Harrogate History of Ripon

The History of Ripon from the middle ages on the Harrogate Guide. See details on their website. 

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Business: History of Ripon

Location: Ripon

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The History below is that I have researched on the internet and in libraries and hopefully correct, however, history sometimes differs in the views of different historians. Should you find any errors, anything I might have missed or indeed anything  I can include or research please email info@harrogate guide.co.uk

Ripon History:
Ripon is a cathedral city in the Borough of Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England. Historically part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, it is located at the confluence of two tributaries of the River Ure, the Laver and Skell. The city is noted for its main feature, 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.
 There has been a stone church on the site since 672 when Saint Wilfrid replaced the previous timber church of the monastery at Ripon (a daughter house of Saint Aidan's monastery at Melrose with one in the Roman style. This is one of the earliest stone buildings erected in the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Northumbria. The crypt dates from this period.

The west front was added in 1220, its twin towers originally crowned with wooden spires and lead. The east window was built as part of a reconstruction of the choir between 1286 and 1330. Decorated Gothic windows constructed in Northern England. Major rebuilding had to be postponed due to the outbreak of the Wars of the Roses but resumed after the accession of Henry VII and the restoration of peace in 1485. The crossing tower was rebuilt after it collapsed in an earthquake in 1450 but was never completed. Between 1501 and 1522 the nave walls were raised higher and the aisles added. The church's thirty-five misericords were carved between 1489 and 1494.

People have been coming to worship and pray at Ripon for more than 1,350 years. The cathedral building is part of this continuing act of worship, begun in the 7th century when Saint Wilfrid built one of England's first stone churches on this site, and still renewed every day. Within the nave and choir, you can see the evidence of 800 years in which master craftsmen have expressed their faith in wood and stone.

The city was originally known as Inhrypum and was founded by Saint Wilfrid during the time of the Anglian kingdom of Northumbria, a period during which it enjoyed prominence in terms of religious importance in Great Britain. It was for a period under Viking control and later suffered under the Normans. 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 centuries but would later remain largely unaffected by the Industrial Revolution.

Ripon is the third smallest city in England by population. According to the 2011 United Kingdom Census, it had a population of 16,702. During its pre-history the area which later became Ripon was under the control of the Brigantes, a Brythonic tribe. Three miles north at Hutton Moor there is a large circular earthwork created by them. The Romans did not settle in Ripon, but they had a military outpost around five miles away at North Stainley. Solid evidence for the origins of Ripon can be traced back to the 7th century, the time of the Anglian kingdom of Northumbria.The first structure built in the area, known at the time as Inhrypum, was a Christian church dedicated to St. Peter, with the settlement originating in the year 658.

The earliest settlers were stonemasons, glaziers and plasterers that Wilfrid brought over to help construct the Ripon monastery, from Lyon in Francia and Rome which was then under Byzantine rule. The years following the death of Wilfrid are obscure in Ripon's history. After the invasion of the Great Heathen Army of Norse Vikings in Northumbria, the Danelaw was established and the Kingdom of Jórvík was founded in the Yorkshire area. In 937 Athelstan, then King of England, granted the privilege of sanctuary to Ripon, for a mile around the church. One of his successors was less well-disposed: after the Northumbrians rebelled against English rule in 948, King Edred had the buildings at Ripon burned. 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.

After the Norman conquest, much of the north rebelled in 1069, even trying to bring back Danish rule. The suppression that followed was the Harrying of the North, which resulted in the death of approximately one-third of the population of the North of England. Ripon is thought to have shrunk to a small community around the church following the suppression. 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 a grand Collegiate Church was built on top of the ruins of Wilfrid's building. During the 12th century Ripon built up a booming wool trade, attracting Italian trade merchants, especially Florentines, who bought and exported large quantities.

Ripon's proximity to Fountains Abbey, where the Cistercians had a long tradition of sheep farming and owned much grazing land, was a considerable advantage. After English people were forbidden from wearing foreign cloth in 1326, Ripon developed a cloth industry which was third in size in Yorkshire after York and Halifax. 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.

Ripon, which relied heavily on its religious institutions, was badly affected by the English Reformation under the Tudor king Henry VIII. The Abbot of Fountains, William Thirske, was expelled by Henry and replaced; Thirske went on to become one of the leaders of the Pilgrimage of Grace popular rising. The people of Northern England were quite traditional in their beliefs and were unhappy about Henry's intention to break with Rome.

After Mary, Queen of Scots, fled Scotland to Northern England she stayed at Ripon on her journey. The mainly Catholic North supported her, and there was another popular rising known as the Rising of the North; this began six miles away at Topcliffe and was led by Thomas Percy, the 7th Earl of Northumberland and Charles Neville, the 6th Earl of Westmorland. The rebels stayed at Ripon on 18 November 1569, but the rising eventually failed resulting in 600 people being executed, 300 of whom were hanged at Gallows Hill in Ripon during January 1570.

Ripon replaced its old textiles industry with one for the manufacture of spurs during the 16th century. They were so widely known that they gave rise to the proverb "as true steel as Ripon Rowels. At the time, spurs did not just serve as functional riding accessories, they were also fashionable; an expensive pair was made for King James I when he stayed at Ripon in 1617. It was James who granted Ripon a Royal Charter in 1604 and created the first Mayor of Ripon. 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. Although Ripon was not in the main line of fighting which was to the east, it remained loyal and royalist during the English Civil War. 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. The royalists were eventually defeated in the Civil War and Charles I spent two nights as a prisoner in Ripon. Oliver Cromwell visited the city twice on his way to battle, once on the way to the Preston and on the way to the Battle of Worcester.

Communications were improved with the opening of Ripon railway station in May 1848. During the First World War a large military training camp was built in Ripon, the local community offering hospitality not only to soldiers' wives but to the Flemish refugees who became part of Ripon's community. The racecourse south-east of the city also served as an airfield for the Royal Flying Corps The racecourse was also used as a demobilisation centre for troops returning from France well into 1919.

Ripon was the first Church of England diocese to be created after the English Reformation, as it was recognised that existing dioceses were unsuited for the large increases in population caused particularly by the Industrial Revolution of the 18th century in central England. It was deemed that new cathedral building on a national scale was not viable and so Ripon, containing a high-status parish church, was created from the existing Chester and York dioceses in 1836, with the building promoted to cathedral status. Ripon council presumed this had elevated the town to the rank of city and started referring to itself as such.
In 1974 Ripon borough was abolished and a parish council established as part of wider local government reform. The award of city status is typically granted to a local authority, whose administrative area is then considered to be the formal borders of the city, the grant in this case being removed at the same time and bestowed onto the parish. By this definition, the whole parish council area of Ripon, including its settlement and surrounding rural area containing a tiny portion of the Nidderdale AONB to the north west, is the limits of the city. It contains the third lowest population of all the cities in England.

Ripon became a municipal borough of the West Riding of Yorkshire in 1835, remaining so until 1974. That year, 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.

Ripon still has an ancient Hornblower, who blows his horn at the four corners in the Market Square, every night at 9pm. YouTube videos and everything. This handsome, independent city of ancient history, with modern twists, fantastic tearooms and shops.

Being right on the edge of the glorious Yorkshire Dales national park is fantastic with buses to Harrogate and Leeds several times an hour.

Schools Primaries: Moorside Junior, Ripon Cathedral Church of England, Holy Trinity Church of England and St Wilfrid’s Catholic. Secondary Schools: Outwood and Ripon Grammar.

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History of Ripon from the Middle Ages to Today