Ripon Cathedral is a step closer to realising its vision for a 21st century cathedral with much needed facilities for visitors and tourists – as well as its renowned choir.
The plans are part of the cathedral’s strategic vision Growing God’s Kingdom which aims to see the cathedral as a force for good, serving both the church and wider community – locally, regionally and nationally.
Key to the Ripon Cathedral Renewed Project will be the provision of toilets (with accessible facilities) and a cafe! The new building would also include rehearsal space for Ripon Cathedral Choir; the children need a safe space, undisturbed by visitors and currently use a cramped undercroft area previously used as a burial vault.
It’s also intended that large areas within the cathedral itself can be opened up to the public for the first time in centuries thanks to the provision of new storage space.
A firm of architects has been appointed to lead the way as plans are drawn up for a new building on the south side of the cathedral. Hopkins Architects is a London based practice whose past projects include work on Norwich Cathedral, Glyndebourne Opera House and in the US Yale and Harvard Universities.
This is a significant development for a building which contains the oldest fabric of any English cathedral; St Wilfrid’s crypt of 672 AD is still part of this living church attracting visitors and pilgrims from around the world.
For some years now the cathedral has been working on plans to provide these essential facilities and raise the funds necessary to get this project off the ground. The cathedral receives no regular government funding. Thanks to the generosity of some committed donors it is well over half-way to its target of £6 million but additional donors will be needed if these plans are to become a reality. We are particularly grateful to The Liz and Terry Bramall Foundation, Mr Jonathan Turner and a significant anonymous donor.
Permissions from several regional and national bodies will be required for this development – in a setting that is of huge significance historically and architecturally.
The Dean of Ripon, the Very Rev John Dobson DL said: “Over the next year, as plans emerge and those vital permissions are sought, the people who have been calling on the cathedral for years to provide these essential facilities will have the opportunity to pledge their own support.
“The dean and chapter [governing body] are determined to do everything in their power to make this vision a reality and ensure that Ripon Cathedral Renewed can happen. At this stage there are no guarantees!
“Within the cathedral’s strategic vision ‘Growing God’s Kingdom’ it has been crystal clear that to present this beautiful building at its best and to serve a large region, new state of the art facilities are essential.
“My prayer is that this will prove to be an historic and transformational development for this wonderful ancient cathedral as it continues to serve the city and the wider area in the 21st century.”
Historian and museum director Guy Wilson is Chair of Ripon Cathedral Fabric Advisory Committee. He added: “What we’re trying to do is something very traditional. In the Middle Ages when a church was too small or lacked something that was needed in changing times the people in charge added to it, made it larger and that has given us the wonderful richness and diversity of ecclesiastical architecture that we enjoy today. We want to do exactly the same thing, to add to our wonderful cathedral in Ripon, to improve it, to give it the facilities that congregations and visitors now expect and to fit it for the 21st century and beyond.”
Hopkins Architects will be working with bodies such as Historic England, experts in archaeology and historic buildings conservation and the cathedral’s own architect Oliver Caroe – one of the country’s foremost ecclesiastical architects. Oliver is responsible for the design and installation of the cathedral’s new entrance at the west front and is also the Surveyor of the Fabric to St Paul’s Cathedral. His other major responsibilities include the chapels of Kings College Cambridge and New College Oxford. Oliver’s secular work is with the National Trust and Historic Royal Palaces.
It’s hoped more detailed plans will be available by the middle of next year – with a period of public consultation preceding any construction.
The project is being managed by Gardiner & Theobald who say: “Gardiner & Theobald is proud to be providing project management and cost management services to Ripon Cathedral on its development project for this iconic building. We look forward to working with the team to deliver this project for Ripon Cathedral and the local community.”
Hopkins Architects has an international portfolio of award-winning work, such as the London 2012 Olympic Velodrome. They have worked on many sites of great sensitivity; as well as Norwich Cathedral other projects include Holkham Hall and St George’s Chapel, Great Yarmouth.