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.
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?