Ripon is a cathedral city, market town and successor parish in the Borough of Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England. Historically part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, it is located at the confluence of two tributaries of the River Ure in the form of the Laver and Skell. The city is noted for its main feature the Ripon Cathedral which is architecturally significant, as well as the Ripon Racecourse and other features such as its market. The city itself is just over 1,300 years old.
The city was originally known as Inhrypum and was founded by Saint Wilfrid during the time of Angle kingdom Northumbria, a period during which it enjoyed prominence in terms of religious importance in Great Britain. It was for a period under Viking control, although the city later suffered under the Normans. After a brief period of building projects under the Plantagenets, the city emerged with a prominent wool and cloth industry. Ripon became well known for its production of spurs during the 16th and 17th century, but would later remain largely unaffected by the Industrial Revolution.
Ripon is the third smallest city in England. According to the 2011 United Kingdom Census it had a population of 16,702, an increase on the 2001 United Kingdom Census figure of 15,922. It is located 11 miles (18 km) south-west of Thirsk, 16 miles (26 km) south of Northallerton and 12 miles (19 km) north of Harrogate. As well as its racecourse and cathedral, Ripon is a tourist destination because of its close proximity to the UNESCO World Heritage Site which consists of the Studley Royal Park and Fountains Abbey.
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During its pre-history the area which later became Ripon was under the control of the Brigantes, a Brythonic tribe. Three miles (5 km) north at Hutton Moor there is a large circular earthwork created by them. The Romans did not settle Ripon, but they had a military outpost around five miles (8 km) away at North Stainley. Solid evidence for the origins of Ripon can be traced back to the 7th century, the time of the Anglian kingdom of Northumbria. The first structure built in the area, known at the time as Inhrypum, was a Christian church dedicated to St. Peter, with the settlement originating in the year 658. This was founded by a Northumbrian nobleman known as Wilfrid, who later became the Bishop of York; he was granted the land by King Alhfrith.
The earliest settlers were stonemasons, glaziers and plasterers that Wilfrid brought over to help construct the Ripon monastery, from Lyon in Francia and Rome which was then under Byzantine rule. The years following the death of Wilfrid are obscure in Ripons history. After the invasion of the Great Heathen Army of Norse Vikings in Northumbria, Danelaw was established and the Kingdom of Jorvik was founded in the Yorkshire area. In 937 Athelstan, then King of England, granted the privilege of sanctuary to Ripon, for a mile around the church. One of his successors was less well-disposed: after the Northumbrians rebelled against English rule in 948, King Edred had the buildings at Ripon burned. Prosperity was restored by the end of the 10th century, as the body of saint Cuthbert was moved to Ripon for a while, due to the threat of Danish raids.
As a market town, the market day is central to culture in Ripon; market day is held on a Thursday, there are around 120 stalls in total. In celebration of the cities founder the Wilfrid Procession is held every year; it originated in the year 1108 when king Henry I granted the privilege of holding a fair for him. At the procession there are various decorated floats which make their way through the city with locals in costume. Part of the tradition represents the return of Wilfrid to Ripon, a decorated dummy (sometimes a man in costume instead) dressed as Wilfrid is sat on a horse, accompanied by two musicians with another man carrying St Wilfrids hat around. Ripon also has dancing traditions such as the Long Sword dance and Morris dance. The market square is the site of the Ripon obelisk, erected in 1702 by John Aislabie and reputed to be the oldest in England. It stands 80 ft (24 m) in height and was designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor.
The tradition of the Ripon Hornblower has endured for centuries and continues on to this day. It originates with the wakeman of Ripon, whose job in the Middle Ages was similar of that to a mayor although he had more responsibilities in the keeping of law and order. Every day at 9:00pm the horn is blown at the four corners of the obelisk in Ripon Market. The horn has become the symbol of the city and represents Ripon on the Harrogate borough coat of arms. There are three museums in Ripon collectively known as the Yorkshire Law and Order Museums; it includes the Courthouse, the Prison and Police and the Workhouse Museums.
In terms of sport, the most noted field of participation is horse racing with the Ripon Racecourse. The sport has a long history in Ripon, with the first recorded meeting on Bondgate Green in 1664, while its current location has been used as a racetrack since 1900. Ripon staged Britains first race for female riders in 1723. The Great St. Wilfrid Stakes is perhaps the best known race at the course. The town is represented in football by Ripon City Magnets who currently play in the local West Yorkshire League while Ripon Rugby have represented the city in rugby union since 1886. Several local cricket clubs draw on the denizens of Ripon for their membership, these include Newby Hall Cricket Club, Ripon Cricket Club and Studley Royal Cricket Club. There is also a golf course in the north of Ripon, represented by the Ripon City Golf Club since 1908.
The main dining hall includes a wide range of options at each meal, including traditional American fare, foreign cuisines, and vegetarian/vegan options. A coffee shop on campus brews Starbucks coffee and makes specialty drinks to order. The Ripon Pub serves snacks, sandwiches, fast food, and along bottled beverages. The Terrace, located inside Bovay (one of the residence halls), is open evenings and serves subs, pizza, snacks, and drinks.