Bradford Cathedral Carol Services

Written by Jason Nesbitt Topics: App User

Bradford Cathedral & Bradford District and Craven Health and Care Partnership – Christmas Carol Service

Bradford Cathedral is a hidden gem. The Grade I listed building has been used for Worship since the 7th century. The first church on site is believed to have been built in Anglo Saxon times, but the current building was completed in 1458, and was extended in the 1960s. The LoyalFree team has compiled a guide to what’s on at the Cathedral this month, to help you get into the Christmas spirit, or to find out more about the attractions and events taking place in Bradford as a whole, click here!

Carol services

There are a range of carol services and other events taking place at the Cathedral over the festive season. The Cathedral will be beautifully decorated for Christmas, and will be open to visitors from 10am – 4pm to enjoy the buildings and grounds.

During Christmas, the Cathedral lights up its ‘Start in the Tower’, and the West End is also lit in purple light for the festive season.

The Rotary Club of Bradford 100th Anniversary Carol Service

Taking place on the 15th December, this service is open to all.

Bradford District & Craven Health & Care Partnership – Christmas Carol Service

This year’s NHS Carol Service is open to anyone who works in health and care locally, either in the NHS, local authority, VCS or the independent care sector. The ‘Sing as One’ service is led by the Cathedral Choir and features a youth brass band.

City Carol Service

The annual City Carol service, ‘Follow the Star’,  takes place at Bradford Cathedral on Monday 19th December. The event starts at 6pm, with free entry, although booking in advance is recommended via the Cathedral website, or by calling the Cathedral office.

The service will be led by the Cathedral Choir and the City of Bradford Brass Band, and is being conducted by guest Musical Director Leigh Baker. Lord Mayor Martin Love and Deputy Lieutenant Vicky Reynolds will be in attendance, along with other civic dignitaries.


Congregational carols such as Once in Royal David’s City and Come All Ye Faithful feature in the service, alongside seasonal readings. Little Drummer Boy, Gaudete, and The First Nowell are also on the programme. As well as traditional Christmas Music, there will also be more contemporary pieces.

Refreshments will be served after the service, including mince pies and coffee.

Nine Lessons and Carols

This traditional Christmas service is being held on the 23rd December, and includes carols and Biblical readings by candlelight.

Christmas Eve Carol Concert

The Christmas Eve recital features music, poetry, and witty Christmas stories, alongside all the favourite carols. Entry is free, but booking in advance is recommended, as the event is popular.

Visit the Cathedral

The beautiful gothic cathedral is worth a visit at any time of year, but it looks especially magical throughout the festive period. For many centuries, the building now known as Bradford Cathedral stood on the hillside above the “broad ford”. This site has been a place of Christian worship for almost 1400 years. Formerly Bradford Parish Church, the building became a Cathedral in 1919.

Over 1000 years of history

A small wooden or wattle church is thought to have existed on the site in Anglo Saxon times. Two fragments of carved stone crosses, dating back to the Saxon era, were excavated during building work in the nineteenth century, and were re-sited. You can see them today in the walls of the North Ambulatory.

Around 1200, a stone church was built, which was burnt down by Scottish raiders around 1327, leaving only four pillars, now standing on the south side.

The present church was constructed in the fourteenth century, having been delayed by plague, war and famine. Most of the rebuilding was completed by 1458, though the tower was added in 1508.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the east end of the Cathedral was rebuilt and extended, and wings for a Song Room and offices were added to the west end.

What to see

There’s a lot to see in the Cathedral, which has around 60 monuments, over half of which are 18th Century. The beautiful stained glass windows feature artists such as William Morris, Dante Gabriel Rosetti and Edward Burne-Jones. Here are some highlights to keep an eye out for on your visit.

The Market Charter and Battle(s) of the Steeple Plaque

The bronze plaque is a record of two major events in Bradford’s history: the granting of a market charter in 1251, and the Battle(s) of the Steeple during the Civil War.

Installed in 1951, the plaque marked the 700th anniversary of the granting of the market charter. The original charter was for Thursdays, and during one time, the markets took place on the churchyard on Sundays, to avoid the need for people to come into Bradford twice a week. The market was later moved to Kirkgate, Ivegate and Westgate, which have housed the Bradford markets for some time. Today, the remains of the old market cross stand in the Westgate entrance of the Kirkgate centre.

The Turner/Whyte-Watson Memorial-North Transept

This plaque acknowledges the advancements in the development of chemotherapy by Robert Lowry Turner and George Whyte-Watson in the 1940s and 1950s. George Whyte-Watson was appointed consultant surgeon to St Luke’s Hospital and Bradford Royal Infirmary in 1956; Lowry Turner was Consultant Pathologist at Bradford Royal Infirmary. The two are known for their pioneering research into the use of chemotherapy to treat breast cancer.

The Bollings and the Bolling Chapel

The South Ambulatory was originally the private chapel of the Bolling family, a prominent family in Bradford in the middle ages, who even had their own entrance into the building. This can now be faintly seen as a blocked up doorway in the wall. The chapel was dissolved when its endowments were seized during the Reformation, along with the Leventhorpe Chapel.

More Things to See and Do in Bradford

Bradford Cathedral may be part of the heart of this vibrant city, but these days it doesn’t stand alone when it comes to the vast array of things to see and do here. No matter whether you’re here on your own, out with the family, looking to keep the kids occupied or just a couple in love, looking for the perfect romantic walk, Bradford is a great place to spend some time and make some memories. Did you know that it’s set to be the UK City of culture in 2025? Or that it is the first ever UNESCO City of Film, thanks to it’s rich history on both the big and small screen? If you didn’t, then we hope that knowledge only serves as even more reason to visit Bradford, and see what this amazing city has to offer for yourself!

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