Work is almost complete to restore and protect Wakefield’s medieval gem - one of only three in the country - for future generations.
Scaffolding has finally come down from around the Chantry Chapel of St Mary’s on Wakefield Bridge and work on essential repairs and refurbishment is expected to be completed early next month.
The chapel is one of just three bridge chapels in the country – only two of which are still in use for worship - and while the Cathedral is responsible for services, all maintenance and restoration of the building is down to the Friends of Wakefield Chantry Chapel which was formed in 1990.
Said David Royston of the Friends: “We are grateful to all our Friends for all the fundraising activities and the donations we receive from the many visitors to our beautiful Chapel.
“This chapel really is unique and the best example of a bridge chapel in this country and without this support, it would be lost to our future generations.”
The Chapel was built by the townspeople of Wakefield between 1342 - when a new stone bridge across the River Calder was projected - and 1356 - when the Chapel itself was licensed.
The Chantries were dissolved under Henry VIII in 1545, masses were discontinued and the priests pensioned off. Our Chantry Chapel was put into secular hands and although it was let out to tenants for a variety of uses, it fell into decay.
It would have probably been demolished many years ago, except that it was thought to be supporting the bridge to which it is attached.
In 1842 the Yorkshire Architectural Society was persuaded to undertake the restoration of the Chapel; George Gilbert Scott the famous Victorian architect was contracted to organise the restoration. The Chapel was reopened at Easter 1848.
The Acting Dean of Wakefield Cathedral, Canon Tony Macpherson said: “Wakefield’s Chantry Chapel is a real gem and part of our city’s rich heritage, and our social history – built as it was by the people for the people.
"We are hugely grateful to the Friends for all their hard work in maintaining and restoring this beautiful building for all to enjoy.”
A communion Service is held in the Chantry Chapel on the First Sunday of each month - next one at 4.30pm on Sunday July 1;
Chantry Prayers on the third Sunday, each service at 4.30pm. Check the Cathedral website for up to date service times and dates -
You can find out more about the Friends of Chantry Chapel here - www.chantrychapelwakefield.org
NOTES: Other Bridge Chapels; St. Ives Cambridgeshire (1426), Rotherham, South Yorkshire (1483) and C17 Bradford-upon-Avon (used mostly as a lock up). Wakefield and Rotherham are the only two still in use for regular worship.