Coordinates: 54°08′17″N 1°31′25″W / 54.13796°N 1.52365°W / 54.13796; -1.52365

City of Ripon
Fountains Abbey, Ripon.jpg
Fountains Abbey at Ripon
City of Ripon, coat of arms
Arms of Ripon City Council
City of Ripon is located in North Yorkshire
City of Ripon

 City of Ripon shown within North Yorkshire
Population 15,922 (2001 census)[1]
OS grid reference SE312714
    - London  223 miles (359 km) 
Parish Ripon
District Harrogate
Shire county North Yorkshire
Region Yorkshire and the Humber
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town RIPON
Postcode district HG4
Dialling code 01765
Police North Yorkshire
Fire North Yorkshire
Ambulance Yorkshire
EU Parliament Yorkshire and the Humber
UK Parliament Skipton & Ripon
List of places: UK • England • Yorkshire

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 brief 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.

Historically part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, Ripon is the fourth smallest city in England. According to the 2001 United Kingdom Census it had a population of 15,922.[1] It is located 11 miles (18 km) south-west of Thirsk, 16 miles (26 km) south of Northallerton and 12 miles (19 km) north of Harrogate. As well as its racecourse and cathedral, Ripon is a tourist destination due to its close proximity to the UNESCO World Heritage Site the Studley Royal Park and Fountains Abbey. It also contains the theme park Lightwater Valley.



Northumbrian and Viking period

During its pre-history, the area which later became Ripon was under the control of Brythonic tribe the Brigantes, three miles (5 km) north of Ripon at Hutton Moor there is a large circular earthwork created by them.[2] The Romans did not settle Ripon either, but they had a military outpost around five miles (8 km) away at North Stainley.[2] Solid evidence for the origins of Ripon can be traced back to the time of the Anglian kingdom Northumbria in the 7th century.[2] The first structure built in the area, which at the time was known as Inhrypum, was a Christian church dedicated to St. Peter, with the settlement originating in the year 658.[2] This was founded by a man who later became the Bishop of York, a Northumbrian nobleman known as Wilfrid; he was granted the land by king Alhfrith.[2] Wilfrid religiously directed the Angle kingdoms of the north from Insular Christianity calculations of Easter, to Catholic Church standards; he was later venerated as a saint.[2]

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.[3][4] 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.[2] When King of England at the time Athelstan came to Northumbria to try to force out the Danelaw, he was said to have granted privileges to Ripon, Beverley and York.[2] One of his successors was less favourable; after the Northumbrians rebelled against English rule in 948, king Edred had the buildings at Ripon burned.[2] Prosperity was restored by the end of the 10th century as the body of saint Cuthbert was moved to Ripon for a while, due to the threat of Danish raids.[2]

Normans and the Middle Ages

After the Norman conquest of England, much of the north rebelled in 1069, even trying to bring back Danish rule; the suppression that followed was the Harrying of the North.[2] Ripon is thought to have shrunk to a small community around the church after it, after 1/3 of the North of England had been killed.[2] The lands of the church were transferred to St. Peter's Church at York as the Liberty of Ripon and it was during this time that the Ripon Cathedral was built on top of the ruins of Wilfrid's building. Eventually developing in the Gothic architecture style, the project owed much to the work of Roger de Pont L'Evêque and Walter de Gray, two Archbishop of York during the Plantagenet period of rule.[2] During the 12th century Ripon built upon a booming wool trade, attracting Italian trade merchants, especially Florentines who bought large quantities.[2]

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.[2] 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.[2] 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.[2] 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 1,000 marks to the Scots to prevent them from burning down the town on one occasion.[2]

Reformation and Tudor times

Ripon, which relied heavily on its religious institutions, was hit hard by the English Reformation under Tudor king Henry VIII.[2] The abbot of Fountains, William Thirske, was expelled by Henry and replaced; he went on to become one of the leaders of the Pilgrimage of Grace.[2] Northern England was quite traditionalist and people were unhappy about Henry's intention to break with Rome; the Pilgrimage of Grace popular rising was the manifestation of this sentiment.[2] The revolt failed and Henry followed through with the break from Rome and the Dissolution of the Monasteries, which hit Fountains Abbey.[2]

After Mary, Queen of Scots, fled Scotland to the North of England, she stayed at Ripon on her way.[2] The Catholic-oriented North supported her and there was another popular rising in the form of the Rising of the North; this began six miles (10 km) away at Topcliffe and was led by the Earl of Northumberland and the Earl of Westmorland.[2] The rebels stayed at Ripon on 18 November 1569 but the rising eventually failed; 600 were executed in total, 300 of whom were hanged at Gallows Hill in Ripon during January 1570.[2] Plans were drawn up to make Ripon a centre of education, a University of the North to rival Oxford and Cambridge. Although chief adviser Lord Burghley and Archbishop Sandys supported the idea Elizabeth I did not follow it through.[2]

Civil War and Restoration

The house where Stuart king James I stayed during 1617

Ripon replaced their old textiles industry with one in the creation of spurs starting in the 16th century.[2] They were so widely known that it gave rise to the proverb "as true steel as Ripon Rowels".[5] 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.[2] It was James who granted Ripon a Royal Charter in 1604 and created the first mayor of Ripon.[6] 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.[2] Although it wasn't in the main line of fighting to the east, Ripon remained loyal and royalist during the English Civil War.[2] 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.[2] The royalists were defeated in the Civil War and Charles I spent two nights as a prisoner in Ripon.[2] Oliver Cromwell visited the city twice on his way to battle; first on the way to Preston and then on the way to Worcester.[2]

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.[2] 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".[2] Founder of Methodism, John Wesley preached in Ripon and a minority community of followers built up.[2] During the Georgian era Ripon, unlike several other cities was not significantly effected by the Industrial Revolution despite the existence of various guilds. Although more widely known for his activities outside of Ripon, John Aislabie during his time as Member of Parliament for Ripon created the Studley Royal Park, its water garden and erected the obelisk (designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor[7]).[6] Newby Hall was also created during this period by Christopher Wren.[6]

Contemporary Ripon

Communications were improved with the opening of the Ripon railway station during May 1848.[2] 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.[2] 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.[2] 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.[2]


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.[8] 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.[8] The borough corporation was reformed by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835 and formed a municipal borough of the West Riding of Yorkshire until 1974.[9] 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.[10] 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.[11]

Ripon was represented in the Houses of Parliament with its own Member of Parliament as far back as the Model Parliament of 1295.[12] 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.[12] 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.[12] 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.[12] 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.[12] Since 1983 Ripon has been part of the Skipton and Ripon constituency, a Conservative Party stronghold.[13] The city council itself has 15 members, all of whom are currently independents.[14]

Position Current Representatives
Member of Parliament
Julian Smith, Conservative, elected 2010
City Council Members
B Fletcher, Independent · Kenn William Hart, Independent · P McHardy, Independent · Sidney James Hawke, Independent · Michael Frederick Stanley, Independent · Charles Ernest Powell, Independent · S E Brierley, Independent · A G Gent, Independent · Joan Ward, Independent · Andrew Williams, Independent · J Banyard, Independent · D W Elsy, Independent · Peter Malcolm Horton, Independent · David Wilfred Parnaby, Independent · D Ward, Independent


Buildings of the former College of Ripon and York St John facilities

Ripon is home to Ripon Grammar School which is a selective intake, state secondary school.[15] The school claims to take roots from the school which was attached to the Collegiate Church, founded during the time of the Angle kingdom of Northumbria by Saint Wilfrid.[16] The refoundation date for the school was during the reign of queen Mary I in 1555.[16] The school has several notable alumni, known as Old Riponians, including theologian Bishop Beilby Porteus, historian Bishop William Stubbs, fashion designer Bruce Oldfield and television presenter Richard Hammond.[16] In the modern day the school hosts around 800 students, gaining engineering status in 2006,[17] it receives favourable reports from the Ofsted falling between "outstanding" and "good".[18] There are also other good schools in Ripon; this includes the non-exclusive Outwood Academy Ripon formerly Ripon College secondary comprehensive school, which was also known as Ripon City School until 1999. It has around 470 students and is just below the national average based on the results of GCSE test performances, but steadily improving each year.[19]

On the site of the Old Ripon Racecourse in Whitcliffe Lane, there is also an independent co-ed preparatory school founded in 1960, called the Cathedral Choir School. It existed prior to 1960 as St Olave's Preparatory School[20] Ripon previously had higher education facilities in the form of the College of Ripon and York St John until 1999.[21] This college had its roots in two Anglican teacher training colleges, which were founded in York in 1841 for men and 1846 for women.[21] The women's college moved to Ripon in 1862. Over the next century, the colleges gradually diversified their education programmes. The colleges merged in 1974 to form the College of Ripon and York St John.[21] The combined institution became a college of the University of Leeds in 1990, before all activities were transferred back to York in 1999.[21] For higher education today, people from Ripon go to York, such as York St John University, York College and University of York or attend further afield institutions.


Inside St Mary's at Studley Royal

Christianity is the largest religious affiliation in Ripon; 79.3% of the people in the area polled as part of the United Kingdom Census 2001 professed the Christian faith, around 8% above the national average.[13] Ripon Cathedral is the main religious building in the city and contains a tomb said to contain the bones of Saint Wilfrid who founded a monastery here and with it the town. The Venerable William Gibson is another noted local figure, a Catholic martyr who was one of the eighty-five martyrs of England and Wales.[22] A local recusant woman Mary Ward in 1609 founded the Catholic teaching order the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, also known as the Loreto Sisters it has provinces around the world.

The Church of England are in the majority with two parishes; the ancient Ripon Cathedral and Holy Trinity Church‎.[23] Ripon is a suffragan bishopric of the Diocese of Ripon and Leeds represented by the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, created in 1836 with just Ripon in its title but adapted to include Leeds in 2000, its purpose is to provide a provincial episcopal visitor for the Province of York.[23] During the time of the kingdom of Northumbria there was a short lived Diocese of Ripon, with Eadhedus as the only bishop. There is a Roman Catholic parish in Ripon called St. Wilfrid's Church, it is covered by the Diocese of Leeds in the Harrogate deanery and it is an architecturally significant building.[24][25] There are also around two places of worship for Methodism in Ripon.[26]


View over the market place of Ripon
The Ripon Hornblower

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.[27] 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.[28] At the procession there are various decorated floats which make their way through the city with locals in costume.[29] 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.[30] Ripon also has dancing traditions such as the Long Sword dance and Morris dance.[28]

The tradition of the Ripon Hornblower has endured for centuries and continues on to this day.[31] 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 obelisk in Ripon Market.[32] 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.[33]

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.[34] Ripon staged Britain's first race for female riders in 1723.[34] 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 while Ripon Rugby have represented the city in rugby union since 1886. Several local cricket clubs draw on the denizens of Ripon for their membership, these include Newby Hall Cricket Club, Ripon Cricket Club and Studley Royal Cricket Club.[35][36] There is also a golf course in the north of Ripon, represented by the Ripon City Golf Club since 1908.[37]


The Ripon Canal continues to be used by barges in the modern day

The city was previously served by Ripon railway station on the Leeds-Northallerton line that ran, as the name suggests, between Leeds and Northallerton.[38] It was once part of the North Eastern Railway and then LNER. The Ripon line was closed in September 1969 as part of the wider Beeching Axe, despite a vigorous campaign by local campaigners, including the city's MP.[38] The issue remains a significant one in local politics and there are movements wanting to restore the line.[38] Reports suggest the reopening of a line between Ripon and Harrogate railway station would be economically viable, costing £40 million and could initially attract 1,200 passengers a day, rising to 2,700.[38][39][40]

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.[41] Ripon is accessible from the east and west via the A61 which is the main road running through the city.[41] 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.[42] 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.[43] 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.[43][44]

Town twinning

See also



  1. ^ a b "2001 Census: Key Statistics: Parish Headcounts: Area: Ripon CP (Parish)". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 1 February 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an Thomson, Ceclia. The Book of Ripon: An Historical Anthology. Barracuda Press. ISBN 0860230414. 
  3. ^ "Ripon History". Retrieved 1 February 2009. 
  4. ^ "Ripon". Retrieved 1 February 2009. 
  5. ^ "Ripon". Old Towns of England. Retrieved 1 February 2009. 
  6. ^ a b c "Ripon Timeline". Retrieved 1 February 2009. 
  7. ^ "Engineering timelines". Retrieved 24 January 2011. 
  8. ^ a b "Ripon". 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 1 February 2009. 
  9. ^ "Ripon". Visions of Britain. Retrieved 1 February 2009. 
  10. ^ "Electoral Boundaries". Retrieved 1 February 2009. 
  11. ^ "Ripon City Council". Retrieved 1 February 2009. 
  12. ^ a b c d e "Cobbett's Parliamentary History". Oxford Digital Library. Retrieved 1 February 2009. 
  13. ^ a b "Skipton and Ripon". Retrieved 1 February 2009. 
  14. ^ "Ripon City Council". Retrieved 1 February 2009. 
  15. ^ Smithers, Rebecca (11 March 2000). "Parents vote to retain Ripon grammar school". London: Retrieved 1 February 2009. 
  16. ^ a b c "A short history of Ripon Grammar School". Ripon Grammar School. Retrieved 1 February 2009. 
  17. ^ "Specialist Engineering Status". Ripon Grammar School. Retrieved 1 February 2009. 
  18. ^ "Ripon Grammar School - Inspection Report (2005)". Retrieved 9 January 2010. 
  19. ^ "Ripon College". BBC News Online (BBC). Retrieved 4 January 2010. 
  20. ^ "Welcome". Retrieved 9 January 2010. [not in citation given]
  21. ^ a b c d "History". York St. John University. Retrieved 9 January 2010. 
  22. ^  "English Confessors and Martyrs (1534-1729)". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. 
  23. ^ a b "Church of England: Diocese of Ripon and Leeds". Retrieved 1 February 2009. 
  24. ^ "Ripon, North Yorkshire". Riponnor. Retrieved 1 February 2009. 
  25. ^ "Churches in Ripon". Retrieved 1 February 2009. 
  26. ^ "Places of Worship in Ripon".,-North-Yorkshire. Retrieved 1 February 2009. 
  27. ^ "Ripon Market". Retrieved 1 February 2009. 
  28. ^ a b "Custom and Tradition". Retrieved 1 February 2009. 
  29. ^ "Sun shines on crowds and floats at 'magnificent' St Wilfrid's procession". Retrieved 1 February 2009. 
  30. ^ "The St Wilfrid's Tradition". Retrieved 1 February 2009. 
  31. ^ "Customs & Traditions". Retrieved 1 February 2009. 
  32. ^ "Ripon Hornblower" (PDF). Retrieved 1 February 2009. 
  33. ^ "Yorkshire Law and Order Museums". Retrieved 1 February 2009. 
  34. ^ a b "Ripon Races". Retrieved 1 February 2009. 
  35. ^ "Newby Hall Cricket Club". Retrieved 1 February 2009. 
  36. ^ "Ripon Rugby Union Football Club in Ripon". Ripon Internet. Retrieved 9 January 2010. 
  37. ^ "Ripon City Golf Club". Retrieved 1 February 2009. [dead link]
  38. ^ a b c d "Reopening line makes economic sense, says study". Retrieved 1 February 2009. 
  39. ^ "Backing for restoring rail link". BBC News Online (BBC). 11 May 2004. Retrieved 4 January 2010. 
  40. ^ "Railway plan may be back on track". Retrieved 1 February 2009. 
  41. ^ a b "How to Get Here". Retrieved 1 February 2009. 
  42. ^ "Bus services in Ripon". Retrieved 1 February 2009. 
  43. ^ a b "History of the Ripon Canal". Retrieved 1 February 2009. 
  44. ^ "Fishing along the Ripon Canal". Retrieved 1 February 2009. 


External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Ripon, CA — U.S. city in California Population (2000): 10146 Housing Units (2000): 3446 Land area (2000): 4.101883 sq. miles (10.623829 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.071817 sq. miles (0.186006 sq. km) Total area (2000): 4.173700 sq. miles (10.809835 sq. km)… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Ripon, WI — U.S. city in Wisconsin Population (2000): 6828 Housing Units (2000): 3118 Land area (2000): 4.233734 sq. miles (10.965319 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.023855 sq. miles (0.061785 sq. km) Total area (2000): 4.257589 sq. miles (11.027104 sq. km)… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Ripon [2] — Ripon (spr. rippen), 1) Stadt (city) im Westbezirk der engl. Grafschaft York, am Ure, ist Sitz eines Bischofs, hat eine kleine, aber wegen der verschiedenen Stilarten merkwürdige Kathedrale (aus dem 12.–16. Jahrh., 1862–72 von Scott restauriert) …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

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  • Ripon [3] — Ripon (spr. rippen), 1) Frederick John Robinson, Viscount Goderich, Graf von, engl. Staatsmann, jüngerer Sohn Lord Granthams, geb. 1. Nov. 1782, gest. 28. Jan. 1859, ward 1806 Mitglied des Unterhauses, war 1809 einige Monate Unterstaatssekretär,… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon