VISIT US

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.

Manchester Monastery is now open – we can’t wait to welcome you back!

History & Heritage

Belle Vue Week | 5 days of FREE, Family Activities at Manchester Monastery

Whether you love reminiscing or finding out about the fascinating history of Belle Vue for the first time, we invite you to come and enjoy a wonderful week of history and nostalgia here at Manchester’s modern-day Monastery.

Manchester History & Heritage

Home to a zoological garden, circus, fair, speedway, dancing, boxing, wrestling, fireworks, music, and dancing for over 150 years, Belle Vue was a Showground of the World. Over these 5 days of Belle Vue Week, you’ll discover just how monumental Belle Vue Zoo was in its heyday in this fascinating stroll through Manchester’s history & heritage.

Belle Vue Week at Manchester Monastery
Copyright Chethams Library

When?

From 10am – 4pm each day, on the 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 25th and 26th of August, The Monastery opens its doors with a range of free talks, workshops and exhibitions.

Featured Talks

Talk: The Great Apes of Belle Vue (Monday 23rd, 2-3pm)

Come and listen to fascinating talks given by local inter-faith minister, Rev. David Grey, a former Belle Vue Zookeeper. Here’s your chance to ask questions and find out more about the attraction which formed a huge part of Manchester’s social history.

Rev. David Gray had many teachers over his life, among them the Great Apes of Belle Vue, for whom he was keeper during the closing months of this historic local zoo.

This talk covers how a hug from a gorilla opened a deeper understanding of the universal language used by all living things, but which humans had come close to forgetting. It covers his journey as a faith leader, his negotiator role at the 1990 Strangeways Prison riots and the part he played on the team that restored this monastery. If you love animals and care about the future of planet earth for all living things, this is not to be missed.

Talk: The Magic of Belle Vue (daily, 12-1pm)

This will be a daily talk looking back at the fascinating history of Belle Vue, once known as the Showground of the World, and how it played a big part in Gorton & Manchester’s past social history.

Talk: Belle Vue Over the Years (2-3pm, Tue 24th)

This talk by Robert Nicholls, provides a brief overview of the various periods in the development of Belle Vue over the years.

Talk: Belle Vue on Film – Fragments of ‘The Showground of the North’ (12-1pm, Thu 26th)

This talk from the North West Film Archive with Geoff Senior delves into what’s left of historical footage of Belle Vue. Belle Vue appeared on many films and home movies and the North West Film Archive looks into some of its collection, including surviving fragments of the lost classic Mancunian Studios film of the venue, as well as more recent reflections of its filmed past.

Talk: The Halle & Belle Vue – Lessons in Popular Appeal (2-3pm, Thu 26th)

This talk by Eleanor Roberts, Halle Archivist, charts the relationship between Manchester and this legendary orchestra.

When the Second World War broke out the Halle faced several difficulties – not least was having nowhere to call home. The Orchestra travelled around the region over the next few years, and in 1942 played in the King’s Hall, Belle Vue, for the first time. Seating up to 6000, those war-time concerts provided lasting memories for many, and created a bond with the city that still endures – having been tested again recently when the pandemic silenced the orchestra for the longest time in over 160 years.

Children’s Fairy-Tale Themed, Storytelling Workshops

The fantastic Round the Twist performing arts collective will be taking over our children’s activities for three days of interactive arts during Belle Vue Week. They use a wide range of arts – from puppetry to dance to arts and crafts – to engage children creatively.

For the full workshop programme, check out this article.

Books and Exhibitions

Exhibition of archive posters, memorabilia and photo displays 

Come and gaze in wonder & delight at this fabulous collection of memorabilia that celebrates the much-loved attraction that was Belle Vue. Nothing remains of the old zoo, not even a plaque to say what once stood there – from 1836 until 1977 – so don’t miss your chance to see this wonderful exhibition.

iNostalgia Trust with Henry Hochland  

iNostalgia is a small publishing company based in Manchester. They’re a group of experienced publishers, editors and writers who believe passionately in recording local heritage. The iNostalgia team love hearing, reliving and capturing the public’s stories and are dedicated to bringing local history to life. Do come along and have a good browse.

Painting Display – Belle-Vue Clowns – With Pamela Armstrong

Exactly what it says on the tin, folks! Whether you love clowns or find them a bit scary, come and enjoy some clown-inspired art (or enjoy the feeling of spookiness, urgh!)

This painting is for illustration only & not part of the display

Belle Vue Week | The full programme

Repeating each day from 22nd – 26th August, 10am-4pm in the Welcome Wing

> Pictures from Gerald Isles archive

> Original posters, memorabilia and photos

> Memories table and a collection for our much-loved and missed volunteer, Frank Rhodes, author, local historian and Belle Vue expert.

> Daily talk from 12-1pm: The Magic of Belle Vue 


Sunday 22nd August

All the daily features plus:

> Memorial for Frank Rhodes 1949 – 2021 | Please join Frank’s family, friends and former colleagues to celebrate all of our precious memories of Frank and pay tribute to the life of such a remarkable, kind and gentle man.


Monday 23rd August

10.00am – 4.00pm

> Exhibition of archive posters, memorabilia and photo displays 

11.00am 

> Painting display – Belle Vue Clowns – with Pamela Armstrong

12.00pm – 1.00pm

> TALK – The Magic of Belle Vue

2.00pm – 3.00pm

TALK – The Great Apes of Belle Vue


Tuesday 24th August

10.00am – 4.00pm

> Exhibition of archive posters, memorabilia and photo displays 

> Book stall in the Great Nave

> iNostalgia Trust 

11.00am – 3.00pm 

> Round The Twist Activities – Fairy Tales Performing Arts Workshop 

12.00pm – 1.00pm

> TALK – The Magic of Belle Vue

2.00pm – 3.00pm

> TALK – Belle Vue Over the Years


Wednesday 25th August

10.00am – 4.00pm

> Exhibition of archive posters, memorabilia and photo displays

> Book stall in the Great Nave

> iNostalgia Trust 

11.00am – 3.00pm

> Round The Twist Activities – Fairy Tales Performing Arts Workshop 

12.00pm – 1.00pm

> TALK – The Magic of Belle Vue


Thursday 26th August

10.00am – 4.00pm

> Book stall in the Great Nave

> iNostalgia Trust 

11.00am – 3.00pm

> Round The Twist Activities – Fairy Tales Performing Arts Workshop 

12.00pm – 1.00pm

> TALK – Belle Vue on Film – Searching for the fragments of  ‘The Showground of the North’ 

2.00pm – 3.00pm

> TALK – The Halle & Belle Vue – Lessons in Popular Appeal


And…

As well as ALL that, our Welcome Café will be open from 10am-4pm each day, with snacks and refreshments throughout Belle Vue Week. We’ll also be hosting our daily, silent meditation, with an hour of silence in the private chapel from 12-1pm.

Admission and parking are free of charge and there’s no need to book. Just come on down and bring the family.

We hope you can join us, love from the whole Monastery team ❤️