Unsupported browser

For a better experience please update your browser to its latest version.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Discovery of Pugin drawing opens the way to massive restoration work - images

  • Comment
The discovery of a long-forgotten drawing by Victorian architect Peter Paul Pugin has opened the door for the restoration of the impressive altar at the Gorton Monastery - Manchester's answer to the Taj Mahal.

Stored in an attic for more than 30 years, the surprise find of the detailed lithograph has been hailed as a 'real blessing' by the team hoping to renovate the vandalised altar, built in the 1880s.

The revamp of the 12m-high, elaborately decorated structure, would become the centrepiece of the 10-year battle to restore the Grade II* monastery designed by Peter's step-brother E W Pugin.

In 1989 the red-brick building fell into disrepair after the Francisan monks decided to leave the monastery, and it was only saved from the scrap heap when the St Francis and Gorton Monastery Trust stepped in to mastermind a £6 million overhaul.

According to the trust, it will cost another £400,000 to return the French limestone altar to its former glory.

Carved by clerk of works Brother Patrick Dalton, the top of the altar was made of white marble from Italy and was supported by eight Californian red marble pillars.

Tony Hurley, the trust's project manager, said: 'Sadly the high altar was heavily vandalised when the church was abandoned, and presently all that remains are the stone steps and the brick base.

'Although the marble and Caen limestone reredos was also damaged, thankfully the majority of it remains intact.

'Although we have plenty of photographs showing how the high altar looked, this drawing gives us the detail we need to ensure the restoration work is accurate.

The lithograph, which is currently being cleaned up at the Conservation Unit of the John Rylands University Library, was donated by Magdalen Donlan, whose grandfather used to be a monk.

by Richard Waite

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.