Manchester Cathedral Timeline

A timeline of the Cathedral's history, from the 7th century up until recent times.

  • 7th
    century
  • The first church in Manchester was built, possibly near to where St Anne’s Church now stands.

  • 923
  • Following the destruction of the first church by the Danes, King Edward the Elder builds a new place of worship possibly on the same site as the present church. This is the St Mary’s church mentioned in the Doomsday Book.

  • 1215
  • The present church is built within the precincts of the Baron’s Court, beside the Manor House (which is now part of Chetham’s Music School). The Lords of the Manor were the Greslet family, sometimes spelled Grelley or Gresley and the family coat of arms is still in use in the church today. 

  • Before
    1311
  • The Gresley family build and endow the first Chantry, the St Nicholas Chantry.

  • 1311
  • The succession of the Gresley family ends and the estate is passed, by marriage, to the de la Warre family.

  • 1330
    -
    1360
  • The delicately carved entrance arch into the Lady Chapel (1350), and the former tower are built.

  • 1349
  • The St Nicholas Chantry is endowed by the de Trafford family.

  • 1382
  • Thomas de la Warre becomes Rector of the parish church. 

  • 1398
  • Following the death of his brother, Thomas de la Warre becomes Baron of Manchester.

  • 1421
  • The parish church becomes a Collegiate Foundation, dedicated to St Mary, St Denys and St George.

  • 1422
  • John Huntington is appointed as the first Warden.

  • 1426
  • Thomas de la Warre dies, leaving £3,000 to be used on the buildings of his collegiate foundation. Most of this goes on converting the Baron’s Hall into the house-of-residence for the College Priests or Fellows.

  • 1422
    -
    1458
  • During his wardenship John Huntington undertakes the building of the Quire, or chancel, at his own expense. In 1440 the carved screen to the Lady Chapel is completed. 
     

  • 1465
    -
    1481
  • Warden Ralph Langley rebuilds the Nave, in a style harmonizing with the grace of his predecessors architecture. The Chancel Arch is added, with two flanking staircases dividing the Nave and the Quire.

  • 1481-2
  • James Stanley becomes Warden of the Collegiate Church. His eldest brother, Sir Thomas Stanley, marries Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry Tudor.

  • 1485
  • Lord Thomas Stanley and his brother, Sir William Stanley, lead a contingent of men from Lancashire and Cheshire against King Richard 111 at the Battle of Bosworth Field, and were instrumental in securing such a decisive victory and the beginning of the Tudor dynasty. 

    Sometime after this lady Margaret Beaufort probably commissioned the famous consort of Minstrel Angels which were placed in the nave.

  • 1501
  • The St George Chantry is built by the Manchester merchant William Galley. It is located next to the St Nicholas Chantry.

  • 1506
  • The Jesus Chapel is built by the Bexwicke family. The Chapter House is rebuilt over the former Sacristy. The north columnade of the Nave is moved two feet north and the clerestory is added to let in more light.

  • 1513
  • Work on the St John the Baptist Chapel, endowed by James Stanley, Bishop of Ely, is begun. The building was a joint venture with his son John in thanksgiving for the latter’s safe return from Flodden Field. 

  • 1515
  • James Stanley dies. A small chapel, the Ely Chapel is built adjacent to the St John the Baptist Chapel to hold his grey, marble tomb.

  • 1545
  • Henry VIII undertakes an inventory of all the goods in the ancient churches.

  • 1547
  • The College is dissolved and the Chantries discontinued.

  • 1550
  • Edward VI undertakes another inventory. This time all of the Church plate is confiscated.

  • 1553
  • The College is re-established by Mary 1, under the same terms as the first Charter.

  • 1578
  • The Church receives its Third Charter from Elizabeth 1. The College is renamed Christ’s College.

  • 1617
  • Humphrey Booth of Salford pays for the erection of a gallery in the south aisle.

  • 1636
  • Charles 1 grants a Fourth Charter.

  • 1649
  • The church is damaged during the Civil War.

  • 1660
  • Another gallery is erected across the west end of the Nave, with another one being built on the north side.

  • 1698
  • The last gallery is erected to the north-west of the Nave.

  • 1814
  • North gallery re-erected.

  • 1815
  • South gallery re-erected.

  • 1814-18
  • All of the interior stonework is ‘picked’ and then coated with Roman cement.

  • 1847
  • The Diocese of Manchester is created and the church becomes the Cathedral church.

  • 1855
  • The Cathedra, or Bishop’s throne is erected.

  • 1860
  • The Roman cement is cleaned off and the galleries demolished.

  • 1864
  • The tower, in a dangerous condition, is demolished and the foundation stone laid for a new one.

  • 1868
  • The new tower, an exact replica but six feet higher than the previous one, is formally opened. The outer face of the Cathedral is renewed.

  • 1882-3
  • The whole of the Nave interior is replaced, stone for stone under the direction of Joseph Crowther.

  • 1889
  • A new North Porch is build to replace the original mediaeval one.

  • 1891
  • A new south porch is built.

  • 1892
  • The Baptistry extension is built.

  • 1897
  • The Victoria Porch is built to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria.

  • 1904
  • Library Annex is built.

  • 1934
  • Refectory and Choir School are built.

  • 1936
  • The Derby Chapel, once the St John the Baptist Chantry, is given over to the Manchester Regiment on 11th November.

  • 1940
  • A German bomb destroys most of the north-east of the Cathedral and causes extensive damage to the rest of the building.

  • 1941
    -
    1960
  • Restoration takes almost 20 years. 

  • 1976
    -
    1995
  • The West Windows are replaced in stained glass by the artist Antony Hollaway.

  • 1996
  • An IRA bomb explodes close to the Cathedral and causes further damage.