Historically, Wakefield has been known as the “Merrie City” and has been well known for its medieval mystery plays.
A church has been on the site of the present day Cathedral of All Saints since Roman times. The Cathedrals spire is 500 years old and its 75 metres make it the tallest in Yorkshire.
The old town of grew up around the crossroads of Westgate, Northgate and Kirkgate. In medieval times, each road had a gate that was closed every evening. The buildings, which we find along these streets today, reflect the prosperity of the town around the 18th and early 19th Centuries.
Because of Wakefield’s situation on the River Calder, it was at one stage an inland port and was involved in the woollen industry, trading in cloth and the raw materials used in its manufacture. Grain, coal mining, brewing, rope making and boat building have all contributed to the area’s industrial prosperity. The St John’s area still retains rows of elegant Georgian houses built in the 1790’s, when the city had one Yorkshire’s chief grain markets.
Wakefield has had a market since 1204, and today the markets of Wakefield and surrounding district are full of character and atmosphere, with bargains for everyone. Today, Wakefield bustles with activity with an excellent pedestrianised shopping area and narrow streets and markets. Situated close to other major cities, it has direct access to the M1, A1 and M62 and intercity rail services taking less than 2 hours to reach London, King’s Cross.
On the old Wakefield Bridge, is St Mary’s Chantry Chapel, built in the 1340’s. It is one of only four similar bridge chapels built in Britain. The Chapel was built as a resting-place for travellers. The bridge was also important economically to the people of Wakefield because it was a vital crossing point over the river and travellers paid tolls for its use.
101 Durkar Low Lane, Durkar, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, WF4 3BJ