Award for new Christian Heritage Centre at Stonyhurst

'House provides opportunities to deepen Catholic faith'

Theodore House at Stonyhurst has been named as the winner of a competition to find the best educational building created in the north-west of the UK in 2018.

It received the award at a dinner and presentation event recently held in the conference centre at Old Trafford Cricket Club which was attended by over 600 architects and their design teams along with representatives of their clients and others. The event was organised by the Local Authorities Building Control network in England and Wales. As the winner in this category, Theodore House will go forward to the national finals held in London in November 2019.

Theodore House was created from the ruins of a former Victorian working mill which had served Stonyhurst College well until its closure in the middle of the last century. It lay derelict throughout the years that followed until a new, independent charitable trust was formed some seven years ago and set about raising funds to develop a Christian Heritage Centre from the ruins of the mill which would provide resources and create a residential centre for retreats for families, organisations, schools, individuals and others along with courses that would be available to explore Christian leadership formation and related matters. Residential accommodation within the building provides accommodation for 40 people in single, double, disabled and family rooms.

Michael Hartley, an accredited conservation architect, had been retained as the college architect for 20 years and looked after the largest group of Grade 1 listed buildings in the north-west that make up Stonyhurst College. He led the design and oversaw the construction, repair and restoration of the former mill adjacent to the parish church of St Peter.

The chairman of the Christian Heritage Centre is John Cowdall, one of the founder trustees, who took over from Lord Alton when Theodore House was opened in February this year by the Queen's cousin, Lord Nicholas Windsor. David Alton had chaired the Trust since its formation and undertaken much of the fund-raising.

John Cowdall said, ‘Theodore House provides opportunities for individuals, parishes and schools to deepen their Catholic faith and for those seeking retreats, retreat leaders can be provided or the house can accommodate those who wish to bring their own. Theodore House is in the heart of the Ribble Valley and for those who wish, there is an opportunity to walk the stunning Tolkien Trail and to learn more about the Catholic faith of the world-famous writer. A very beautiful cloister garden is approaching completion at the rear of the house which will be open to those attending events and to the public.’

Further information is available on the trust's website at or contact the guest manager, Frances Ahearne via telephone: 01254 827084 or email: