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Local traditions


Although sitting firmly on the fence as regards religion, I do enjoy taking part in some of our local customs and the annual pilgrimage from Ripon Cathedral to the ruins of Fountains Abbey on Boxing Day morning is one of them. It follows in the footsteps of a group of Cistercian monks who walked from the Cathedral on 26th December 1132 to found the Abbey. Led this year by the Dean of Ripon, Bishop of Knaresborough and other clergy, hundreds of walkers, many with dogs in tow, followed the cross on a four mile walk, mainly across fields and via the deer park of Studley Royal to the gates of the Fountains estate. The National Trust waives the normal entry charge on this one day of the year and a carol service in the cellarium, the only part of the Abbey still to have a roof, is always held at midday. Refreshments – including mulled wine – are served beforehand and the atmosphere is very cheery.

Ripon Gazette Point of View pilgrimage 2014

The sound system leaves much to be desired, though, hence this letter to the Ripon Gazette!

On New Year’s Eve, I attended the Watchnight service at the Cathedral and joined the throng milling up Kirkgate to the Market Place to see in the New Year. When I first moved to Ripon, the congregation was equipped with flaming torches. Unfortunately, health and safety concerns did away with those many years ago. After a brief period with glow sticks, someone came up with the idea of a small candle in a cardboard holder, to be lit during the singing of O Come All Ye Faithful. Unfortunately, it was windy this year and most of the candles, including mine, were extinguished as soon as their bearers stepped out of the west door.

However, spirits were high as well wrapped up church goers merged with scantily clad revellers in the Market Place. From the balcony of the Town Hall, the Mayor, Dean and Bishop wished us all the best for the New Year and – just before the chimes of midnight – our Hornblower, George Pickles, sounded the old Ripon horn for the last time in 2014. An excellent firework display followed and then – as Samuel Pepys would have said – to bed.


2 January, 2015 - Make the first comment on this story

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