An early 19th century water mill that, for decades, has stood roofless and abandoned in the grounds of Stonyhurst College has had new life breathed into it by a heritage charity.
A £4.3 million building project, undertaken by the Lancashire construction company, Wardens, and overseen by Preston architects, Cassidy and Ashton, has just come to completion.
The keys were formally handed over to the Trustees of the Christian Heritage Centre at Stonyhurst last week during a short ceremony, which was attended by Lord David Alton of Liverpool, chairman of the Christian Heritage Centre Trust, as well as other Trustees of the charity.
The mill has acquired a new name and will be known as Theodore House, named after a Syrian Christian who went on to become the eighth Archbishop of Canterbury.
A specially commissioned icon of St Theodore, undertaken by iconographer Aidan Hart, was unveiled at the hand-over of the building.
The charity’s Trustees say they hope the state-of-the-art facilities – which include a lecture theatre, seminar rooms, oratory, library, refectory and over-night accommodation – will become a well-used venue for pilgrims, scholars, parishes and schools – bringing more visitors to the Ribble Valley.
Situated in close proximity to Stonyhurst College, home to remarkable collections of historic artefacts, the Trustees also hope that Theodore House will enable more people to get to see the collections and to be inspired by them.
Theodore House is situated on the Ribble Valley’s famous Tolkien Trail – and one of the rooms in Theodore House is dedicated to the writer’s memory. A second Trail, dedicated to the poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins – greatly influenced by the beautiful local landscape – is now in the making.
Before building work began on Theodore House on 1st May 2017, a process in honour of Our Lady was held, and the building and the safety of the men who would work on it was commended to God.
The blessing was led by the Jesuit priest, Fr John Twist, SJ. A citation of the life of St Theodore was read by a Mexican student, Nicolas Mariscal Palacio.
For more information see: www.christianheritagecentre.com
Picture: The formerly derelict buildings have been beautifully restored. (CHC).