Book charts Gorton gem’s origins

A book about the history of Gorton Monastery, the Grade 2*-listed former friary and church in east Manchester, will be launched at the end of April.

Written by the late Tony Hurley, the Monastery Trust's heritage and tours director, 'Beggar and Builders – My story of Gorton Monastery', is available from Monastery Publications priced at £6.99. All proceeds from the book go to The Monastery of St Francis and Gorton Trust which funds the upkeep of the buildings as well as a range of charitable and community projects in the local area.

The book, researched and written over a seven-year period, explains why Edward Pugin's architectural masterpiece was built by the Franciscans and reveals the mysteries of its complex design and architecture. It also provides insight into the lives and personalities of the human beings who both begged for and built it.

The original Franciscan Friars began establishing their community in Gorton 150 years ago, beginning with an existing chapel that stood on the Monastery site, before embarking on their ambitious project to build a church of cathedral-like proportions. The project was made possible through the generous support of the local Catholic community who provided resources – both as beggars and builders – labouring alongside the Friars themselves.

In 1996, when the buildings were derelict, The Monastery of St Francis and Gorton Trust was set up to save them and the process of 'begging and building' began all over again. The restoration was made possible because of generous donations by the public along with a number of heritage agencies.

Tony, one of the original team behind the £6.5 million restoration project, died in 2011 before he could complete the book. After Tony's death, two Monastery Trustees, Janet Wallwork and Ray Hanks, completed and edited Tony's final draft.

Elaine Griffiths, chief executive of The Monastery, said: "As the Trust's inspirational historian and tour guide, Tony's love of the building and his amazing knowledge of its Franciscan history and sacred geometry was shared with thousands of visitors every year. This book, published in the 150th year of the Franciscans being in Gorton is his legacy and our tribute to him. Through this book, Tony can continue to tell his story of Gorton Monastery for many years to come."

The book is being officially launched on Sunday 29 April at 2pm along with the first two of the new Historical Reprint Series, 'Gorton Monastery 1861-1961' and 'Assisi To Gorton'. All are welcome to attend.

The Monastery is now owned and operated as an events venue by the Charitable Trust that saved it from ruin for corporate, cultural and community use. It recently was awarded UK's best unusual venue by Meetings and Incentive Travel magazine. It relies on the generosity of its visitors and clients for the maintenance and continuing restoration of the buildings, as did the original friars who built it with the support of the local community.

For more information about The Monastery or to purchase a copy of the book, visit the website or call 0161 223 3211.

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