll enjoy the time you spend with us.

For more information, click here.

Keep up to date with the amazing array of events we hold all year around.

**The Monastery is open to the public 10am-4pm, Sunday to Thursday each week. Free entry & parking. All welcome!**

When Having A Baby Messes With Your Mental Health | Dr. Hayley Dunn

Pregnancy and childbirth can have a profound impact on mothers’ mental health. In this article, Dr. Hayley Dunn discusses trauma symptoms & how to get help.

A 5-minute read

Pregnancy, Childbirth & Mental Health

Having a new baby should be a time of joy and love. For some, however, this time is marred by jarring memories of what happened to them while they were giving birth. My interest in perinatal trauma began after the birth of my own son. My experiences left me horribly anxious and haunted by memories. I struggled to process my feelings whilst also adjusting to being a mum. I felt like no one wanted to hear my story, and that I had nowhere to turn. As part of my healing I learnt as much as I could about trauma, determined to understand what had happened to me.

What Is Perinatal Trauma?

Perinatal trauma refers to lasting emotional scars caused by painful or frightening memories from pregnancy, birth or just after. For some people, feelings associated with these memories fade on their own within a few months. For others, they can linger, overshadowing playdates, ruining birthdays and damaging relationships. In these cases, professional help can help to heal this pain and stress, removing the power that memories have over you. Allowing you to move on and start creating happier memories.

Trauma is caused by experiencing acute fear or pain, or feeling like someone’s life is in danger. 1 in 3 births are described as traumatic but trauma is not limited to having a difficult birth. Many people develop trauma symptoms after experiencing extreme morning sickness known as hyperemesis gravidarum. Breastfeeding can be another source of trauma. Without adequate support, women can struggle desperately trying to feed their babies. Breastfeeding can be much harder after a traumatic birth. This can be a double whammy of pain and distress for new mums.

Pregnancy And Birth Related PTSD

For a small number (1-6%), these lingering feelings can even develop into Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Untreated this can have huge consequences for both mum and the rest of the family. It can be harder to bond with your baby. Your relationship with your partner may break down. Your own mental health can end up in a negative spiral.

Secondary Trauma

Anyone can be traumatised by experiencing or witnessing horrendous, life threatening events. Mothers, partners, even midwives and doctors. The fear of thinking that someone you love or who is in your care is going to die can be just as traumatic as going through it yourself. This is known as secondary trauma, and can also have lasting effects on mental health.

Vulnerable Groups

Some people are particularly vulnerable to being traumatised. Eg: Anyone who is highly sensitive or anxious, such as neurodivergent people (eg autistic or ADHD), people who experience body dysmorphia, survivors of abuse or oppression, or previous traumatic events. All of these groups can easily be re-traumatised. To these individuals, events that seem fine from the outside can be overwhelming and terrifying. They need knowledgeable, sensitive, responsive care to prevent acute lasting distress.

My Own Experience

In my case, my son’s birth was all fairly routine, nothing dramatic happened but I felt terrified, alone and out of control. This had little to do with what was really happening at the time. It was undiagnosed, untreated PTSD from my childhood that for me triggered serious mental health problems. Even after my baby was born I continued to struggle mentally and emotionally for some time after, not really understanding what was happening to me. I couldn’t sleep. I didn’t trust anyone else to look after my baby. I had constant mental images of bad things happening to him, even images of me hurting him. Things that once made me feel happy felt stressful and pointless.

Trauma Symptoms

Symptoms of trauma are different for everyone. Generally it involves anxiety, disturbed sleep and uncontrollable upsetting thoughts or memories. Fear grips you even though you know you are safe. You might lie awake at night terrified that something bad is going to happen to your baby. You could be plagued by nightmares, making you fearful of sleeping. You might avoid things that remind you of what happened. You might even struggle to look at your baby without being reminded of the horror. You might feel numb and empty, unable to connect with others.


It can be difficult to know what to do with these feelings and thoughts. Untreated trauma can be incredibly isolating. Often, telling someone about it, gets dismissed with comments like ‘Well, at least you’ve got a healthy baby’. Comments like this left me feeling even worse. I felt misunderstood, ashamed and alone, bitter and angry. Of course I loved my baby, but my love did not magically heal those wounds.

Help Is Available

Its so important not to suffer in silence. It is totally possible to recover from birth and other perinatal traumas. Even PTSD can be treated. Get your GP to refer you for trauma-focused therapy such as EMDR, or Rewind. Seek out a counsellor experienced in treating trauma.

I eventually saw a counsellor and began to heal. My healing journey led me to becoming a doula so that I could prevent others from going through birth and perinatal trauma. I later trained as a counsellor so I could have more tools for easing the symptoms of trauma.

What Is A Doula?

A doula is a professional birth companion. You can hire them when you are pregnant and they will accompany you through your pregnancy and the whole of labour and birth. They provide evidence based information, birth education as well as emotional support. They are not a replacement for your midwife or partner. Instead they work along side your birth team, providing continuous emotional support and knowledgeable, practical guidance and encouragement. They can also be hired to help out in the postnatal period, giving hands on practical support in your home whilst you adjust to being a parent.

Trauma Is Avoidable

Its important to remember that trauma is avoidable and birth doesn’t have to be traumatic. The most effective way to prevent lasting trauma is person-centred care. If you are pregnant, make your maternity team aware of your history, or hire a doula to ensure you get sensitive, individualised support. With responsive, reassuring care even if your pregnancy and birth don’t go according to plan, you can adapt and feel in control which cis the best way to prevent lasting traumatisation.

Dr. Hayley Dunn trained and qualified as a geneticist, before becoming a mother and dedicating herself to exploring the reasons why pregnancy and childbirth can sometimes have unexpected consequences on mental health. Since then, Dr. Dunn has specialised in perinatal, birth related and postnatal trauma, helping others to navigate the huge changes and challenges that motherhood brings as a counsellor & doula. You can check out Hayley’s website here or follow her on Facebook here.


If you’d like some help and support for any reason, there is a free counselling & listening service available Sun-Thu each week at the Monastery. For more information and to book an appointment, click here.

Job Vacancy: Wedding & Special Event Co-ordinator

The Monastery Manchester is looking for an exceptional Wedding & Special Event Co-ordinator for our award-winning venue. Competitive Salary plus incentive scheme/depending on skills and experience.

The Monastery operates as a community charity, a heritage visitor attraction and a weddings and special events venue as well as being an educational, training, cultural and community venue with a spiritual sanctuary and wellbeing centre. We have an exciting and varied programme of events and visitors… so no day is ever the same!

Who we are

The Monastery of St Francis & Gorton Trust owns this precious heritage site, it is a registered charity and building preservation trust set up in 1996 to save, restore and find a sustainable new use for E W Pugin’s architectural masterpiece, known locally as Gorton Monastery.

The significance of Pugin’s derelict site led to its listing by the World Monument Fund in New York as one of the “100 Most Endangered Sites in the World” and led to its nickname as Manchester’s Taj Mahal. The Trust is now in its 25th year with an award-winning track record as a wedding and events venue.

Who we’re looking for

We are looking for an exceptional and experienced wedding & special events co-ordinator who will assist the Senior Sales & Event Coordinator by generating new business for the Monastery.

Your key responsibilities will be to deal with website, email and telephone enquiries. You will convert these wedding enquiries and special event leads into bookings. From that very first contact you will nurture and develop a friendly and professional relationship with potential clients to ensure that they have the best possible experience when holding their wedding or event at the Monastery.

You will need to be someone who loves working with people who is efficient, organised and good at making things happen. Above all, you must truly enjoy the wedding environment and be self-motivated to do well for themselves and the charity owned Monastery.

You will be working with a wide range of clients and liaising with catering and event partners as well as sharing the building and working alongside community, charity and trusted partners who deliver health, education and outreach projects.

What it’s like to work here

We are a small, friendly and highly motivated, inclusive, hands on and happy team with a big vision for our Modern Day Monastery to thrive and serve its highest possible purpose for our clients and our community.

We’re a passionate bunch and we enjoy learning from each other. We thrive on change and love working in such an inspirational and unique site. We are all keen to do good and to put something back into society. We make sure we support others through our community and charitable partnerships.

Many roles at The Monastery are customer and community facing, with all teams working hard to make everyone feel welcome and valued while we maintain superb standards of service. This is an opportunity to make a real difference in the widest sense and to become a valued member of our Monastery team.

The skills you will need

To be successful in your application for the position of Wedding and Special Event Co-ordinator you will need the following skills in your toolkit;

  • Be a meeting & events professional with a minimum of one-year event sales experience in the hotel/venue/hospitality industry.
  • Enjoy working and dealing with the public and being part of a team
  • Be confident, pleasant and a good communicator, able to stay calm under pressure
  • Be efficient, organised and self-motivated
  • Have strong presentation and interpersonal skills
  • Have an excellent command of the English language
  • Be able to demonstrate your progress, success and achievements in a steady career path to date
  • Be computer literate with an understanding of Microsoft Office, databases and a knowledge of venue booking systems
  • Have high standards in your work and client correspondence
  • Have a flexible approach to working as the hours for this role may include some weekend and evening working
  • Have a strong eye for detail to ensure the client expectations are exceeded
  • Have strong organisational and multi-tasking skills to match the variety of meetings, activities and exciting events that may take place each day
  • A high standard of personal presentation
  • Understand the importance of maintaining a professional outlook with clients and visitors.

About the Monastery

As a multi-purpose heritage site owned by a charity, the building is available for exclusive hire every Friday and Saturday and after 4pm most days. The venue is operated by its trading subsidiary The Monastery, Manchester, a winner of over 30 prestigious UK & International Awards (including Best Manchester Wedding Venue 2021).

All proceeds from events are donated to the charitable trust to support the maintenance and upkeep of this precious heritage site as well as our charitable and community projects in education, skills, arts and health.

The Trust’s 4 pillars of work are: Heritage & Culture; Health & Well-being; Ceremony & Celebration; Wisdom & Consciousness.

Our Modern Day Monastery

An extraordinary place to visit
A sanctuary with a heart full of peace
An architectural wonder
And an intellectual feast

To find out more about The Monastery and our work please follow us!


Email for applications please: 

Help restore organ music to The Monastery and catch a glimpse of heaven

Subject: Manchester history, Victorian Manchester, Manchester heritage, Manchester music, organ restoration, British history, conservation.

Words | Dr. Caroline Paige  Photography | Len Grant

An 8-minute read

There’s nothing as soothing to the soul,
than the tones of an organ of old.
By whispering a prayer with celestial sound,
we catch a glimpse of heaven around.

Anonymous author

We’re getting ready to fundraise for the next important chapter in the restoration of our much-loved heritage site.

The Church of St Francis has been lovingly (and painstakingly) restored. It has taken twenty-five years of fundraising and conservation to reinstate the fallen roofs and repair fragile masonry. A feat many thought impossible! The buildings were made watertight. The interiors restored and reorganised to support the needs of a heritage and community venue. The car park and an impressive new wing added. Now the original, decorative paint schemes are preserved. The crucifix saved and returned. And, the 12 larger-than-life statues of Franciscan saints – unique to The Monastery – are back standing gloriously regilded in the Great Nave.

So, what’s left to do?

There’s still an integral part of the site missing. Its 1888 Wadsworth organ.

Music has the power to raise our spirits and can lift our hearts and minds. It’s a source of inspiration and provides a soundtrack to our lives stirring memory and emotion. We couldn’t miss the opportunity to reinstate an 1880s Wadsworth organ and fill the church with the music it was designed for.

Gorton Monastery’s organ was dismantled when the church and friary were sold in 1989. The organ pipes were probably sold for scrap. The organ loft has remained empty. We hoped one day an opportunity would arrive to put this last missing piece of The Monastery back where it belonged.

Gorton Monastery organ

History of the old Wadsworth organ

In 1888, Father Aiden decided it was time to invest in a new organ more suitable for the size of the building. He began fundraising. That same year, Gorton celebrated the magnificent, new organ with a special service. A distinguished Franciscan organist, Father Augustine d’Hoole, travelled from Glasgow to play the organ. Many at Gorton thought their lay brother, Brother Raphael, was a musical genius at the organ and equally talented to Father Augustine.

‘Fr. Aiden wanted a new organ. There was a three-day bazaar in May 1888 and on 15th July the Solemn Opening of the new Organ took place with a distinguished Franciscan organist, Fr. Augustine d’Hoole, OFM, being brought from the Friary, Glasgow, for the occasion. There were many that thought the laybrother, Bro. Raphael, a genius in the kitchen, and also an inspired genius at the organ and the regular organist for many years, could have easily compared with Fr. Augustine. But there it was.’

Excerpt from Father Justin McLoughlin’s book, Gorton Monastery 1861-1961

Organ music was at the height of fashion. They were not only found in churches and chapels (as we tend to think of pipe organs today). They provided musical soundtracks at theatres and music to sing and dance to many fashionable houses.

The organ was built in 1888 by Wadsworth & Brother, a Manchester firm of organ builders set up by Edward Wadsworth in 1861. Born in Chorlton in 1839, Edward was the son of an estate agent. He trained as an apprentice organ builder and soon decided to set up his own business. A ‘sound’ decision during a period of huge growth for organ manufacturing.

Wadsworth manufactured over 1,000 organs during their 85 years. Most made for the parish churches of North West England. Today, only a small fraction of these organs exist. As church attendance declined in the 20th century and churches closed, many organs were dismantled as sold as scrap. Just as happened here at Gorton Monastery.

Manchester Monastery organ loft

A new organ for Gorton

We have fabulous opportunity to return a Wadsworth organ – and its magnificent music – to the Great Nave at the Monastery.

In 2020 during the first Covid lockdown, our CEO, Elaine Griffiths, was contacted by David Emery the organist and treasurer at Patricroft Methodist Church in Eccles, Salford. His church had closed and David was trying to find a new home for their 1884 Wadsworth organ. The organ was originally built for Trinity Church, which stood on the same site. It’s only four years younger than Gorton’s and is almost identical in size and specification.

The organ restoration

The organ was kindly gifted to us, with only a requirement to pay for its removal from Patricroft and its installation in Gorton.

We obtained expert advice, about the practicalities and cost of moving the organ, from George Sixsmith & Son organ works in Mossley, Ashton-under-Lyne. The Patricroft organ was originally installed and maintained by Cyril Wood of Ashton-Under-Lyne. When Cyril died, George Sixsmith (who once worked for Wadsworth) acquired his business and continued to maintain the organ.

Once dismantled, the organ will be restored and repaired. It’s in good working order – Wadsworth organs were built to last! But, we must take the opportunity to make relatively small repairs necessary for an instrument’s ongoing maintenance and to clean and restore it to its full glory.

Patricroft Methodist Church in Eccles, Salford
The organ at Patricroft

To fit our organ loft, the organ needs to be rebuilt and reconfigured. This won’t affect the way it sounds – it will just change the way it fits the space. This is no mean feat with over 800 pipes!

Excitingly, this also gives us the opportunity to add modern playing aids – if we can raise enough.

This would allow us to play the organ from the nave and to program it to play music arranged digitally. We’d love to program the organ to play uplifting music at the same time every day for our visitors to enjoy!

We need to raise £100,000 to reinstate the Wadsworth organ and return its rich music to the Monastery.

Its music can be a powerful instrument of mediation and celebration. It can bring joy, soothe our grief, and move us to think differently. Its power – delivered through over 800 hand-rolled pipes – can stir our deepest emotions.

To my eyes and ears the organ will ever be the King of Instruments.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

1884 Wadsworth organ

Ways you can help us to bring organ music back to Gorton Monastery.

Please help us to reach our target of £100,000. We’ve already raised £27,000 thanks to some generous donors.

Buy our book

All proceeds from the sale of our latest book, Trust: The Story of Gorton Monastery, go to the appeal. You can buy your copy from the Browse our Books section of our website or by clicking here.

Donate online

It’s super easy for you to donate using our JustGiving donate button.

Fundraise for us

You can fundraise using our JustGiving page. You can find it quickly by clicking here or visiting

Raise awareness

Help to spread the word about our fundraising.

Do you know a community group who would like this project? Does your company want to sponsor the organ restoration?

Thank you for helping to support our appeal. You’re helping to bring the music back to the Monastery.

How to upcycle in fabulous 20th-century style: Feed sacks reinvented as wearable fashion

Subject: textile heritage; Victorian Manchester; Manchester history; Manchester heritage; up-cycling; fashion; style.

Author | Charlie Walker & Cheryl O’Meara  Editor | Dr. Caroline Paige

A 2-minute read.

The Print Pattern Archive holds an extensive collection of American twentieth-century feed sack fabric – a big hit with quilters and lovers of vintage design. The naïve painterly styles are the ultimate in the print industry. There are glorious designs featuring rural scenes, zingy florals and cute, novelty sketches. They make great inspiration for children’s wear and homeware.

What is feed sack fabric?

Feed sack fabric is – well, what it says on the tin – fabric that was used to transport goods like flour, sugar and animal feed. In rural communities, especially in the United States, these materials were not wasted.

Authentic feed sack fabrics from the 20th century were made of rough cotton or burlap. Materials appropriate for their original intention, as protection for the goods they held.

Poultry feed sack with design showing women in fashionable dresses

How did feed sacks become fashionable?

Feed sack fabric rose in popularity in the late 1800s. The invention of cheaper, patterned cotton created a boom in the women’s fashion market. But women in rural areas often had limited access to these fashionable and affordable fabrics.

The feed industry saw an opportunity to increase sales. By distributing their feed to farms in sacks made from cotton printed with modern patterns, they improved the desirability of their sacks and the product they held.


squares of feed sack fabric

What was made using feed sacks?

The cotton sacking fabrics were reinvented as new clothes, quilts and other home furnishings.

As popularity for the fabrics grew, the producers of these sacks began incorporating popular motifs of the era into the design of their fabrics.

These are the designs enjoyed by many feed sack fanatics – bright colours and mid-century motifs that represented the home. Overlapping floral patterns were (and still are) a popular choice for quilting and home decoration.

As international trade and technology developed, feed sack fabric was no longer needed for transporting raw goods. Vintage feed sack fabrics – with their pretty and quirky designs – are now a rare find.

We can take much inspiration from the 20th-century women, who reinvented their feed packaging – creating fabulously unique pieces from the most everyday of materials.


quilt made from feed sacks


The Print Pattern Archive is housed here at the Monastery. Find out more about the collection at

Get in touch for bespoke commissions or to view a collection:

Book Review: Gorton Monastery 1861-1961

Subject: Victorian Manchester; Manchester history; Manchester heritage; Franciscan history.

By Father Justin McLoughlin; reviewed by Janet Wallwork, published 1961 (Historical Reprint Series).

Gorton Monastery 1861-1961: The story of 100 years of the Friary, Gorton, Father Justin McLoughlin, Monastery Publications (Historical Reprint Series), 46p, £2.99. First published in 1961. ISBN 978-0-95714-841-3

In 1861, a small group of Belgian Franciscan Friars arrived in Gorton. Despite having a local Catholic population of just a few hundred and very little money they enlisted the famous church architect, Edward Welby Pugin, to build them a friary and church ‘of cathedral-like proportions.’

Over the next century, they also established three schools and an impressive range of parish organisations – spiritual, educational, cultural, and social.

This little book, written by the archivist of the Order, was published to mark the centenary of the friars’ momentous arrival. It tells the story of the buildings and of the flourishing parish that surrounded them.

Sadly, in 1989 the friars left Gorton and for years the church stood empty and derelict. In 1996, a charity was established – The Monastery of St Francis and Gorton Trust – to raise the funds to rescue and restore the church and friary buildings. It reopened its doors in 2007 with a new life as a community, cultural, and corporate venue.

The Trust obtained permission to reprint Father Justin’s book to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the day the friars came to Gorton.


Editor’s note: This book – and other Monastery Publications – are available to buy both in our onsite Monastery Shop and via our online bookshop.

Omicron Update | Events Policy & Exemptions

The latest wave of Covid19 in the shape of the Omicron variant has seen the UK government increase some restrictions in hospitality venues to try & curb the spread of infection.

Here’s what you need to know if you’re visiting the Monastery for an event in the run-up to Christmas 2021, or during January 2022.

📣 House Policy 📣

The Monastery will NOT be requiring covid passports for our own events, which are:

December 2021

🌠 Christmas Story & Donkey Day – Sunday 19th Dec
🌠 Service of Light – Tuesday 21st Dec

December 2021 & January 2022

🌠 Daily Silent Meditation – Sun-Thu each week
🌠 ALL of our community groups, workshops and services
🌠 ALL weddings and private parties

📣 Exceptions to our House Policy 📣

Due to the new safety measures recently announced by the government, attendees of the below listed, larger scale events, organised by Tightrope Productions, will be obliged by law to produce either a covid passport, or evidence (by text or email) of a negative lateral flow test result, taken no more than 48hrs before the event, in order to gain entry to the shows.

December 2021

🌠 Queen by Candlelight – 17th Dec
🌠 West End Boys – Tuesday 21st Dec
🌠 Christmas with the Choir – Wed 22nd Dec
🌠 Christmas Hits Live – Thu 23rd Dec

January 2022

🌠 Afternoon Tea with the Jersey Boys – Sat, 22nd Jan
🌠 Tribute to ABBA by Candlelight – Sat, 22nd Jan

You can find details on how to register your test results on the UK Government website.

You can find out everything you need to know about the NHS Covid pass here.

Enquiries or questions about these ticketed events to @tightropeproductionsltd

Please, stay safe & take care of one another 🙏 we’ll keep you updated if and when any of these guidelines change.

Thank you for your patience, love from the Monastery team ❤

TRUST: The Story of Gorton Monastery by Elaine Griffiths OBE

Subject: Victorian Manchester; Manchester architecture; Manchester history; Manchester heritage; well-being; Franciscan history.

First edition, hardback, Monastery Publications, 1 December 2021, 176 pages & 304 images. ISBN 978-0-9571484-6-8

A history of the restoration of Manchester Monastery

When Elaine Griffiths stepped over crumbling masonry into the derelict nave in 1996, she was overcome with the power of this incredible Gothic masterpiece.

It was as though Gorton Monastery spoke to her. To save the church and adjoining friary, her and husband Paul set up the charity, The Monastery of St Francis and Gorton Trust.

TRUST is the story of a labour of love. It’s one woman’s extraordinary journey over 25 years not only to restore ‘Manchester’s Taj Mahal’ but secure its future. Elaine writes frankly of the setbacks, despair, breakthroughs, and small miracles that have changed her life and touched the lives of thousands more.

A foreword from Terry Waite CBE, patron of The Monastery and founder of Hostage International

No words can adequately describe the devastation that lay before me. The tiled flooring was a disaster. The statues of saints that formerly lined the nave had disappeared. The ornate high altar now a target for brick-throwing hooligans.

I looked at Elaine and could see she was no pushover. She was the sort of person who, once she made up her mind up to something, would do it no matter what the odds. How could I refuse to join her and Paul in such a worthy cause?

This book records the story of the rebuilding. It’s a story that will bring hope to many by demonstrating that two ordinary people, with vision and commitment, can achieve what in fact is miraculous.

Terry Waite CBE

Trust Elaine Griffiths

Interview with the author, Elaine Griffiths OBE, Executive Officer at Manchester Monastery

One question I’m often asked is why I got involved with the Monastery project.

It’s very much part of our Griffiths family story and would come up in conversation whenever the family had a get-together. Whatever the occasion, it didn’t take long before someone would ask about the Monastery. Who’d seen the latest news report about yet more theft or vandalism at the empty church? Why wasn’t someone doing something to stop it? No one ever had an answer.

Many people have suggested I should write a book about saving Gorton Monastery. I’ve resisted for so long and made so many excuses: I haven’t the time; I’m not a writer and, besides, which story should I tell? Is it the very personal story of constant doubt, worry, stress and struggle, or is it the more professional, sanitised version of endless bid writing and fundraising that eventually led to triumph over adversity?

Should I be brave and share the more mystical and spiritual side of the story – where the magic of the Monastery has guided my every step? I’m sure that’s what motivated me to get involved after our first visit in the summer of 1996. Guidance came to me in dreams, meditation and intuition, and through messages from gifted people. I was sceptical at the beginning but the wisdom and reassurances from these messages have given me the courage, strength and resilience to keep on trusting.

Over the years, I’ve worked more and more with these experiences. My faith has been tested beyond belief, but prayers were always answered. In the eleventh hour, solutions would always arrive. Sometimes answers came in the form of major setbacks that did not always appear helpful. It’s only now, with the gift of hindsight, I realise everything that appeared to go wrong eventually took us one step closer to an even better result.

That’s why the title of this book is simply TRUST. I’ve learnt the hard way and that’s been the process all along. Things happen when the time is right – when everything and everyone is ready. I suppose you could call that divine timing.

This book is a summary of my personal story and a brief recollection of events. There’s so much information and so many memories. We’ve had to leave out more than we’ve included. And I recognise that, over the years, those who’ve shared some of the journey may remember things slightly differently, but that’s fine too.

We’ve nearly given up many times and reminded ourselves we’re the custodians of so many others’ hopes and dreams. We could not let them or ourselves down. The Monastery, now lovingly restored, is in the safe hands of the Trust who will always endeavour to protect and conserve it for the benefit of future generations. With its renewed focus on its charitable purpose this precious sacred heritage site can now step up to serve its highest possible purpose.

The business model is changing so our charity work takes priority, and we hope our new ‘Trusted Partners’ will do more and more in our Modern-Day Monastery. We still need commercial income to pay essential running costs. We’re optimistic that business will continue to grow as we recover from the impact of Covid and weddings and large events gradually return to normal.

Our Modern-Day Monastery is shining brightly as a sanctuary and beacon of hope, which can support others to cope with the challenges of this fast-changing world. I hope and pray we will be guided to do the right thing, so we can continue to ‘do good while doing business.’

I’m so grateful to have been given custody of this amazing project for so long. As we come to the end of this important chapter in the Monastery’s history, I realise I may be mistaken. Maybe the best is yet to come and this is actually the starting line. I will look forward to whatever the future holds and will continue to trust.

Elaine Griffiths

Buy your copy here

Trust inside


Editor’s note

This attractive, hardback, coffee-table book celebrates the 25th anniversary of The Monastery Trust and the remarkable work of those involved in restoring and caring for this precious heritage site.

Within its 176 pages are over 300 images of the site collected by Elaine Griffiths and photographer, Len Grant.

Buy your copy of TRUST online and we’ll post it to you (or perhaps to someone else as thoughtful gift).

You can also pick up a copy in our Monastery shop here at the Monastery.

As a charity, we rely on your purchases and donations to support this special heritage site.

Buy your copy here

The Monastery Manchester


Music Matters | BBC Radio 3 interviews Manchester Camerata & Elaine Griffiths

BBC Radio 3’s Music Matters have broadcasted a beautiful feature all about Manchester Camerata’s move to The Monastery and how they are making a difference to our local community of Gorton.

Tom Service speaks to local Councillor Julie ReidHideOut youth zone’s CEO Adam Farricker, and Elaine Griffiths, OBE, chief executive of The Monastery about the positive change we are making to the community.

He also interviews Camerata musicians Ryan Breen, Kate Pearson and Dave Tollington about Manchester Camerata’s free weekly Music Café for people living with dementia and their life-changing Music in Mind work.

Tom also speaks to the orchestra’s CEO, Bob Riley, about our plan for the future as well as our Classical Futures Digital Communicator, Reeco Liburd, about how we are inspiring the next generation of local people.

“The power of the collective spirit.” – Bob Riley, CEO

Listen back to the BBC Radio 3 interview here.

*Read the original article here on Manchester Camerata’s website.

NEW Self-Help Group for Mothers | Mama Tribe

Launching at 12.30 on Monday 22 November is a NEW service for mothers and their early years children. It’s a FREE service for the Manchester community.

Run by Annabel Newfield, the group will offer a supportive, nurturing, and empowering community for women.

Who is the group for?

This group is for mothers who live in Manchester and their early years children (4 years and under).

Raising children and coming into motherhood during lockdowns has been isolating for many. Mothers learn so much from each other – find a community of other mothers here. Lockdown mamas, more than ever, need to feel connected with other mums.

Mama Tribe at the Snactuary of Peace & Healing Manchester

What help can I expect?

The sessions will include Developmental Movement PlayBaby Boogie. This supports children’s physical, emotional and social development. And it’s fun. A massive boost for mental health!

After the play part of the session, is time for the mothers. Annabel will share useful parenting support, self-care, and nurture skills – that will help you.

Be seen and heard – with your struggles, joys, and questions about motherhood. This is a safe and confidential space.

Self-care and nurture skills – including mindfulness, breathing and meditation, dance, stretching, and relaxation. These skills are for you, but they also work for your children.

Connect with your body and find acceptance and love for it – it’s been through many changes.

More about Annabel

Annabel is an experienced teacher of developmental movement play and somatic bodywork. She works with a large variety of women’s groups. She has supported women in prison, runs local support groups, teaches on retreats, and has a one-to-one therapy practice. Her focus is to help women achieve positive body image, mindfulness, and self-care.

Annabel is all too aware of the challenges facing mothers, especially those with fragmented communities and families. As a single mother, she’s been through her own burnout journey. In her words, she ‘scraped herself off the floor and learnt how to ask for support and resource herself as a woman and mother’. Her lived experience fuels her passion to support mothers – especially now when many mums are navigating the isolation of parenting through lockdowns.

Mama Tribe at the Sanctuary of Peace & Healing Manchester

How do I join the group?

Be Well Manchester will refer mums to this self-help group. If you live in Manchester and think these sessions are what you need, either contact Annabel directly at or contact Beylai at Be Well Manchester. Come and meet Beylai in the Sanctuary on Monday between 12 and 3pm or email her at

The sessions will start at 12.30 (and finish at 2pm) on Monday 22 November. Then they will run on Monday 22 November, 29 November, 13 December, 20 December.

Please share this information with anyone you think it might help.

Related services @ The Sanctuary

The Sanctuary also offers a domestic violence support group for women on Tuesdays from 12.15 to 2pm. You can find out more here.

We also offer free counselling via our listening service from Sunday to Thursday each week. You can find out more here.

Where can I find more information about the Sanctuary of Peace and Healing?

You can check out their website right here.

Admission is free and so is parking.

Manchester History & Heritage: A Remembrance Story of Friendship and Ice Cream

The Story of Charles Sellars and Emmanuel Sivori

Author | Graham North  Editor | Dr. Caroline Paige

A young recruit

With the onset of the First World War, in July 1914, twenty-two-year-old Charles Sellars enlisted in the Royal Flying Corps. He had a wife, Sarah, and a thirteen-month-old daughter called Phyllis, who was to become my mother. They lived in a small back-to-back terraced house (3 Ajax Street) off Oldham Road in Miles Platting to the east of Manchester.

Charles was a printer by trade. He had a printing shop on Bradford Road near the colliery, which he ran with his brother Joseph and their cousin James Packer. Trade was falling in the run up to the war. The Royal Flying Corps offered a regular income – and it was only going to take a few months to defeat the Germans and he would be back home and life would resume as normal. Sarah pregnant, but Charles expected to be home before the baby was due.

As we know, the war didn’t go quite as planned and the soldiers had to prepare for a long haul. Charles went off to fight, but before long he was injured and brought back to England to recuperate. When Charles recovered, he was deemed as not fit enough to resume service in the Royal Flying Corps. He returned to France, but this time as an infantryman in the Army.

Manchester history Manchester
Charles Sellars stands on the right proudly wearing his Royal Flying Corps uniform

A Little Italy in Manchester

Between Miles Platting, where the Sellars family lived, and the city centre is an area called Ancoats. Due to the large number of Italian immigrants in this area it was known locally as Little Italy and it was home to many ice cream makers.

These were family-run businesses, with their own shops and ice cream carts. They sold penny licks – a little glass filled with ice cream from which a customer would lick out the ice cream and hand back the glass to the vendor, who would then wash the glass and refill it for the next customer.

Emmanuel Sivori started his family ice cream business in 1910, shortly after he came to England.

Charles and his wife had moved to 222 Oldham Road, a few doors away from the ice cream shop, and they became friends with the Sivori family. The Sivori family were patrons of the Monastery and made donations towards the upkeep of the church and supplied flowers for the May Queen celebrations.

Manchester history at Manchester Monastery

A lasting friendship

When Charles Sellars returned to active duty in France, the war had reached stalemate. He joined the troops in the trenches. For a second time he was injured and it was more serious this time, as he had been caught in a mustard gas attack.

When they brought Charles home, he was in very poor health and unable to go back to his printing business. He did manage to find work as a porter at Miles Platting Railway Station, which lasted for a few years. But his health gradually deteriorated until he was no longer able to work. His wife, Sarah, found part-time work cleaning carriages at the station, even though they now had four young daughters to look after.

Over time, Charles became bedridden and in constant pain. To help ease his pain Emmanuel Sivori’s son, Albert, visited every day after their ice cream shop closed, with bags of ice to lay upon Charles’s chest. He brought the ice every day until Charles died – leaving Sarah with four young girls and pregnant with another child.

Charles’s eldest daughter, Phyllis, had to leave school when she was 13 to earn some extra money for the household. Unfortunately, within two years, she became seriously ill with St Vitus Dance (Sydenham’s chorea) and had to spend eighteen months in the isolation ward at Monsal Hospital.

Manchester history at Manchester Monastery
Charles Sellars with his wife, Sarah, and their daughter, Phyllis.

A story preserved

Charles’s last surviving daughter, my Aunty Anne, told me this story when my wife and I visited her in 2003, not long before her death.

In October 2006, my good friend, the Monastery historian Tony Hurley, told me that a Mr Sivori and his daughter were visiting us. They were bringing a crucifix that had belonged to the Monastery. I told them this story, and he said it would have been his father that helped my grandfather all those years ago. I was extremely pleased to meet one of the sons of the man who was my grandfather’s friend and had done so much to ease his suffering in his final days.

I am sure I would not have had the pleasure of meeting Mr Sivori had it not been for our connection with Gorton Monastery.

Lest we forget