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Ripon & the Locality

Ripon is a market town of some 16,000 inhabitants and is situated on the western edge of the Vale of York about 4 miles west of what has been, at least since Roman times, the main north-south route on the eastern side of the Pennines, whose foothills start just west of the city.

It lies on the River Skell, just west of its confluence with the Ure, and is at the focus of five main roads – the A61 (north) to the A1 and Thirsk; the B6265 (east) to the AI, Boroughbridge and York; the A61 (south) to Harrogate and Leeds; the B6265 (west) to Pateley Bridge and Skipton; and the A6108 to Masham, Leybum and Wensleydale.

Click on the following links to read more about the story of Ripon.

Ripon Timeline

657: Monastery founded by Abbot Eata of Melrose.

672: St. Wilfrid builds his church on the site of current Cathedral.

10th Century: Ripon Marketplace. Ripon has grown up around its Marketplace. A market had probably developed at Ripon by the 10th century when Yorkshire was renowned for the number of its markets and fairs.

1132: Fountains Abbey Britain's largest monastic ruin, was founded by 13 Benedictine monks.

Early 12th Century: Ripon Fair. King Henry 1 grants the Archbishop of York the right to hold a 4-day fair in Ripon centred on the feast of St Wilfrid.

1292: Ripon's Thursday Market. First reference to the weekly market that is still held.

Pre-14th Century: Thorpe Prebend House was once home to one of the ruling clergy of Ripon Minster. Its date of origin is obscure, but it was described as "in ruins" in 1310!

1308: Ripley Castle has belonged to the Ingilby family since 1308/9, Sir Thomas Ingilby saved King Edward 1's life by killing the wild boar that was about to commit regicide.

1310: Markenfield Hall is a spectacular mediaeval house, built mainly in 1310, and completely surrounded by its moat. It is the most complete surviving medium-sized fourteenth century country house left in England.

Pre-15th Century: Ripon Charter Horn and origin of the Ripon Hornblower.

1539: Fountains Abbey sold by the Crown to Sir Richard Gresham, a merchant following the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII.

1555: Ripon Grammar School founded. It is claimed that the school was originally founded in Saxon times, it was re-founded in 1555 during the reign of Queen Mary.

1604: Royal Charter granted by James 1 and first Mayor of Ripon (Hugh Ripley, who was also the last Ripon Wakeman. His house still stands on the Square)

1693: The Studley Royal Estate inherited by John Aislabie.

1690s: Newby Hall built in the style of Sir Christopher Wren; it was later adapted and is one of England's renowned Adam houses. (The early history of Newby leaves gaps from the thirteenth century, when it was recorded as the property of the Nubie family).

1702: Ripon Obelisk built by John Aislabie.

1718: Studley Royal Water Garden created by John Aislabie.

1773: Ripon Canal opened.

1816: Ripon Liberty Prison built; it is now occupied by the Ripon Prison and Police Museum.The complex of buildings served Ripon as the House of Correction for Vagrants (1686-1816), Liberty Prison (1816-1878) and Police Station (1887-1956). The Museum, first opened in 1984.

1830: Ripon Courthouse. The Georgian Courthouse remains virtually unchanged since it was built in 1830. Following closure of the Court in 1998 it was opened as a museum a year later.

1836: Ripon Cathedral. The Minster finally became a Cathedral in 1836, the focal point of the newly created Diocese of Ripon - the first to be established since the Reformation.

1852?: Lewis Carroll. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (1832-98) was more commonly known as Lewis Carroll, the author of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. His father became a residentiary canon of the Cathedral in 1852. During his many visits to Ripon, Carroll wrote a number works including part of 'Through the Looking-Glass'.

1854: Ripon Union Workhouse built (almost all the buildings have survived). It was opened in 1996 as the Workhouse Museum. A Workhouse has stood on this site since 1776.

1878: St Mary's Church Studley Royal Estate consecrated.

1886: Ripon Millenary Festival - to commemorate the 1000th anniversary of the supposed first Royal Charter granted to Ripon by King Alfred the Great.

1900: Ripon Racecourse Yorkshire's 'Garden Racecourse' opened. The Ripon area is steeped in equine history and racing has taken place on several sites, with the first recorded meeting on Bondgate Green in 1664. Ripon is believed to have staged Britain's first race for lady riders in 1723.

1905: Ripon Spa Baths opened; the Spa Gardens were opened shortly afterwards.

1915: Army camp built for 30,000 troops and housed over 350,000 troops pass through it during the First World War.

1918: Wilfred Owen (1893-1918) was perhaps the finest English poet of the First World War. In March 1918, he was posted to Ripon and composed a number of poems. These include 'Futility' and 'Strange Meeting'. His 25th birthday was spent quietly in the Cathedral.

1991: Lightwater Valley built. A modern amusement park located on the edge of the village of North Stainley, near Ripon. Lightwater Valley was founded by Robert Staveley and initially evolved from a small farm attraction.

2004: Queen Elizabeth II visits Ripon to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the granting of its Royal Charter by James 1.



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Dallamires Way North, Ripon, North Yorkshire, HG4 1TL Tel: +44(01765 601711) Fax: +44(0)1765 607481 Email:

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