Places to Visit in North Yorkshire
info @
info @

Ripon Places to Visit in North Yorkshire

Visit York and North Yorkshire through Video

The video below is pertaining to Ripon Places to Visit in North Yorkshire. This is a delightful city that is extremely popular especially on market days. It is a cathedral city and contains a variety of things to see and do.

Ripon Places to Visit in North Yorkshire

Ripon Places to Visit in North Yorkshire
Ripon Places to Visit in North Yorkshire

SIM & Mobile 468x90

Introduction to Ripon

In this episode we are going to consider the compact but feature full city of Ripon including its cathedral, museums, waterside attractions and more.

Ripon is considered a city owing to its large cathedral and this North Yorkshire settlement is over 1300 years old. Although it is listed as one of the smallest cities in England, we shouldn’t be mislead into believing that there is less to see and do, so stay tuned to find out more. This city has a deep historical presence owing to its Cathedral and also the so called leper church, a short walk away from the town centre. Ripon also has a broad market place overshadowed by probably the most colourful town hall we’ve seen so far in this series.

We also discover that Ripon is very much a waterside feature owing to its picturesque canal that offers boat rides as well as tranquility. However, the popular canal is not the only watercourse as Ripon also resides on the confluence of two rivers, the River Skell and the River Laver which are both tributaries to the River Ure. The River Skell runs through the city inviting riverside dining and respite as well as plenty of wildlife.

Ripon is also well known for its museums such as the Courthouse Museum, The Prison and Police Museum as well as the Workhouse Museum and Garden, that are all situated in the city centre. Ripon is also the closest city to Fountains Abbey, and during the season there has been a free to use bus service from the bus station. Ripon also has a heritage centre as well as some stunning North Yorkshire architecture. Stay tuned to find out more!

Getting to Ripon

Ripon Places to Visit in North Yorkshire

Getting to Ripon is extremely convenient as there is a bus station close to the market square with buses to Harrogate and Leeds every twenty minutes. There is also a bus service to York and Fountains Abbey. Beside the bus station is a large car park with free to use toilets available. There is also ample space for coaches too.

Market Square and Shopping

Ripon Places to Visit in North Yorkshire

Ripon boasts a broad market square that hosts an outdoor market each Thursday and is extremely popular as markets generally are. It not only retails food and drink but a wide range of essential products and consists of around 120 stalls. There are not many places in England where you find several red phone boxes clustered together especially with working phones in them.

In the centre of the market place is the enormous obelisk designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor, who incidentally designed the obelisk at Castle Howard near York. Obelisk is actually a Greek word and yet they have an Egyptian origin. The monument is grade I listed and also has a wrought iron weathervane situated on top. Although this 80ft structure was constructed in 1702, it was later repaired in 1781 with the expense taken care of by William Aislabie, in fact it was John Aislabie who had the structure built who is closely associated with nearby Studley Royal.

The large market square is surrounded by shops and eateries throughout, some independent and artisan and some are high street stores. There is also a historic bank dating back to 1785. Some of these commercial stores are wrapped within timber framed buildings. Even if you miss market day, Ripon offers a great deal when it comes to retail therapy.

Ripon also has a taxis rank in its market place which you don’t always find in a market place. This is obviously convenient if you carrying lots of shopping or would like to venture onwards to Studley Royal Water Gardens and Fountains Abbey.

We’ve covered many town halls in this series but Ripon town hall would probably be the most colourful. This building dates back to 1799 and was originally an assembly room intended for the grand daughter of John Aislabie who was from Studley Royal. It was designed by James Wyatt and it is the most complete Wyatt building left in the country. Today, it is a handy call in for Ripon’s Tourist Information.

One of the most interesting stalls that caught our eye was a seafood lorry that converted into a market stall. Carricks are somewhat historic as they started out in difficult times during 1929. However, they are not just limited to fish as they also retail fresh fruit and vegetables too.

Kirkgate is a hugely popular street featuring some independent retailers and it almost feels like you are in York. This is because of the cobbles as well as being overshadowed by Ripon Cathedral. The shops themselves have a historic feel about them and have a Victorian character about them. The street itself has always been a thoroughfare between the market place and the cathedral. Today it serves as a colourful extension to the Market Square with a variety of specialised shops and eateries. The street is even more colourful when you consider the overhanging banners that stretch over above you. However, Kirkgate is not the only street in Ripon, North Street is also very popular with a popular butchers shop featuring a historic bicycle with a basket.

Ripon Post Office was refurbished and reopened in 2016 by a local MP. The modernisation however, continued through to 2018, and today serves as a vital part of Ripon’s community.

However, at the foot of Kirkgate opposite the cathedral we noticed the Webb and Webb Home, garden and gift shop which is situated in a unique historic building.

Ripon Cathedral

Ripon Places to Visit in North Yorkshire

Ripon Cathedral is less commonly known as the Cathedral Church of St Peter and St Wilfred. It was founded as a monastery by Scottish monks 660’s. By 672, it became a Benedictine monastery by St Wilfred. The front of the cathedral faces west and contains a clock on the right hand tower. The cathedral is a focal point heading eastwards along Kirkgate and features a series of narrow arched windows with leaded glass. It was considered a mother church as it were throughout much of the middle ages and what we see today was built mainly between the 13th and 16th centuries, therefore like York Minster it is gothic as it has an anglo-saxon origin. It belonged to the Diocese of York but by 1836 it came to the Diocese of Ripon. In 2014, however, it is now in the Diocese of Leeds.

The central tower, or crossing tower, collapsed owing to an earthquake in 1450 and had to be rebuilt. However, it was originally to have had a tall spire, as did the twin towers at the west side. Between 1502 and 1522 the nave walls were raised higher and also had aisles added to it. The bells are situated in the south-west tower, 12 ring bells with a flat sixth bell.

Today it stands as one of Ripon’s most significant landmarks in the city centre. In fact, it is owning to this structure that Ripon is considered a city and not just a market town. It is open to the public and is also free entry, however you can book tours for 8 people or more. However, it is also a great idea to walk around the grounds of the cathedral and you will notice a large grave yard around the eastern and southern sides of the building.

The Choir Stalls where carved between 1489 and 1494 including the misericords which are folding seats that raise up when not sat on, to form a hand rest for the person stood behind.

Initially, Ripon Cathedral was known as Ripon Minster but by 1836, the Diocese of Ripon was formed with Ripon Cathedral as its cathedral. Prior to this building several churches had existed, including one that was destroyed in William the Conquerors Harrying of the North in 1069.

Surrounding the cathedral are some equally historic residences. The Old Deanery is now a hotel and restaurant sat in the shade of the cathedral but this grade II listed building was built in 1625 as the residence for the Dean of Ripon, up until the height of the second world war. Although it has been altered considerably over time, it proudly stands refurbished as a pleasant place to stay.

However on the southern side of the cathedral you will find the entrance to the current Dean’s residence. This house perhaps isn’t as historic as the Old Deanery, but it still serves as a large and lavish residence for the current Dean of Ripon.

Leper Church

Ripon Places to Visit in North Yorkshire

The St Mary Magdalen Chapel, known as the Leper Church is the only structure left of the Hospital of St Mary Magdalen. You’ll notice the Norman doorway on the side of the church which suggests it is from the 12th century. The low, narrow window is where lepers received sacrament. The hospital was founded by Archbishop Thurston who organised five sisters and a priest to serve in the chapel. They also organised food, clothing as well as shelter for the lepers from the local area. You will see the alms houses situated on the right hand side of the church.

When visiting, take particular notice of the Norman doorway and also the historic low window for those inflicted with leprosy, which was typical and traditional during the period.

Leprosy of course is uncommon these days, but the church and the alms houses still remain. The alms houses are used for residence today and can be viewed from the roadside.

The Courthouse Museum, Fountain and War Memorial

Ripon Places to Visit in North Yorkshire

Returning to the cathedral area, you notice a small park opposite. Here you will find a fountain that was to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. The fountain is devoid of water today, but you will notice that there is a museum situated behind it.

With the Great War Memorial in the foreground, Ripon’s Courthouse Museum was built in 1830 and remains unchanged since it was a Georgian Courthouse. It closed as a Magistrates Court in 1998 and was converted into a popular museum. Owing to the Vagrancy Act of 1824, many of the homeless were arrested for begging, sleeping rough as well a playing card tricks!

There is also a quiet seating area to reflect on those who’s lives were lost in the Great War or perhaps to enjoy a moment to read a book or simply have a rest.

Naomi Jacob, Author and Actress

Ripon Places to Visit in North Yorkshire

Upon High Saint Agnesgate you will find the home of Naomi Jacob also known as her pen name Ellington Gray. She was born in Ripon in 1884 and died in Italy in 1964. She contracted tuberculosis and with her failing health, she channelled her creativity into writing novels such as Gollantz Saga and An Irish Boy. However, as well as a film career she also wrote around 70 books.

Not far away you will find St Agnes House which is a grade II listed building that dates back to around 1693 by Abraham Smith. It has these fantastic circular windows as well as a wide chimney breast at the west side.

Ripon’s Waterfronts

Ripon Places to Visit in North Yorkshire

Walking further around the corner from High Saint Agnesgate we can approach one of Ripon’s most scenic areas. The River Skell is around 12 miles long and is a tributary river of the River Ure. However, for the first two miles it is simply Skell Beck until it gathers momentum.

You’ll find a footbridge over the Skell that spans towards a public house known as The Water Rat that has an outdoor seating area as well as large glass doors that open out overlooking the river. From the footbridge, you receive further views of Ripon Cathedral as this fast moving river flows through the city. However, that movement is also assisted by some small weirs heading downstream. You may encounter a grey wagtail or a dipper here.

After devastating effects on Fountains Abbey after serious flooding back in 2007, the Heritage Lottery Fund supported the River Skell Flooding Project. The River Skell also suffers from high siltation which can have a negative impact on wildlife.

You can receive further views of Ripon Cathedral when you take a short riverside walk upstream past The Water Rat public house. This makes a scenic stroll especially in the spring and summer. The river is also a domain for white clawed crayfish and otters as well.

Ripon Canal

Ripon Places to Visit in North Yorkshire

We may associate canals with some of the larger cities such as Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester, but Ripon also has a canal that was opened in 1773. It is a relatively short canal that begins at Ripon and ends when it merges with the River Ure that could link narrow boats to other rivers reaching York and Hull. However, by 1847 it was sold to the Leeds and Thirsk Railway. Owing to neglect, by 1906 the canal was closed but in 1961, members of the Ripon Motor Boat Club formed the Ripon Canal Company. They gradually restored the canal as far as Littlethorpe but today is owned and maintained by the Canal and River Trust.

Of course, not only does the canal obtain human interest but also that of the local ducks too. There are boat rides along the canal and you’ll see a narrow boat named the Pride of Ripon. These scenic cruises carry up to 12 people and is wheelchair accessible. There is also free parking close by. Still, not all need a boat to enjoy the waters on the canals.

Although canals are manmade, initially as a method of transport to distribute goods using a horse on a towpath, they are generally filled with water from local rivers as a source. This means they often are filled with fish and draw other wildlife too, both aquatic and otherwise. Although the need for canals is now long gone owing to the arrival of the railways and a more extensive road network, the tow paths and canals remain to promise some scenic walks. Narrowboats are often used as homes as well as a method of leisurely cruises.

Especially when it is bright, they are often highly reflective because of their calm waters. As a result of this, they can return some fantastic photography to impress your friends. As the canal begins here at Ripon, there is a large body of water which would have acted as a place for mooring as well as some old mill buildings that appear historic. There are some narrowboats that contain some encouraging and motivational names too.

There are seating areas beside the canal where you can sit down and enjoy your lunch or a drink, or just to get out of the hustle and bustle of market day life!

There are some major attractions outside the city of Ripon and not too far away. Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Gardens are equally tranquil places to visit and they are under the care of the National Trust. The abbey ruins are actually the largest in the country, and many abbeys are ruins owing to the dissolution of the monasteries. Studley Royal Water Gardens is also situated in the Skell Valley that offer some idyllic gardens that were established by the Aislabie family. The monks originally began diverting the River Skell for the abbey and the Aislabie’s continued the work in order to bring about the attractive water gardens. A bus runs from the bus station to Fountains Abbey and during the spring and summer, a free bus has run in recent times.

Therefore, the River Skell has created some interesting water features both in and around Ripon that have attracted visitors regularly. In a way, this is quite amazing when you consider that the river begins with a boggy moorland near Pateley Bridge. With its association with Fountains Abbey, it also became known as Heaven Water during the Middle Ages.

One of the most important aspects when visiting a place of interest in North Yorkshire is how well signed it is to easily find your way around. Ripon is generally quite good at giving visitor information and directions.

It might be a long walk to Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, but you may want to drive in style rather than use the bus service. This Morris Minor could serve as an interesting method of getting from a to b. These British built cars made their debut at the Earls Court Motor Show in 1948. They were actually the first British car to sell over a million vehicles, and more than 1.6 million were manufactured.

One thing you notice about Ripon that is it a vibrant city with lots of colour, with floral roundabouts, colourful buildings such as the town hall, multi-coloured banners hanging over the streets, as well as colourful shop fronts that adorn them. Hanging baskets and hay racks full of vibrant colours also adorn the streets too.

Obviously, we cannot capture a children’s play park for safety reasons, but there is a large and popular riverside play area that children can enjoy.

When you are stood some distance away from Ripon Cathedral and see it in its entirety, you can imagine how it would have looked like if it had its spires built on all three towers. The central tower was to have been the highest of the three.

Ripon Heritage Centre

Ripon Places to Visit in North Yorkshire

Heading back over the footbridge towards High Agnesgate once again, we can see Ripon’s Heritage Centre at Thorpe Prebend House. It is an historic residence and heritage centre that has over 50 exhibits as well as an idyllic garden.

Just prior to this you will also notice St Anne’s Chapel ruins on the opposite side to some alms houses. It dates back to the 15th century, 1430 to be precise, and is a talking point on your way past.

Returning back to the colourful streets of Ripon containing many a small shop, we want to emphasise two further places of interest in the city.

This North Yorkshire city is extremely busy on market days, so please make good use of the available pedestrian crossings. The loop around the market place is also a route for buses too.

We want to show you a man on a bicycle but this isn’t him, but we thought we’d point it out anyway. He’s obviously burned too many calories on his yellow cycle.

Workhouse Museum

Ripon Places to Visit in North Yorkshire

Further up the road you will find the Workhouse Museum and Gardens. This particular museum features a Victorian workhouse where vagrants would work and receive accommodation and food for completed tasks. Victorian workhouses were designed to provide live, eat and work owing to the vagrancy laws at that time and they were like a form of prison.

There is also a Police and Prison Museum not far the St Marygate Car Park and that allow you to understand what a Victorian police house and prison cell would have been like.

This is the man on the bicycle we wanted to show you situated outside the Workhouse Museum. The reason we’ve mentioned these two museums together is because all three museums including the Courthouse Museum earlier, can be accessed through using one ticket which can be purchased online through their website. So you could very easily spend a day in Ripon visiting the three museums. But keep this under your hat!

Don’t forget to call into Temple Gardens just a few footsteps away. This is a small garden where you can sit and enjoy some respite away from the hustle and bustle. There is also a much larger park at Ripon’s Spa Gardens on the opposite side of the city that contains floral displays and sculptures.

Ripon is not short of a Fish and Chip Shop too, but it has many cafe’s, eateries and bakeries too!

We have enjoyed our visit to Ripon today, we hope you enjoy yours. Until next time!

Alternative Series

Places to Visit in North Yorkshire

Best North Yorkshire Walks

Phovlography! (Appears on

Six Minute Shoot

Share this North Yorkshire article...