Wakefield Cathedral

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"Cathedral Church of All Saints" redirects here. For the cathedral in Milwaukee, see Cathedral Church of All Saints, Milwaukee.
Wakefield Cathedral
Cathedral Church of All Saints
Wakefield Cathedral
Wakefield Cathedral is located in West Yorkshire
Wakefield Cathedral
Wakefield Cathedral
Shown within West Yorkshire
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Location Wakefield, West Yorkshire
Country England
Denomination Church of England
Previous denomination Roman Catholic
Tradition High Church
Website www.wakefield-cathedral.org.uk
Heritage designation Grade I listed building
Architect(s) George Gilbert Scott
John Loughborough Pearson
Style Gothic
Years built c.1300-1905
Spire height 247 feet (75 m)
Parish All Saints, Wakefield
Deanery Wakefield
Archdeaconry Pontefract
Episcopal area Wakefield
Diocese Leeds (since 2014)
Province York
Archbishop John Sentamu
Bishop(s) Nick Baines
Dean Jonathan Greener (presiding dean)
Subdean Michael Rawson, Canon Pastor
Canon(s) John Lawson, Canon Librarian
Canon Missioner Tony Macpherson
Director of music Thomas Moore
Organist(s) Sachin Gunga (assistant)

Wakefield Cathedral, or the Cathedral Church of All Saints in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, England, is one of three co-equal Anglican cathedrals for the Diocese of Leeds and a seat of the Bishop of Leeds. Originally the parish church, it has Anglo Saxon origins and after enlargement and rebuilding has the tallest spire in Yorkshire. Its 247-foot (75 m) spire is the tallest structure in the City of Wakefield.

The cathedral was designated a Grade I listed building on 14 July 1953.[1]


File:Wakefield Cathedral south porch and sundial.JPG
Wakefield Cathedral south porch and sundial.

The cathedral, situated in the centre of Wakefield on a hill on Kirkgate,[nb 1] is built on the site of a Saxon church, evidence of which was uncovered in 1900 when extensions to the east end were made.[4] A church in Wakefield is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. 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.

The Norman church was rebuilt in 1329, and apart from the tower and spire, rebuilt and enlarged in 1469. The church was reconstructed and altered at various times and its spire, damaged in a violent gale, was renewed in 1823.[5] Up to the 16th century the church was known by the Anglo Saxon All Hallows and after the Reformation changed to All Saints.[6]

All Saints Church was largely rebuilt in the Perpendicular Gothic style in the early 15th century and, after years of neglect in the 18th century, owes its current late mediaeval appearance to a Victorian restoration by Sir George Gilbert Scott and his son John Oldrid Scott between 1858 and 1874.[7] In 1888, the Diocese of Wakefield was created and All Saints Church became the cathedral of the diocese. It still serves as a parish church, meaning that until 2000 the head of the chapter of canons was called the provost, rather than the dean. The Treacy Hall built in memory of Bishop Eric Treacy was completed in 1982.[8]

In January 2000 a parish boundary change brought the chantry chapel, on Wakefield Bridge, into the care of the cathedral.[9]

In 2005 Queen Elizabeth II visited the cathedral to distribute Maundy money.[10]

In 2012 the cathedral, with £1.58 million of Heritage Lottery funding had raised £2.5 million to restore and reorder the nave which will be cleared of its oak pews to create an open space for worship, public events and celebrations.[11] A decision to charge VAT on restoration work on historic buildings in the 2012 budget caused concern that the project would be halted or delayed.[12]

Its archives are held at West Yorkshire Archive Service in Wakefield.[13]


The cathedral walls are clad in ashlar sandstone. On the south wall is a porch, with a wrought iron gate and a sundial over the door arch. The wall of the north aisle is the oldest part of the church dating from about 1150. The nave piers date from the 12th and 13th centuries and the arcade and chancel arches date from the 14th century. The late 15th-century chancel now serves as the choir. The nave's original stone vaulted roof has been replaced with wood.[1] The 15th-century wooden ceilings over the nave and aisles have carved bosses.[7]

The current chancel, a transept and St Mark's Chapel were built at the east end in 1904 to designs by John Loughborough Pearson and completed by his son, Frank L Pearson. The 20th-century chancel has a stone vaulted roof.

The cathedral's large four-stage west tower has angle buttresses and a very tall crocketed spire behind an embattled parapet with crocketed corner pinnacles and at 247 feet (75 m) tall, is the highest spire in Yorkshire.[14][15]

Fixtures and fittings

The cathedral's windows have some panel tracery.[1] None of the medieval stained glass survives and most of the cathedral's glass was created by Charles Eamer Kempe who created many windows over 50 years.[7] His windows are reminiscent in colour of those of the late Middle Ages, darker on the north wall with Old Testament themes and lighter on the south side where he placed New Testament figures.[16]

The cathedral has a 17th-century rood screen and above it a rood by Ninian Comper completed in 1950.[17] The font dates from the mid 17th-century and the pulpit from 1708.[1] Eleven of the 15th-century choir stalls, the gift of Sir Thomas Savile, have misericords and other carvings including a green man and mythical beasts.[18]

The reredos is the work of John Oldrid Scott and possibly incorporates earlier works while the high altar is by Frank Pearson.[19] Some furniture in St Mark's Chapel is by Robert Thompson, the 'Mouseman'. The cathedral has a fine collection of church plate. A monument to Sir Lyon Pilkington dates from about 1700 and other memorial tablets are from the 18th and early 19th centuries.[1]

The organ built by Abbott and Smith in 1902, has a case made in 1743. It was rebuilt by John Compton in London in 1951-52 and rebuilt and restored by Phillip Wood and Sons of Huddersfield in 1985.[20]

The cathedral tower has a ring of 14 bells including a 35-1-0 cwt, (note C) tenor, a flat 6th (note B flat), and extra treble (note A), to give a light 10 in (note F) (tenor 14 cwt). No more than 12 bells are usually rung at any one time. Practices range from rounds and call changes on six up to "Surprise Maximus". The bells are rung on Sundays, and to mark special occasions such as weddings and national events such as the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.[21]

Dean and chapter

  • Dean – The Very Revd Jonathan Greener (since 8 December 2007 installation)
  • Sub Dean & Canon Pastor – The Revd Canon Tony Macpherson
  • Canon Librarian & diocesan Director of Training – The Revd Canon Dr John Lawson (since 18 September 2005 installation)[22]
  • Priest Vicar - The Revd June Lawson


Wakefield Cathedral Choir, directed by Thomas Moore assisted by Sachin Gunga (assistant director of music) and Christopher Baczkowski (organ scholar), consists of boys, girls and men who perform at the cathedral and have appeared on BBC One's Songs of Praise and BBC Radio 3's Choral Evensong.[23] In 1992 Wakefield Cathedral became only the second cathedral in Britain to accept female choristers.

The cathedral has had five organists since 1888,[24] of which Jonathan Bielby, MBE[25] was the longest serving organist in an English cathedral.[26] Since 2015 the Assistant Organist has been Sachin Gunga. Previous organists have included composer Newell Smith Wallbank. Assistant organists have included William Frederick Dunnill, John Scott and Peter David Gould.

See also



  1. "The "gate" suffix derives from Old Norse gata meaning road[2] and kirk, from kirkja indicating there was a church."[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Historic England, "Cathedral Church of All Saints, Kirkgate (1258237)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 3 June 2012 
  2. Mills 1998, p. 403
  3. Mills 1998, p. 405
  4. Walker 1966, p. 172
  5. Lewis, Samuel (1848), "Wakefield", A Topographical Dictionary of England, British History Online, pp. 432–436, retrieved 3 June 2012 
  6. Walker 1966, p. 169
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Faith Trail (PDF), Treasures Revealed, retrieved 3 June 2012 
  8. Warburton & Taylor 2006, p. 24
  9. Warburton & Taylor 2006, p. 21
  10. Royal Maundy Service, royal.gov.uk, archived from the original on 10 May 2012, retrieved 3 June 2012 
  11. Wakefield Cathedral restoration work begins, The BBC, retrieved 3 June 2012 
  12. "Wakefield Cathedral dean's wife takes on George Osborne in YouTube song", The Guardian, 5 April 2012, retrieved 3 June 2012 
  13. West Yorkshire Archives, WYJS, ISBN 1-870453-11-5, retrieved 15 March 2010 
  14. Wakefield Cathedral, History & Architecture, Wakefield Catheppearance to a dral, retrieved 4 September 2010 
  15. Wakefield Council - Wakefield Cathedral, Wakefield Council, retrieved 4 September 2010 
  16. Warburton & Taylor 2006, p. 114
  17. Warburton & Taylor 2006, p. 8
  18. Warburton & Taylor 2006, p. 11
  19. Warburton & Taylor 2006, p. 12
  20. National Pipe Organ Register, NPOR, retrieved 15 March 2010 
  21. Bell Ringing, Wakefield Cathedral, retrieved 3 June 2012 
  22. Wakefield Cathedral – Events, Lent 2005
  23. Cathedral choir, wakefieldcathedral.org.uk, archived from the original on 28 May 2009, retrieved 20 November 2009 
  24. The Organ, Wakefield Cathedral, retrieved 4 June 2012 
  25. Jonathan Bielby awarded MBE, Wakefield Diocese, retrieved 3 June 2012 
  26. Songs of Praise factsheet for Sunday 20 January 2008, The BBC, retrieved 3 June 2012 


External links