Saturday, January 31, 2015


Ripon wasn't a planned stop, it was somewhere we found accommodation through Trip Advisor.  We were staying in the Ripon Spa Hotel.  Its glory days had obviously passed - it was a relic of a different time, when holidays meant sitting in the lounge of your hotel, or promenading, or taking the waters at the local Spa.  It rather reminded me of the Hydro Majestic Hotel, which people who are familiar with the Blue Mountains west of Sydney will know.  It was actually a bit of fun staying in such an anachronism.  The staff were very friendly and accommodating.

The Ripon Spa Hotel
The actual spa in Ripon, looking very tired

The first thing they suggested was that after dinner we walk into the Market Place to see the Ripon Hornblower. Daniel Defoe described this market place as 'The finest and most beautiful square that is to be seen of its kind in England'. Well, I think that is a bit of an exaggeration, but it was nice.  In the middle of this square is an obelisk (they call it the market cross) and every night since 886 (without a SINGLE night having been missed in those 1128 years) the horn is blown at each of the four corners of this market cross at exactly 9pm. At the end of the ceremony I was one of those given a lucky wooden penny. More information about this ritual can be found here.

The Ripon Hornblower

Jenny with the Ripon Hornblower

Ripon Town Hall and Market Place

The Market Cross
Alice in Wonderland carvings in the park

More of the carved tree stump

Next morning we decided to do some sightseeing before leaving Ripon.  I wanted to see the workhouse museum, but as it didn't open until 11am, we went to the Cathedral first.

The Cathedral is quite interesting.  It has a Saxon crypt dating from 672, and a misericord in the choir carved with a griffin chasing a rabbit down a hole, thought to have been inspired by Lewis Carroll, whose father was a canon here.

Ripon Cathedral

The Saxon Crypt

Misericord with griffin chasing a rabbit

The screen, with figures of significance in the cathedal's
Then it was time to visit the Workhouse museum. It is housed in the old Ripon workhouse, which dates from 1855 (though the date on the building was 1854, which is when construction started). It was certainly interesting, but when I came out the woman in the shop said 'wasn't it sad'. I can't say I found it sad, as I have known about the workhouses for such a long time that it was no surprise, and any sadness I might have once felt has now just become acceptance of it as part of our history. But is was very interesting to see the sizes of the beds, and to see the rations (well, plastic models of them) laid out, which is easier for me to absorb than just reading that inmates got so much porridge, and so much bread, etc etc.

Ripon Workhouse

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