Bell's Cathedrals: The Cathedral Church of Ripon - A Short History of the Church and a Description of Its Fabric
by Cecil Walter Charles Hallett
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Transcriber's note

Obvious typographical errors have been corrected. A list of changes is found at the end of the book. Inconsistencies in spelling and hyphenation have been retained. A list of inconsistently spelled words is found at the end of the book.

Text enclosed by equal signs was in bold face in the original (bold text).


A Short History of the Church & a Description of Its Fabric


CECIL HALLETT, B.A. Magdalen Coll., Oxford

With 53 Illustrations

London George Bell & Sons 1901


The original authorities for the history (both constitutional and architectural) of the Church of Ripon have been most ably edited for the Surtees Society by the Rev. Canon J. T. Fowler, F.S.A., in his Memorials of Ripon and The Ripon Chapter Acts (Surtees Soc., vols. 74, 78, 81, 64). These authorities range from the Saxon period to the times following the Reformation, but in the Introductions to vol. 81, and in the Rev. J. Ward's Fasti Riponienses, included in vol. 78, the story is virtually continued to our own day; while the aforesaid Introductions epitomise, in its constitutional and architectural aspects, the whole history of the church.

To these volumes and to their Editor, who most kindly consented to revise the proofs of this book, the present writer is very deeply indebted. He has also had recourse to an article by Sir G. Gilbert Scott, R.A., in vol. xxxi. of the Archaeological Journal; to the same Author's Recollections; to several articles on the Saxon Crypt, duly specified on pp. 76, 77; to the Guides, by J. R. Walbran, F.S.A., published by Mr. Harrison of Ripon; to Mr. Murray's Cathedrals; to the volume by the Ven. Archdeacon Danks in Messrs. Isbister's Cathedral Series; to A Day in the City of Ripon, by Mr. George Parker of Ripon; to the old Guides by Farrer and Gent respectively; and to other works of a more general character.

His sincere thanks are also due to the Right Rev. the Bishop of Ripon for permission to consult the library at the Palace; to the Very Rev. the Dean for privileges granted in connection with the library in the Cathedral and with the Cathedral itself; to the Ven. the Archdeacon of Ripon and the Ven. the Archdeacon of Richmond for their courteous assistance on several occasions; to Mr. J. T. Micklethwaite, V.P.S.A., Mr. W. H. St. John Hope, Mrs. Swire, the Rev. H. A. Wilson, Fellow of Magdalen College, the Rev. G. W. Garrod, and Mr. John Whitham for valuable information on various points, historical and architectural; to Mr. Ronald P. Jones for his excellent photographs, to the Archaeological Institute and other learned Societies for various other illustrations, and to the Rev. E. H. Swann, the Rev. J. Beanland, Capt. E. J. Warre Slade, R.N., Mr. F. Forbes Glennie, Mr. T. Wall, Mr. Watson, and others for similar assistance.

He desires also to express his thanks to Mr. E. W. Winser, Dean's Verger, for much valuable local information; to Mr. Henry Williams, Canons' Verger, for expert advice on points of masonry; and to both, as well as to the Sexton, for that general assistance which they so willingly rendered him throughout his investigation of the Fabric.






APPENDIX— Abbots of the Monastery of Ripon 142 Canons of Stanwick 142 Deans of King James I. Foundation 143 Deans of the Cathedral Foundation 143 Bishops of Ripon 143



PAGE Ripon Cathedral from the Footbridge over the Skel Frontispiece Arms of the See Title Page The Nave, South Side 2 View from the South-West 3 Early Apsidal Chapel with Later Chapel superimposed 13 The West Front before Restoration 17 Mediaeval Seals (3) 20 Ripon Minster Anterior to 1660 (from an old Engraving) 32 The Cathedral from the South-East 38 The West Doorways 39 View from the North-West 42 Doorway, North Transept 47 Doorway, South Transept 52 Reconstructed Angle of the Great Tower 57 Flying Buttresses, South Side of Choir 59 The East End 61 The North-Western Portion of the Nave 64 Conjectural View of the Interior of Archbishop Roger's Nave (by Sir G. G. Scott) 65 Conjectural Plan of Archbishop Roger's Church (by Sir G. G. Scott) 67 The Nave, looking Westward 70 Plan of Saxon Crypt 72 The Saxon Crypt 73 Conjectural Plan of St. Wilfrid's Crypt and Presbytery (by Mr. J. T. Micklethwaite) 77 The Two Fonts 79 Bas-Relief in the South Aisle of the Nave 80 The Western Arch of the Central Tower 83 The North Transept 87 Vault of North Transept Aisle 91 The Rood Screen 95 The Great East Window 97 Bay of Archbishop Roger's Choir (by Sir G. G. Scott) 98 Decorated Capital in the Choir 99 The North Side of the Choir 100 Bosses from the Choir-Vault (2) 103 The Sedilia 105 Choir Stalls 107 Misereres 108 Desk-End of Mayor's Stall 109 Finial in front of the Bishop's Throne 110 The West End of the Choir 112 The North Choir Aisle 113 Transitional Vaulting Corbel 114 The Norman Crypt 118 The Chapter-House 122 Ancient Sculptures in the Chapter-House 124 The Library 130 The Old Chapel, St. Mary Magdalene's Hospital 132 Chapel of St. Anne's Hospital 135 Seal of St. Mary Magdalene's Hospital 138





There is evidence that the neighbourhood of Ripon was inhabited during, and perhaps before, the Roman occupation of Britain. Whether the place was a settlement of the Romans is uncertain; but it was assuredly in touch with their civilization, for several of their roads passed near it—notably Watling Street, on which, six miles to the east, was Isurium, the modern Aldborough; while imperial coins and other Roman objects have been dug up in Ripon itself. It is not known whether the Romans imparted to the local tribes of the Brigantes their own Christianity; but two centuries after the withdrawal of the legions the greater part of what is now Yorkshire was absorbed by the invading Angles into their kingdom of Deira, which had itself been united with the more northern kingdom of Bernicia to form the single realm of Northumbria. Deira, however, seems to have retained its own individuality. About the year 627 King Eadwine of Northumbria was converted to Christianity by Paulinus, and the majority of his Deiran subjects followed his example.

The Scottish Monastery.—It is in the middle of the seventh century that the recorded history of Ripon begins. Deira was then ruled by Prince Alchfrith of Northumbria under his father, King Oswiu, nephew of Eadwine, and Bede, writing not eighty years after the event, relates that the prince chose Ripon for the site of a monastery. The date may be fixed in or just before the year 657. This monastery was one of those numerous religious colonies which were the result not only of the new Christian fervour, but also of a reaction from war toward social life and industry. It did not represent the Roman Christianity of Augustine which Paulinus had introduced into Deira from Canterbury, but the Christianity which had come from Ireland through St. Columba's missionary college at Iona, and which was now predominant throughout the north. The monks of Ripon were brought from Melrose Abbey on the Tweed. Like most monks of that early period, they probably followed no definite Rule. Their abbot was Eata, a pupil of St. Aidan, and previously Abbot of Melrose and Lindisfarne, while the guest-master was no less a person than Cuthbert, the legend of whose having entertained an angel unawares at Ripon added, no doubt, to the growing reputation of the house.

Its tranquillity, however, was not to last. The Roman party in the Northumbrian Church, though inconsiderable, was gaining force, and Alchfrith, deserting his former convictions, gave the new monastery, with an endowment of thirty or forty hides of land, as Bede relates, to one who had visited Rome, and who regarded the Irish (or, as it was called by that time, the Scottish) Church as schismatical.

The life of St. Wilfrid of Ripon—so full of adventure, misfortune, and lasting achievement—can only be related here in so far as it bears upon the story of this, his favourite monastery. It was in 661 that the transference from Eata to Wilfrid took place, and at once the Scottish monks, refusing to conform to Roman usages, left Ripon in a body. It is probable that Wilfrid imposed upon their successors the Benedictine Rule, which he had studied at Rome. The new Abbot was not yet in priest's orders, but was presently ordained at Ripon by Agilbert, the Frankish Bishop of Wessex. In 664 he took the action for which he is especially remembered in English history. Appearing at the Synod of Whitby, he prevailed upon King Oswiu to throw in his lot with the Roman party, and was thus the means indirectly of preventing the isolation of the England of that time from the Church and civilization of the Continent. Almost immediately afterwards Abbot Wilfrid became Bishop of Northumbria, and this tenure of the two offices by the same person was perhaps the origin of the subsequent connection of Ripon with the Archbishops of York.[1] Wilfrid insisted on going to be consecrated by Agilbert, who was now Bishop of Paris, and so long did he remain abroad that on his return in 666 he found another bishop, Chad (afterwards St. Chad of Lichfield), in possession of the see. He therefore retired to Ripon for three years, during which, however, he visited Mercia and also Kent, where he met Aedde, or Eddius, who became his chaplain and biographer.

The Saxon Monastery.—In 669 Wilfrid was restored to his see by Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury, and soon afterwards began to build at Ripon. The Scottish monastery, which was probably of wood, is thought to have occupied a site between Priest Lane, Stonebridgegate,[2] and a nameless road which connects them. Wilfrid now abandoned it, and erected upon a new site a more imposing monastery of stone.[3] The practice of building in stone seems to have become uncommon in Britain after the departure of the Romans, and Wilfrid is thought to have employed foreign workmen, perhaps Italians.[4] His church is described by Eddius, himself now a Ripon monk, as "of smoothed stone from base to summit, and supported on various columns and (?) arcades (porticibus)," and was doubtless of that Italian type which had become identified in Britain with the Roman party in the Church, as opposed to the Scottish mission. The Scottish type of church consisted of a small aisle-less nave and square chancel: the Italian type generally had aisles, and the altar was usually raised upon a platform, beneath which was a crypt called confessio. A little later than 670 A.D. Wilfrid's new minster was solemnly dedicated by him in honour of St. Peter, in the presence of a great concourse of clergy and nobles, headed by the King of Northumbria, Ecgfrith, the successor of Oswiu. The endowments seem to have included at this time certain lands round Ripon which had belonged to the British Church before the coming of the Angles, and to have been now increased by grants—some as far distant as Lancashire—made by the great men present at the ceremony. Wilfrid himself gave a splendid copy of the Gospels, written in gold upon purple vellum, the beginning perhaps of a library.[5] The feasting was kept up for three days—indeed, no monastery could have had for its church a more striking dedication. And for the next seven years Ripon must have shared the importance of the Abbot-Bishop, whose state rivalled that of the king. By persuading the queen to become a nun, however, he presently lost the royal favour; while the great size of the diocese, which extended at last from the Forth to the Wash, prevented the achievement of complete success in his episcopal work.

As yet the see of Canterbury was the sole archbishopric, and in 678 Archbishop Theodore—already known as an organizer of the episcopate—was invited to the court of Northumbria. With Ecgfrith's approval, but without consulting Wilfrid, he divided the diocese into the three sees of Hexham, York, and Lindsey, answering respectively to the tribal divisions Bernicia, Deira, and the land of the Lindiswaras (Lincolnshire). Wise though this action was, it was naturally resented by Wilfrid, who appealed to the Pope—the first appeal of the kind ever made by an Englishman—and set out himself for Rome. He was destined not to return till 680, and even then to be kept out of his bishopric till 686. Ripon was now in the new diocese of York, but in 681 Theodore constituted yet another diocese, of which he made Ripon the cathedral town.

Of Eadhead, First Bishop of Ripon (681-686), little is known. Originally a priest at the court of Oswiu, he had accompanied the intruded bishop, Chad, when the latter sought consecration at Canterbury during Wilfrid's absence for consecration in Gaul. Eadhead had afterwards been appointed by Theodore to the see of Lindsey, and was translated thence to Ripon when Lindsey was recovered by the Mercians.

His tenure of his new office lasted for five years only, for in 686 Aldfrith, the successor of Ecgfrith, restored Wilfrid—not indeed to his original bishopric of Northumbria, but to a see which combined the lately-formed dioceses of Ripon and York[6]. Eadhead accordingly retired, and there were no more Bishops of Ripon for twelve centuries.

To Wilfrid was restored not only his bishopric, but also his monastery of Ripon, which he retained in peace for the next five years. At the end of that time a long dispute arose with Aldfrith, who was veering back to the diocesan partition of Theodore, and Wilfrid, deprived of his see for the third time, crossed over into Mercia. In 703 a synod was held at Austerfield, the King and Berhtwald, Archbishop of Canterbury, being present, when Wilfrid was actually asked to promise that he would cease to act as bishop, that he would accept the partition of Theodore, and that he would retire to Ripon and not leave the monastery without the king's permission.

Though he was now a man of seventy, he set out once more for Rome, and this time as before the Pope decided in his favour. Returning to Ripon in 705, he attempted to conciliate Aldfrith's successor Eadwulf, but in vain. In the same year, however, Eadwulf was succeeded by Osred, and presently another synod was held, this time at Nidd, seven miles south of Ripon, when it was decided, in the presence of Osred and the now relenting Berhtwald, that Wilfrid should have the monastery and see of Hexham (resigning York) and the monastery of Ripon, thus restored to him for the second time.

In 709 he received a call to Mercia, which had already twice received him in his adversity, and in which he had accepted the bishopric of Leicester. Immediately before his departure he was at Ripon, where he kept his treasure, and having a presentiment that he would never return, he bequeathed a portion of his wealth to the monastery, appointed Tatberht to succeed him as Abbot, and took an affecting farewell of the whole community. Arriving at his monastery of Oundle, in Northamptonshire, he was seized with illness, and died there on October 12 in the seventy-sixth year of his age. The body was placed on a car and carried in solemn procession to Ripon, where it was buried on the south side of the high altar in his own minster.

In 710 the anniversary of his death was kept at Ripon with great solemnity, and out of such commemorations, probably, arose the feast of his Depositio,[7] which was afterwards kept on every 12th of October. According to Eddius a remarkable phenomenon occurred on this occasion. In the evening the monastery was suddenly encircled with brilliant light, as of day, and whether this was a display of Northern Lights or not, it was regarded as a Divine testimony to the sanctity of Wilfrid. The story shows, at any rate, that he was already beginning to be regarded as a saint, and it was probably about this time that his name was coupled with St. Peter's in the dedication of the Church. Miracles were worked at his tomb, and it became an object of pilgrimage; but little is known of the period immediately succeeding his death, save that the dwellers around Ripon (as a twelfth century writer, Eadmer, represents) first encouraged the cult of the saint, then became disgusted at the crowds it drew, and finally endeavoured to check it altogether. Wilfrid was succeeded in the abbacy by Tatberht, and history has recorded the names of three more abbots who followed each other toward the end of the eighth century, Botwine, Alberht, Sigred; and of one of uncertain date, Uilden or Wildeng.[8] In 791 a noble named Eardwulf, who had plotted against Ethelred, then King of Northumbria, was put to death (as it was thought) at the monastery gate by the king's orders. The monks carried him 'with Gregorian chantings' to the precincts of the church, where they laid him out, but after midnight he was found within the building—a recovery which was regarded as miraculous.

Ripon did not escape the violence of the Danes. It is thought that about the year 860 they burned the town and did some damage to the church, and the remarkable mound known as Ailcy Hill,[9] near the Canons' Residence, and due east of the Cathedral, is probably a relic of some battle of this period. In the street-names too, all ending in 'gate' (which in the sense of 'way' is a Danish word), another trace may perhaps be found of their presence, as well as of the existence of a town at this early period. The town probably grew up around the monastery. It has been believed that a civic charter was granted by King Alfred in 886; but this is impossible, even if such charters were ever granted at this time, for Alfred had resigned all this part of England (which since about 839 had owned the overlordship of Wessex) to the Danes in 878.

One of the great events in Ripon history is the visit of Alfred's grandson King Athelstan. Yorkshire had lately been a separate Danish kingdom, but it passed under the direct rule of Wessex in 926, and it was either in that year that Athelstan came, or in 937, when he defeated the Scots and other northern rebels at Brunanburh. It was to this king that the church afterwards referred the grant of its most important privileges. Among these was that of sanctuary, by which homicides, thieves, debtors, etc., could flee to Ripon and live there under the protection of St. Wilfrid for a specified time. The area within which they were protected extended one mile from the church in every direction, and the limit was marked by eight crosses, the base of one of which is still to be seen on the Sharow Road. The penalties for molesting refugees were afterwards graduated as follows:—between the limit and the graveyard wall, L18; within the graveyard, L36; within the choir (where the pursued sought the last possible refuge at the 'grythstool,' or chair of sanctuary), confiscation of goods and possible death. Those who took sanctuary were called 'gyrthmen' or 'grythmen' (from the Anglo-Saxon 'gryth' 'peace'), and undertook, among other things, to carry the banners before the relics of St. Wilfrid in certain processions. They were under the spiritual charge of a 'gryth-priest.' The protection of the outer sanctuary can hardly have been extended to Ripon men, as theoretically the whole town could then have committed crimes with impunity, and practically the criminals would not have been safe from their fellow-townsmen. Ripon debtors did indeed enjoy protection here at Rogation-tide, but as a rule men of Ripon would seek sanctuary at Durham or Beverley. Athelstan is also said to have granted to the church a jurisdiction over its lands independent alike of the northern archbishop and of the king, with the right to inflict the ordeals of fire and water, and with exemption from taking oaths, from taxation, and from military service.[10] Of the two charters in which these grants are set forth, one is, indeed of the eleventh or twelfth, and the other of the thirteenth century, but Athelstan may at any rate have done something to give rise to the tradition, though it is impossible to tell exactly what. The story of his having given the manor to the see of York is doubtless misleading. The territorial sway of the Archbishop at Ripon must be of earlier origin, and it may even have arisen out of the grant of the monastery with its thirty or forty hides of land to Wilfrid and his retention of them after his elevation to the see of Northumbria.

The connection of the monastery with the Archbishop is illustrated in the reign of Athelstan's brother Eadred, when Archbishop Wulfstan, by aiding a rebellion for the purpose of again setting up a Danish king at York, drew down the royal anger upon Ripon. In 948 (or 950, according to one authority) Eadred harried Northumbria, and then, says the Worcester Chronicle, "was that famed minster burned at Ripon, which St. Wilfrid built." Wulfstan himself was deprived and imprisoned.

About two years later the half-ruined and deserted church was visited (the see of York being vacant) by Oda, Archbishop of Canterbury. There was a tradition in the sixteenth century that he rebuilt it, but his visit is also memorable for another tradition, namely, that he translated the bones of St. Wilfrid to Canterbury. Hence arose a fierce dispute between Canterbury and Ripon, each claiming that it possessed the body of the Saint. The claim of Canterbury, which is accepted to this day by the Church of Rome, is supported by the assertion of Oda himself, and by several subsequent chroniclers, one of whom, however, attributes the translation to St. Dunstan, while another goes so far as to concede that Oda left a portion of the bones behind. But Ripon always maintained that it possessed the whole, and that the relics removed had been those of Wilfrid II. (Archbishop of York, 718-732). According to the contemporary biographer of Oswald (Archbishop of York, 972-992) the bones of the Saint were at Ripon in the tenth century, and Oswald solemnly enshrined them—whence that feast of St. Wilfrid's translation which was afterwards kept on the 24th of April; and a later chronicler speaks of "the body of the blessed Wilfrid" as being at Ripon in the reign of Stephen. The claim of Canterbury was forgotten for a time in the glories of St. Thomas a Becket, while that of Ripon became more or less established in the north. In 1224 Archbishop de Gray, who translated the alleged relics at Ripon to a more splendid shrine, declared that he had found the skeleton complete. In the fifteenth century Henry V. himself writes to Ripon of his reverence for "St. Wilfrid, buried in the said church." In the sixteenth, Leland, while recording a common opinion that Oda rebuilt the minster, makes no mention of any removal of the relics. The controversy will perhaps never be decided definitely, but it is interesting in view of the cult of St. Wilfrid at Ripon in the middle ages.

The account of the enshrinement of the relics by Oswald has been thought to imply that it was he who rebuilt the monastery, and that he filled it again with monks. Whether it was rebuilt by Oda or Oswald, the body of St. Cuthbert rested here in 995 on its way from Chester-le-Street to Durham. From this point onwards, however, no more is heard of monks at Ripon, and it may be interesting to recall here the part which this monastery had played in the history of the Church. Its first abbot, Eata, had become Bishop of Hexham and of Lindisfarne. It had been for a time the home of St. Cuthbert. Under Wilfrid, Ceolfrith, one of its monks, had become Abbot of Wearmouth, and another, AEthelwald, had carried on Cuthbert's work in the Farne Islands. In accepting and treasuring the staff of St. Columba, the Ripon of Wilfrid had forgotten something of its hostility to the Scottish mission. Through Wilfrid, Ripon had been connected with the founding of other monasteries, Hexham, Selsey, Lichfield, Oundle. Through his labours, again, and those of St. Willibrord, another of its monks, it had become known as a great centre of missionary work. Wilfrid had strengthened Christianity in Mercia and Kent, and may claim to have introduced it into Sussex and the Isle of Wight. Abroad he had carried the Gospel to the Frisians, and his work among them was splendidly completed by Willibrord, who became Archbishop of Utrecht.[11]

The College of Secular Canons.—From 995 to the Conquest, the history of Ripon is almost a blank. During that time the monastery, by a reversal of the more usual process, became converted into a college of secular canons, but nothing is known of the manner in which the change was effected. The last Saxon Archbishop of York, Ealdred, who crowned both Harold and the Conqueror, is said to have founded prebends—perhaps giving lands out of his manor, and the Canons of Ripon duly appear in Domesday Book (1085-6). In 1070 the Conqueror, to whom the north had given much difficulty, ordered the Vale of York to be harried. Ripon suffered severely, and in Domesday Book the surrounding lands are recorded as "waste." The minster probably shared in the general wreck.

What happened to it in the succeeding period is not definitely known. It may have been entirely rebuilt, as most great Saxon churches were after the Conquest, or it may have been rebuilt partially, or merely enlarged. That something was done is proved by the existence south of the choir of some Norman work which has been attributed to the first Norman Archbishop, Thomas of Bayeux (1070-1100), or to Archbishop Thurstan (1114-1141).

The former died at Ripon. Indeed, the Archbishops had been in the habit of residing here since the end of the tenth century, and they duly appear in Domesday Book as lords of the manor, of which the canons' land is apparently treated as a part. It is worthy of note that Domesday Book records also the 'soc' jurisdiction and freedom from taxation which are mentioned in the 'Athelstan' charters. The exemption also from the king's officers which is set forth in the same charters, was proved in 1106, when an attempted invasion of the liberties of the Church by the Sheriff of York was successfully resisted by Archbishop Gerard before arbitrators appointed by Henry I. This king also exempted the lands of Ripon from castle-building, and granted to the Canons and the Archbishop a fair at the feast of St. Wilfrid's translation (April 24th). In the next century fairs were also claimed for the feast of his Depositio (October 12th), and for the feasts of St. Michael and of the Finding of the Holy Cross.

Archbishop Thomas II. (1109-1114) founded the Hospital of St. John the Baptist, and another Hospital, that of St. Mary Magdalen, of which the chapel remains, was founded by his successor, Archbishop Thurstan (1114-1141). Both these Hospitals were affiliated to the Church, and the masterships were in the gift of the Archbishop. St. John's afforded shelter to poor travellers who came in through the forest which then adjoined the town. When the forest was cleared, the endowment provided exhibitions for a few poor boys, who lived here while they pursued their studies in "grammar" (perhaps at the Grammar School), with a view to becoming clerks. The two hospitals, and a third which was founded later, were placed at three of the principal entrances to the town, with the express intention, perhaps, of assisting the pilgrims who resorted to the shrine of St. Wilfrid.

Thurstan added one more canon to the staff by founding the prebend of Sharow. He may also be called the founder of Fountains Abbey, which was built on land assigned by him out of his domain of Ripon.

In the troubles of the reign of Stephen, Ripon took no small share. When the Scots descended into Yorkshire, nominally to aid the Empress Maud, Thurstan sent against them all the levies which an archbishop, as a feudal baron, could muster, including doubtless the men of his manor of Ripon, and the victory which they won near Northallerton in 1138 is known as the Battle of the Standard, from the banners of the three mother-churches—Ripon, York, and Beverley—which waved over the English army. Ripon was soon to experience the anarchy which prevailed toward the end of the war. In 1140 Alan, Earl of Richmond, entrenched himself on a neighbouring hill and grievously oppressed the town and its inhabitants. Led by him, the large landholders in the neighbourhood broke open the storehouses and granaries of the archbishop, and in 1143 Earl Alan himself burst into the church with an armed band and attacked Archbishop William Fitzherbert (afterwards St. William of York), who was standing by St. Wilfrid's shrine. The Archbishop's offence may have been that he was the king's nephew. At any rate he was detested by the Cistercians, who were strongly represented here by Fountains Abbey, and Ripon seems to have sided with them, for in 1148, when Archbishop William was temporarily deprived of his office, it was to Ripon that his supplanter, Archbishop Murdac, retired when he durst not enter York. Stephen confirmed to the College all the privileges granted by his predecessors.

Building of the Present Church.—The reign of Henry II. is marked by another rebuilding of the church. William was succeeded in 1154 (the year of the king's accession) by Archbishop Roger de Pont l'Eveque (1154-1181). This prelate is known in politics for his opposition to Thomas a Becket, and in art for his prominent share in the development of our national architecture. There is perhaps no more important example of the transition from the Norman to the Early English style than his work at Ripon. With the exception of the crypt under the present crossing, and of some Norman work south of the present choir, he rebuilt the whole church, and history has recorded the wording of a deed in which he gives "L1000 of the old coinage for the building of the basilica ... which we have begun afresh."[12] Roger's church was a cruciform building, and its nave had no aisles. A great portion of his work remains—the two transepts, half of the central tower, and portions of the nave and choir. The plan (see below, p. 67) was typical of the early history of the place and of its subsequent conversion from a monastery into a college of secular canons; for the aisleless cruciform arrangement in churches was developed from a combination of the Scottish type with the Roman or basilican, and the absence of aisles was, or rather had been at a slightly earlier period, the recognized mark of a secular as opposed to a monastic church. In giving aisles to the choir Roger's plan was singular, for it was not usual for a choir to have aisles when the nave had none. Except by the addition of nave-aisles, the dimensions of his plan (as Walbran remarked) have not been materially exceeded; and Ripon is an example of the size to which churches of canons often attained, in spite of the fact that their plan was generally that of a mere parish church.

The next archbishop, Geoffrey Plantagenet, was often in disagreement with his brothers, Richard I. and John, but the manor of Ripon is said to have been the only portion of his temporalities of which the latter king did not deprive him.

After Geoffrey's death the see was vacant for nine years until 1216, the year of the accession of Henry III., when it was given to Archbishop Walter de Gray (1216-1255). In the same year 'spiritual fraternity' was formally concluded between Ripon and Fountains; and a somewhat similar arrangement was made a little later with Southwell, which since Henry I. had shared with Ripon and Beverley the dignity of a mother-church or pro-cathedral in the diocese of York. In 1224, at the request of the Canons, Archbishop de Gray translated the relics of St. Wilfrid (if such they were) to a new shrine, enshrining the head separately in such a way that it was exposed to view. He also granted an indulgence of thirty days to all who should make pilgrimage to the saint's new resting-place. This second translation never became a feast, but it doubtless stimulated the cult of St. Wilfrid afresh, and probably brought considerable profit to the Church.

A few years later, at any rate, an important alteration was made in the fabric, by the building of the present west front with its two flanking towers, and the tall wooden and lead-covered spires which once crowned the latter and the central tower were probably erected at this period.

In 1230, the Archbishop founded a seventh prebend—that of Stanwick; and in 1241 sanctioned the addition of the parish of Nidd to the common property of the College.

As yet, most of the prebends were distinguished by the names of the Canons who held them, or of Saints; and it was not till 1301 that they were named after the principal hamlet or township in each—Stanwick, Monkton, Givendale, Sharow, Nunwick, Studley, Thorp. They were all in the neighbourhood except Stanwick, which was in the North Riding, near Richmond. The Church was (as it still is) parochial as well as collegiate. Each prebend carried with it a cure of souls, yet all (except Stanwick) were included in the huge parish of Ripon, which extended to Pateley Bridge, and in 1300 had a radius of nine or ten miles. Thus the collegiate establishment differed from the usual type in which each prebend was a separate parish with a church of its own. Moreover, there was neither Dean nor Chancellor. The Canons may at first have lived in common, but as early as 1301, and probably earlier, they were dwelling in separate prebendal houses round the Church. There is no evidence that they ever resided on their prebends, except in the case of the Canon of Sharow, whose residence was at that place. The canonries, having been founded by Archbishops of York, were in the gift of the see, or of the Crown when the see was vacant. The Canon of Stanwick was ex officio Ruler of the Choir, whence his obligation to reside in Ripon in spite of the remoteness of his prebend, which was served by a vicar. Similarly the Canon of Monkton was always Treasurer, and had charge of the Chapter-house, the ornaments and plate, and the High Altar.

The revenues of the church may be divided as usual under three heads. There was a Common Fund, arising from certain rents, tithes, fees, and oblations; a survival perhaps of a time when the Canons lived in common. Secondly, there were the revenues drawn by the Canons from their respective prebends, and consisting partly of rents, but chiefly of tithes. The prebend of Stanwick was worth about twice as much as any other. Thirdly, there was the Fabric Fund, arising from certain rents, oblations,[13] and licences, from the profits of St. Wilfrid's burning-iron (with which cattle were branded to keep off murrain),[14] and, in later days, of the pok-stone (which was probably regarded as in some way a preventive against the 'pokkes' of sheep and cattle); but especially from the farm of indulgences. When much building was in progress the Canons' incomes were afterwards specially taxed, and once or twice Peter's-pence were actually withheld from the Pope and devoted to architectural purposes.

At the time of Archbishop de Gray, the old and somewhat vague jurisdictions in and about Ripon had become more distinct. The parish was a Peculiar,[15] and as such was exempt from the authority of the Archdeacon of Richmond, either by tradition from the days when the church was a monastery, or because of the presence here of the Archbishops. Over this Peculiar (the laity included) the Chapter exercised the spiritual jurisdiction of an archdeacon's court, assisted by the Rural Dean of Ripon, who sat as 'Dean of Christianity.' This 'Court Christian' dealt with testamentary and matrimonial cases, cases of defamation, immorality, neglect of religious duties, etc. Accused persons cleared themselves by compurgation, or underwent penalties (commutable, however), such as being beaten, walking barefoot in the processions, suspension ab ingressu ecclesiae, or excommunication.[16] Lesser offences were dealt with by an archbishop's officer called penitentiarius, who heard confessions and enjoined penances. The Archbishop was Ordinary of the Peculiar. He held visitations in the Chapter-house, and could order repairs of buildings, make statutes (in consultation with the Chapter) for the College, and sequestrate its revenues. He also exercised authority over offending Canons and over the inferior clergy of the staff, though the correction of these belonged primarily to the Chapter and especially to the Canon of Stanwick.

For purposes of secular jurisdiction Ripon, with the lands round it, was a Liberty, exempt, that is, from the authority of the Sheriff. The Liberty was almost co-extensive with the Peculiar. Within it were two secular jurisdictions, that of the Archbishop as lord of the manor, and that of the Chapter, which embraced the southern half of the town and many country districts, and which may have originated either with Ealdred's presumable gifts of land out of the manor to form prebends, or (as the charters pretend) from a grant of Athelstan, or perhaps from an original independence enjoyed by the church as a monastery. The Chapter claimed within their sphere the rights attributed to Athelstan's grant, and also assize of bread, ale, weights and measures; dues of fairs and markets; certain feudal dues; power over masterless goods, and to deal with cases of rent, wrongful detention of land, and theft; cognitio de falso judicio; execution of royal writs; 'sheriff-tourn'; coroners of their own; in fact the powers of a sheriff and of the justices-in-eyre, with a prison and the right of gaol-delivery, and even of inflicting capital punishment. In cases of homicide, however, a king's justice must sit as assessor. For civil suits there was a provision against 'wager of battle,' and the accused again cleared themselves by compurgation. Archbishop de Gray claimed similar privileges, but wished to exercise them over the whole Liberty, on the ground that the church and its appurtenances were part of his manor (as indeed they very possibly were, originally). Unlike Archbishop Gerard, who had supported the church's privilege against the sheriff, de Gray actually joined the sheriff in invading it. In 1228 the case came before the king's justices in the Chapter-house at Ripon, and the decision was for the Chapter. Thus the division of jurisdictions received from the State an undoubted sanction. Within his sphere the Archbishop appointed his own justices, but on arriving at the limits of that sphere, the king's justices sat with them there on the first day, and were afterwards admitted to sit with them in the town. The Archbishops claimed also that their commissioners should administer the oath of obedience at the mile-limit to those who sought sanctuary. The Archbishops are also said to have had a 'military court,' probably a feudal institution.

The memory of de Gray was perhaps held in scant respect at Ripon. He is accused by Matthew Paris of having refused to distribute his corn during a famine, and it was through the erection of Bishopthorpe Palace by him that Ripon ceased to be a favourite provincial residence of the Archbishops. Nevertheless they still frequently visited the town, both for sport and duty. They had a park "six miles in compass," and the fishing in the Ure. The existence, moreover, of a prison here for criminous clerks made the minster a convenient place for the public degradations which the Archbishop was obliged to hold from time to time. On these occasions the offending clerks were brought across to the church, where the Archbishop in full pontificals would hear their avowal of guilt in the nave, and then solemnly divest them of their robes and of their office at the west door.

In 1270 came the first echo from the outside world since the reign of Stephen. Prince Edward was setting out on a crusade, and Archbishop Giffard was compelled to exact from the Chapter a twentieth of their temporalities. The town had now attained to some importance, and sent two members to the Model Parliament of 1295.

As yet the minster of Archbishop Roger had suffered no change in its main fabric save the rebuilding of the west front, but an alteration was now to be made at the other extremity also, and the eastern portion of the choir was rebuilt with all the elaboration of the Decorated style. Of this work the greater part was probably effected under Archbishop John Romanus (1286-1296).

In 1293 the almost cathedral rank of the church was marked by the consecration within its walls of a bishop (of Galloway). It was, as has been said, the parish church of the huge parish of Ripon. Yet the town itself possessed at an early period a separate parish church of Allhallows, a memory of which survives in 'Allhallowgate.'[17] There was also an old chapel of the Virgin called the 'Lady-kirk,' in 'Stammergate,' and there were chapels at the two hospitals and the palace. But there were at first few if any places of worship in the surrounding country, and the most remote of the parishioners had been obliged to repair Ripon. This state of things led to the erection of district chapels by the larger landholders under the sanction of the Chapter, as early as the twelfth century, and of these chapels there were eventually at least sixteen.

The parishioners, however, still assembled at Ripon on certain feasts, notably Christmas, Good Friday, Easter, Ascension, Whitsuntide, and the feasts of St. Wilfrid's death (October 12th) and translation (April 24th), to which was added later a feast of his nativity, observed on the Sunday after Lammas Day, and in the parish of Ripon only.[18] On St. Wilfrid's feasts the privilege of sanctuary was extended beyond the mile-limit to all who visited the mother-church, and the penalty for molestation without the limit was L6. On Easter Day all the parishioners received the Communion in the minster,[19] and on that day, on Christmas Day, and on the feast of St. Wilfrid's nativity, the district chaplains attended in their copes. Very picturesque, too, must have been the miracle-plays at Easter, Christmas, and Epiphany; the great fairs; the solemn processions, especially at Rogation-tide, when the relics of the Saint were borne in state by representatives of the greater tenants of the church, and attended by the sanctuary-men carrying staves with banners. It is probable that once a year (perhaps at Whitsuntide) the church was visited by clergy and laity from the whole of that division of the diocese to which Ripon was the mother-church. Such annual visitations were the especial privilege of mother-churches, and were a great source of profit.

Underneath all this pageantry, however, there was much that was unsatisfactory in the internal affairs of the college. In the thirteenth century even more than afterwards, the great difficulty in the working of secular colleges was non-residence. The Canons were often pluralists, or foreigners appointed under pressure from the Pope or the king, who provided in this way for prominent civil servants. A canon would often leave his prebend in the spiritual charge of a vicar engaged by the year, or under the administration of a proctor, or would even farm it out—sometimes to a layman. Sometimes a canon was suspected of being a layman himself, or a married man. The proctors or lessees dismissed or appointed vicars at their pleasure. The prebendal houses fell into disrepair, and in some cases a plot had been assigned, but no house had been built. Some canons at this period resigned their stalls after an extremely short tenure, or changed from one stall to another.

Archbishop Thomas de Corbridge (1299-1303) addressed himself to the reform of these evils. He ordered the Canons to look to their prebendal houses. He tried to control their acceptance of benefices in plurality. He forbade them to farm their prebends to any but brother-canons except with his licence. It was he who gave the prebends their territorial names. Most important of all, he decreed in 1303 that the cure of souls in each prebend was to be entrusted to a vicar-perpetual. The collegiate system was indeed breaking down, and the Vicars henceforth were almost as important a body as the Canons, whom they relieved of all responsibility for the parochial work and the performance of the services. Except the Vicar of Stanwick, they all lived at Ripon, and in 1304 one Nicholas de Bondgate provided them with a common residence, which became known as the Bedern[20] (whence 'Bedern Bank'). The office of penitentiarius or of rural dean was often held by one of them. Besides the seven Canons and the six Vicars in Ripon, there were three deacons, three sub-deacons, six thuriblers, and six choristers, and the full officiating staff thus amounted to thirty-one, exclusive of the chantry priests, of whom, however, there were as yet but few.

The successor of Archbishop de Corbridge was an ex-Canon of Ripon, William Greenfield (Archbishop 1304-1315). He rebuilt the chapel of the Palace and founded a chantry in it. It was at Ripon that he put forth, with additions of his own, certain rules against clerical abuses which he had borrowed from the diocese of Chichester. He found indeed much to reform. Already the vicariate was becoming demoralized. Vicars and inferior clergy were addicted to shows and sports, to dances and stage-plays. A chaplain invented a gambling game called "ding-thrifts." What wonder that the laity, then, begged at the altars under pretence of being proctors of absent canons, or intruded into the choir during service—a privilege reserved for the great? And another privilege of rank had been invaded also, for the Archbishop had to direct that only great persons and benefactors were to be buried within the minster. In 1310 two women fought in the graveyard so savagely that it had to be reconsecrated. In his last year the Archbishop had to restrain the proctors of absent canons from acting independently in the administration of the prebends, and from exercising capitular authority.

These internal difficulties, however, were presently forgotten in a new danger from without. Already, in 1298, Archbishop de Newark had called upon the Chapter to assist in providing cavalry for Edward I.'s campaign against John Balliol, King of Scots. The King himself is said to have visited the town in 1300. In 1315 the Chapter had sent a representative to a council held by Archbishop Greenfield at Doncaster to consider the defence of the realm. Since Bannockburn the Scots had been raiding the northern counties, and in 1316 Edward II. ordered Ripon to provide maintenance for Aymer de Valence, Earl of Pembroke, who was to pass through on his way to check the raids. In March 1318 the town sent a contingent to the King's forces, and the money, together with a banner of St. Wilfrid, was provided by Archbishop William de Melton (1317-1340). In May of the same year the Scots descended upon Ripon itself. They might have spared the place, for in 1297 it had been the temporary home of the mother of Robert Bruce, now King of Scotland, but no consideration was shown. As there were no town walls, the inhabitants fled to the minster and fortified it. For three days their homes were given over to plunder, and the enemy demanded one thousand marks as the price of a promise not to burn the town altogether. Even the Archbishop urged the townsmen to pay this blackmail lest further damage should be done, but such a sum could not be raised in a moment, and during either this or a subsequent visit the Scots did much damage to the church. The prebends suffered to the extent of over 150 marks, and the hospitals were much crippled. Nor was any satisfaction to be had, save by solemnly excommunicating the enemy on Sundays and festivals. It was probably in consequence of the havoc wrought that in 1322 Parliament, which had been summoned to meet at Ripon, met at York instead.

Thrice again after 1318 were forces levied in the Liberty against the Scots—in 1327, in 1333, and in 1342, when Edward III. even offered pardon to the sanctuary-men if they would serve.

Meanwhile Archbishop de Melton had been promoting the repair of the minster, a task which included probably the renewal of the spires, the roof, the stained glass, and the woodwork. In 1331-2 he issued some important statutes for the College. Hitherto each Canon (except the Canon of Stanwick) had received an annual dividend out of the Common Fund. Of this fund, a large portion which had always gone to furnish these dividends (or a part of them) was now appropriated exclusively to canons willing to reside. Thus a premium was put upon residence, which was fixed at twelve weeks in the year (not necessarily continuous), and a distinction was admitted between resident and non-resident canons. Again, the Common Fund was now to be charged with the salaries of the Vicars, who had hitherto been precariously paid by the Canons their masters.

Archbishop John de Thoresby (1352-1373) added to the prebend of Studley the two districts of Dacre and Bewerley, and it was probably about this time that the Lady-chapel (now the Library) was built. In 1375 some part of the church was burnt, and in 1396-7 the central spire seems to have been rebuilt. The town had now recovered its prosperity, for in 1405 it became the residence of the Court, when King Henry IV. was driven from Westminster by a plague. The next reign is marked by an improvement in the status of the Vicars. They had been living dispersed over the town,—indeed, their common residence or Bedern is said to have been destroyed by the Scots.

In 1415, therefore, Archbishop Henry Bowet (1407-1423), having obtained from Henry V. a charter with a dispensation of the Statute of Mortmain, gave a site out of his manor for a new Bedern; and the vicars themselves, who at this period are commended by both the Archbishop and the King, were at the same time formed into a corporate body having a common seal, and were allowed to elect from their number a Provost. Under this Archbishop there were several instances of canons exchanging their stalls for other benefices. The discipline of the staff seems to have become exceedingly lax by 1439. The church music was neglected. The Mass of Our Lady was not said regularly in the Lady-chapel. The inferior clergy did not study for their examinations, and wore daggers in the Choir. They and the vicars frequented taverns, walked about the nave during service, and absented themselves without leave. The Canons did not attend church in their habits, and the clergy generally indulged in field sports.

Archbishop John Kemp (1426-1452) did what he could to reform these abuses, and effected some improvement (the nature of which is not clear) in the status of the Vicars, who had been badly treated by the Chapter in financial matters. Later in this century a chantry chaplain is found engaging in dishonest trade; priests fight; laymen assault one another in the minster during service. But mediaeval morality in general must not be condemned, of course, for a few recorded crimes.

About 1450 the south-east corner of the central tower gave way, and so unsafe was the church that service had to be held in the Lady-kirk. In consequence of this disaster the Canons were obliged to rebuild not only the south and east sides of the tower, but also the east side of the south transept, and eventually part of the south side of the Choir; and it is evident that they would have rebuilt the two remaining sides of the tower, had they not been prevented by the Dissolution. The present rood screen and canopied stalls were put in toward the close of the fifteenth century. In 1502 the Lady-kirk (in which a chantry had been founded in 1392) was handed over by the Chapter to Archbishop Savage, who in turn transferred it to Fountains Abbey. Abbot Huby, intending to make it a colony of Cistercians, rebuilt the east end of it, and enclosed part of its graveyard with a fine stone wall having a strongly-marked base. Of this wall a great part remains in St. Mary-gate. A large doorway in it has been built up. The Lady-kirk itself has vanished long ago.

At this time was begun the greatest architectural enterprise that had been undertaken at Ripon since the twelfth century, namely, the rebuilding of the nave of the minster. The Transitional nave, it was said, had become ruinous through age and storms, but the real motive for its destruction was probably an ambition to enlarge the building. The enlargement of aisleless churches was usually begun by the addition of a single aisle, and that on the north side (since the south was usually the side of the graveyard); but at Ripon the south aisle was built first, perhaps because it was always intended that there should be two aisles—an arrangement which there were no cloisters here to prevent. The work was begun in 1502 or 1503. Delayed by a plague in 1506, it was almost complete, as Leland's Itinerary shows,[21] when he visited the town about 1538, but the aisles had not yet been vaulted when the Dissolution came, and had wooden roofs until our own time. Irreparable as is the loss of Archbishop Roger's nave, its successor must surely be placed among the great naves of the Perpendicular period—and it is the latest of them. The work was furthered by Archbishop Savage (1501-1507) and by Cardinal Archbishop Bainbridge (1508-1514), and two canons must especially be mentioned in connection with it, Andrew Newman, appointed Master of the Fabric in 1502, and Marmaduke Bradley, who was paymaster, and who was connected with the repairs after the failure of the central tower, and gave up to the fabric a large portion of his fees for residence. The last work done before the Reformation was probably the rebuilding of the three westernmost bays on the south side of the choir, which had been weakened doubtless by the accident to the central tower.

By this time the church contained nine chantries, namely, those of St. Andrew (founded 1234); of the Holy Trinity supra summum altare (1345); of St. John the Evangelist and St. John the Baptist (1364); of St. James (1407-8); of Our Lady 'in the Church' (1408); of St. Thomas of Canterbury (1418); of the Holy Trinity subtus altare (1466); of Our Lady 'in the Lady-loft'; and of St. Wilfrid (? 1420). In some of these, other chantries had been merged. There were also four or five chantries in various chapels in the parish. The chantry-chaplains were not strictly on the staff, but helped on Sundays and festivals. As their chantries did not give them sufficient occupation, they sometimes held in addition such offices as that of Proctor of an absent canon, Curator of the Fabric, Sub-Precentor, Sub-Treasurer, or Chamberlain, the holder of this post being the chief financial officer of the community.

On the eve of the Reformation the discipline of the staff was again very unsatisfactory, chiefly through the influence of the Treasurer, Canon Christopher Dragley, who employed the vestry clerks on his private business, disposed of chantries prematurely, and encouraged the Vicars, who were now living dispersed, to be insubordinate. It was the custom for choir and clergy to adjourn after Prime to the Chapter-house, where the martyrology for the day was read and notices were given out. Here, too, once a week sat the Chapter Court. But Dragley was able to hinder all this by keeping the door locked. From 1533 to 1539 he was Treasurer, Canon Residentiary, and President of the Chapter, and the general laxity was largely due to this concentration of authority in the hands of one bad man through non-residence. The case of Dragley drew several decrees from Archbishop Edward Lee (1531-1544):—that no vicar should be appointed without the consent of a majority in Chapter; that the Chapter seal must be kept by three people; that one canon must no longer form a quorum (as hitherto) in the Chapter Court, and as a question had arisen whether the powers of the Chapter were not entirely vested in the canons-resident,[22] it was laid down that the latter were indeed competent to dispose of certain chantries and other offices, and to exercise the Chapter's spiritual jurisdiction, but that in most other matters the whole body must be consulted. As most of them were always absent, this means, perhaps, that they were represented in Chapter by their proctors. There is an instance in 1546 of the Vicars, chantry priests, and deacons being allowed to take part in a Chapter meeting.

An attack on relics was begun in 1538, and it was probably about this date that the shrine of St. Wilfrid was destroyed. In 1539 came the suppression of Fountains Abbey, the abbot who surrendered it being no other than Marmaduke Bradley. He had been Abbot since 1536, holding his canonry at Ripon at the same time, and after the suppression of the Abbey, he became once more a power at Ripon. As sole residentiary in 1544, 1545, and 1546, he appears to have used his influence well, and played a prominent part in the last architectural operations before the Dissolution. The old system of sanctuary, suited only to times when the State was weak, seems to have died out about this period. In 1545 came an Act for the dissolution of chantries and hospitals. As 'Supreme Head of the Church' Henry VIII. renewed the visitatorial authority of the Archbishops, and both he and Edward VI. confirmed the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Chapter. But the end was imminent. In 1547 the College was dissolved,[23] and its revenues were annexed to the Duchy of Lancaster. There had been attached to the church for centuries a Grammar School, for which the Chapter had claimed a monopoly of education within the Parish and Liberty, forbidding in 1468 the establishment of any other school without their special licence. This ancient seminary was apparently dissolved, and a new grammar school independent of the church was founded by Edward VI., whose benefaction was completed by Mary, the endowment being provided from the revenues of four of the late chantries. There had also been a Song-school, but it was perhaps merely a room in which boys of the Grammar School were trained to be choristers. Out of the confiscated revenues one or more clergy were paid to minister to the parish, but under Mary the old state of things was in some measure brought back. There was once more a Chamberlain, whose accounts show much the same items as do those of his mediaeval predecessors, and the old religion was restored; indeed, there were six altars in the church.

Under Elizabeth there was a return to the arrangement of Edward, the clergy (now as many as five in number) being denominated vicars. Archbishop Sandys (1577-1588), Lord Burleigh, Richard Hooker, Moses Fowler (afterwards the first Dean), and others tried to bring about the establishment of a theological college in the Bedern, and an increase of the endowments of the church, but in vain. The town must have lost all favour in 1569, by taking part in the Rising in the North. It was visited by the rebel earls of Northumberland and Westmorland, many of the townsmen and local gentry joining them, and for the last time the minster witnessed the celebration of the Mass. On the collapse of the rebellion, a number of those who had taken up arms were hanged at Ripon in sight of their homes, and the church suffered much damage from the Queen's soldiery, who stripped the lead from the roof. Like the Pilgrimage of Grace in 1536, this Rising was a protest against the Reformation, and the records of Archbishop Young (1561-1568), and of the Court of High Commission (1580), show that the people of Ripon still clung to the old religion. The pillage of Henry and Edward had no doubt destroyed most of the ornaments of the church, but some still remained or had been renewed under Mary, and the clergy displayed a marked reluctance in removing them; 'Images,' even when removed, were concealed in private houses. One vicar named Thomas Blackburne had continued the old practice of holding churchings in the Lady-chapel, and was ordered publicly to renounce this error, as well as that of having left "that olde, abhominable, and supersticious vawte called the Wilfride's nedle[24] and the alter therein" undefaced. One townsman is punished for having taken part in the Mass during the late Rising. The clergy generally were unclerical in dress and lax in their performance of the reformed services, which the parishioners showed a corresponding unwillingness to attend, while the old fasts and festivals were not wholly given up.

The Chapter revived.—On the accession of James I. a second futile attempt was made to obtain for Ripon a theological college.[25] The influence, however, of the queen, Anne of Denmark, gained from the king a greater boon, and in 1604 he re-established the Chapter. Under the new constitution there were six prebendaries, and for the first time a Dean. Much of the old endowments was restored, but the new stalls could not be identified with the old territorial prebends, and were therefore distinguished as 'the first stall,' 'the second stall,' and so on. After 1607 the Prebendaries were empowered to elect a Sub-Dean. The cure of souls was discharged by two vicars, and the choir was composed of six lay-clerks and six choristers. The parish remained a Peculiar. The spiritual jurisdiction of the Chapter and the Archbishop had been somewhat restricted by the Reformation, and the secular jurisdiction of the Liberty—especially in criminal cases—had been partly transferred to the king's itinerant justices. The Archbishop, however, still retained some criminal jurisdiction and also his 'Court Military,' which, strange to say, came to hear civil cases. During the latter half of the fifteenth century the secular cases heard by the Chapter had been chiefly cases of debt, and under the new constitution they were authorized to hold a court, which was called the Canon Fee Court, for cases of debt and other civil cases. Some obscurity exists as to the mediaeval relation of the Archbishop to the town. There was, of course, a town council, and its president the Wakeman[26] (an official peculiar to Ripon) had charge of what would now be called the town police. The ancient town bridges (of which only one remains) were under the charge of the Archbishop. During the sixteenth century the borough constitution had been the subject of disputes, in which Cardinal Wolsey had been concerned in 1517 and Archbishop Hutton in 1598. James I. therefore now granted a new Charter, under which the Wakeman became a Mayor; and henceforth the borough had also an independent court of its own. The dissolution of the Chapter in 1547, coming as it did upon the decay of the manufacture of woollen cloth, had been a great blow to the prosperity of the inhabitants,[27] and it was no wonder that when James visited the town in 1617 he received an ovation.

In 1625 a plague, such as had not occurred here since 1546, prevented the country folk from approaching the minster, and obliged them to have their children baptized in the fields. Several changes in the surroundings of the church took place at this time. The Bedern, with its quadrangle, hall, and chapel, had been demolished by 1625, in which year the Deanery was erected, perhaps upon its site. Of the old prebendal houses some had been sold, or let; others, perhaps, were occupied by the Prebendaries of the new foundation. In 1629 the ancient Palace, which stood to the north of the minster and west of the Deanery, was turned into a poor-house. The town (and doubtless the minster) was visited in 1633 by Charles I. on his way to his coronation at Edinburgh.[28] A few years later he was to pass through again, a captive on his way to Holmby House.

Ripon had escaped the Wars of the Roses, but it was not unscathed by the Great Rebellion, for in 1643 it was occupied by Sir Thomas Mauleverer, a Parliamentary officer, whose soldiery broke into the minster and shattered the magnificent glass in the great east window, and doubtless much other glass besides. At the end of the war the manorial rights were sold to Lord Fairfax, and the Chapter was again dissolved, "one who called himself Dr. Richardson" being "appointed to preach in the minster by the Parliament, tho' in all probability he was never in any Orders, Presbyterian or Episcopal."[29] The Chapter was revived at the Restoration, but all its members were new save one.

In the same year (1660) the central spire, which had been injured by lightning in 1593, fell through the roof, wrecking many of the beautiful canopies of the stalls. The damage to the choir and other parts of the church, estimated at L6000, was repaired with money raised under a brief from Charles II., but the spire was never rebuilt, and in 1664, to avoid any further catastrophe, the western spires, though sound, were deliberately removed.[30] The place of the spires was ill supplied by the erection of battlements and pinnacles, which were renewed in 1797.

It was perhaps at this period that the west gate of the precincts was pulled down—a mediaeval structure which contained at least seven rooms, and which stood at the bottom of Kirkgate. The graveyard in the middle ages contained a cross, at which a service was held on Palm Sunday; also, possibly, a mortuary chapel and a well associated with St. Wilfrid—(not, of course, the St. Wilfrid's well which now fills the public baths). Of these things there is now not a trace, save, perhaps, the stump of the cross, near the south wall of the nave. Nor are there any undoubted remains of the mediaeval wall which enclosed the precincts, except the fragment with an archway in it, which still forms the southern entrance. The mediaeval prisons, which belonged respectively to the Archbishop and the Chapter, have long vanished, as has also that which appertained to the Court of Canon Fee, but there is a Liberty prison of some age in 'Stammergate.' Most of the archiepiscopal palace had disappeared by 1830, but there was still a portion which was used as the court-house of the Liberty. In that year this was pulled down, and the present court-house was built upon the site. A memory of the Palace survives in 'Hall Yard,' and there still remains what is, perhaps, a remnant of the actual fabric, in the shape of an old cottage with an external staircase, which stands behind the wall to the west of the public garden that fronts the north side of the church. In the above-mentioned wall is an Early English doorway, with a dripstone adorned with the nailhead moulding. The door has a flat-arched wooden frame, the spandrels of which are carved with fleurs-de-lys, while the wooden tympanum above has Perpendicular panelling. This doorway is not, perhaps, a relic of the Palace. It is not in its original position, and indeed is said to have come originally from St. Mary Magdalene's Hospital. Several of the old houses adjoining the Cathedral on the south side, and along St. Agnes-gate, may possibly have been inhabited by the Prebendaries of the Second Collegiate foundation, but the stone-roofed house adjoining Bondgate Green Bridge is the only one in Ripon which can be identified with a mediaeval prebend—that of Thorp, and even here the existing fabric can scarcely be pre-Reformation. St. John's Hospital,[31] whose inmates for several centuries have been women, was unfortunately rebuilt in 1869, but the modern chapel (served by one of the cathedral clergy) retains a bell of 1663. The old Grammar School,[32] which stood at the foot of the steps from St. Agnes-gate to the Minster, has been pulled down since 1872.

Meanwhile the Minster itself had been undergoing restoration—in 1829 and the following years at the hands of Blore, when upwards of L3000 were spent, and from 1862 to 1870 at the hands of Sir G. Gilbert Scott, and at a cost of about L30,000.

From the eighth century up to 1836 Ripon had been in the diocese of York. In that year was created the modern diocese of Ripon, and the church thus attained to cathedral rank. It had, however, always had some pretension to that rank, not merely as a mother-church but because (up to 1836) the Archbishops had their throne in the choir; indeed, it is styled a cathedral in documents of 1537 and 1546. The diocese is composed of parts of Yorkshire taken from the sees of York and Chester, and included Wakefield, Leeds, Bradford, Halifax and Huddersfield, until in 1888 a portion including Halifax and Huddersfield was taken away to form part of a new diocese of Wakefield. There are three archdeaconries: those of Richmond, Ripon, and Craven. The first is a survival, in a diminished form, of the ancient archdeaconry of the same name; the others are modern; the last is the only one which is held without a canonry. In accordance with the Act of 1840, the Sub-Deanery has been suppressed, the Prebendaries have been reduced to four, and their style has been changed to that of Canons. In 1841, provision was made for the appointment of Canons honorary. There is also a precentor, and three other clergy who act as minor canons, and assist him in discharging the cure of souls—for though the huge mediaeval parish has been gradually divided into many, the greater portion of the city itself is still served from the cathedral church. The choir is composed of six lay-clerks and twelve choristers. There was as late as 1890 a Choir-school, but most of the present choristers come from Jepson's Hospital—a charity which was founded in 1672, in Water Skellgate, and the old buildings of which were pulled down in 1878.

There are still some relics of the ancient jurisdictions of the Chapter and the Archbishop. Though the secular jurisdiction has been gradually reduced by legislation to the scope of Quarter and Petty Sessions, the Liberty has Quarter Sessions of its own, and its justices are still nominated by the Archbishop, while his Court Military survived at any rate into the nineteenth century. A copyhold court, called the Canon Fee Court, is also still held by the Chapter. As regards ecclesiastical jurisdiction, the mediaeval right of the Chapter to hear testamentary and matrimonial cases (which were not taken away from the ecclesiastical courts till 1857) probably survived at least until the abolition of the Peculiar. Peculiars, with but one or two exceptions, had ceased to exist by 1850, and Ripon, once exempt from archidiaconal authority, is now itself an archdeaconry. The Bishop of Ripon has, of course, his Consistory court, which is held at the Cathedral.

In ending this account of one of the most venerable of English churches, it is worth while to remark that, of the four mother-churches of the old diocese of York, Ripon is the only one besides York Cathedral itself which still has a collegiate foundation.


[1] The archbishopric of York arose out of the bishopric of Northumbria in the eighth century.

[2] The name in this form is modern. In common speech the street is always 'Stammergate,' which is probably a corruption of 'Stanbriggate.' The latter is the original name of the street, and appears frequently in mediaeval records. It has reference to a stone bridge over a brook where the gas-works now are. The continuation of this street toward the Cathedral is called St. Mary-gate, but this name again seems to be modern, and to have arisen from a notion that 'St. Mary-gate' is the origin of the word 'Stammergate'—a notion which would be rendered more plausible by the fact that this was the situation of the Lady-kirk.

[3] The question whether his monastery church stood over the Saxon crypt which exists below the present Cathedral is reserved for Chap. III.

[4] For the place of Ripon in the theory of the direct connection of Saxon architecture with the Comacine Guild of Italy, see The Cathedral Builders, by Leader Scott, p. 139 sqq.

[5] An MS. which has been thought to be identical with Wilfrid's gift came into the market recently, and has passed to America.

[6] The Saint's return after his long exile is still commemorated at Ripon, early in August, on the first Saturday after Lammas Day, when a man dressed as a Saxon bishop and riding a grey horse is escorted through the streets.

[7] This liturgical term sometimes refers to the burial of a saint, sometimes, as here, to the death.

[8] There is also mention of an Abbot Tylberht, but he may be the same as Tatberht.

[9] I.e., 'Elves-how'—'the hill of fairies.' Coins of Aella and other early kings have been found in the hill.

[10] At a later period the Chapter claimed also that 'St. Wilfrid's men' need not pay tolls when travelling on business through the realm, and on one occasion they issued to a Ripon clerk a kind of passport.

[11] Frisia's debt was remembered in the seventeenth century, when one of the Canons of Antwerp wrote an account of Ripon monastery for his countrymen.

[12] Until Walbran drew attention to this passage, the rebuilding was attributed to Thurstan.

[13] Especially at St. Wilfrid's shrine.

[14] It has been suggested that this was the iron which in Saxon times had been used for the ordeal of fire.

[15] A Peculiar is a district taken out of its geographical surroundings for purposes of ecclesiastical jurisdiction (Sir W. Anson).

[16] In later times (at any rate) the Archbishop apparently had a spiritual court of his own. A Chapter minute of 1467 declares a certain person accused of a spiritual offence to be "non de foro Capituli sed de foro Archiepiscopi, unde litterae correctionis emanarunt."

[17] This church had disappeared, as Leland tells us, long before his visit to Ripon, which took place about 1538. The dates of its erection and demolition are both unknown. In the Chapter-house is preserved a key which has been assigned to the fifteenth century, and which has been thought to have belonged to Allhallows, but it is thought that the church disappeared at an early date.

[18] This Sunday is still called Wilfrid Sunday at Ripon. The Saturday preceding it is the day on which the town commemorates the Saint's return from his first appeal to Rome. The season is regarded as a holiday, and another relic of the nativity festival survives in the fair held on the Thursday after August 2nd.

[19] The Easter Communion has survived till our own day. Within living memory, and at a period when Early Celebrations were not usual, it was celebrated at 7 A.M., and people drove in from the outlying places.

[20] This word is probably connected with the Anglo-Saxon 'bed,' a prayer (whence 'bedesmen'), and means a 'house of prayer.' In one passage of the records it is rendered in Latin by proseucha.

[21] It was Walbran, again, who drew attention to Leland's phraseology here.

[22] The Canon of Stanwick was always in Ripon, but was not considered technically a canon-resident. Perhaps he was not entitled to the special fees for residence. He had, however, full capitular rights. These had been denied to him by Dragley, but were now restored by the Archbishop.

[23] If the Ripon hospitals were dissolved they were re-established, for they are still fulfilling their purpose.

[24] I.e., the Saxon crypt.

[25] The project is being realized in our own day.

[26] I.e., the watchman, or setter of the watch. The town motto is, "Except the Lord keep the city, the Wakeman waketh in vain." After 1598 a horn was blown every evening to denote the setting of the watch. If any house was robbed between horn-blowing and sunrise, compensation could be claimed from the town. To support this system a small tax was levied on each house-door, and if a house had two doors it paid more, as being more liable to be robbed. A relic of the system still survives. Every night a horn is blown thrice before the Mayor's door at 9 P.M. and thrice at the Market Cross afterwards. The ancient horn of the Wakeman (which appears on the city arms) is still worn by the Sergeant-at-mace in civic processions.

[27] Since then, however, another industry had arisen—the manufacture of spurs, for which Ripon became famous, and James was presented with a pair. This industry did not die out till the end of the last century, and a spur is still the crest of the city. The manufacture of saddle-trees, which flourished here in the sixteenth century, is still carried on.

[28] In 1640 he was at war with the Scots for their opposition to episcopacy, and it was at Ripon that the disgraceful negotiations were begun, by which a sum of L850 a day was to be paid to maintain their invading army, pending a more permanent settlement. The house in which the 'Treaty of Ripon' was negotiated stood near Ailcy Hill, and disappeared about the beginning of the century. Charles is said to have visited the town four times altogether.

[29] Walker's "Sufferings of the Clergy," quoted in Surtees Soc., Vol. 78. There is a tablet to Richardson's wife in the south Choir-aisle.

[30] The following is probably the true version of a story that is told in connection with their demolition. One of the workmen had been hoisted by means of a pulley, and was being held aloft by his comrades below, when he spied some coursing in progress on Bondgate Green. Seeing the hare well away and the dogs straining in the leash, he shouted "Let go!" And his comrades below did.

[31] For the other hospitals, the 'Thorp' house, and other old buildings still standing, see Chap. IV.

[32] Ripon Grammar School has produced an Archbishop of York, Matthew Hutton (one of the two of that name who held the office from 1595 to 1606 and from 1749 to 1757 respectively: the latter Hutton became Archbishop of Canterbury); also Beilby Porteous, Bishop of London (1776-1787), and Dr. William Stubbs, late Bishop of Oxford.



Built upon the verge of a slope, along whose base the Skell hurries eastwards under many bridges to join the Ure among the meadows a half-mile below the town, Ripon Cathedral stands unusually well.[33] Of general views the two best, perhaps, are to be had from the wooden bridge by Bondgate Green, and from the south-east gate of the graveyard. Unfortunately lack of funds prevented Sir Gilbert Scott from raising the roofs of nave and transept to their original pitch; but what most injures the general effect is the lowness of the central tower, which is no higher than those at the west end. This fault, however, must have been far less noticeable when all three towers were crowned with lofty spires. And, even as it stands, the exterior of Ripon is dignified and not unworthy of its commanding site. The size of the clearstorey windows, the severity of the transept, the obvious variety of style and date throughout the building—these are the features that strike the observer most forcibly.

Several kinds of material have been employed. Up to almost the end of the thirteenth century the builders used a coarse gritstone such as is found five miles to the south-west at Brimham Rocks, and also a finer gritstone or sandstone that may have come from Hackfall. After that date they built with magnesian limestone, brought partly, perhaps, from near York, but chiefly, it would seem, from Quarry Moor, a mile south of the city. At the last restoration the older parts were repaired with Hackfall stone, and the later parts with limestone from Quarry Moor and Monkton Moor, and so extensive were the repairs needed on the exterior, that the church somewhat belies, by its appearance, its real antiquity.

The most picturesque approach is from High St. Agnes-gate by a flight of steps, which ascend through an old arch to an avenue of limes that leads up to the south door; but it is better, perhaps, that the survey should begin at the west end.

The West Front was doubtless the object of two indulgences, issued respectively by Archbishop de Gray in 1233 and by Pope Alexander IV. in 1258, and was therefore erected just before or during the struggle between Henry III. and Simon de Montfort, in the best period of the Early English style.

The height of the gable is said to be 103 feet, and that of the towers 110 feet, and the front is divided by the string-courses into four stages. In the central compartment the lowest stage is approached by three steps, and is filled by three doorways, set in a thickening of the wall, and surmounted by gables finished with crosses. The central entrance, higher, more widely splayed, and more deeply recessed than the others, has five orders and five triple shafts in the jamb, while they have three orders and three shafts, the innermost of which is triple and the others single. As usual in this style, the shafts are detached and not worked on the stones of the jamb. The mouldings of the capitals are carried through the jamb from end to end, and on the front of the piers between the archways is a curious moulding which resembles an undercut roll set up on end, and which has a capital as if it were a shaft. In the arches the mouldings are chiefly rounds and hollows: many of the former are filleted, and some of the latter are filled with the dog-tooth (an ornament peculiar to this style), which is more profusely employed in the central arch than in the others. The terminations of the dripstones are foliated and stand out detached. The central gable is adorned with a square panel of foliage, and either of the others with a sunk foliated quatrefoil, and between the gables are spouts issuing from the heads of animals. It is worthy of remark that all three doors open into the nave; for as a rule when a church has three west doors, two of them open into the aisles.[34] The wooden doors in these and all the doorways of the church are of considerable age, and those in the central archway here bear the date 1673 in nails.

Above the doors is a tier of five lancet windows, and above these another tier, also of five, which diminish in height toward the sides, the last window at either end being, however, as high as the tier below. These tiers occupy the whole width of the compartment. Above them, again, is a group of three small lancets graduated to the gable and placed very high, with a string-course below them. These serve to light the space between the internal and external roofs. In all this work the detail is of the very best: the various arches are richly moulded and supported by clusters of engaged shafts, which in the two great tiers are banded at about half their height, and the dog-tooth ornament is everywhere employed profusely. The lower tier is the more elaborate—its mouldings more numerous, its shafts more richly clustered, its capitals covered with foliage; and between the second and third lancets from the right there is a small niche with a toothed edge and the remains of a figure. At either end of the two tiers an ornament not unlike the ball-flower of the Decorated style is carried up the jamb, and a bold corbel-table runs up the sides of the gable, under the apex of which there is a trefoil panel, while the whole is crowned by an elaborate cross.

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