Edward Pugin’s Saint Francis Church and Monastery in Gorton, Manchester is recognized as a masterpiece of Victorian Gothic architecture. Known locally as Gorton Monastery, the building was designed for a community of Franciscans and built between 1866 and 1872. The church operated for more than 100 years, but as attendance at mass dwindled in the second half of the twentieth century, the church had difficulty maintaining the structure. The closing of the church in 1989 led to inadequate maintenance, resulting in serious deterioration. Vandalism and looting further contributed to the degradation of the building.
1998 and 2000 World Monuments Watch
The church appeared on the World Monuments Watch in 1998 and 2000. The increased attention from the listings resulted in the development of a conservation plan that was funded by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. Restoration began in 2000 with financial support from the local community and private sector funding, matched by WMF’s Robert W. Wilson Challenge to Conserve Our Heritage. Today the building is open again to the community, used for religious services and private events.
Saint Francis Church and Monastery is an exceptional example of the Gothic Revival style by one of that movement’s most famous architects, Edward Pugin. It is also an important example of a sacred structure, once a beacon of a community, surviving decline and abandonment to be saved and restored and returned to use for the surrounding community.