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History of Wakefield Cathedral - 13th Century

The Thirteenth Century.

The first fifteen years of the thirteenth century saw the full rivalry between the Barons and King John that lead to Magna Carter. In the first years of Henry III's reign that rivalry continued, but it allowed market towns like Wakefield to expand. The citizens of Wakefield affirmed the growing importance of the town by enlarging their church again. This time, on the South side, they built out over the graveyard. Building techniques and design had changed. In the last century the new arcade was built outside the old. Now the builders cut into the existing Norman walls, and built a new Early English pillars in slits just wide enough for each. The seven arches of this Southern arcade were separated by alternate round and octagonal pillars typical of the reign of Henry III. They were only half the height of the present ones. It is easy to tell how high the original columns were by looking at the round one on the bottom by the Lectern. b The bottom half is made of two semi circular stones to each course. The top half, added later, has each course of a single stone, like a giant mill stone. The arches on the South side were pointed in early English style - which is why they were closer than on the North side, which had rounded Norman arches. To achieve the same height for the roof, a pointed arch has to be narrower than a round one. At Filey, in St Oswalds Church, one can see very much how this church must have looked at that time, for at Filey they followed the same development thus far - and then stopped. This larger church, with North and South aisles to the Nave, still kept its cruciform shape and its central tower. That heavy Norman tower had been supported on the eight solid walls of the arms of the original church. Now one of these walls had been entirely removed, and three others weakened by having openings cut in them. It was only a matter of time before the weakened tower would collapse.

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This page (cath13.html) was last modified on Sunday 27/01/2013