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Manchester Cathedral — Its History

There is evidence of an early Saxon church in Manchester and there are some vestiges of this original church in the building still, including  the Angel Stone , which was discovered  ingrained in the wall surface of the original South Veranda of the Cathedral in the 19th century, and which has been dated to around 700.

It was around the year 1075 that King William the Conqueror gave all the land in between the River Ribble and also the River Mersey to Roger de Poitou, son of the Earl of Shrewsbury.

He then gave the Mansion  House  of Manchester to the Greslet or Gresley family.


In 1086 Manchester was recorded  in William the Conqueror’s Domesday book , which stated that the location had a Church and it is thought that the church  referred to was situated at the edge of St Mary’s Entrance as well as Exchange Street.

However, this site was deserted when in 1215 Robert Greslet, Lord of the Estate and also 5th Baron of Manchester chose to construct the current church adjacent to his mansion home (now Chetham’s Library). This ended up being the Cathedral  of Manchester.

Several of the most remarkable and historically valuable   woodcarvings in the Sanctuary are the least noticeable.  The prayer stalls have a hinged seat  called a ‘misericord’. Concealed on the underside of thee seats are beautiful carvings of medieval stories and tales.

The misericords are believed to be among  the finest in Europe. Many of them depict a lesson, in one of them a woman is scolding a male for damaging a cooking pot, a warning to careless husbands perhaps? In another, men are playing back-gammon, no doubt the carvers had been  listened to the medieval clergymen delivering sermons on how the devil used the game to waste the workers time when they should be working on creating the cathedral.

The repair  of the Cathedral’s structures is an ongoing project  and is willingly undertaken by the residents of Manchester. The Cathedral is part of the city’s history and has a very active role in the city today. It attracts thousands of visitors and its church services are very well attended.  It is not only a beautiful historical building but a very important feature of the neighbourhood and of the residents spiritual welfare. It does an enormous amount of charitable work and  supplies an amazing program of activities through the year. Manchester Catherdral plays a substantial role in the regrowth of the Northern Quarter, with Manchester City board and also the Northern  Quarter team consisting of Chetham’s Library, to preserver the location as a lively as well as welcoming location.

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