Its proper title is Manchester Monastery but most people in the city know it as Gorton Monastery.
This Grade II Listed building towers over the surrounding residential streets, acting as a focal point for the eye, and in recent years, for the community too.
It was built in 1872 for the Franciscan Order and remained a place of worship until 1989 when it was sold to a property developer, then abandoned.
The stripped and vandalised building was bought in 1996 for £1 by a community of volunteers who then raised the money for its painstaking restoration. It was reborn as a successful events venue (and it still hosts many conferences, parties and weddings today).
It’s not just a commercial venture though. When COVID hit they took time to reflect (they’re in the right place for it) and reimagined the building as a “modern day monastery” that would “embody the Franciscan values of non-judgement, compassion for all life, charity, and sanctuary for those in need.”
They’ve made that vision real by making the monastery a free entry, welcoming space where anyone can go for quiet reflection and connection with others.
For example, they hold free silent meditation sessions, Sunday-Thursday, 12pm-1pm. The setting is often the Nave or one of the chapels, or if the weather is favourable, the enclosed gardens.
They also offer yoga and tai chi classes, art sessions, and local history classes.
They have a free listening service where you can talk to someone about your troubles, and there are regular free legal advice sessions. Their Welcome Cafe serves nutritious, good-value food such as Buddha bowls, soups, cakes and sandwiches.
If you’re interested in the history and architecture of the building, book onto one of their Monday walking tours.