Europe's biggest new monastery starts building in Liverpool

Nuns will harvest rainwater, use ground source heating and plant a wildflower meadow – while Bradford’s Anglicans install the UK’s first cathedral-roof solar power

Liverpool’s long association with the Roman Catholic faith is taking another step forward with the building of Europe’s largest new Carmelite monastery in Allerton.

The £3 million project includes the planting of 1500 trees and aims to give 30 Carmelite nuns the peace and quiet they have lost in their present home in busy West Derby.

Two big schools are expanding next door to the existing building which was an almost rural haven when the order moved in 104 years ago. Rather than risk tensions with their young neighbours, the nuns decided in the words of their prioress Sister Mary to “bow out gracefully and let the schools enjoy the area.”

The new Stanbrook Abbey near Helmsley in idyllic North Yorkshire. Photograph by the architects: Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

The move follows the opening in 2009 of Stanbrook Abbey, a new home in Yorkshire for nuns of the order of Our Lady of Consolation, whose innovations include rainwater harvesting, power from a woodchip boiler and sedum plants on a ‘green roof.’ The Allerton monastery (the correct name, albeit that nuns inhabit it rather than monks) features a wildflower meadow, ground source heating, solar panels and similar rainwater harvesting to Stanbrook’s.

Sister Mary says

The new monastery will allow us to be much more energy efficient and the gardens will also enable us to be self-sufficient whilst protecting the local habitat.

West Derby has been our home for over 100 years and we will be sad to leave, but we felt it was time to move to a location which will be more compatible with our way of life.

These are good times for the somewhat recherche world of ecclesiastical construction. The Liverpool building firm Nobles, which has contracted to finish the new monastery in 60 weeks, also has work under way onalterations to Wesley Methodist Church in the city centre, refurbishment at Rosemount Convent and a new church hall at St Michael’s and All Angels Church in Pensby.

In Bradford meanwhile, the Anglican cathedral is to be the first in the world to install solar panels to generate its own electric if not spiritual power. The £50,000 scheme on the roof of the south aisle adds to a long and curious record of additions to the Grade 1 listed building. When Royalists besieged the stoutly Cromwellian city during the English Civil War, the tower was protected against stray canonballs by enormous bales of wool, like a stone version of the Michelin man.

Source: guardian

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