Wednesday 24 April 2024

Greyfriars to leave their Manchester Gothic Revival masterpiece

The Greyfriars have confirmed that they are giving up their stewardship of one of the finest Catholic Gothic Revival Churches in Britain.

They will leave All Saints, Barton-upon-Irwell, Manchester, in the autumn and are in discussion with a Catholic group to take over the Grade I listed church.

The Order of Friars Minor have not named the group they are negotiating with but said the church will be properly cared for.

“We have found it very difficult to staff all our friaries and rather than be not very good in the job, it would be better to if we can give All Saints a future in hands that will give it more time and attention,” said Fr Maximilian Mary Martin, Provincial Custos of Great Britain and Ireland.

There are 17 native friars in England and Wales, with the numbers rising to 23 including friars from overseas.  All Saints is the national home of the friars’ Crusade of Mary Immaculate. It has not been a parish church since 1961, and at present a monthly Mass is attended by between 50 and 60 people.

James Crowley, an architectural historian, who attends the Mass, has proposed setting up a building preservation trust to secure the long-term future of All Saints. He believes that, given its dedication, it could become a national centre for the keeping and veneration of relics.

He said, “All Saints has a precedent for this with the regular veneration of the relic of St Maximillian Kolbe at the first Saturday Masses, as well as that of St Anthony of Padua formerly after the daily Mass each Tuesday.”

He highlighted the successful national tours of the relics of SS Therese, Anthony and Bernadette.

All Saints originally had a rural setting on the south bank of the River Irwell but there has been major development in recent years including the major industrial estate of Trafford Park and the Trafford centre shopping mall. A site to the west is being developed to create a further 3,000 homes.

The church was built by Sir Humphrey and Lady Annette de Trafford and includes their chantry chapel. The family were benefactors of the Diocese of Salford paying for the construction of five churches and a school, as well as contributing to numerous other churches. Manchester United’s football stadium, Old Trafford, is named after the family.

Built between 1863 and 1868, All Saints is regarded as the finest work of Edward Pugin, eldest son of Augustus Pugin.