Manchester Cathedral - History and Facts | History Hit

Manchester Cathedral

Manchester, England, United Kingdom

Lily Johnson

29 Apr 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Manchester Cathedral

Manchester Cathedral is a striking building with origins in the 13th century, that has remained a centre of worship in the city for hundreds of years. Today it provides an intriguing visit amongst the hustle and bustle of Manchester’s busy streets, and is one of the best places to explore its medieval past.

Manchester Cathedral history

The present Manchester Cathedral started its life as a parish church constructed in 1215. It was placed alongside the Manor House of the Greslet family, whose coat of arms may still be viewed within its walls today. They built and endowed the first Chantry dedicated to St Nicholas, before in 1311 their estates were passed on to the de la Warre family through marriage.

Over the following centuries further additions are made to the church, including the structure’s first tower in the 14th century. In 1421 it became a collegiate church, affording it a non-monastic community of clergy.

In 1481-2, James Stanley became Warden of the Collegiate Church, whose brothers Sir Thomas and Sir William Stanley were influential in the defeat of Richard III at Bosworth Field. Sir Thomas Stanley was married to Margaret Beaufort, mother of the victorious Henry VII, and following their success she likely commissioned the consort of Minstrel Angels that was placed in the nave of the Cathedral.

During the Tudor era the College was dissolved under Henry VIII and reestablished under his daughter Mary I, and was later granted a charter by both Elizabeth I and Charles I, securing its future.

It was not until 1847 that the church received Cathedral status however, following the creation of the Diocese of Manchester. This was substantiated by a large refurbishment program that included replacing the crumbling medieval tower.

Manchester Cathedral today

Today Manchester Cathedral is still an operating centre of worship in the city, and is open to visitors all year round. Guided tours run from Monday – Saturday, with guide leaflets provided for those who wish to explore the Cathedral at leisure.

Manchester Cathedral’s interior has many stunning features, including the Minstrel Angel sculptures commissioned by Margaret Beaufort, each depicted playing a different medieval instrument. A collection of 30 misericords from the 16th century may also be viewed, and are amongst the finest of their kind in Europe, with one depicting the earliest known example of backgammon in the United Kingdom.

With stunning stained glass, imposing arches, and ornate details everywhere you look, Manchester Cathedral is an inspiring addition to any visit to the city.

Getting to Manchester Cathedral

Manchester Cathedral is located in the centre of Manchester on Victoria Street, and can be accessed by leaving Junction 17 of the M62 and following the A56 into the centre. The nearest car park is Q-Park Deansgate North which is located at 2 Chapel Street, a short walk to the site.

The nearest train station is Victoria and the nearest tram stop is Exchange Square, both a 5-minute walk away. A number of bus services stop in the area, with the closest stops are St Mary’s Gate on Deansgate, a 2-minute walk away, or Printworks, a 5-minute walk away.

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