West Yorkshire Archives Historical Records

In March 2022, The West Yorkshire Archives published a new blog about the history of Wakefield Cathedral, including documents, writing and records for as far back as the 17th century.

Find out more about these incredible findings by visiting The West Yorkshire Archives Wakefield Cathedral Blog Posts.

Wakefield Cathedral is actually built on the site of a Saxon church, evidence of which was uncovered in 1900 when extensions to the East End were being made. There was a church in Wakefield mentioned in the 1086 Domesday Book and in 1090, William II gave the church and land in Wakefield to Lewes Priory in Sussex and shortly after that a Norman church was built.

With over 900 years of history on the site where the cathedral is situated today, Wakefield Cathedral is truly one of Yorkshire’s finest stories of longevity and triumph over adversity.

A timeline of Wakefield Cathedral:

  • 1086

    Church in Wakefield believed to be on the site which the cathedral occupies today was mentioned in the Doomsday Book

  • 1090

    A Norman church is built on the site shortly after William II gave the church and the land in Wakefield to Lewes Priory, Sussex.

  • 1329

    The Norman church was rebuilt and re-consecrated by Archbishop William de Melton.

  • 1409 - 1420

    The western tower and spire were added to the church.

  • 1469

    The church is rebuilt once again but this time enlarged. The tower and spire remained.

  • 1500’s

    Up to the 16th century the church was known by the Anglo Saxon name “All Hallows” and after the Reformation became known as “All Saints” as it remains today.

  • 1635

    Sundial added to South Porch (still visible today).

  • 1636

    Quire screen, carved by Thomas Grundy of Leeds for the sum of £17.15 completed.

  • 1661

    The cathedral font is installed, replacing the medieval font destroyed in the commonwealth

  • 1858 - 1874

    Restoration work continued on the church headed up by Sir George Gilbert Scott and his son, John Oldrid Scott – the cathedral as we see it today owes its current late medieval appearance to this restorative work.

  • 1859 - 1860

    After years of neglect and severe damage caused by a violent storm, the spire was rebuilt and the tower re-cased.

  • 1888

    The Diocese of Wakefield was created and All Saints Church became the cathedral of the diocese (the cathedral still served as a parish church until the year 2000, meaning the head of the Chapter of Canons was called the Provost rather than the Dean).

  • 1905

    The current chancel, a trancept and St Mark’s Chapel (at the East End of the cathedral) were built to designs by John Loughborough Pearson and completed by his son, Frank L Pearson to celebrate the churches elevation to cathedral status.

  • 1950

    Rood Screen figures, designed by Sir Ninian Comper in 1938, finally completed.

  • 1982

    Treacy Hall (which currently hosts the Cathedral Kitchen and our Choir rehearsal space) was completed in memory of former Bishop Eric Treacy.

  • 2000

    A parish boundary change brought the Chantry Chapel on Wakefield Bridge into the care of the cathedral, thus relinquishing the cathedrals tandem-role as the parish church for the area (the Provost at the time, the Rt Revd George Nairn-Briggs, thus became the first Dean of Wakefield).

  • 2012 - 2016

    Over £6.5million is raised through funding grants (Heritage Lottery Fund) and fundraising for the restoration of the cathedral to how we know it today. 

    This work included: the removal of the pews, a new level stone floor with underfloor heating, new electrics, new lighting, cleaning of interior walls, new seating, new sound system, creation of a quiet space in St Mark’s chapel, dedicated exhibition space and the introduction of the Labyrinth found in the Nave.

    March 2016 – the ten-foot Saxon cross was installed in front of Wakefield Cathedral, marking its recommitment to the people of the city and region and the end of its refurbishment project.

Did you know...

The wall on the north aisle is the oldest part of the church dating from about 1150.

The churches original Saxon Cross was found in 1861 not standing somewhere prominent, but being used as a door step to a barber’s shop in Westgate.

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Wakefield Cathedral

Cathedral Centre
8-10 Westmorland St
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01924 373923