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RIPON, a market and parish-town, in the lower-division of Claro, liberty of Ripon; 6 miles from Boroughbridge, 7 from Ripley, 10 from Masham and Oak Tree Inn, Leeming Lane, 11 from Harrogate and Thirsk, 12 from Knaresborough, 13 from Bedale, 17 from Northallerton, 17¾ from Hopper Lane Inn, 20 from Leyburn and Otley, 43 from York, 212 from London. Market, Thursday. Fairs, Thursday after January 13; May 13 and 14; and first Thursday and Friday in June, for horned cattle, sheep, woollen cloth, &c. first Thursday after August 2; first Thursday in November; and November 23, for horned cattle, &c. Bankers, Old Bank, Messrs, Harrisons and Terrys, draw on Messrs. Willis, Percival, and Co. 76, Lombard Street; Ripon and Nidderdale Bank, Messrs. Coates and Co. draw on Messrs. Sir James Esdaile and Co. 21, Lombard Street; Ripon Bank, Messrs. Brittains and Thackwray, draw on Sir Richard Carr Glynn, Bart. and Co. 12, Birchin Lane. Principal Inns, Unicorn, and Black Bull. Pop. 4,563. This Church is both parochial and collegiate, dedicated to St. Peter and St. Wilfrid, and is built in the form of a cross. Patron, the King.

Ripon is situated between the river Ure and the Skell, and stands on an eminence with declivities on every side. It derives its name from the Latin word Ripa, which refers to the situation of the town.

Here was a Monastery, founded by Eata, Abbot of Melross; but before the Scottish Monks retired from the Monastery, and St. Wilfred was appointed Abbot in 663. By him it was built new from the ground, and when completed, was consecrated with great solemnity by himself, to the honour of St. Peter. He died at the Monastery of Oundle, in 711, aged 76, and was interred here; but in 940, his remains were removed to Canterbury, by Odo, Archbishop of that See. The town continues to this day to honour the memory of its benefactor, by an Annual Feast on Saturday following Lammas Day, when the effigy of St. Wilfred is brought into the town with great ceremony, preceded by a band of music.

King Athelstan in the year 924, granted to the Church of Ripon the privilege of sanctuary, which extended a mile on either side the Church. The boundaries yet remain, in the names of Kangel Cross; Sharow Cross; and Athelstan Cross.

In the year 950, this town and monastery were burnt by the Danes. The Monastery was afterwards rebuilt by Odo, Archbishop of Canterbury. The town was soon after rebuilt and began to flourish; but, in the year 1069; it shared in the misery inflicted on the Northumbrians, by the Norman Conqueror, and remained in a state of devastation for sixteen years; after which, it again revived, and remained undisturbed till the year 1319; when the Scots entering England, laid waste the country with fire and sword, and the town and Monastery of Ripon were again reduced to ashes; but, by the liberal donations of the Archbishop of York, and the neighbouring gentry, it was again restored to its former flourishing condition.

The Church was preserved from the general ruin of religious houses; and the revenues re granted, by James I. for the support of a Dean and six prebendaries, besides petit canons and singing men. It is a large, handsome, and venerable gothic pile.

In 1604, King James gave a new Charter to the town, constituting it to be governed by a mayor, recorder, and twelve aldermen, with twenty four common councilmen, and a town clerk.

Here is an Hospital, dedicated to St. Mary Magdalen, founded by Thurston Archbishop of York, who died in 1144, another to St. John Baptist, founded in the 9th year of King John by one of the Archbishops of York, a third to St. Anne founded by one of the Nevils, in the reign of Edward IV. and a fourth, called Jepson's Hospital, founded and endowed by Zacharias Jepson, of York, a native of Ripon. In the Minster yard is this modest inscription to the memory of its benefactor, Hic Jacet Zacharius Jepson, cujus aetas fecit 49. Per paucos tantum Annos Vixit.

The town was first incorporated in the time of King Alfred, and its government originally vested in a chief magistrate, called Vigilarius, which duty, it was to cause a horn to be blown every night at nine o'clock, and if any inhabitant, after that, sustained any loss by his house or shop being robbed, the community was compelled to render him an adequate consideration for the injury, by an annual tax on every inhabitant.

In 1767, an Act of Parliament was obtained for making navigable the river Ure, from its junction with the Swale, to Bondgate Green; on which a number of vessels are employed, to the great convenience and benefit of the town and neighbourhood. These vessels generally bring coals, groceries, and other merchandise; and take back lead, butter, &c, &c.

Henry I. granted a Charter for a Fair of four days; another by King Stephen; and a third by Henry V. At one of these fairs we find Drunken Barnaby;

Ad forensem Rippon tendo,
Equi si sint cari, veodo,
Si minore pretio dempti,
Equi a me erunt empti;
Ut alacrior fiat ille,
Ilia mordicant anguillae.

A very elegant Town Hall was erected, in 1798, being a present to this Corporation, from Mrs. Allanson, of Studley. It comprises Assembly rooms, a Committee room for public meetings, and business of Magistrates.

Here is a Free Grammar School, situated in Agnesgate, founded in 1546, by Edward V. with an allowance for head master and usher; and finished in 1553, by King Philip and Queen Mary. Its revenues are under the management of Trustees.

The Market place is very spacious, and nearly square, measuring 104 yards by 68, and has a fine Obelisk in the centre, 90 feet high, on the top of which are fixed the Arms of Ripon, i.e. a Bugle Horn and a Spur Rowel, erected by William Aislabie, Esq.

Not far from the Minster, is a large tumulus composed of gravel and human bones, called Ellshaw or Ailcey Hill, which, in Camden's time, appears to have been called Hillshaw. "There apperith by est north est, at the toune end of Ripon," says Leland, "a great hill of yerth, cast up in a playn close bering now the name of Illshow Hille, where be al likelihod hath been sum great Fortress in the Britons time."

Ripon sends two Members to Parliament: the right of election is in the burgage holders, 146 in number. The borough is chiefly the property of Mrs. Laurence, of Studley Royal, who possesses by far the major part of the burgage tenures. The situation of Ripon is pleasant, and the surrounding country rich and fertile, and in a high state of cultivation. For more particular account, see Tourist's Companion, published at Ripon.

[Description(s) edited from various 19th century sources by Colin Hinson © 2013]