Wakefield Cathedral – The Fabric & Restoration

Wakefield Cathedral is an impressive architectural feat. From the iconic church spire that dominates the Wakefield skyline, to the medieval misericords and stained glass windows there is so much to see and inspire when walking through the site.

There have been numerous restoration projects through the Cathedral’s long history. One of the biggest restoration projects began in 1858 when famous architect George Gilbert Scott was commissioned to review the site. His recommendations led to repairs being undertaken over the next 2 decades. The Cathedral is therefore an eclectic mix of medieval and Victorian architectural work.

A more recent restoration project began in 2013, on the 125th anniversary of Wakefield achieving cathedral status. As part of the changes, the nave pews were removed and the space reverting back into the open space it would have been during the medieval period. This has given the Cathedral new opportunities for outreach and engagement, and facilitated the creation of the Wakefield Labyrinth which aids quiet reflection.  

WDP3/15/2 Draft agreement between (1) Edward Latham and (2) Wakefield Parish Church Restoration Committee 18 May 1858
In 1858, based on George Gilbert Scott’s recommendations, work began on repairing the surface of the tower and spire. This draft agreement is between the builder Edward Latham and the Wakefield Parish Church Restoration Committee detailing the work to be agreed upon.
WDP3/49/2 Figure of ‘Time’ discovered in Wakefield Parish Church in the spandrel of the tower arch during the restoration of 1873
During the restoration undertaken under the guidance of George Gilbert Scott, different artistic remnants were discovered including this ‘Figure of Time’ from the spandrel of the tower arch. A ‘Figure of Death’ was also discovered in the tower arch. Further away in the chancel arch a ‘Figure of Angel’ was discovered too. These archival records are copies of the remnants found.
WDP3/15/34-42 Photographs of the roof restoration 1933-1934
These photographs capture a moment in time, when the Cathedral roof was being restored in the 1930s.
The first photograph is of the hoist and scaffolding on the North Side.
The second photograph is of a member of the clergy surveying the work being undertaken.
The third photograph is of the South Clerestory parapet before restoration began.
WDP3/15/61 Plan of the north and south galleries with pencil notes of the occupants of pews c1872
This plan shows the north and south galleries in the nave of the Cathedral. The pews are no longer situated in this area, and this plan helps show us how the Cathedral space continues to change over time as priorities change.
WDP3/15/15 Final report of the committee on the restoration of Wakefield Parish Church Oct 1883
This report was created by the restoration committee, and documents the work that had been undertaken and accounts.