Ripon and Ripon Cathedral have featured on my blog many times, and if you have seen similar pictures in previous years, bear with me - I promise there will also be pictures of places I've not been to before.
But since one of the first things we did on the day after our late arrival in Ripon was a walk round the market square and to the cathedral, these are the first pictures after yesterday's post you'll get to see.
Even if a visitor is not religious, I guess the cathedral will not fail to impress - its sheer size and beauty is awe-inspiring. What I like most about it, though, is the "lived in" atmosphere. Unlike many grand old churches in Germany, which feel like museums where you don't even dare speak properly but just whisper, there is always something happening in the cathedral.
There are Welcomers near the entrance, greeting everyone friendly and answering questions or, if you wish so, just let you wander at will.
People go about whatever business they have in the cathredral; they may be members of the choir, or setting up things for the next service, preparing an exhibition or work behind the scenes for the community.
See the illuminated hand above the archway connecting the main nave with the choir? I find that hand a bit spooky and wasn't sure what it was there for, but an information sheet told us it is a wooden hand that can be moved by a mechanism and was used to conduct the choir. Apparently, it still works, but nowadays the choir is conducted by a person.
Of course, those of you who are familiar with Lewis Carroll and his work know that apparently, he was inspired to write how Alice went down the rabbit hole and ended up in Wonderland while looking at this carving on one of the choir stalls. You can see a bird of prey catching one rabbit, while another one is just disappearing down a hole.
No matter how many times I've been already to Ripon Cathedral, I still find details I've not noticed before, or can't remember from previous visits.
For instance, the sad story of this little boy was touching; I thought of the grief his parents must have felt, mirrored by many, many other parents who have lost a child:
You know I have a "thing" for doors and doorways (see this post for an explanation), and of course there are many to be found at the cathedral. Here are two of them:
The cathedral has, by the way, a rather good gift shop where one can buy not just "churchy" things (which I wouldn't buy anyway, as my faith is not in objects), but a good collection of greeting cards and many other things, mostly related to Ripon and Yorkshire. Buying a little something there helps to keep this place up (at York Minster, for instance, visitors are expected to pay 10 pounds to look round!), and so we both spent a little bit of money at the Cathedral.
It was our first but not our last visit to this beautiful place in the course of our holiday.