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RIPON: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1750.

"RIPON, (given as "RIPPON") a parish in the West Riding of Yorkshire, 6 m. above Boroughbridge, 158 cm. 190 mm. from London, is a pleasant, well-built, populous T. with 2 bridges over the Ure, or Aire; where was once a pompous mon. built by Winfred Abp. of York, which was afterwards turned into a college, for a dean and secular canons; and the Ch. which was made a sanctuary by K. Athelstan and 2 m. round it, though dissolved by Hen. VIII. was restored by K. Ja. I. and still retains collegiate privileges, having a D. and C. and sends a proctor to the convocation of the province of Yorkshire, In the last age this Ch. was very famous for that, called Wilfrid's Needle, a meer piece of priestcraft, by which the canons got money. It was a narrow passage into a close vault, whereby trial was made of women's chastity, so contrived, that none could pass it, but who they pleased. They, who could pass it, by paying the priest in money, or what he liked as well, were declared chaste; and they, who did not, stuck in the passage, and were declared otherwise. Some of the Abps. of York used to reside in its mon. Before the conquest, and some time after it, this place was governed by elders, and a chief magistrate, called a wakeman, or watchman. It made 3 returns of Pt.-men very early; but lost that privilege, till it was restored by Q. Mary I. K. Ja. I. who founded and endowed in its Ch. a D. and C. of 7 prebendaries, gave the T. a charter for a mayor and 12 ald. and 24 assistants, which they surrendered to K. Ja. II. for a new one; by which it had a grant of 2 new Horse-Fairs, viz. the M. before March 10, and the M. after Lammas-day; having had one before on Jan. 13. The woollen mf. flourished here once, but has been lost for some time, though here is a staple for wool, which is bought up here, every week, by the clothiers of Leeds, Wakefield, Halifax, &c. It's most noted mf. now is spurs; of which the best in England are made here, with rowels that will strike through a shilling, and sooner break than bend. In 1318 this T. was plundered by the Scots, who were so annoyed however by a number of the inh. who had retired into the Ch. that after 3 days stay, they took 1000 marks, to spare the T. from burning, and then departed; but returned next year, when, because the inh. could not raise the same sum, they fired the T. and Ch. and put many of the inh. to the sword. In 1322 a synod was held here. In the R. of Cha. I. a treaty was made here, bet. his commissioners and the Scots. In Dec.1660 the great steeple of its Ch. was blown down, which broke into the chancel, and did much more damage to it; for the repair of which, the inh. obtained a brief of Cha. II. and it is both parochial and collegiate; the only Ch. that is so in England, except Southwel in Nottinghamshire. A considerable number of Saxon coins were found here, anno 1695; particularly the brass ones, called sticcas, 8 whereof made a penny. The Mt.-place is reckoned the finest square of the kind in England, and adorned with a curious obelisk, given by John Aislabie, Esq; who in the R. of Geo. I. was chancellor of the exchequer, as well as one of its representatives in Pt. Its Mt. is Th. Fairs May 1 and the Th. after it, Holy. Th. the Th. after St. Wilfrid's, Sept. 13, Nov. 2 and 11, and every forthnight for cattle. There is a common in the neighbourhood, noted for horse-races."

[Transcribed by Mel Lockie © from
Stephen Whatley's England's Gazetteer, 1750]