THE future of one of the finest examples of Gothic style architecture, and a part of the life of Tenbury for longer than anyone can remember, is in doubt.

This follows the decision to close St Michael’s International College.

The college has been home to students from all over the world and has an international reputation.

But Covid-19 and the restrictions on travel means that the college is no longer viable and with no clear idea of when students will be able to return to the United Kingdom it was decided that there is no option but to shut down.

The buildings have been described as ‘a masterpiece of Gothic Revival architecture.’

St Michael’s College and the adjoining church date back to the middle of the 19th century,

Henry Woodyer, was chosen as the architect both for the church and the college buildings, which are joined by a covered walkway.

Students had close links with the village church that staged a service for them every year.

Mr Woodyer is perhaps even better known for his work in rebuilding St Martin’s Church in Dorking.

He was also involved in the restoration of St Mary’s Church in Tenbury town centre.

Mr Woodyer had a very distinctive style based on designs for church buildings that were popular between 1250 and 1350.

The college was originally built for the teaching of Anglican church music.

But it is not just history that made St Michael’s College so important to people in the village and in Tenbury.

The economic impact was huge with well-heeled students from overseas spending money in the area along with the income that came from family and friends visiting from all over the world.

In a rural area characterised by many jobs in agriculture and tourism, often seasonal and not well paid, the college employed 60 staff in what was in many cases high skilled and well-paid work.

St Michael’s was one of the largest employers in the area.

Students from the college also visited the town and played a part in community life.

When closed at the end of each academic year, the college also ran successful summer schools.

Tony Penn, who represents Tenbury on Malvern Hills District Council, says that the closure of the college will be a major blow to the town coming after the floods earlier in the year and the impact of Covid-19.

Mr Penn provided information and many of the photographs of the college.

There has been speculation about what the future will be for the buildings.

One of the possibilities is that the site might be used to provide flats or perhaps even could be a hotel with conference centre facilities.