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Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Ripon Ramble and Crime and Punishment.

Today's blog continues with our further walks around Ripon and also the next day too.

The Victoria Clock Tower is in the middle of a round about, so would have been a good spot for people coming into the town. It was erected to celebrate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. It was built in 1897 and officially opened in 1898. It was paid for by two sisters called cross. It is in the perpendicular style and you can see a small statue of Queen Victoria on the left side.

Helen caught the evening sun on the sandstone eastern front. We are hoping to get to see the inside tomorrow.

The Wakeman has been blowing a horn to indicate the setting of the watch since 886. Actually since 1690 he has been called the Hornblower. Alfred the Great gave the first horn (still in existence) as the sign of a charter given the town as they were very alert to the invasion of Vikings. The Wakeman was elected and had to alert the town that the watch was set by blowing his horn at the four corners of the market cross every night, and this indicated that he would maintain the watch until morning. Not a day has been missed since. In 1690 James I (VI) granted another charter. The Wakeman had become too powerful so an elected Mayor was brought in and a Hornblower also selected. The Mayor did not fully trust the Hornblower and insisted that after setting the watch the Hornblower had to come to the Mayor, where ever he was in the town and blow his horn three times and doff his cap and state the watch is set.

The lovely street of Kirkgate leads from the Market Place to the Cathedral and is full of restaurants and little shops. You can just see the full moon rising.

The next day we walked back to the Cathedral and opposite is the Courthouse Museum. It was built in 1830 to replace its medieval one. It was used for the Quarter Sessions of the Liberty of Ripon which was an area, like the area around Ripon was a county and in the Middle Ages was 'owned' by the Archbishop of York. It lost its Quarter Sessions status in 1953 but the Magistrates court continued until 1998 and a year later it became a museum. This is the Court Room and the bloke to the right is sentencing the cameraman to a fine for abusing privileged! 

We also went to the Prison and Police Station Museum and this building has a long history. Part of this present building formed pasrt of the House of Correction for Vagrants from 1686 to 1816. 

 From 1816 it became the Liberty of Ripon Prison until 1878. This is the upper story where the cells were.

I have lived in worse cabins than this on some ships I have sailed on. No, not really, but about the same size! In 1881 the building was taken over by the Ripon Police who also maintained some cells. The displays are very informative and there are large displays of insignia, truncheons etc and is again well worth a visit.

The third museum of Ripon is the Workhouse Museum and gardens. There has been a workhouse on this site since 1776. As you can see the current building was built in 1854 and this was actually just the gatehouse where those requesting to enter the workhouse would be checked to be 'worthy' and then entered by washing, delousing etc and dressing in workhouse clothes. By 1877 it also became the reception for vagrants that were washed and cleaned, and fed with a bed for the night before moving on the next day. All a very early days notion of the National Health Service.

This is the main block that had the dining room, master's study, pantry and dining room too. This part has only recently been bought and will slowly be converted to a full museum with all the rooms opened. Behind the main block is the garden that was started to make the house self sufficient as possible and provide better work for the 'inmates' than rock breaking or the like. They even kept pigs. Wit the coming of the National Health scheme after WWII it became an old peoples home with a very different culture.

After a full day of visits to the Museums of Ripon we headed for the Cathedral and as the Choral Evensong service was about to start we joined in. It was a lovely service as the all the psalms and responses were sung by a very good choir and the organist was very good too. Whilst not being one of the more ornate churches we have been to it certainly has a dignity to it and a great atmosphere. We didn't have very long to have a look around and missed the Anglo Saxon crypt. There is something about these old churches that are so massive that must have been an immense undertaking and provide a visible symbol of the church for the towns folk.

On Low St. Agnesgate there is a large building with a double gate through to a yard, that looks  a bit like a small factory of warehouse. This terracotta plaque with a beehive and the motto 'Labor Omnia Vincit' or 'Work Conquers All'. I can only find that this was a Victorian affectation rather than anything else. The motto was popular with labour movements in America and is the motto of the Royal Pioneer Corp. I thought that the motto and beehive might have had something to do with the Co-operative movement, but apparently not. The 'Work Conquerors All' also made me worry it had something to do with Auschwitz but that motto above the gate was 'Work Sets you Free'. 

This is the River Skell where the path from the back of the Cathedral crosses the bridge. At the other side is the Water Rat pub that is just across the road from the Canal Basin and seems a popular spot on a nice day.

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