‘Except ye Lord keep ye Cittie, ye Wakeman waketh in vain’ revisited

England, history, North Yorkshire, Ripon, Traditions

Ten years ago today, long before we imagined we’d one day be living here, we were having a short break from our lives in France here in Ripon. And this is what we saw…

July 2012

‘Except ye Lord keep ye Cittie, ye Wakeman waketh in vain’

That’s the  verse from the Psalms, inscribed above the town hall in Ripon, where we’re spending the next few weeks to avoid the cold and rain of the south of France (no, really, they’ve got the heating on over there).  It reminds us that every evening – EVERY evening – for well over a thousand years, the Ripon Wakeman has sounded his horn to the 4 corners of the city to announce that all is well.

We had to go and check it out yesterday evening.

Promptly at 9, a smartly dressed individual in buff coloured hunting coat, tricorn hat and white gloves took his place before the obelisk on the Market Square and sounded his horn 4 times, once at each corner of the obelisk – one long mournful note each time.

Then he grinned at us, a small crowd of 20.  ”Want to hear a bit of history?’  Well, of course we did.  He made us introduce ourselves, and we found we too came from, well, about 3 corners of the world: Catalonia, Italy, Australia, even South Shields and Merton.  And here’s some of what he told us:

In 886, Alfred the Great, 37 year-old warrior king, was travelling his kingdom to defeat the Vikings and to drum up support.  Arriving at the small settlement of Ripon, he liked what he saw and granted a Royal Charter.  He lacked the wherewithal to produce an appropriate document, and so gave a horn which is still safely locked in the town hall.

‘You need to be more vigilant, there are Vikings about’. Alfred warned.  So the people appointed a wakeman to guard the settlement through hours of darkness, and he put that horn to use by sounding it at the 4 corners of the Market Cross to announce that all was well as he began his watch.  The city’s now on its 4th horn.

If you want to know more, our current Wakeman, George Pickles,  has written the whole tale for the BBC website.  It’s a good yarn.  Read it when you have a moment.

The Market Square, where the Wakeman does his job.

2022 Update: These days there’s a team of three Wakemen, and one of them is a woman. Only Lockdown – sort of – interrupted the tradition, when the nightly task was performed from the comfort of the duty-Wakeman’s garden at home, courtesy of Facebook.

For Fandango’s Flashback Friday

First Theatre Festival: Last on the card

Festivals, Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, North Yorkshire, Ripon

Have I really not taken a photograph since last Sunday? Apparently not. But my last snapshot is a good souvenir. It’s the final event in Ripon’s first Theatre Festival, and here we all are, all 500 of us, at Fountains Abbey, waiting for Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream played by the spirited and energetic Illyria to begin.

For Brian’s Last on the Card challenge, I’m only supposed you show my last photo, and without commentary at that, but why shouldn’t I give you a flavour of Saturday in the Market Square, with its bands, its jugglers, its stilt walkers, its slapstick entertainers?

My choir was part of the Fringe too, and sang a cappella at the bandstand in the Spa Gardens bright and early on the Saturday. But I couldn’t take a photo and sing too. You can take multi-tasking too far.

Orange you glad…?

Blogging challenges, France, Gardens, Ripon, Spain

This month’s Life in Colour invites us to look at orange. Happy to help. I’ll grab your attention in the feature photo, with a rather orange sky.

When I got my new phone, my not-at-all top-of-the range, bargain-basement smartphone, I discovered that it had a feature called ‘spot colour’. I tried it out in the garden, and in the woods, making orange my spot colour of choice. Here are some results:

Now let’s abandon the gimmicks, and simply go for a walk along Ripon Canal on this early autumn day:

And let’s remember past moments in Valencia, and in Le Jardin Extraordinaire for Becky’s Past Squares:

Shall we end with a single perfect rose ….

… or with a bit of fun – the play food I made for William and Zoë’s kitchen?

Window Shopping Three

Barcelona, Leeds, London, Ripon

This shopping malarkey’s getting tiring, so this week, I’ll just slot in a few shots that didn’t make it into the previous two posts. Like the header shot, for instance. Who knew that facials, waxing, nails and massage were a prerequisite for returning to school?

The Yorkshire lass in me thoroughly approves of this window, spotted in Leeds.

And this image from Barcelona of a rather up-market grocer, Queviures, with the reflections of the street behind remains a favourite too.

My last one may not be a shop at all – I can’t remember. It comes from a more optimistic time, when we still believed that marching in London in our thousands, and community action might help to save us from the disaster which is Brexit.

Monday Window

Window Shopping

Blogging challenges, North Yorkshire, Ripon, South Korea

Just before winter kicks in and we all hunker down, let’s have a trip to the shops, and spot a few windows.

Are there enough windows here for you, in the featured photo, at the entrance to one of South Korea’s bigger shopping complexes? Once we’ve looked round, it’ll be time for a coffee: who knew that Starbucks had spread its reach so far? Not that we actually went inside here – independent coffee shops for us, every time.

Gyeongju, South Korea

Let’s come back to England now, and stay local, in Ripon. We’ll pop into our favourite bakery, then saunter along to the pie shop. In both cases, reflections will offer us views of the street too.

Let’s go to Kirkgate, and more independent shops: You’ll get a mood-improving slogan at Karma, and if you’re lucky, live music to cheer you along.

A few miles away is Pateley Bridge. I wonder if the shops there still have the displays they had when the Tour de Yorkshire was in town?

We’ll finish off by going to Harrogate. From behind other shop windows, we can get a snapshot of Starlings, the bar where we could finish our day with a drink and a very tasty pizza.

Starlings, Cambridge Street, Harrogate.

Thanks for coming along!

Monday Window

A shining example of a bakery

Blogging challenges, Ripon

We all started queuing bright and early. We had to. Our local independent bakery and deli has been doing Click and Collect throughout the last lockdown, but now it’s open again, and we all wanted to make sure we got our hands on our favourite sourdough loaf, a croissant or two, or a couple of cinnamon buns maybe. And a few little treats from the deli while we were at it. We’ve missed you, Vanora!

The featured photo shows the shop window. And not just Vanora’s shop window, but all the ones opposite, reflected in the shiny glass.

Bright Square

Monday Window

A Window into the Past

Blogging challenges, National Trust, North Yorkshire, Ripon

I’m back volunteering at Fountains Abbey, and every time I’m there, I’ll spend time in the ruined Abbey itself.  I’ll gaze up at the voids which were once windows.  Any stone tracery has long disappeared, revealing views of the sky and trees beyond.  And I wonder what the monks saw, during their long hours of worship – eight sessions a day, the first at 2.00 a.m., when the night was charcoal-black and only smoky tallow candles lit the space?  The ascetic Cistercians had no statuary in their churches, little stained glass, so the monks probably glimpsed a barely-to-be-discerned landscape beyond, through water-greenish, slightly uneven glass.

In her challenge this week, Jude has invited us to compare the same scene in colour, and in black and white.  I thought it would be interesting to do this in a building in which colour plays little part.  Surely there would be little difference?  Well, apparently there is.  I find the black and white version a little too austere for my tastes. What do you think?

And here’s a view of the Abbey with Huby’s Tower, which was completed a mere 13 years before Henry VIII brought the Fountains Abbey community to an end in 1539 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries.  I’ve tried to show it more as it might have looked then, set in a wilder landscape than the manicured parkland we see today.  And when it came to the monochrome version – well, there’s black and white, and black and white.  Again, there are choices here ….

2020 Photo Challenge #34

Monday Window

A Solid Perspective on the Past

Blogging challenges, National Trust, North Yorkshire, Ripon

This really is a challenge. Photos demonstrating 3D. Showing the heft, the mass, the solidity of the main subject: putting it in the perspective of its surroundings.

I took myself to Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal. Here is an ancient Cistercian foundation, in ruins since the days when Henry VIII called for the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Here are Georgian water gardens, developed by John and William Aislabie in the 18th century. And here I found my subjects.

Glance through this arch to see where the monks came, eight times a day, for worship.

Huby’s Tower can be glimpsed through the mighty weathered arches of the now roofless Abbey church.

Much of what you find in the gardens is more playful. This balustrade overlooking the lake, shows icicles. ‘It’s summer now’, is the message. ‘Enjoy yourselves. Winter will be along soon enough.’

This young pheasant has found the Banqueting House. Outside is a lawn cut into the shape of a coffin. The message is similar. ‘Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die’*

And later, explore the woodlands of the High Ride and its ancient trees. Their roots are pretty solid.

2020 Photo Challenge #30

Square Perspectives

* from the Books of Ecclesiastes and Isaiah in the Bible.

A Cathedral Seen From a Shed

Blogging challenges, Ripon

For just a few weeks in 2017, a garden shed appeared in the grounds of Ripon Cathedral.  Only it wasn’t a garden shed.  It was a camera obscura: a rather large pinhole camera.

Here was a wooden shed with a rotating angled mirror at the apex of the roof, projecting an image of the cathedral onto a horizontal surface inside.

Go inside, get used to the dark … and this is what you saw.  A new perspective on an ancient cathedral.

Square Perspectives