pagan temples were converted into Christian churches, the presence of the cross was generally deemed a sufficient
consecration.* And instances are not wanting of refusal on the part of our Protestant bishops to repeat the
ceremony of consecration, because some ancient cross within the contemplated enclosure seemed to indicate that
the spot upon which it stood had, at some remote period, been devoted to sacred uses.f
"On the ides of August, A.D. 1322 or 1329, we find, however, that a new church in Wakefield had been
erected and finished; for on that day it was actually consecrated by Archbishop William de Melton, with four
altars;—that of the high choir, dedicated to All Saints ; the altar on the south, to the Blessed Virgin ; that on the
north, to St. Nicholas; and that in the middle of the church, to St. Peter." I do not pretend to be sufficiently
conversant with matters of this kind to form any decided opinion as to the probable decision of a Roman
Catholic archbishop on a subject in which, most likely, he would be guided by ancient and established usage. I
am, however, strongly inclined to believe that the church he then consecrated was a structure newly dedicated
to God, and that the " original Norman church, adapted only to the circumstances of a mere village/' must
have stood elsewhere.
Preparatory to the dissolution of the monasteries, " in the palmy days of the Church of Rome," Wakefield
had been abundantly supplied with places of religious worship, and with priests to officiate therein. From
Archbishop Holgate's return, it would appear that there were no fewer than nine chantries in the town, having
chantry-priests attached to them, all of whom were located within the parish. At this remote period it is
difficult, if not impossible, to fix upon the exact situation of each, though that of the major part may be
ascertained with tolerable accuracy. The chantry of two priests, in the middle of Wakefield Bridge, is sufficiently
defined; that of our Lady, it is thought, formed the south aisle of the choir of the present church; and the
Pilkington Chapel, founded by Sir John Pilkington, constituted a distinct foundation within. The chantry
of St. Swithin, founded by Earl Warren, was no doubt situated near the well which still retains his name: an
old record says that it stood near the park-paling. The chapel of St. Mary Maudeleine, founded by the
parishioners, was perhaps near Maudeleine Bridge, to the western extremity of the town,—and hence its name;
and that of St. John, founded by John Lock, was a little to the north-east, where is a field still called St. John's
Close. With respect to the remaining chantries, viz.
Soothill's Chantry of four priests, founded by Henry Soothill;
Graistock Chantry, founded by William Graistock;
Banister's Chantry, founded by Thurston Banister;—
I believe their precise situation in the town has baffled the most diligent research of the scholar and antiquary.
The old edifice in which a number of carved images was discovered about ninety years ago, is suspected to have
been originally one of these chantries; but inasmuch as this is mere conjecture, unsupported by evidence, though
it may justly be entitled to consideration, still it cannot legitimately claim more at our hands.
The subject which next demands our attention is that which relates to the advowson and its ancient patrons.
I here transcribe the following historical facts from Whitaker's Loidis and Elmete, pp. 277 and 287> to which I
would refer the reader for further particulars :—" ' The Guarines, erles of Surrey,' saith Leland, c were ons lords
* See Cod. Theod. lib. xvi. tit. 10, de Pag. Sacrific. et Templis, &c.
f " At Clickheaton is a chape], called Old White Chapel in the East, which, having long been dilapidated and afterwards repaired,
Archbishop Sharp declined to consecrate, partly on account of the antiquity implied in the name,* and partly from an aged yew-tree
growing in the churchyard."
• " It is called Heaton Chapel in Saxton's Map, a.d. 1575."—Dr. Whitaker's Loidis and Elmete, p. 249.