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New life for abandoned water mill

The restored Theodore House.
The restored Theodore House.
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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 architect, Michael Hartley, of Cassidy and Ashton, has just come to completion with the keys formally handed over to the charity’s trustees.

Taking place on Thursday, the handover was attended by Lord Alton, of Liverpool, who has led the charity’s fund-raising plus other trustees of the charity, whose patrons include Lord and Lady Nicholas Windsor and Lord Shuttleworth, the Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire.

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.

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.