Pancakes at the Cathedral

Ripon Cathedral – viewed from High St Agnesgate  (

One of the bells of Ripon Cathedral sounded this morning: sonorous, measured and slow.  The pancake bell.  It’s rung out every Shrove Tuesday for centuries now, just like other bells in other churches, countrywide.  It reminds good Christian folk to come to church and confess their sins, before Ash Wednesday.  Some also believe it was to remind thrifty housewives to use up their eggs, butter and milk before fasting during Lent.

Gentlemen of the press outside the cathedral to record the action.

Nowadays it’s a signal to gather outside the cathedral and have a bit of fun.  Somebody has already cooked a pile of pancakes.  No point in making lacy delicate crepes.  These pancakes are in for a tough time as props in the annual pancake race. Contestants have to run from the Cathedral, down Kirkgate, pan in hand, tossing as they go …. onto the pavement, as often as not.

I watched teams from the Rotary Club, from local primary schools, from the Italian restaurant down the road.

The lads from Valentino's Italian Restaurant arrive to do their bit.
The lads from Valentino’s Italian Restaurant arrive to run in style.

 Sadly though I missed seeing the clergy do their bit: things to do, places to go.  It all seemed amiably uncompetitive.  Just a chance to chat to the Hornblower (who keeps us safe through the night here in Ripon), to friends, and to take a few snapshots of this happy little Shrove Tuesday tradition.

Later, much later, Malcolm and I had pancakes too, delicate lacey ones, served with lots of sugar and lemon juice.  We tossed them of course.  But we didn’t run down the street with them.

Author: margaret21

I'm retired and living in North Yorkshire, where I walk as often as I can, write, volunteer, and travel as often as I can.

22 thoughts on “Pancakes at the Cathedral”

  1. My grandsons are pancake fanatics and always persuade Grandad to make them dor breakfast on Saturday mornings when they’re here. I cringe at all that sugar and lemon on their teeth!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You can make healthier versions of Nutella, there are several available eg Deliciously Ella and Tanya Maher have them online. Our middle grandsons made it themselves.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I am a fool for this sort of funny local tradition! I’d love to see it–it sounds like such good fun. Across the lake in Vermont, one town has a Strolling of the Heifers every year–much safer than running with bulls!

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    1. I’m sure these particular ones weren’t worthn eating by the time they’d been dropped on city streets a few times, but yes, sugar and lemon is the way to go. Yum.


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