The City of Ripon has a long history and is the third smallest city in the UK but in Herriot Country, Ripon is a great and small visitor destination with an interesting set of attractions.
Centre piece is Ripon Cathedral with its Saxon Crypt and standing majestically on Minster Road it has inspired many over the centuries. One such was author Lewis Carroll whose father was Canon of the cathedral in the 1850’s and many of the characters in his ‘Wonderland Works’ were taken from the carvings in the Cathedral. Alice in Wonderland, perhaps Carroll’s most famous story is featured in a selection of wood carvings in the Spa Gardens, a beautiful park in the City and nearby the Ripon Walled Garden is a real treasure.
There’s a trio of museums which explore the theme of law and order over past centuries. Ripon Police and Prison Museum was established in 1984 in Ripon Gaol and uses exhibits of fine collections of police memorabilia, artefacts, documents and prints plus in the cells of early punishments and conditions in Victorian prisons. Ripon Workhouse Museum gives a portrayal of the grim treatment of vagrants a hundred years ago and Hard Times Gallery depicts the harsh conditions of the poor in Victorian times.
Every night at 9pm the Ripon Hornblower sounds the horn at each corner of the obelisk in the market square to set the night watch. Visitors can join the Hornblower to learn about the history of the role that dates back over a thousand years, and from the role of Wakeman of the city.
Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Gardens is a few minutes from the city and the World of James Herriot at Thirsk is only a 20-minute drive. Aside from history there’s a family-friendly side to Ripon with Lightwater Valley theme park plus riverside activities, an outdoor activity centre and Ripon Racecourse which hosts many events throughout the year in addition to the racing calendar.
Close to the A1(M) Ripon is easily reached and is a good base for visiting Herriot Country’s Yorkshire Dales, Harrogate and the City of York.