Manchester Cathedral

Susie Stubbs
Manchester Cathedral. Illustration by Simone Ridyard.

If Manchester Cathedral could speak, it would have a few tales to tell. Of course it would – it dates back to the 1400s. Since then the place has outlived various attacks: during the Civil War, by overenthusiastic 19th century builders wielding Roman cement, by the Luftwaffe, and, in 1996, by the IRA’s behemoth bomb.

Not only has it survived these assailants, Manchester Cathedral, illustrated for us by Simone Ridyard, is now looking better than ever, thanks to a £2.3m redevelopment that has included the sort of under floor heating that makes it the greenest cathedral in Britain. And it withstood its latest assault (possibly) thanks to what the builders found buried beneath the stone flags they dug up in order to install this new system. Because what lies beneath Manchester Cathedral, like so many ancient places of worship the length and breadth of the British Isles, are bodies. Lots and lots of bodies.

Manchester Cathedral is, according to the Pevsner Architectural Guide, “one of the most impressive examples in England of a late medieval collegiate church”, and the building that stands today does so on the foundations of a much older house of prayer, one that dates back at least to the 13th century. It became medieval Manchester’s most important building; way back then, if you were someone who was anyone, the cathedral grounds would be your chosen place of eternal rest. So when the original floor was raised for the cathedral’s eight-month restoration a few years back, it exposed the numerous human remains, and several lead coffins, of Manchester’s once great and no longer good.

It was this sight that met two would-be robbers one dark Manchester night. Seeing the cathedral deserted, the pair smashed a window, clambered up and were about to go inside when – so the story goes – they spotted a glint of moonlight on bone. Human bone. And not just one bone, but dozens, hundreds, a series of bodies up to 600 years old that were in the process of being reinterred elsewhere in the cathedral. It was enough to make the miscreant pair rethink their options; they legged it.

This explanation makes for a good story, though the fact that someone tried to break in – and caused £20,000-worth of damage to a stained glass window – is true. But whether or not it was the skeletal remains there scattered that put the thieves off, it’s a tale that sums up the tumultuous life of a building that has for so long been at the centre of the city. Open all year round, and now a toasty warm venue for worship and music events alike, this is a medieval monument to all of Manchester’s saints and sinners – the past and present, the dead and buried and, occasionally, the breaking and entering kind.

Victoria StreetManchesterM3 1SX View map
Telephone: 0161 833 2220 Visit Now


No disabled access

Admission Charges


Children and Families

Children's Explorer Trail

Opening Hours

  • Monday8:30am - 5:30pm
  • Tuesday8:30am - 6:30pm
  • Wednesday8:30am - 6:30pm
  • Thursday8:30am - 6:30pm
  • Friday8:30am - 5:30pm
  • Saturday8:30am - 6:30pm
  • Sunday8:30am - 6:30pm

Always double check opening hours with the venue before making a special visit.

What's on near Manchester Cathedral

the artist
Waxahatchee at New Century

Mercurial singer-songwriter Katie Crutchfield AKA Waxahatchee performs at New Century in support of her new album, Tigers Blood.

from £29
The Comedy Vault

Every Monday night upstairs at Fierce Bar, The Comedy Vault hosts an outrageously funny open-mic night. Come and try your hand or just to watch and laugh.

free entry
Comedy Balloon

Every Wednesday at Ape & Apple, Manchester’s official underground comedy club, Comedy Balloon’s friendly and warm comedy night takes place.

free entry

Where to go near Manchester Cathedral

Cathedral Gardens
Cathedral Quarter
Cathedral Gardens

Cathedral Gardens is a partially lawned public space in Manchester city centre, located between Manchester Cathedral and the National Football Museum.

Event venue
Festa Italiana

The 2022 Festa Italiana was a roaring success, with great food options and captivating live music performances throughout the weekend.

The Cosy Club

Elegant and welcoming restaurant and bar in the Corn Exchange, with an attractive domed ceiling and plenty of original features like the staircase and tiles.

Music venue
The Stoller Hall

The baby in the family of Manchester’s concert halls, The Stoller Hall greatly enhances the city’s already enviable live music provision.

Proper Tea Cathedral Quarter Mancheste
Cathedral Quarter
Café or Coffee Shop
Proper Tea

Proper Tea sits opposite Manchester Cathedral, serving up artisanal teas (with instructions on how long to leave them brewing), sandwiches, soups and excellent cake.

Kitchen In An Arch

An offshoot from the much-loved Umezushi, this specialist deli is a one-stop-shop for all your sushi making needs, and also hosts occasional workshops to improve your culinary skills.

Cathedral Quarter
Mowgli Street food Manchester

The Manchester branch of Mowgli, set up originally in Liverpool by celebrity YouTuber, cookbook writer and curry evangelist Nisha Katona. Mowgli brings authentic Indian street food to Manchester’s Corn Exchange.

The National Football Museum Manchester
National Football Museum

The National Football Museum is now open to the public, ready to show off its impressive array of football-related exhibits and activities.

Culture Guides