Snapshot Saturday: Secret Ripon

Ripon has been a city for well over 1300 years.  Founded by a saint – Wilfred – it’s been under the control of the Vikings, the Normans, and more recently Harrogate Borough Council.  It’s been a religious centre, a market town, a textile town.  These days it’s no longer so important.  But those of us who live here tend to like this quiet unassuming place with a past to be proud of.

Come for a day trip, and you’ll head straight for the Cathedral, built and destroyed and rebuilt several times from the 7th to the 15th centuries.

Ripon Cathedral, now as in the past peeps from behind ancient narrow streets.

You may make for the Workhouse Museum, the Prison and Police Museum and Courthouse Museums, and learn about the lives of the deserving and undeserving poor of former centuries.

After that though, we could go and look for a Ripon not mentioned in the guidebooks.  It was by chance that I found a charming  oasis of calm, tucked away yards from the city centre and known to few.  It once housed a non conformist early 19th century ‘Temple’, of which all that remains is the Dissenters’ Graveyard.  A secret, quiet place, you’ll have it all to yourself.


Walk further up the road and you’ll find The Crescent, set back from the road behind a spacious gardens.  Now as then, back in the 19th century when the houses were built, it’s a fine address.  Lewis Carroll thought so,  He used to visit friends here, and compose songs and stories for their daughters.  There’s a blue plaque to prove it.

Day trippers tend to go home for supper.  Which is a pity.  Wednesday visitors could go and watch bellringing practice in the belltower of the Cathedral.  Hearing the bells tolling rhythmically and tunefully for practices, weddings, and on Sundays is one of the joys of Ripon life.


Day visitors miss out too on seeing the Ripon Hornblower setting the watch, as the postholder has done every single night since 886 and the time of Alfred the Great.  The Wakeman, employed by the city, blows his horn in all four corners of the market square to announce the watch is set and that citizens can sleep safe in their beds (these days the watch is provided by North Yorkshire Police I suppose). Then he goes off to tell the mayor, who may be watching tv, having a bath or an evening down at the pub, or at the cinema … no matter.  The mayor needs to know.

I could show you the Leper chapel, or the house where Wilfred Owen lived.  I could take you down ancient ginnels, or along the canal which was Ripon’s transport hub once upon a time.  Or you could make your own discoveries.  It’s a city you can enjoy exploring in your own time.

This week’s WordPress photo challenge is called Tour Guide.  Click on any image to see it full size.

This post is for you, Ros.  You’re a friend I would never have met except through blogging.  And you’re coming to visit us soon.  Where shall we explore first?

30 thoughts on “Snapshot Saturday: Secret Ripon”

    1. No longer having a railway is a sad loss for Ripon. But a train to Thirsk or Harrogate would bring you to within about 9 miles of us, and I would cheerfully be your tour guide!


  1. I agree it is a city worth exploring. Assume you know it was once famous for the manufacture of spurs? Hence the Ripon Rowel. And of course there’s a World Heritage Site on its doorstep!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes I wanted to squeeze in about the spur making, but feared I was on the point of making the piece too text heavy. I also decided that Fountains Abbey had no place in this piece. Not Ripon!


  2. I envy rosni3, coming to visit you and Ripon! You make Ripon sound well worth visiting. Did something just happen there? I seem to think I read something on the news about Ripon and wondered if you had been involved . . . ?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. And an excellent tour guide you are, Margaret! The few times I’ve visited North Yorkshire I have missed out Ripon though it is on our ‘must visit’ list. We plan to visit all the cathedrals and cathedral towns/cities in the country before we get too old. I like the look of the Dissenter’s Graveyard and I would enjoy seeing the Ripon Hornblower!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks so much for the tour of Ripon, though I think I would be inclined to strangle the hornblower. My husband’s Great Grandfather John left England as a 12 year old in 1856 under the guardianship of a John Long of Ripon and his wife. A year after they settled in Melbourne young John’s mother arrived. She was later to marry an exiled sheep stealer (which gives us a touch of convict royalty). John Long’s wife died and in a double marriage he wed Eliza Quantock and our 23 y.o. John married her daughter Elizabeth. We have never known what started this journey with the mystery man from Ripon but he certainly left his mark on our family. Thank you to the good folks of Ripon.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh yes Ripon and its Cathedral have been on my list for so long I’ve forgotten what it is in the Cathedral that I wanted to see. Now reading your post has prompted me, perhaps something to do with the Anglo Saxon period? One day, one day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not sure what you wanted to see either. It has lots off interesting features, but nothing that stands head and shoulders above the others. You’ll have to come and find out.


      1. Oh it could easily have been something borderline obscure recommended to me whilst tackling my Master’s project (15 years ago) – it’s so annoying that I can no longer remember. 😡 ☹️

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow you ARE a terrific tour guide. Bravo – I’ve never been that ‘high up’ myself, I think the most northerly city I’ve been was Manchester (speaking of England ‘only’), where we spent an insane sum of money to be with a choir (3 or 4 days) of otherwise only English ppl, it was terrifyingly cold (says the Swiss!), windy, but otherwise great fun and we sang in a famous church which I have sadly forgotten the name of….. So any new info is welcome regarding your home country – merci beaucoup

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, I used to know Manchester well, as it was my university city: but it’s changed immensely. The church might have been Saint Anne’s? It’s ‘terrifyingly cold’ here today, but you won’t be impressed. 0 degrees…..

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Coming back to my sole and only Manchester visit. I was ‘cleaning up’ my old computer memory and as it happens in real life – found – amongst other ‘debris’ – the programme of our then visit with the choir and we sang – hold on to your chair dear Margaret – at the Manchester Cathedral (although I seem to have no recollection of how good or bad we were….. – but we had a great (and very costly) weekend!


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