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RIPON, North Yorkshire

This quiet market town, not far from Leeds and the ruins of Fountains Abbey, is duly famed for its Cathedral. However for students of 19th Century church architecture there are two other sites worth a visit.


Built as the second Anglican church of the town 1826-7, by the architect Thomas Taylor. The cost was 13,000. It is cruciform in plan and has a prominant West steeple. It stands to the west of the City centre and cathedral.

The exterior is marked by an embattled parapet, including originally the gables of the transepts. Tall side lancets and large E triplet. Because of its date one expects a broad galleried interior and indeed that is what existed until the galleries were removed in the later 19th Century.

Unexpected is the pretty plaster vault, complete with thin ribs and bosses. Following a full restoration in 1992 this is now painted in a terracotta colour. Clustered piers mark the crossing. The side windows have three-light iron tracery, thankfully missing in the handsome narrower east sanctuary. Here is an interesting memorial with a bust to Rev.E Kilvington d.1835. In the recent restoration a screen was removed from the S transept and placed at the west end of the four-bayed nave. A crypt has been altered for parish rooms, accessed from the south side of the tower.

St Wilfrid's Church (Roman Catholic)

This amazing church was built to the designs of Joseph Hansom 1860-2. It is very lofty and the treatment of the chancel is what gives it its distinctive character. The chancel is even loftier, outside with its steep roof not quite a tower and inside thanks to the stained glass a jewelled apsidal end to an ordinary church. The nave is in comparison rather plain with a W gallery and vestibule and four bayed aisles. The arcades have thin piers, foliated capitals and bulkier arches with step and outer chamfer; the inner arch is decorated with a tooth-like moulding. Mosaic roundels of saints in the spandrels. Clerestory of sexfoils and quatrefoils. The E end has three bayed arcades but these equal approximately one of the nave in width. The columns here are richly clustered and have complicated moulded arches. Tall two-light apse windows above an ornate reredos.The interior proved difficult to photograph properly inside, and the quality of the prints I received back do it little justice (not to mention putting at risk my photographic reputation!) so I have not included one here.

Addendum - SHAROW St John (from Email 11th Feb 2005 from Brian Latty, concerned that another local church is worthy of a mention here! St John's Church, situated about one mile north east of Ripon city centre, was built in 1824-5 (not a Commissioners' or Waterloo Church) and has a number of interesting features, not least it's stained glass, bells and graveyard. The village website, contains much detail about the church and this will be somewhat expanded when the current research project matures, perhaps later this year.

page updated 11th February 2005