Wakefield Cathedral – The Chantry Chapel

In 1999 the chantry chapel of St Mary the Virgin on Wakefield Bridge became part of Wakefield Cathedral’s jurisdiction.

It is an incredibly important historical site, as one of only 3 surviving chantry chapels in England. First licensed in 1356, the role of the chapel was to say prayers for the dead to minimise their time in purgatory. With the onset of the English Reformation in the 16th century, the chantry was dissolved as its purpose related to a Catholic practise.

Over the remaining centuries the Chantry Chapel has had a chequered history in terms of its purpose. At one point it was the site of a cheese-cake shop! There have also been numerous restoration projects over the years in the 1880s, 1930s, 1960s and 1990s.

Today the Chantry Chapel is open for special events and group visits.

The chantry on the bridge at Wakefield in the late 20th century (WDP3/48/3/10)
This photograph shows the Chantry Chapel in the late 20th century.
Papers regarding the Chantry appeal, souvenir postcards, and order for service of thanksgiving 1971 (WDP3/57/2)
This bundle of records relates to the 1970s Chantry appeal. The aim of the appeal was to raise funds to support much needed work required for the conservation of the chapel.

The envelope included a special souvenir set of picture post cards of Wakefield’s Chantry Chapel.
The small booklet highlighted the urgent conservation work needed on the Chantry Chapel, and encouraged citizens to contribute where they could.

In Easter 1971 the Chantry Chapel re-opened, and this was celebrated with a service of praise and thanksgiving.