Saturday, 31 January 2015

Ripon Cathedral: an Ancient Crypt and a Mile of Sanctuary.


Ripon Cathedral: an Ancient Crypt and a Mile of Sanctuary.


Ripon's Cathedral has many interesting features, which include an ancient, and very atmospheric, Anglo-Saxon crypt, where you can walk in the footsteps of people involved in the early 7th century Church...

In 657 an Anglo-Saxon monastery was built at Ripon (which, at the time was known as Inhrypum) by Alfrith.

In 665 St Wilfrid, a controversial figure, was consecrated Bishop of Northumbria. After a trip to Rome, and witnessing the magnificent buildings there, he brought craftsmen from France and Italy to rebuild the timber church of the monastery at Ripon in stone, and adorn it in some of the finest craftsmanship of the age. It was dedicated to St Peter in 672. A contemporary account by Eddius Stephanus tells us:

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

Unfortunately its actual appearance is now left largely to our imaginations, as this early stone Church was destroyed by King Eadred during a campaign against Eric Bloodaxe (Erik Haraldsson) in 948.

All that remains is the crypt:


Entrance to crypt, Ripon Cathedral
Entrance to crypt, Ripon Cathedral
7th c. Crypt Ripon Cathedral, North Yorkshire
7th c. Crypt, Ripon Cathedral

This ancient survivor of Wilfred's Church, which is now under the current main Cathedral building, is arguably the oldest church building surviving in England to have remained in continuous use. You can still visit this fascinating part of the Cathedral.

Around 1180, Archbishop Roger de Pont l'Eveque's began a Norman Church on the site, being modified and completed by Archbishop Walter de Grey in 1260.

The Church became a Cathedral in 1836.


Ripon Cathedral, North Yorkshire
Ripon Cathedral, North Yorkshire


Ripon Cathedral, North Yorkshire
Ripon Cathedral, North Yorkshire
Ripon Cathedral, North Yorkshire
Ripon Cathedral, North Yorkshire

Ripon Cathedral, North Yorkshire
Ripon Cathedral, North Yorkshire


The Cathedral is very beautiful, and well worth a visit, not least for the experience of entering the atmospheric and ancient crypt.


Ripon Sanctuary


Modern Sanctuary Way Marker, Ripon, North Yorkshire
Modern Sanctuary Way Marker, Ripon, North Yorkshire

Modern Sanctuary Way Marker, Ripon, North Yorkshire
Modern Sanctuary Way Marker, Ripon, North Yorkshire

In 937 King Athelstan granted the right of Sanctuary as part of the Liberty of St Wilfred. This meant that, in a circumference of one mile of the monastery Church, anyone could gain Sanctuary overnight, and the responsibility for law and order passed to the ecclesiastical body, administered by the Gryth Priest. This area was marked by eight Sanctuary Crosses, only one of which remains, at Sharow village. Jurisdiction took place the following day at the Sanctuary Peace Stool, which was within the Church. The right of Sanctuary within this area continued until the reformation.


Sharrow Cross, Sanctuary Marker, Sharrow, Ripon
Sharrow Cross, Sanctuary Marker, Sharrow, Ripon

In 2005 there was a Sanctuary Way Walk created by the Rotary Club of Ripon and the Rotary Club of Ripon Rowels, which includes replica Sanctuary Markers. It is a distance of ten miles, all around, but can be walked in smaller sections. See below for a link to the walk leaflet.

Sharrow Cross, Sanctuary Marker, Sharrow, Ripon
Sharrow Cross, Sanctuary Marker, Sharrow, Ripon


Ripon is a really interesting place to visit, with many other things to see, including an historic market place, and the Yorkshire Law and Order Museums housed in an original workhouse, police station and courthouse.

Thanks for reading!

Toni

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Sources and further information: 

The Sanctuary Way Walk: PDF of Leaflet
Discover Ripon: History of The Cathedral
Ripon Cathedral: History
Wikipedia: Ripon Cathedral
Ripon: Museums



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