Stepnell transforms historic Leicester building into a new Monastic Community House

The £1.4m refurbishment and remodelling of a former council building in Leicester city’s Cathedral Quarter has now been completed by Stepnell.

During a 25-week project the 17th century Grade II listed building has been converted into accommodation, worship and teaching facilities for the Church of England’s Diocese of Leicester.

It provides a home for the newly established Community of the Tree of Life, a 21st version of a monastic community for young men and women from any Christian tradition.

Leicestershire architectural practice Corporate Architecture created the sensitively designed scheme that includes 14 accommodation rooms, a chapel, refectory, garden, library and a basement prayer space.

The new monastic community for young adults is situated near the King Richard III burial site in the heart of Leicester and is suitably located in the Greyfriars conservation area near the former medieval friary church.

Tom Sewell, regional director for Stepnell said: “This has been a great project to work on. Helping to create a space that can be utilised and enjoyed by the monastic community in a location that plays such a prominent part in the story of the city has been really rewarding.”

The build itself presented some challenges and had to be carefully navigated in order to honour the preservation of the listed building in an area of national monument status.

Tom added: “The heritage of the build, alongside the discovery of the floors and ceilings that were made of straw, did present unexpected challenges that we had to work to overcome. However, the team pushed through and the end result is amazing – a modern, spiritual haven only a stone’s throw away from a place that holds such historic prominence.”

The building will welcome a group of young novices, aged 20-35 each year. They will spend the year immersed in a formational programme of prayer, study, and service, working closely with Leicester Cathedral, Launde Abbey retreat house in east Leicestershire as well as city and rural churches and social action projects. Details here: https://leicestertreeoflife.org/

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