Monday, January 28, 2013

B is for Bradford Cathedral - Family History Through the Alphabet

Bradford Cathedral, also known as Cathedral Church of St. Peter, is located in Bradford, Yorkshire, U.K.  It is the scene of at least five events in the lives of several of my great-grandparents, beginning as early as 1813, and possibly earlier.

A Brief History of Bradford Cathedral tells me that a stone church had been built on the site as early as 1327.  Through the centuries the building received various changes and reconstructions.  The nave arcades were built in 1458 and are still in use now.  Even with all the changes, many parts of the building were in existence during the times of my known ancestors two centuries ago.

There are some older images of the cathedral available on the internet.  One drawing shows what the church might have looked like during the time of the Tudors, with a graveyard nearby.  Another undated drawing of the church shows smaller buildings clustered on streets near the Cathedral.  And one last drawing shows a view of the large, arched, stained glass window, out of our view in the photo above.

We can't know what the building and surrounding areas looked like during the times my ancestors lived near Bradford and attended the church.  Was it in the center of the town and surrounded by buildings in the early 1800s or did it stand apart with other buildings at a distance?  I like to imagine that when my ancestors walked into the heart of the church, the sun shone through the clerestory windows then just as it does now, enlivening the nave with a bright yet peaceful light.  Were they in awe of the beauty and majesty of the building?  The Cathedral may have seemed large and imposing to my ancestors, common folk who worked in the local mills and mines.  Were they regular attenders and comfortable worshiping there? 

Church records tell me that
  • Abel Armitage, son of John and Hannah Armitage, was baptized on October 21, 1821.  John was employed as a comber.  The family lived in South Horton. 
  • Abel Armitage and Eliza Hartley were married on January 13, 1847.  He worked as a carter, she was a mill hand.  They lived in Horton.  Abel's father, John, worked as a collier at the time of Abel's and Eliza's marriage. Eliza's father, Richard, was still working  as a cloth dresser.
  • Ann Armitage, daughter of Abel and Eliza (Hartley) Armitage, was born on May 21, 1850, and was baptized on June 16, 1850.  Abel worked as a barrier at the time of Ann's baptism.  The family lived in Bowling.
  • Elizabeth Armitage, daughter of Abel and Eliza (Hartley) Armitage, was born on August 24, 1852, and was baptized on September 19, 1852.  Abel was a porter at the time.  The family lived in Bowling.

Considering the line of association these two families had with Bradford Cathedral, I can guess that perhaps other records will be available for Abel's and Eliza's parents, their marriages, and other children in their families.  And I hope to find a death record for Eliza

This post is a contribution to the Family History Through the Alphabet challenge.  Go to the link and you can see other submissions for this meme.  Alona Tester of  Genealogy and History News is the creator and keeper of this meme.  Thank you, Alona!

Both images of Bradford Cathedral are courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.  The photo of the outside of the Cathedral is courtesy of Mick Melton.  The photograph of the nave is courtesy of Popis.  I extend grateful thanks to both photographers.  To see more images of Bradford Cathedral search google and select "images."



  1. What a beautiful church. I love how putting a place with an ancestor helps you imagine their day to day life.

    1. Thanks, Wendy. The church is so beautiful but I do wish I knew how it looked in the 1820-1850s. It's hard for me to reconcile the beauty of the church with the (probably) poor background of a coal mining family.

  2. The cathedral is so beautiful! Like Wendy said, I love how having that picture there while we read about them helped me to imagine what it was like for them. Beautiful post.

    1. Thank you, Michelle. How I wish I could visit the church and have to use my imagination less (or possibly use it even more!).

  3. It is a beautiful church, and to have such a close association with it makes it very special indeed.

  4. The cathedral is lovely. There are such beautiful old churches in Europe. I like the way you connected your family story and the church story.


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