Low population density in the northwest meant that Protestantism took hold here less firmly than elsewhere in England. Known as 'recusants', local Catholics of the early modern period were regularly fined and sometimes much more severely punished for retaining their faith. By the early eighteenth century Lancaster's Catholic community worshipped in a makeshift chapel on St Leonard's gate (opposite the Grand Theatre).

In 1791 Parliament passed a law allowing Catholics to build churches and almost immediately Dr John Rigby, the rector of the Lancaster Catholic Mission, set about building a larger chapel for his congregation. The cornerstone of the new building, on the north side of Dalton Square, was laid on 13th March 1798; a year later the chapel was consecrated and by 1801 the interior decoration of the chapel and the priest's house next door were complete. The Dalton Square Mission is now known as Palatine Hall.

Click here to continue reading - the next page covers the building of the new church.
The parish before 1859
St Peter's and presbytery under construction 1857-1858
Interior of St Peter's on its opening in 1859
St Peter's is raised to Cathedral status with the formation of the new diocese of Lancaster in 1924
The Cathedra (bishop's throne) in 1924
Alterations were made after the liturgical reforms of the 1970s
The Cathedral was reordered in 1995
Lancaster Cathedral 1859-2009
The original church building in Dalton Square, as illustrated in the parish history by Fr Billington (1910)
The original arched windows of the nave can still be seen, as can the more ornate windows that show the architectural demarcation of chancel of the Catholic chapel.