Wakefield

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For other uses of the word, see Wakefield (disambiguation).

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Wakefield is a city in the county of West Yorkshire, England, south of Leeds, and by the River Calder. Its population was 74,764 in 1991. Today it forms part of a metropolitan borough named the City of Wakefield. The town was a centre for cloth dealing and had its own Piece Hall. The area was once dominated by coal-mining - a key driver for the industrial revoltion. By the time of the 1984 miners' strike, all the pits in the city had already been closed, but there were several pits in surrounding towns and villages and demonstrations in support of the strike frequently took place in the city.

The cathedral was restored by Sir George Gilbert Scott. There is a charming 14th century Chantry Chapel, one of only four remaining in England.

Its name is often said to derive from "Wacca's field" -- the field belonging to Wacca. However, it is more likely to have evolved from Old English wacu, meaning "a watch or wake", and feld, an open field in which a wake was held (Reaney, 1964, p.161). In the Domesday Book in 1086, it was listed as Wachefeld (Mills, 1998, p. 361). It was dubbed the Merrie City in the Middle Ages.

Wakefield has a very large range of cultural attractions: one of Europe's foremost sculpture parks, what was to have been the Duke of York's stronghold in the North, Sandal Castle, the nearby mining museum and a town-centre art gallery and museum. Less celebrated is its prison, which is the most high-security in the whole of Britain.

Wakefield is distinctive in having had an unusually high amount of council housing, although this led to a situation where, by 2004, the council could no longer keep up with the maintenance of the houses and sold them all off to a housing association. As council housing made up more than a quarter of the Wakefield district, this was the second largest stock transfer in British history. The city of Wakefield itself contains seven council estates and was almost 50% council-rented, whilst the wider Wakefield district also includes nearby towns such as Pontefract, Castleford, Hemsworth and Ossett. The city's largest estate is Lupset, in the west; the others are called Flanshaw, Plumpton, Peacocke, Eastmoor, Portobello and Kettlethorpe.

Cheapside is the longest continuous street of woolstaplers' warehouses in England.

The area of Westgate was historically held to have the largest number of adjacent pubs in England. The famous Westgate Run or 'Pub Crawl' even has its own website.

Wakefield is also known for its mystery plays, a cycle of 32 scriptural plays dating from the early 15th century, which were performed as part of the summertime religious festival of Corpus Christi and revived in recent times.

In 1460, during the Wars of the Roses, the Duke of York was defeated near this city (then a town) in the Battle of Wakefield. The ruins of Sandal Castle can still be visited. They are set in pleasant parkland near a lake, a popular walking spot for locals.

Although Wakefield is not famous for its sport, there are a number of clubs and teams that play in Wakefield. Examples include Wakefield-Emley Football Club, Leeds United FC Reserves, Wakefield Hockey Club and Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.

The film, "This Sporting Life (1963)" is about Wakefield and the hard realities of the mines and Rugby League, directed by Lindsay Anderson, written by David Storey and starring Richard Harris.

Wakefield is also occasionally known as the capital of the Rhubarb Triangle, an area famous for its early forced Rhubarb. Wakefield is one of the points of the triangular area with the neighbouring towns of Morley and Rothwell at the other two, and is also home to the annual 8 day "Rhubarb Festival" which consists of various themed tours, talks, exhibitions and markets.

In June 2004 Wakefield was the scene of the television programme Most Haunted, who hosted a summer solstice special in various locations around the city, including Wakefield Opera House.

Famous people born in or near Wakefield include:


Famous songs regarding Wakefield include:

  • "Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush" - about Wakefield Gaol
  • "The Grand Old Duke of York" - commonly attributed to be written about the battle of Wakefield, referring to Richard, the grand old duke.

External links

References

  • Mills, A.D. (1998). A dictionary of English place-names (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-280074-4.
  • Reaney, P.H. (1964). The origin of English place-names (corrected 3rd pr.). London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. ISBN 0-7100-2010-4.

de:Wakefield (England) eo:Wakefield sv:Wakefield

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