The nave—south side (showing junction of Transitional and Perpendicular work in the tower)
Ripon Cathedral was founded by St Wilfrid (c. 634-709), who brought craftsmen from the continent to build a new stone church dedicated to St Peter, in 672. The only part of Wilfrid’s church to survive, however, is the ancient Saxon crypt.
Much of the church you see today dates from the 12th century, though most of the nave was substantially rebuilt in the 15th and 16th centuries.
For this reason, the building contains a variety of architectural styles. Thus the splendid Early English west front dates from the early 13th century, while the transepts (the ‘arms’ of a cruciform church) – combining rounded Norman with pointed Gothic arches – are an interesting example of the late 12th century Transitional style.
The nave was largely rebuilt in the Perpendicular (late Gothic) style after the central tower collapsed in 1450, when the side-aisles were also added. Work was halted, however, by the disruptions of the Reformation in the 1530s, which is why to this day there are incomplete pillars and mis-matched arches under the central tower.
In 1604 Ripon was re-founded by King James I as a collegiate church, and although the Chapter (the governing body) was dissolved again during the Commonwealth (1649-60), it was reinstated following the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II in 1660. In 1836 Ripon Minster became a Cathedral with the creation of the first new diocese in England since the Reformation.