Ripon, in North Yorkshire

September 29, 2007 at 10:48 pm (Anglophilia, To Britain and back, September '07, Travel)

ripon-cathedral.jpg Located eleven miles north of the delightful spa town of Harrogate, Ripon is a small cathedral city in North Yorkshire. And I do mean small: as of the 2001 census, it was inhabited by just under 16,000 souls, making it the fourth smallest city in England. (And why is such a tiny place even termed a city? See this article in Wikipedia for the answer.) We stopped for a visit there on the first full day of our tour (only hours before Yours Truly’s “Down in the Dales” mishap). Ripon contains all the beauties of other Yorkshire villages I have seen – Skipton, Ripley, Pateley Bridge, Grassingon, Askrigg, Hawes – along with the bonus of a beautiful cathedral. Ripon Cathedral is one of England’s tallest cathedrals while at the same time being its smallest. But, as one would expect, this being the North of England, it is a treasure house inside…

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The exerior is likewise gorgeous (see above). And with its history of being founded as a church and monastery around 672 AD and then being repeatedly sacked and rebuilt – three times! – throughout medieval times, Ripon Cathedral put me in mind of St. Mary’s Lastingham, which I visited when I was in Yorkshire two years ago. Once again I found myself standing in an ancient crypt built by the Saxons over a thousand years ago; once again I had goose flesh as the restless spirits of England’s past rose up to meet me…. ripon3.jpg

One more fascinating bit of lore about Ripon: there is a tradition of blowing a horn, called the Wakeman’s Horn, at nine o’clock every evening in the market place. In this way the evening watch was set. (I have also read that another purpose for sounding the horn was to guide hunters home from nearby fields and forests.) Depending on where you read about this custom, the horn is still blown each night, or possibly just on certain nights. At any rate, the custom dates back to the ninth century. As my husband has observed, they really know how to do “old” in the countryside of England.

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1 Comment

  1. Middleham Castle; or, ‘There’s nothing like a good ruin!’ Then, on to Hawes « Books to the Ceiling said,

    […] about in the Dales, we visited several small cities and villages in Wensleydale. We went first to Ripon, about which I have already written. Next, we arrived at Middleham, where we took in the […]

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