If you're planning to visit a cathedral in Yorkshire, then most people will point you towards York Minster. And don't get us wrong, we understand it completely - York Minster is incredible and one of the most beautiful buildings currently standing in the UK. However, just a stone's throw from York Minster you'll find Ripon Cathedral. And in our opinion, Ripon Cathedral is not only just as impressive as York Minster, but it also makes for a much more striking and memorable experience.
Where York Minster will always be busy and packed with tourists, Ripon Cathedral is often very quiet and therefore much more atmospheric, yet still an incredibly impressive building. We wanted to publish a guide for anyone planning to visit Ripon Cathedral in 2023, let's get into it:
Where is Ripon Cathedral?
The Cathedral is in the city of Ripon, we have a guide about the city here. If you're in the centre of Ripon, it's really easy to reach the cathedral. In fact, you'll see it above the other buildings from just about anywhere else in town! If you're heading to Ripon by car, there is a Cathedral car park just beneath The Arcade shopping area which is about a 2 minute walk from the cathedral.
If you're heading from York, Ripon is around 40 minutes away by car.
If you're walking from the town square, the most dramatic way to reach the cathedral is to walk along Kirkgate (pictured). The view of the cathedral from the street is very impressive.
What are the highlights at Ripon cathedral?
There is plenty to see and do at Ripon Cathedral, here are some of the highlights:
If there is one area of Ripon Cathedral to visit, it would be The Crypt - built in 672, it's not only the oldest part of the Cathedral, but also one of the oldest remaining parts of any cathedral still standing in the UK. We'll warn you now though, exploring the Crypt is not for those of you who struggle with claustrophobia. You'll walk down into the heart of the Cathedral, where you'll enter a small room which is barely lit. Here is where holy relics were held, making it one of the most important and sacred areas of the church. It's very special, if a little claustrophobic, to enter this room.
The Marble Point
This 8-sided marble font dates from the 15th century and has been used for baptisms for more than 500 years. It's made from Teesdale marble which is quarried at Eggleston. The 8 sides of the font represent the last 7 days of Jesus, and then the day of Resurrection. It's quite amazing to have something dating from such a long time ago still standing.
The Ripon Story Cushions
This collection of 38 cushions runs down the side of the Cathedral, and it tells the story of Ripon, all the way from the 7th century to the present day. It took 4 years to complete the cushions, and the level of detail on each cushion is extremely impressive. If you're looking for an overview of the local history, following the cushions around the cathedral is a great idea!
The Great East Window
You may have to wait to visit The Great East Window in The Quire area of the Cathedral, as services are usually held in this area (particularly on Sundays). This enormous window dates from the 19th century and depicts the risen Christ and his apostles. Seeing the window from inside the cathedral is impressive enough, but make sure you look at it from the outside of the building too, as you'll really get a sense of how large it is.
We mentioned that the Great East Window looks amazing from the graveyard, just look at that! It's a joy to stroll around the outside of the cathedral on a sunny day, and you'll find a number of gravestones which you can still read clearly.
Unlike York Minster, it's actually free to enter Ripon Cathedral, and you're unlikely to find any queues to get in (even on the weekend). Having said that, there are lots of opportunities to donate money in different ways, including a donation box and a gift shop, and we absolutely recommend you donate. Just like York Minster, it costs huge amounts of money to keep Ripon Cathedral open every day - approximately £5k per day. So every bit of money helps to keep this amazing building open to the public!
As we mentioned earlier in the guide, parking in Ripon is both easy and inexpensive, at £4 for a day ticket (as of May 2023). There is a pay and display car park just next to the Cathedral, which has the following postcode for your satnav - HG4 1LG
Public toilets are here, as well as The Arcade shopping area if you'd like to grab a bottle of water or something to eat.
Opening times & other things to mention
The cathedral is open between 7 days per week to visitors. On a Sunday, it's open between 8am and 5:30pm. Every other day of the week, it's open between 8:30am and last entry is at 6pm.
When visiting, please be respectful and aware that other people visiting the cathedral may be participating in a service.