A large new assembly hall to cater for summer visitors was taking shape at the Manjushri Mayahana Buddhist Centre at Conishead Priory, near Ulverston, in 1995.

The unusually-designed building, officially called a Gompa, was being constructed in the old walled garden at the priory, which itself had undergone considerable restoration over the previous two years.

Roy Tyson, administrative director at the centre, said the new assembly hall was needed for the annual summer festivals when the priory hosted a gathering of about 1,000 people.

“For the last few years the summer festivals have bene held in hired marquee tents,” he explained.

The new assembly hall had a steel structure, said Mr Tyson, who explained it would be built of local limestone with some features in cast art stone.

Passers by between Bardsea and Ulverston could see the red steel framework which had been erected and the concrete floor slab had also been laid.

The next important stage of building work, which was being done by the Buddhist community themselves, was due to begin the following week when construction of the external walls began, said Mr Tyson.

“The community hopes to complete the hall by the end of next year depending on the success of their fund-raising efforts,” he said.

South Lakeland District Council’s planning officer for Ulverston Nick Hayhurst said the basic design ‘differs from anything else we’ve ever had to consider’.

Historically he said when the Buddhist community took over Conishead Priory about 15 years previously it was in poor condition.

"However, they have carried out a lot of repairs which both the council and English Heritage are very pleased about," said Mr Hayhurst.

In 1998 the new Kadampa Buddhist Temple at Conishead Priory was officially opened, with 600 visitors in attendance.

In 2003 the summer festival at Conished Priory - in its 13th year - attracted 3,000 people from 33 different countries across the world.