Wakefield is the main settlement and administrative centre of the City of Wakefield, a metropolitan district of West Yorkshire, England. Located by the River Calder, on the eastern edge of the Pennines, the urban area is 2,062 hectares (5,100 acres) and had a population of 76,886 in 2001.
Wakefield was dubbed the "Merrie City" in the Middle Ages and in 1538 John Leland described it as, "a very quick market town and meately large; well served of fish and flesh both from sea and by rivers ... so that all vitaile is very good and chepe there. A right honest man shall fare well for 2d. a meal. ... There be plenti of se coal in the quarters about Wakefield".
The site of a battle during the Wars of the Roses and a Royalist stronghold during the Civil War, Wakefield developed in spite of setbacks to become an important market town and centre for wool, exploiting its position on the navigable River Calder to become an inland port.
During the 18th century Wakefield continued to develop through trade in corn, coal mining and textiles and in 1888 its parish church, with Saxon origins, acquired cathedral status. The town became the county town and seat of the West Riding County Council in 1889 and the West Yorkshire Metropolitan Council in 1974. The County Council was dissolved in 1986.