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.