In 672 AD, St Wilfrid brought stonemasons, plasterers and glaziers across from France and Italy to start making his church. The church was
decoratively made from stone, supported by various columns and side aisles, and boasted many windows, arched vaults and a winding cloister.
In 860 AD, the church was destroyed by Edere, the King of Mercia. Now, only the crypt remains. It wasn't until the 11th Century that another
substantial stone building was built in its place. This is still standing, and forms part of the Cathedral's structure.
In 1180, Archbishop l'Eveque's funding allowed the construction of a completely rebuilt structure that was a lot larger than the original
church of St Wilfrid. This is more or less the Cathedral Ripon has today with certain amendments.
In 1220, Archbishop Walter had the West front added, and the East section was rebuilt and enlarged in 1286 by Archbishop Romanus.
A storm in 1660 demolished the central spire, and extensive internal repairs were made. It was at this time that the two spires on the western
towers were removed for safety reasons.
The tradition of the Wakeman, unbroken for over 900 years, is celebrated every night at 9 o'clock as the Hornblower sounds his horn to show
he is on duty.
The Wakeman was the original keeper of Law and Order in Ripon. A Wakeman is also alleged to have resided in the Wakeman's cottage in 1604.
The Town Hall carries the inscription, 'Except ye Lord Keep ye Cittie ye Wakeman waketh in vain'.
The Unicorn Hotel
There are indications from Poll Tax returns that the Unicorn has been around since 1379.
In the late middle ages, inns were required to show an easily recognisable sign so that the illiterate could understand them. Many chose
animal symbols derived from the Bestiary, a church publication, and the unicorn was associated with strength and ferocity. In addition to
that, it was believed that drinking from a unicorn cup would guard against the effects of poison, so unicorn would be a good choice of name
for an inn.
For several decades from the 1760's, the Unicorn was famous for a character called Tom Crudd, also known as Thomas Spence and "Old Boots".
This extaordinary man had an enormous nose and chin, that he had acquired a habit of being able to hold a coin between them.
Tom Crudd was a servant of the Unicorn Inn. He would wait on travellers who arrived at the inn, and assist them in taking off their boots.
He usually introduced himself in the room with a pair of slippers in one hand, and a boot jack in the other. Guests were so diverted with his odd
appearance that they would frequently give him a piece of money on the condition that he held it between his nose and his chin.
Saint Wilfrid's Day
Once a year, Ripon holds a procession to commemorate the 7th Century founder of Ripon Cathedral, Saint Wilfrid. Each year, a procession of
themed floats, morris dancers, classic cars and even St Wilfrid himself travel through the streets of Ripon.