Ripon Cathedral

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Ripon Cathedral

The Cathedral Church of
St Peter and Wilfrid, Ripon

Ripon, Yorkshire

Status: cathedral
Ripon Cathedral Exterior, Nth Yorkshire, UK - Diliff.jpg
The west end of the cathedral
Church of England
Diocese of Leeds
Grid reference: SE314711
Location: 54°8’6"N, 1°31’12"W
Anglo-Saxon, Gothic (Early English)

The Cathedral Church of St Peter and Wilfrid, otherwise known as Ripon Cathedral (or 'Ripon Minster') stands in the midst of the little City of Ripon in the West Riding of Yorkshire. It was long the cathedral of the Diocese of Ripon (later named 'Ripon and Leeds') but is today one of three co-equal cathedrals of the Diocese of Leeds, a merged diocese created in 2014.

The cathedral has Grade I listed building status.[1]


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 Aiden'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.

People have been coming to worship and pray at Ripon for more than 1,350 years. The Cathedral building itself is part of this continuing act of worship, begun in the 7th century when St 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 nave, showing a clear asymmetry in the arches
The eastern façade of the cathedral.

Today's church is the fourth to have stood on this site. Saint Wilfrid brought stonemasons, plasterers and glaziers from France and Italy to build his great basilica in AD 672. A contemporary account by Eddius Stephanus tells us:

In Ripon, Saint Wilfrid built and completed from the foundations to the roof a church of dressed stone, supported by various columns and side-aisles to a great height and many windows, arched vaults and a winding cloister.
Ripon cathedral - west end

St Wilfrid was buried in this church near the high altar. Devastated by the English king Eadred in AD 948 as a warning to the Archbishop of York, only the crypt of Wilfrid's church survived but today this tiny 7th-century chapel rests complete beneath the later grandeur of Archbishop Roger de Pont l’Evêque’s 12th century minster. A second minster soon arose at Ripon, but it too perished – this time in 1069 at the hands of William the Conqueror. Thomas of Bayeux, first Norman Archbishop of York, then instigated the construction of a third church, traces of which were incorporated into the later chapter house of Roger's minster.

The Early English west front was added in 1220, its twin towers originally crowned with wooden spires and lead. 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 nave was widened and the central tower partially rebuilt. The church's thirty five misericords were carved between 1489 and 1494. It is worth noting that the same (Ripon) school of carvers also carved the misericords at Beverley Minster and Manchester Cathedral. In 1547 however, before this work was finished, King Edward VI dissolved Ripon's college of canons. All revenues were appropriated by the Crown and the tower never received its last Perpendicular arches. It was not until 1604 that King James I issued his Charter of Restoration.

Cathedral status

The rood screen

In 1836, the Diocese of Ripon was created and Ripon Minster became the cathedral of the diocese. Ripon was thus the first new cathedral to be established in the Church of England since the Tudor Reformation.


The Organ
The Quire

The musical tradition in the cathedral is very strong.[2]

The cathedral has a fine organ by Harrison and Harrison dating from 1926. The organ is on the screen and has casework by Gilbert Scott. A specification of the organ can be found on the National Pipe Organ Register. The organ was refurbished in 2013. These works included a thorough cleaning and repair of all pipe work; selective re-leathering of reservoirs and drawstop motors; reconstruction/rationalisation of the wind distribution system; refurbishment and updating of the screen console and cleaning of the case. The only minor tonal changes during these works were the replacement of Great Larigot 1 1/3 (1972) by a Flûte harmonique 8 (in Lewis style) and the recasting of Choir Cimbel III at a lower pitch.

A ring of 12 bells with an additional 'flat sixth' bell is hung in the south-west tower. A diatonic ring of ten bells was cast in 1932, and three additional bells were installed in 2008 with two new trebles being added to give a diatonic ring of twelve, and an additional 'flat sixth' bell to give a light ring of eight.[3]


Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Ripon Cathedral)


Cathedrals of the Church of England

Province of York: BlackburnBradfordCarlisleChesterDurhamLiverpoolManchesterNewcastle upon TynePeelRiponSheffieldSouthwellWakefieldYork

Province of Canterbury: BirminghamBristolBury St EdmundsCanterburyChelmsfordChichesterCoventryDerbyElyExeterGibraltarGloucesterGuildfordHerefordLeicesterLichfieldLincolnNorwichOxfordPeterboroughPortsmouthRochesterSt AlbansSt Paul's (London) • SalisburySouthwarkTruroWellsWinchesterWorcester