From as early as the mid 7th century, there has been a church on this site. The original stone church of Abbot Wilfrid was dedicated to St Peter in cAD672 and served the local people as a minster. However, in AD950 the anglo-saxon church was destroyed and all that remains to be seen today is the marvellous old crypt, once sited beneath the high altar.
The second church was built quite soon afterwards, but it too suffered a similar fate when it was laid to waste by the Normans in 1069. By 1080, the first Norman Archbishop of York had begun work on the third church at Ripon, and a fine example of the building from this period can be seen in The Chapel of Resurrection. This vaulted undercroft, beneath the Chapter House, has been beautifully restored for use on a daily basis. It has been recorded that, on Christmas Day in 1132, a group of monks from York came to Ripon to worship here before continuing on their way to found Fountains Abbey.
By the late 12th century, Ripon Cathedral had received a substantial sum of money to enable it to be reconstructed and enhanced in the Norman Transitional style. During the next 100 years, a Chapter House was added, an impressive West Front, and the East End was enlarged. A further two disasters befell Ripon Cathedral, which significantly changed its appearance. In 1450 part of the central tower collapsed, and rebuilding was never completed and, finally, in 1660 the central spire fell through the roof. Subsequently, the spires on the west towers were removed.
Despite the destruction and disasters that Ripon Cathedral has suffered over the centuries, there is such an abundance of beauty and outstanding craftsmanship to be seen here. From the richly carved choir stalls, with amusing misericords beneath, to the delightful ceiling bosses depicting Biblical scenes. Tall, graceful arches and clustered columns with carved stone capitals and corbels, and a superb example of early 14th century stone tracery in the colourful east window.
On the occasions I visited Ripon Cathedral, I was completely overawed with the luxuriance and majesty of this relatively small cathedral situated on the perimeter of a quiet, market town. Its unassuming appearance certainly belies the treasures it holds within its hallowed walls.