The church is in the centre of a busy town but in a relatively quiet and open situation with a large churchyard, a formalised park, to its south and south east. It has been largely rebuilt in various post-medieval Gothic styles: the tower dates from 1785, the remainder from 1823, 1884-5 and 1895. The north and south arcades of the nave were spared demolition and are of 13th-century date (Pevsner 1967, 178-9), having clustered piers with annulet rings, waterholding bases and pointed arches. A small area of Anglo-Saxon wall remains above the north arcade.
Around 1995, the east end of the church was converted into meeting rooms, a chapel, refectory and an heritage centre in the former south transept. In the heritage centre the Anglo-Saxon and Romanesque sculpture which was largely found in the walls as the medieval church was demolished is displayed. The nave was re-ordered in 1996 so that the congregation faces the main altar at the west end, and the former nave and aisles are open, with chairs and no screens (Middleton 2006, 4, 24).
Four grave slabs and a headstone in the Heritage Centre are possibly of twelfth-century date, according to Peter Ryder (1991, 20-22); a further fragment illustrated by him is reset in the wall of the vice in the west tower, now accessed from the vestry behind the main altar.
The ‘Minster’ status was revived in 1993, (Middleton 2006, 5), but the current edition of Crockford’s Directory does not use this title, only All Saints.
Middleton (2006) suggests that the very large ancient parish of Dewsbury (some 400 square miles) implies a former Minster status. Middleton reports that Bede mentioned a 7th-century monastery in the kingdom of Elmet, which might be either Dewsbury or Leeds. When Leland visited Dewsbury, there was a standing cross with an inscription which read ‘Hic Paulinus praedicavit et celebravit’. Parts of several pre-Conquest cross shafts are now in the church heritage centre.
According to the Domesday Book there was a church and a priest at Dewsbury, which belonged to the king (Williams et al. 1987-92, f.299v). The king presumably granted the church to the Warennes, as part of their large fee in Yorkshire, as between 1091 and 1097 William, 2nd Earl of Warenne, granted Lewes priory a number of Yorkshire churches which included Dewsbury (Thompson and Clay 1933, 68). Lewes priory held the rectory until the reign of Edward III (Page 1973, 64-71).
|Height at foot end||0.215m|
|Height at head end||0.25m|
|Width at head end||0.54m|
|Width at head end||0.44m|
W. P. Baildon, Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield 1., Yorkshire Archaeological Society Record Series 29. Leeds 1900.
The Yorkshire Domesday, A. Williams et al. (eds.), Alecto Historical Editions, 3 Vols. London 1987-1992.
W. Page (ed.), A History of the County of Sussex 2 (Victoria County History), London 1973.
Fasti Parochiales , A. H. Thompson and C. T. Clay (eds.), I part I (Deanery of Doncaster), Yorkshire Archaeological Society Record Series 85 (1933).
R. A. Middleton, The Church at Dewsbury: a History of the Ancient Parish of Dewsbury and a Mother Church of West Yorkshire, 3rd edition, Huddersfield 2006.
N. Pevsner, revised by E. Radcliffe, The Buildings of England, Yorkshire, The West Riding, Harmondsworth, 1967.
P. F. Ryder, Medieval Cross Slab Grave Covers in West Yorkshire, Wakefield 1991.