Photograph © W. F. Millar, who previously submitted a smaller version of it to the Geograph Project. With his permission, the perspective has been corrected. [This photograph can be reused with a copyright attribution under the Creative Commons Licence, but please link your document to this URL or cite the Victorian Web in a text document. Click on the image to enlarge it.]

Ripon Cathedral, North Yorkshire, west front. In 1836 a new diocese was created at Ripon, on the eastern side of Nidderdale in the Yorkshire Dales. It extended (and currently still extends) from Teesdale in County Durham through North Yorkshire and into West Yorkshire, including Leeds. All the Anglican churches in these areas came within its ministry. Consequent on its creation, the collegiate church of St Peter and St Wilfrid in Ripon became a Cathedral. This is an ancient foundation, and, as such, has a long architectural history. Peter Leach and Nikolaus Pevsner explain that the most recent work on it at that time was by Edward Blore, who In 1829-31 had "re-Gothicized the choir by installing a plaster vault and remodelling the late C13 E wall arcading as a Peep-style altarpiece"; Blore's work had involved replacing the late sixteenth-century roof with a "featureless flat wooden ceiling." The first architect to work on the church after it became a cathedral was William Railton, whose efforts in 1836 these commentators also criticise, because he installed "anachronistic Romanesque-style rib-vaults of plaster and papier-mâché over the transept" — all these being considered "gimcrack and uninformed additions" (641).

Another view of the newly designated Cathedral "from Buckler's print, with recent alterations," in Walbran (1851), facing p.24.

George Gilbert Scott set things right when he undertook the thoroughgoing restoration that began in 1862 — one of his "least controversial" restoration projects, one which involved replacing his nineteenth-century predecessors' unsuitable alterations, restoring harmony to the interior, underpinning the west towers, and strengthening the crossing tower (Leach and Pevsner 641). Scott himself expressed pleasure in having saved the west towers, which were "imminently threatened with destruction" (416). The west front is sometimes described as austere, but Pevsner quite rightly expressed his appreciation of its beautiful "clarity and balance" (qtd. in Leach and Pevsner 17).

Related Material


Leach, Peter, and Nikolaus Pevsner. Yorkshire West Riding, Leeds, Bradford and the North. The Buildings of England series. New Haven & London: Yale, 2009.

Scott, Sir George Gilbert, R.A. Personal and Professional Recollections, edited by his son, G. Gilbert Scott, F.S.A.. London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington, 1879. Internet Archive. Web. 3 September 2011.

Walbran, John Richard. A Guide to Ripon, Harrogate, Fountains Abbey, Bolton Priory, and Several Places of Interest in their Vicinity. 5th ed. Ripon: A. Johnson & Co., 1856. Internet Archive. Web. 3 September 2011.

Last modified 11 September 2011