The picturesque cathedral city of Ripon is set in the Borough of Harrogate in the North of England, on the River Ure. Set in the Yorkshire Dales, the city itself is home to a number of historic attractions including Newby Hall and the Fountains Abbey which is a recognised World Heritage Site. Famous for the Ripon Races, visitors can also explore the Ripon Marina and well as the Prison and Police and Courtroom Museums, with stately homes and the beautiful Studley Royal Park also on offer.
The fourth smallest city to be found in England, the origins of Ripon can be traced back to the 7th century with the establishment of a Christian church by Saint Wilfrid with the city then known as Inhrypum. The site would later be developed further by the building of Collegiate Church, the work of Walter de Grey and Roger de pont L’Eveque, both of whom held the position of Archbishop of York.
With a thriving wool and textiles industry, Ripon would later also add the production of spurs to its name, and this is where the “as true steel as Ripon Rowels” proverb originated from.
John Aislabie was a notable figure in British politics, and was elected as a Member of Parliament for Ripon, and it is Aislabie that would be responsible for the creation of Studley Royal Park in addition to the Ripon Obelisk, an important historic landmark which is the location of the Setting of the Watch by the Ripon Hornblower.
The Ripon Hornblower
One of the oldest traditions that now only takes place in Ripon is the Setting of the Watch which takes place each night at 9pm, when a horn is blown 4 times in Ripon Market at the site of the Obelisk. It takes its origins from the Wakeman of Ripon which dates back to the Middles Ages, and the horn is a recognised city symbol for Ripon. The tradition followed the spontaneous Royal Charter that was granted by Alfred the Great, and at the time he presented the town with a horn, as a symbol of the Charter. It was suggested that a Wakeman be appointed to keep watch over the town and in turn he would signal to the towns people that the watch had begun by sounding the horn, a tradition which has taken place each and every day since, making the Ripon Hornblower the longest unbroken daily ceremony in the world.
Ripon is a historic and cultural city and as such has also been a focus in popular culture.
Films & TV
Downton Abbey although fictional is set close to Ripon, with reference to the city being made in many episodes. Julian Fellows took inspiration from his love of Ripon and the surrounding area when creating Downton, having spent time in Yorkshire whilst studying at college.
Frederick Orpen Bower was born in Ripon on 4 November 1855, a famous botanist he received the Royal Society’s Darwin Medal as well as the Gold Medal of the Linnean Society for his work.
Fashion Designer Bruce Oldfield, Richard Hammond of BBC’s Top Gear and Bishop William Stubbs have all studied at Ripon Grammar School.
Set in 25 acres of stunning gardens, the magnificent Newby Hall is an amazing example of an Adam House where visitors can explore the Statue Gallery, Tapestry Room and library as well as appreciating the Rose Garden, Autumn Garden and Tropical Gardens all within the Hall grounds. With an Adventure Garden designed with children in mind including waterplay, swings and climbing frames as well as a miniature railway, fun for all to enjoy.
The stunning Cathedral at Ripon is the fourth place of worship to have stood on the site in Minster Road, with the earliest stone church dating back to 672 and founded by St Wilfrid. The Cathedral is the Seat of the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds and is home to many treasures including The Gosney Statues, the Library and Treasury, the breath-taking Reredos – a beautiful memorial from the First World War as well as the Saxon Crypt, which also dates back to 672, the oldest in England.
Often referred to as the Garden Racecourse and over 300 years old, the racing season is set to start in April, with Ripon’s course offering 16 meetings and additional special events in fantastic picturesque surroundings with an atmosphere that buzzes with excitement. Ripon racecourse was the Winner of the Yorkshire in Bloom Gold Rose Award, and this is well deserved given the outstanding displays throughout the beautiful course.