RIPON, a cathedral city, and municipal borough in the West Riding of Yorkshire, England, 214 m. N.N.W. from London, 3o m. N. of Leeds, on the L.N.E. railway. Pop. (1931) 8,576. It is a foot-hill town of the Pennines, situated at the confluence of the Ure with its tributaries the Laver and the Skell.
The streets of Ripon are for the most part narrow and irregular, and although most of the houses are comparatively modern, some of them retain the picturesque gables characteristic of earlier times. The Cathedral, with a large square central tower and two western towers, is celebrated for its fine proportions and con tains various styles of architecture. It was founded on the ruins of St. Wilfred's Abbey of the 7th century, but of this Saxon build ing nothing now remains except the crypt which is known as St. Wilfred's Needle. Apart from the crypt, the oldest part of the fabric is a portion of the chapter house and vestry adjoining the south side of the choir, and terminating eastward in an apse.
This is pure Norman work and beneath is a crypt of that period. The present building was begun about 1154 and to this transi tional period belong the transepts and parts of the choir. The west front and twin towers are fine specimens of Early English archi tecture and were completed about 1255. The eastern portion of the choir was rebuilt in Decorated style about the close of the 13th century. The nave and parts of the central tower and two bays of the choir are Perpendicular and were rebuilt towards the end of the 15th century.
The diocese of Ripon was created in 1836 and comprises most of the West Riding and part of the North Riding of Yorkshire and a small part of Lancashire. The episcopal palace, a modern building in Tudor style, is 1 m. N.W. of the city. To the south west lies Studley Royal, a seat of the Marquess of Ripon, which contains the celebrated ruins of Fountains Abbey. Several old charities include the hospital of St. John the Baptist, founded in 1109, and the hospital of St. Mary Magdalene, founded by the Archbishop of York early in the 12th century as a secular com munity whose special duty was to administer to lepers. In the 13th century a master and chaplain took the place of the lay brethren and a chantry was founded in 1334. The chapel survives with interesting Norman work and a rare example of a pre Ref ormation altar of stone.
From before the Conquest until the incorporation charter of 1604, Ripon was governed by a wakeman and 12 elders, but in 1604 the title of wakeman was changed to mayor, and 12 aldermen and 24 councillors were appointed. Ripon was summoned to send 2 members to parliament in 1295, and at intervals from that time until 1328-9. The privilege was revived in 1553, and continued until 1867, when only one was allowed. This latter privilege was removed by the Redistribution Bill of 1885 and Ripon gives its name to a parliamentary division of the county.
See Victoria County History. Yorkshire.