All Saints, Wakefield, Yorkshire, West Riding

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Feature Sets (2)


Made a cathedral in 1888; Pevsner thinks this building still looks like 'a large and proud parish church'. It has the tallest spire in Yorkshire, 75m high. Little of the 12thc. building survives, although in 1974 archaeologists found 'Norman' foundations (Speak and Forrester 1976, 4-6; Swann, Roberts and Tweddle 2006). Restored in 1858-74 by Sir Gilbert Scott (Pevsner 1967, 527-28). Building has continued into the 20thc.: most recently the nave has been paved and the pews removed. Plan in Speak and Forrester 1976. 

Originally a simple cruciform building, there are remains of a N arcade of c.1150, also walling in various parts, although some features noted by Micklethwaite, when he had oversight of the building between 1864 and 1874, later disappeared (Micklethwaite, 1888, 37n.). There is a Norman wall which contained a staircase on the SW angle of the S transept at end of S nave aisle. Micklethwaite (1888, 37) says: 'The large block of masonry in the south-west corner of the south chapel is the corner of the twelfth-century transept, though the facing is all of later work. Inside it there are the remains of a stair which were exposed during the work of Sir Gilbert Scott.'

Sculpture is confined to pier bases in the N arcade


Faull and Moorhouse suggest that there was an Anglo-Saxon urban nucleus. There were three priests and two churches in the manor in DB: the second church is thought to be at Sandal Magna and the third priest perhaps at a chapel in Horbury. Wakefield church with its dependencies were granted by William Warenne II to Lewes Priory, along with the gift of Conisbrough and its dependencies between 1091 and 1097 (Walker 1888, 1-2; Hunter, I, 105).


Interior Features



Nave N arcade: bases.

Piers 1, 3, 4 and 5 may have bases of the Romanesque period. Some photographs were taken when a boarded floor and pews were in place, the most recent ones with the new paving.

The stone is a hard yellow micaceous grit. The form is a square plinth sunk in the paving, a flattish double bulbous base, and a  column. The column is original in piers 3 and 5.

Circumference of circular pillars approx. 1.95m
side of plinths approx. 0.86 to 0.88m

Nave N arcade: general

An arcade of c.1150 was on the line now occupied by an arcade of seven bays. This original mid-12thc. N arcade was later raised and restyled. Pevsner cites J. T. Micklethwaite, ‘the distinguished archaeologist-architect’. Three piers are round; piers 3 and 5 are thought to contain 12thc. stones in their lower parts. The mid-12thc. arcade was replaced in the 'Dec' period, the early 14thc., according to Pevsner following Micklethwaite (1967, 528).

The S arcade of eight bays is of c.1220, and its bases are all water-holding.



Masonry in the nave walls and south chancel aisle is interpreted as representing an aisleless cruciform church of the early 12thc., to which a north aisle is thought to have been added c.1150 and a south aisle c.1220’ (Ryder 1993, 177; 74-5, 98-100). An extended description is given by J. T. Micklethwaite (1888, 36-48; figs. 1-3). Recent archaeological work during the repaving of the nave revealed evidence of the twelfth-century building.


  • A. Burgess, L. Dawson, A. Norton and D. Mahoney Swales,'Recent discoveries at All Saints Cathedral, Wakefield, West Yorkshire', Church Archaeology, 16 (2012), 23-37.

  • M. L. Faull & S. A. Moorhouse, eds., West Yorkshire: an Archaeological Survey to 1500, Wakefield, 1981.

  • Jos. Hunter, South Yorkshire: the history and topography of the  Deanery of Doncaster, in the diocese and county of York, 2 vols., London, 1828-31.

  • John William Walker, The history of the old parish church of All Saints, Wakefield, now the cathedral church of the diocese of Wakefield, Wakefield, 1888.

  • J. T. Micklethwaite, 'On the growth of the fabric of All Saints church, Wakefield, AD 1100-1530' in Walker, 1888, 36-48.

  • N. Pevsner, Yorkshire: West Riding. The Buildings of England, Harmondsworth, 1959, 2nd. ed. revised E. Radcliffe, 1967.

  • P. F. Ryder, Medieval Churches of West Yorkshire. West Yorkshire Archaeology Service, Wakefield, 1993.

  • H. Speak & J. Forrester, For all the Saints: the Cathedral Church of Wakefield, Ossett, 1976.

  • A. C. Swann and I. Roberts with a contribution by D. Tweddle, 'Archaeological investigations at Wakefield Cathedral 1974-1995' in Yorks. Archaeol. Journal 78 (2006), 96-105.

The cathedral from Kirkgate.
The cathedral from the E.
S aisle, masonry with remains of stairway


Site Location
National Grid Reference
SE 334 208 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Yorkshire, West Riding
now: West Yorkshire
medieval: York
now: Wakefield
now: All Saints
medieval: All Saints
Type of building/monument
Cathedral church  
Report authors
Rita Wood 
Visit Date
01 May 2000, 07 March 2014