Ripon is a cathedral city, market town and successor parish in the Borough of Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England, located at the confluence of two streams of the River Ure in the form of the Laver and Skell. The city is noted for its main feature the Ripon Cathedral which is architecturally significant, as well as the Ripon Racecourse and other features such as its market. The city itself is just over 1,300 years old. It is one of only two cities in North Yorkshire, the other being York.
The city was originally known as Inhrypum and was founded by Saint Wilfrid during the time of Angle kingdom Northumbria, a period during which it enjoyed prominence in terms of religious importance in Great Britain. After a period of Viking control, it passed to the Cerdic dynasty who unified England and then the Normans who destroyed much of the city. After a period of building projects under the Plantagenets, the city emerged with a prominent wool and cloth industry. Ripon became well known for its production of spurs during the 16th and 17th century, but would later remain largely unaffected by the Industrial Revolution.
Artistic depiction and arms of Ripon's founder saint Wilfrid.
The earliest settlers were stonemasons, glaziers and plasterers that Wilfrid had brought over to help construct the Ripon monastery, from Lyon in Francia and Rome which was then under Byzantine rule. The years just following on from the death of Wilfrid are obscure in Ripon's history. After the invasion of the so-called Great Heathen Army of Norse vikings in Northumbria Danelaw was inserted, and the Kingdom of Jórvík was founded in the Yorkshire area.
Ripon's proximity to Fountains Abbey where the Cistercians had a long tradition of sheep farming and had vast grazing land for the animals, was of a considerable advantage. After English people were forbidden from wearing foreign cloth in 1326, Ripon also developed a cloth industry; after York and Halifax, Ripon was the chief Yorkshire producer of cloth. Due to conflict with Scotland political emphasis was on the North during the time of Edward I and Edward II, as Scottish invaders attacked numerous northern English towns. Ripon had a wakeman to make sure the residents were safely home by curfew and law and order was retained, yet Ripon was forced to pay 1000 marks to the Scots to prevent them from burning down the town on one occasion.
Ripon replaced their old textiles industry with one in the creation of spurs starting in the 16th century. They were so widely known that it gave rise to the proverb "as true steel as Ripon Rowels". At the time spurs did not just serve as functional riding gear, but were also fashionable; an expensive pair was made for king James I when he stayed at Ripon during 1617. It was James who granted Ripon a Royal Charter in 1604 and created the first mayor of Ripon. After the Bishops' Wars in Scotland, a treaty was signed at Ripon in 1640 to stop the conflict between Charles I and the Scottish Covenanters. Although it wasn't in the main line of fighting to the east, Ripon remained loyal and royalist during the English Civil War. There was an incident in 1643 when parliamentarian forces under Thomas Mauleverer entered Ripon and damaged the Minster, but John Mallory and the royalist forces soon settled the matter after a skirmish in the Market Place.The royalists were defeated in the Civil War and Charles I spent two nights as a prisoner in Ripon. Oliver Cromwell visited the city twice on his way to battle; first on the way to Preston and then on the way to Worcester.
By the time of the English Restoration several strains of non-conformist Christian practises had appeared, though they were scarce in Ripon; after the majority Anglicanism there remained a Catholic minority. After the Revolution of 1688 which overthrew James II there were Jacobite risings in the British Isles; some Riponmen were put in jail during February 1764 upon "suspicion of corresponding with Prince Charles Edward Stuart".
Communications were improved with the opening of the Ripon railway station during May 1848. At the time of the First World War a large military training camp was built in Ripon, the local community provided hospitality for the soldiers wives and also the Flemish refugees became part of Ripon's community. It had a similar, though less large scale role during Second World War and in recognition of this the Royal Engineers were presented with the Freedom of the City in 1947. Since the war, Ripon has gone through some remodeling and has grown in size, it attracts thousands of tourists each year who come to view the religious buildings, nearby Studley Park, the Ripon Racecourse and in recent times the theme park Lightwater Valley.
Sir George Cockburn was MP for Ripon from 1841 until 1847.
During the Middle Ages, Ripon was governed by one wakeman and aldermen known as the twelve keepers, they oversaw the general running of the town and the maintaining of law and order. The title of wakeman was changed to mayor in 1604, and twenty-four common councilmen were appointed to assist the aldermen in the running of Ripon. The borough corporation was reformed by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835 and formed a municipal borough of the West Riding of Yorkshire until 1974. In 1974, following the Local Government Act 1972, the former area of Ripon borough was merged with Harrogate borough and several rural districts of the West Riding to form an enlarged Harrogate borough in the ceremonial county of North Yorkshire. Although it is now governed by Harrogate Borough Council, Ripon also became a successor parish, with a parish council of its own called Ripon City Council.
Ripon was represented in the Houses of Parliament with its own Member of Parliament as far back as the Model Parliament of 1295. Although Ripon also sent representatives in 1307 and 1337, it did not have permanent representation. Instead it was represented by the Member of Parliament of Yorkshire until Ripon had its own parliamentary borough recreated on a permanent basis in 1553. Ripon was able to elect two MPs to represent its parliamentary borough; the right of election was vested not in the population as a whole, but in the burgesses until the Great Reform Act of 1832. The next Reform Act, which came into force at the 1868 election, reduced Ripon's representation from two MPs to one. Some of the more notable MPs of Ripon were John Aislabie, Frederick John Robinson and George Cockburn. The Reform Act of 1885 abolished the borough of Ripon, but the county constituency in which the town was placed as a result was named Ripon, and this continued as a single member constituency, though with some boundary changes, until it was abolished before the 1983 general election. Since 1983 Ripon has been part of the Skipton and Ripon constituency, a Conservative Party stronghold. The city council itself has 15 members, all of whom are currently independents.
Inside St Mary's at Studley Royal.
As a market town, the market day is central to culture in Ripon; market day is held on a Thursday, there are around 120 stalls in total. In celebration of the cities founder the Wilfrid Procession is held every year; it originated in the year 1108 when king Henry I granted the privilege of holding a fair for him. At the procession there are various decorated floats which make their way through the city with locals in costume. Part of the tradition represents the return of Wilfrid to Ripon, a decorated dummy (sometimes a man in costume instead) dressed as Wilfrid is sat on a horse, accompanied by two musicians with another man carrying St Wilfrid's hat around. Ripon also has dancing traditions such as the Long Sword dance and Morris dance.
The tradition of the Ripon Hornblower has endured for centuries and continues on to this day. It originates with the wakeman of Ripon, whose job in the Middle Ages was similar of that to a mayor although he had more responsibilities in the keeping of law and order. Every day at 9:00pm the horn is blown at the four corners of the obelsilk in Ripon Market. The horn has become the symbol of the city and represents Ripon on the Harrogate borough coat of arms. There are three museums in Ripon collectively known as the Yorkshire Law and Order Museums; it includes the Courthouse, the Prison and Police and the Workhouse Museums.
In terms of sport, the most noted field of participation is horse racing with the Ripon Racecourse. The sport has a long history in Ripon, with the first recorded meeting on Bondgate Green in 1664, while its current location has been used as a racetrack since 1900. Ripon staged Britain's first race for female riders in 1723. The Great St. Wilfrid Stakes is perhaps the best known race at the course. The town is represented in football by Ripon City Magnets who currently play in the local West Yorkshire League. Newby Hall Cricket Club represent Ripon in cricket, while Ripon Rugby have represented the city in rugby union since 1886. There is also a golf course in the north of Ripon, represented by the Ripon City Golf Club since 1908
By road Ripon is well connected; it is accessible from the north and south via the A1 road which connects to Ripon by the B6265. Ripon is accessible from the east and west via the A61 which is the main road running through the city. The lack of a railway means that the city has a frequent high-quality bus services ran by various operators; there are regular bus routes to Leeds, Boroughbridge, York, Thirsk, Northallerton, Leyburn, Richmond and others. The Ripon Canal was proposed by John Smeaton in 1766, to connect the city centre to part of the River Ure; it was used for the transportation of coal from Durham into the city. Although abandoned in 1956, a conservationist campaign saw it reopened in 1996; today its purpose is mostly of a aesthetic nature with barges travelling down it and local fishermen using it.
The Ripon Jewel was found close to Ripon Cathedral in 1976.
It is a small gold round piece of jewellery, believed to date from the seventh century. Gem settings have been fashioned on the front with strips of gold, however the piece's central setting and inner arcs of inlay are missing.
It has been suggested that the piece was made to adorn a relic casket, cross or other church fitting ordered by Saint Wilfrid
Ripon Cathedral is the seat of the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds and the mother church of the Diocese of Ripon and Leeds, situated in the small North Yorkshire city of Ripon, England
Background. A church on the site is thought to date from 672, when it is believed to have been the second stone building erected in the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Northumbria. The crypt dates from this period.
People have been coming to worship and pray at Ripon for more than 1,350 years. The Cathedral building itself is part of this continuing act of worship, begun in the 7th century when Saint Wilfrid built one of England’s first stone churches on this site, and still renewed every day. Within the nave and choir, you can see the evidence of 800 years in which master craftsmen have expressed their faith in wood and stone.
Today’s church is the fourth to have stood on this site. Saint Wilfrid brought stonemasons, plasterers and glaziers from France and Italy to build his great basilica in AD 672. A contemporary account by Eddius Stephanus tells us:
"In Ripon, Saint Wilfrid built and completed from the foundations to the roof a church of dressed stone, supported by various columns and side-aisles to a great height and many windows, arched vaults and a winding cloister."
Devastated by the English king in AD 948 as a warning to the Archbishop of York, only the crypt of Wilfrid’s church survived but today this tiny 7th century chapel rests complete beneath the later grandeur of Archbishop Roger de Pont l’Evêque’s 12th century minster.
A second minster soon arose at Ripon, but it too perished – this time in 1069 at the hands of William the Conqueror. Thomas of Bayeux, first Norman Archbishop of York, then instigated the construction of a third church, traces of which were incorporated into the later chapter house of Roger’s minster.
The exceptional Early English west front was added in 1220, its twin towers originally crowned with wooden spires and lead. Major rebuilding had to be postponed due to the outbreak of the Wars of the Roses but resumed after the accession of Henry VII and the restoration of peace in 1485. The nave was widened and the central tower partially rebuilt. The church's thirty five misericords were carved between 1489 and 1494. It is worth noting that the same (Ripon) school of carvers also carved the misericords at Beverley Minster and Manchester Cathedral, which as a group constitute the UK's best misericords and, arguably the finest group in Europe.
But in 1547, before this work was finished, Edward VI dissolved Ripon’s college of canons. All revenues were appropriated by the Crown and the tower never received its last Perpendicular arches. It was not until 1604 that James I issued his Charter of Restoration.
The minster finally became a cathedral (the church where the Bishop has his cathedra or throne) in 1836, the focal point of the newly created Anglican Diocese of Ripon - the first to be established since the Reformation.