Worship almost certainly began to take place on this site in Anglo-Saxon times. This replica of a Saxon cross shaft (the original is now in Wakefield Museum) stands in the Walsham How Chapel and strong tradition has it that St Paulinus baptised converts in the River Calder at nearby Dewsbury in the seventh century. There may have been a wooden church on this site, similar to the one still existing at Greensted in Essex.
The Normans put up the first stone structure here, sometime in the 11th century. The completed church was cruciform in shape, with a central tower and squat pyramid spire, possibly looking a little bit like the one shown here. A north aisle was added in about 1150 and a south aisle about seventy years later.
The Cathedral is the focal point for a busy Northern diocese, eighteenth in size of population, that contains towns such as Halifax, Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Barnsley and Pontefract. People come not only for our regular worship but also for the big services that every cathedral and civic church has to provide. They also come individually from the adjacent shopping precinct to light a candle and pray or simply just to soak up the peaceful atmosphere.
The building itself has not remained remained unaltered during the last century. In 1950, the artist J N Comper completed his last major work, the imposing set of rood figures that surmount the 17th century screen. George Pace made a new Bishop's Throne for Eric Treacy (the railway bishop) in the 1970s and in 1986, Ian Judd produced a lovely stone carving of a cross-legged Madonna and Child.
For further information about visiting the cathedral, please contact the cathedral office on 01924 373923, or email the office.
Heritage Open Days: Wakefield Cathedral
- 10 — 12 September 2015
Exhibition of historic postcards of Wakefield Cathedral showing various changes to the Cathedral and its grounds over more than a century.
- Family friendly
Heritage Open Days: Wakefield Cathedral - Hard Hat Tour
- 12 September 2015
Project 2015 is now underway with screens obscuring the East End of the Cathedral beyond the Rood Screen. Do you want to know what is going on behind those screens? In collaboration with William Anelay Ltd, who are carrying out the works, we are offering Hard Hat Tours behind the screens at Wakefield Cathedral.
- Any age
Discovery Sound Walk
Discovery is a Sound Walk offering all who experience it a spiritual journey through the Cathedral. The Discovery Project's special handset is used to play and control the audio material of the Discovery Sound Walk. Using the whole building, Discovery invites visitors to use places and artefacts in it to reflect on their unique, personal spiritual journey. Lasting just under forty minutes it is aimed at adults and older teenagers (Key Stage 3 and above).
How to obtain
Collect the audio aid from one of the trained volunteer welcomers under the Tower at the West Door, and follow the commentary. For more information ring the Cathedral Office on 01924 373923.