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the society's history

Early Days

Since its foundation in 1924 Wakefield Historical Society has played a significant part in the life of the city.  Research by its members has contributed very substantially to an understanding of the locality's past.  The Society took the leading part, in association with the local authority and Leeds University in carrying out the excavation of Sandal Castle between 1964 and 1973.

Sandal Castle Excavation

Dr Phil Mayes and Wakefield Historical Society at Sandal Castle Excavations, by kind permission of City of Wakefield MDC Libraries Photographic Collection and Mrs M. Raper, from the online collection:
Twixt Aire and Calder

wakefield historical publications

Wakefield Historical Publications was founded within the Society in 1977 to publish original research of regional significance.  It succeeded in raising sufficient funds to salary an editor, to bring together a team of experts from different archaeological disciplines, and  to publish the magisterial report, Sandal Castle Excavations, in 1983. It has published some 45 other books and monographs.

more information:Wakefield Historical Publications

The gissing trust

In collaboration with the Civic Society the Historical Society founded the Gissing Trust in 1978 to ensure the preservation of the boyhood home of novelist George Gissing (1857-1903). 

more information: The Gissing Trust

Friends of wakefield Chantry chapel

In 1990, again in collaboration with the Civic Society, the Historical Society was one of the founders of the Friends of Wakefield Chantry Chapel, a body which has subsequently ensured the repair and maintenance of the medieval chantry of St Mary the Virgin on Wakefield Bridge.

more information: Friends of Wakefield Chantry Chapel






the road to fotheringhay 2010

The Road to Fotheringhay 2010

Richard Knowles and members of the Society at Sandal Castle in 2010 with the recreated banner of Richard, Duke of York, and helm.

Members of the Society organised a major project for the 550th Anniversary of the Battle of Wakefield at which Richard, Duke of York, was killed. In 2010 members of the Society arranged a 9-day tour following Richard's funeral route from Pontefract to Fotheringhay, staying in the places where the funeral rested each night, and visiting sites of relevance to the period. 

more information:

Wakefield Waterfront Project 2013

waterfont rutland

The Society conducted a project during 2013-2014 to research the history of Wakefield Waterfront with the help of the local community. You can now watch a film put together during the project. It follows the changes over time on the Waterfront and includes recordings of people's memories of living and working on the Waterfront in the past.

More information on our dedicated website:
Wakefield Waterfront

Wood street: the heart of Wakefield 2016

The Society collaborated with the Civic Society and Wakefield Council on a research project which explored the rich heritage of Wood Street and the institutions and businesses which have existed over the years. The Society trained participants to do historical research on Wood Street, and to record people's memories.

More information: Wood Street