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Pictures of Ripon Cathedral

a Historic Building in the town of Ripon, in the county of North Yorkshire

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About Ripon Cathedral

The present Cathedral at the heart of Ripon is built upon the spot of a monastery founded by Bishop Wilfrid of York in the year 669. Despite the fact that the Diocese of Ripon was only founded in 1836 the cathedral contains parts which place it amongst the oldest Christian buildings in the land, the crypt beneath the central tower of the present church is the only reminder from Bishop Wilfrid's monastery. The crypt is only 10 feet high and seven foot wide, but its incredible history as the only part of the monastery to remain following attack by the Danes, makes it the real treasure of this grand cathedral building.

In 1080, Thomas Bayeux, the first Norman to be appointed Archbishop built a new church on the same spot, this was the third church to be built and from this a group of monks led by Archbishop Thurston set out to found what became Fountains Abbey, thus much early Christian history surrounds Ripon.

The church we see today is the fourth church to be built on this site, it stretches back to the time of Archbishop Roger, but very little save for the north transepts, parts of the north side of the choir and chapter house remain from his time. Over the centuries there has been a great deal of alterations and additions to Ripon Cathedral, these began in the 3rd century when the magnificent Early English west front was added by Archbishop Walter de Grey. Not much else was done until the 13th century when Archbishop Romanus altered the eastern end of the choir.

In the ensuing centuries the church suffered due to the hand of war. It was pillaged by the Scots following the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, a hundred or so years later part of the central tower collapsed, and the Wars of the Roses left behind even more destruction. As is clear, the central tower was never completely rebuilt, but late in the 15th century elaborate choir stalls were added.

The fortunes of the church continued to fluctuate from the reign of Henry VIII, through the turbulence of the English Civil War and through to the 18th century by which time the building had become severely neglected. However, once the church had been elevated to cathedral status in the 19th century it underwent a rapid programme of redevelopment and restoration.

What we see today is a triumph of 800 years of turbulent history, and we are fortunate to witness amazing, centuries old craftsmanship restored from all periods, including the choir stalls with their wonderful misericords and a medieval stained glass window. 20th century work shows a magnificent screen by Leslie Durban, this was installed in 1970.

Treasures of the cathedral include a Royal charter issued by King James I in 1604 for the re-instatement of the church, this together with other rare manuscripts and books, can be seen in the Library.

Ripon is one of England's smaller cathedral's, it is approached from the town's busy main streets, but to the rear of the building lies peaceful green spaces, perfect for admiring the dramatic lines and beauty of the cathedrals magnificent exterior. Interestingly, the noted historian Pevsner considered the West Front of the building to be one of the finest in England. The crypt, its most ancient part, now serves as the cathedral treasury.

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