Ripon cathedral’s remarkable crypt is the oldest part of any cathedral in England. This small chapel, hidden underground, was a key feature of the first church built here by Saint Wilfrid in 672.
The superb wooden carvings in the quire are one of the cathedral’s hidden treasures. Their most celebrated claim to fame is that the carvings on the choir seats (known as misericords) inspired some of the characters in Alice in Wonderland.
Saint Wilfrid is the Patron Saint of Ripon. He built the first magnificent church here in 672 which became an important place of pilgrimage. The city still celebrates its founder in an annual St Wilfrid’s day procession and festival.
Music is at the heart of worship in Ripon Cathedral, with singing led by a choir and accompanied by the magnificent organ.
As well as modern pieces, the cathedral’s choir sings beautiful historic music drawn from the famous British ‘choral tradition’. This refers to the glorious music that developed in church worship over the centuries, stretching back to the atmospheric plainsong chants of the medieval monasteries. At Ripon however, the tradition of choral singing dates back even further, to the 7th century, when Saint Wilfrid brough a choir here from Canterbury cathedral.
The Great East Window
The wonderful medieval “Geometric” East window, “almost the length of a cricket pitch”, celebrates in stone the living and eternal God as the Trinity. The vibrant 19th century stained-glass portrays the risen Christ and his apostles. Below, the high altar is surrounded by the glittering, golden screen created by Sir Ninian Comper and were given in tribute to those to who lost their lives in World War 1. The many gold figures recall the story of the Christian faith and hope coming to the North of England from both Celtic and Roman Christian traditions. The figures above celebrate the triumph of life over death and of good over evil, with the youthful, beardless, risen Christ perhaps being a reference to the young men who lost their lives in World War 1.