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hear the sounding of the Mayor's horn, one of the most ancient customs that lingers in the kingdom. It formerly announced the setting of the watch, whence the chief officer of the town derived his Saxon style of “Wakeman,” but has, of course, now lapsed into a formality. Three blasts, long, dull, and dire, are given at nine o'clock at the Mayor's door, by his official Horn-blower, and one afterwards at the market-cross, while the seventh bell of the cathedral is ringing. It was ordained in 1598 that it should be blown, according to ancient custom, at the four corners of the cross, at nine o'clock; after which time, if any
house on the gate syd within the towne” was robbed, the Wakeman was bound to compensate the loss, if it was proved that he “and his servants did not their duetie at y time.” To maintain this watch he received from every householder in the town that had but one door, the annual tax of twopence ; but from the owner“ of a gate door, and a backe dore iiij by the year, of dutie.” The original horn, worn by the Wakeman, decorated with silver badges and the insignia of the trading companies of the town, but shamefully pillaged in 1686,, has been several times adorned, especially by John Aislabie, Esq. Mayor in 1702. Since the year 1607 it has been worn on certain days by the Mayor's Serjeant, in procession.
The other corporate bodies and institutions in the city may, most conveniently, be noticed in surveying the places where they are held or administered
There is no staple manufacture carried on in the city, unless the establishment of three individuals may be allowed to represent the trade of saddle-tree making, carried on here as early as the time of Queen Elizabeth. After the manufacture of woollen cloth declined, in the sixteenth century, that of spurs was carried on with such skill and success that the phrase " As true steel as Ripon rowels ”. applied to express the character of a man of honest principlesbecame proverbial throughout the kingdom. Ben Jonson, in his “Staple of Newes," has,
" Why, there's an angel, if my spurs
Be not right Rippon.”
and Davenant, in his “Wits,”
Whip me with wire, beaded with rowels of
Sharp Rippon spars.” This trade, together with that of button-making, and some other kinds of hardware, prospered throughout the seventeenth and part of the eighteenth century, but the advantages obtained, in the great seats of general hardware manufacture, by the division of labour and a more liberal application of capital, at length caused its decline, Alderman John Terry, who occupied the site of the second house westward from the Town-hall, and died within recollection, having been the last spurrier. Subsequently, no kind of manufacture has been peculiarly followed in the city, though well directed and persevering individual exertion, in several branches of trade and manufacture, has been successfully rewarded.
The weekly market is held on Thursday, and is well supplied with all kinds of agricultural produce of superior quality, large quantities of butter, eggs, and fowls, being particularly required by agents from the manufacturing districts. There is a supplementary market on Saturday evening, for the sale of garden produce and butcher's meat ; and a wool market, held in the “Old Marketplace,” occasionally during the season.
There are fairs here, also, on the first Thursday after the 20th day succeeding old Christmas day; on the 13th and 14th of May ; on the first Thursday and Friday in June ; on the first Thursday in November ; and on the 23rd of November, which is a general hiring day for servants. A most graphic idea of the scenes enacted, occasionally, at the mediæval fairs here, may be gathered from an interesting narrative, recently published in “the Plumpton Correspondence."
From a very early period—doubtless far more remote than the thirteenth century, when there is record of the fact-Ripon seems to have been a noted place for horse-fairs, and the most spacious street in it is still called “the Horsefair," though it is now used rather for the periodical exhibition than the sale of horses. It also promoted, at a comparatively early period, the breeding of horses, by the establishment of races, a course being formed, on the High Common, in 1713, at the expense of the Corporation. During the time of the Aislabies, they were well encouraged ; but subsequently fell off considerably in character, and finally were abandoned on the enclosure of the common in 1826. With a view chiefly to afford amusement at the annual feast of St. Wilfrid in August, they were re-established, on a new course on the opposite side of the river, in 1837, and have since been continued, with increasing prospect of
The general position of the city is sufficiently indicated by the map, and the vignette at the head of our first chapter, showing its bearing with reference to the vale of Ure, and the great Yorkshire plain beyond. It will be sufficient, therefore, now, to say that Ripon stands, chiefly, on a sheltered situation, declining from the northwest towards the confluence of the river Ure with the Laver and the Skell. The geological stratification, in its immediate vicinity, is of the Tertiary character, the city standing on the boundary between the new red-sandstone of the Yorkshire Plain, which shows itself prominently in a quarry beyond the railway station, and its great western terrace of magnesian limestone, which appears on the opposite side of the valley at Studley, Whitcliff, Morkershaw, and especially at Quarry Moor, where extensive lime-kilns have long been established. The soil, occasionally affording useful beds of clay, is generally of a gravelly nature, though there is much fertile land around the city, and trees show their satisfaction in its quality, both in their unusual size and exuberant foliage.
The antiquary Leland, who was here in the time of king Henry VIII., observed, and appearances still confirm his position, that “ the olde Towne of Ripon stoode much by North and Est” as he “could gather by veuing of it." Stammergate and Allhallowgate, from their proximity to the Monastery that was the germ of the town, were therefore indubitably the most ancient portion of it, and from them the dwellings diverged, until the Market-place and its western and southern adjacencies were formed, before the sixteenth century. These later parts, in Leland's day, were “ the best of the toune ;” and he remarks, too, what few could have otherwise imagined, that “the very place wher the Market stede and Hart of the Towne is, was sumtyme caulled holly hille, of holy trees ther growing, wherby it apperith that this parte of the Towne is of a newer Buyldynge.”
The plan and prospect of Ripon, recorded upwards of a hundred years ago, in the several works of Gent and Buck, exhibit much the same appearances as remained until the beginning of the present century, since which time many improvements have been effected by paving, flagging, and draining streets; the enclosing of the adjacent common lands ; the rebuilding of many old, humble, and inconvenient houses ; and the erection and embellishment of new ones, especially in the immediate environs. The era of reconstruction preceding the present appears to have been during the seventeenth century; but the outline of the picturesque gable, that was so charming a feature in our old street architecture, is still unwittingly retained in many of the modern erections. Most of these fronts were but formed of timber frames, covered with lath and plaster-each story projecting over that below. One by one, they have been gradually superseded by more convenient arrangements, and substantial materials; and, I believe, an ancient hostelry, in the north-west corner of the Market-place, remains now the least mutilated example.
Most of the streets are narrow, like those of other ancient towns, where, originally, little more was required than passage for man and horse. The chief Market-place is very spacious, and nearly square, measuring at the widest points 115 yards by 81. It is adorned by a handsome Cross 90ft. high, erected in 1781, by William Aislabie, Esq., of Studley, who represented the borough in Parliament sixty years : and an elegant TowN-HALL, of which more will be said hereafter.
« THE OLD ABBAY OF RIPON.”
We have already noticed that Eata, abbot of Melrose, obtained, about the year 660, certain lands in Ripon, from Alchfrid, king of Deira, whereon to construct and maintain a monastic establishment. The monks, however, had scarcely erected their humble dwelling, before Alchfrid was dissatisfied with their discipline, particularly their mode of computing the time of Easter. Having the option, therefore, given, either to quit the place, or to conform to his wishes, they chose the more independent alternative, and de
On this untoward circumstance, which occurred before 664, King
• Eddij. Vit. Wilfridi, c. viii. Bedæ Hist. Eccl., L. V., c. 20, and L. iii., c. 25.
Alchfrid bestowed the monastery, and the lands appurtenant to thirty dwellings, on one Wilfrid, whose learning and piety had captivated the monarch and his court; and who henceforth fills an important page, not merely of the annals of the town, but of the whole Christian church.
The intercourse of this monarch with Wilfrid, and the peculiar tendency of his own mind to adopt the ceremonial practices of the Church of Rome, in several matters that agitated the clergy of this island, inclined him to join his father in holding a synod, which might furnish grounds for regulating the ecclesiastical practice of Northumbria in these particulars. This assembly met at Whitby in 664, King Oswi himself being present, who, although educated in the Scottish discipline, pronounced now in favour of the Church of Rome.
The Bishoprick of York or Northumbria being soon after vacant, Wilfrid, who had shown much zeal and ability in supporting the Romish cause at the Synod, was elected to that important office.
Soon after his elevation, he began to realise those principles of architecture, he had acquired in his continental tours, in the improvement of his Cathedral church at York; and, immediately after, it would seem, from the consecutive narrative of his Chaplain,* determined to erect a new monastery at Ripon. Of what form and extent the old Abbey had been, is of course unknown. Its site, occupying upwards of two acres and a half, is still circumscribed, I presume, by a portion of Stammergate, Priest-lane, and a nameless road on the south; and has immemorially been called “Scots’ Monument Yard." The buildings were undoubtedly of woodjudging alike from the fashion of the Scots, and the ability of the times. The raised platform by the poplar trees seems composed of gravel, but there are foundations diverging from it that have disclosed large stones. Several Saxon stycas, of the Northumbrian king Ethelred, have been dug up in this field ; and a portion of a cylindrical column of grit-stone 4ft. 5in. in circumference. This might, however, have formed part of some subsequent oratory.
Wilfrid, from some cause now unintelligible, chose the site of his new foundation about 200 yards from the old building; and on the western side of what is now the public street; but we have, unfortunately, no more definite idea of its design and magnitude, than is suggested in the observation of his chaplain Eddi, that it was
* Eddij. Vita Wilfridi, c. xvii.
| Bedæ Hist. Eccl., L. iii., c. xxiv.