24th March 2014
Unique buildings in Wakefield
A guest blog from Ramsden's Solicitors
Wakefield has a rich and varied architectural heritage, dating back hundreds of years. The city is home to a number of historic buildings that contribute to the unique character of the local area. Last year Yorkshire was named one of the top places to visit in 2014 and Wakefield’s collection of impressive architecture certainly adds to the appeal of the county as a whole. With this in mind we’ve taken a closer look at several of the city’s notable buildings, and what makes them so remarkable.
Wakefield’s Chantry Chapel of St. Mary the Virgin is one of only four of its kind still standing in the UK. Built during the 1340s, the chapel sits on the medieval bridge over the River Calder and has survived for so long because it is a structural element of the bridge. The city’s other chapels were closed during the reformation. Since then the Chantry has been used as a library, office and a cheese shop before undergoing significant restoration and rebuilding during the 19th and 20th centuries.
The county Hall was built in the 1890s after the West Riding County Council decided to hold an open architectural competition to design its new home. The winners proposed a Gothic design and the interior is decorated with murals, tiling and mosaics. Officially opened by the Marquess of Ripon in 1898, the building has since undergone expansion and major refurbishment, ensuring it remains one of the most striking buildings in the city centre.
Woolstaplers’ Warehouses on Cheapside
During the industrial revolution Wakefield was a centre of trading for corn and wool, the latter of which was brought from throughout Europe and the UK to be sorted and resold in the city. Cheapside was first developed in 1802 and was populated by woolstaplers and their warehouses. Several of those warehouses are still around and the top-floor hoists for moving woolsacks are still visible. Cheapside is definitely worth a visit for those wanting an insight into Wakefield’s industrial history.
Stanley Royd Hospital
Established in 1818, the Stanley Royd Hospital was home to local psychiatric patients and formed a key part of the West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum. The original asylum building has since been converted into flats and formerly housed The Mental Health Museum, which is now located at Fieldhead Hospital. The museum provides a fascinating view of the treatment of mental health in the past and contains numerous artefacts including restraining equipment and photographs alongside exhibits on the history of the asylum.
Officially the tallest church in Yorkshire, the cathedral was built on the site of an old Saxon church and has undergone expansion and several reconstructions over the past 900 years, with the present building dating from the 14th century. Located at the heart of the Wakefield’s shopping district, the 247 foot tall spire is visible for several miles, making it a recognisable landmark throughout the local area.
These are just a few of the fantastic examples of architecture in and around Wakefield. Locals and visitors will find plenty more interesting buildings around the city, each with its own fascinating history. Wakefield has plenty to offer so get out there and make the most of it!
Known as one of the Europe’s leading contemporary art museums, the Hepworth Gallery is the largest purpose built exhibition space outside of London. The gallery is home to work from the city’s art collections, contemporary artists and the rarely seen works of internationally renowned local artist Barbara Hepworth. The gallery’s waterfront setting is extremely picturesque and the pigmented concrete that forms the building’s façade creates a fantastic sculpted appearance. The Gallery opened in 2011 and now plays a key role in the cultural life of the city, demonstrating the success of Wakefield’s recent period of regeneration.
This guest post was written by Ramsdens who are a solicitors firm based in Wakefield.