Staying in one of our Manchester hotels? Take a break from all the shopping and sightseeing at Manchester Cathedral. Quiet and peaceful, it may not be as huge as other city-centre Cathedrals, but what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in interesting features.
One of only 15 Grade I-listed buildings in Manchester, the Cathedral is mostly medieval with some Gothic extensions added on in Victorian times. Built from limestone and sandstone, the Cathedral’s been damaged by both the Blitz and an IRA bombing in 1996, but has been lovingly restored since then. It now has one of the finest collections of new stained glass in the country, thanks to 2016’s Hope window and artist Anthony Hollaway’s Wall of Light, a stunning installation created by the five windows along the west wall.
There’s also a brand new Stoller organ to admire, but that’s where the newness ends because inside the Cathedral oozes history - not surprising when you consider most of the building dates back to 1215. Taking a free guided tour is a great way to make sure you don’t miss out on some of its finer features, like the life-size choir of carved angels in the nave or the tiny Angel stone - an intricate carving that dates back to Saxon times.
An oasis of calm in the middle of one of Manchester’s busiest shopping districts, the Cathedral not only provides church services throughout the week, you’ll also find it playing host to everything from rock concerts to gin festivals.
The nearest Premier Inn is the Manchester Arena/Printworks hotel and, not only is it close to the Cathedral, it’ll put your right into the heart of the city centre action, too. With museums, galleries and great shopping right on our doorstep, you’ll be able to come back to incredibly comfy beds and mouth-watering food at the restaurant whenever you fancy a breather.
Not only does Manchester Cathedral hold at least three services every day of the week (often beautifully sung by a full choir), it also has a year-round calendar of guided tours, plus events from vintage markets to rock concerts.
This Grade I-listed masterpiece has a fair few stories to tell, having experienced both King Henry VIII’s Reformation and World War II bombs. Learn more about its fascinating history on a guided tour, where you’ll also get to see the new Stoller church organ and Hope stained glass window. Tours take place each day between 10am and 3pm. Look out for specialised tours on the Cathedral’s website, too - some of them even take you up to the roof to look at the urban bees who provide the Cathedral with its very own honey.
You may be lucky enough to catch one of the Cathedral’s free music concerts, featuring a range of performers from classical and jazz, to visiting choirs, all eager to make the most of the building’s acoustics. The Cathedral also plays host to travelling art exhibitions and literary festivals, and is home to the city’s gin and prosecco festivals. A vintage market descends on the Cathedral several times a year, and in the evening it holds concerts from rock bands such as the Turin Brakes and the Editors.
Many intricate medieval carvings can be found on the ceiling of the Cathedral. Look out for the mobile mirrored table which allows you to get the best view, with no neck-straining required.
Manchester Cathedral and its adjoining Visitor Centre are at the centre of the city’s beautiful Medieval Quarter.
The Cathedral’s address is Victoria Street, Manchester M3 1SX and its phone number is 0161 833 2220. While it’s free to get in, there is a suggested donation of £3 and, if you want to take photographs, you’ll need to pay £1 for a special licence. Guided tours are free and last 30 minutes. Its opening hours are 8.30am - 6.30pm each day, although this may vary for special events. The beautifully sung Evensong is the most popular service - you can catch it at 5.30pm each day.
The Visitors’ Centre houses the St Denys’ Book and Gift Shop where you can pick up souvenirs and postcards. The Centre is also special because it’s the only place in Manchester you can see a section of the 15th-century Hanging Bridge - a rare surviving example of a medieval structure. If you’re coming to a conference at the Cathedral, chances are it’ll be held here, too. You’ll find the main entrance of the Visitors’ Centre in Cateaton Street.
Because it’s a medieval building, access can sometimes be tricky and the Cathedral does have some worn and uneven steps inside - although there are ramps provided wherever possible. There is level access into the Cathedral through the South Door, but unfortunately no wheelchair access to both the Regiment Chapel and Chapter House. There is level access from the Cathedral to the Visitors’ Centre, which has full disabled access to all areas and a passenger lift. It’s here you’ll find the disabled toilet facilities.
Manchester Cathedral is in the middle of the Medieval Quarter - one of the most beautiful parts of the city centre. Although it’s small, it’s lovely to stroll around in the sunshine. Weather not playing ball? The area’s also home to the beautiful Chetham’s School of Music, which houses the oldest free public reference library in Britain. A historic place to shelter from the rain, you can even sit at the window seat in the alcove where Marx and Engels used to meet.
Handily, the Medieval Quarter also just happens to be very near one of the city’s finest areas for a bit of shopping. Opposite the Cathedral you’ll find Harvey Nichols and Selfridges for designer brands, while the Arndale Centre is packed with high street favourites, and is just a few minutes’ away, too.
With its own quaint tea shop, eating and drinking at the Cathedral is a treat in itself. But if you fancied something more substantial than afternoon tea, some of Manchester’s best pubs and cafes are just a short walk away.
Propertea at the Cathedral
The tea shop at the Cathedral may look charming, but it’s anything but old-fashioned. Inside you’ll find skilled baristas who’ll pour you the perfect latte, or pick your favourite brew from its menu of artisan loose teas. Whatever you go for, it would be a crime not to have a slice of cake to go with it. Everything on offer here is just so pretty, from the towering layers of the blueberry Victoria sponge to the delicate flavours of the Sicilian lemon and Earl Grey cake. Alongside the show-stopping cakes you’ll find a menu full of hearty stews, soups and sandwiches, and the tea shop is licensed for beers, wines and spirits if you fancied something a little stronger with your lunch.
The Corn Exchange
If you’re visiting the Cathedral with the family, you’ll find something everyone can enjoy at the Corn Exchange. Just five minutes’ away, it houses 13 different places to eat all under one Grade-II listed roof, so you won’t get wet while you’re making your minds up. There’s a Wahaca, a Pizza Express and a Zizzi if you fancied an old favourite. But for something a bit different, try Indian street food at Mowgli, Brazilian barbecued meats at Cabana and authentic Italian flavours at Gina D’Acampo’s My Restaurant.
The Old Wellington
If all the history on offer at the Cathedral has left you hungry and thirsty for more, head to the Old Wellington. A beautiful Grade-II listed building, the half-timbered pub can date its history back to 1552. Today, it’s a pub-restaurant that’s full of character and buzzing with atmosphere, thanks in part to its popular beer garden. But even if the sun isn’t shining, you’ll find it a busy place year-round, winning rave reviews for its selection of real ales, gin and homemade pies with delicious flavours like goat’s cheese and sweet potato.
You’ll find Manchester Cathedral directly opposite Harvey Nichols and Selfridges and close to Victoria Station.
Although you can’t park at the Cathedral, there are car parks at the Old Exchange Station and at Manchester Arena, both of which are just a short walk away.
Many local bus services will drop you within minutes of the Cathedral, as will the free shuttle bus service from train stations such as Piccadilly and Oxford Road.
The closest station is Victoria, but if you’re coming from Piccadilly, get on the free bus shuttle service which drops you just minutes from the Cathedral door.
The nearest Metrolink tram stops are Manchester Victoria and Exchange Square. From here, the Cathedral is just a short stroll away.
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