Jane Nethercott – The Turbulent 1600s
The Turbulent 1600s Ripon Cathedral in its various guises of a monastery, a church, a minster, and a cathedral has undoubtedly been both a witness and a victim of England’s troubled history. Attacks by the Saxons, the Vikings, the Normans, the Reformation, the English Civil Wars of the 1600s and the English weather have all...
January 5, 2023
The Turbulent 1600s
Ripon Cathedral in its various guises of a monastery, a church, a minster, and a cathedral has undoubtedly been both a witness and a victim of England’s troubled history. Attacks by the Saxons, the Vikings, the Normans, the Reformation, the English Civil Wars of the 1600s and the English weather have all taken their toll. The 1600s were a particularly turbulent time for Ripon Cathedral, coming out of Tudor rule and the dissolution of the monasteries, and into the Stuart era and Civil War.
Having been dissolved in 1547, Ripon Cathedral (then a minster) could no longer exist as a monastic college of canons. It remained, however, as a parish church and when James I came to the throne, he presented several charters to Ripon in 1604. The Charter of Restoration brought back collegiate status to the minster, led by a Dean with six canons. James I was entertained in the Ripon Minster and Thorpe Prebend House, probably with much ceremony, but little did the canons know what was to come with the next monarch.
Charles I visited Ripon on his way to be crowned in Edinburgh in 1633, but it was the visit of the prominent Parliamentarian and Roundhead Sir Thomas Mauleverer that caused the most upheaval. Sir Thomas raised an army of his own in support of Parliament, and his ruthless soldiers became famous for sacking churches and defacing religious monuments. In 1643 Sir Thomas’s army took control of Ripon Cathedral and dishing out its usual course of destruction, they broke the glass of the great east window and vandalised the monument of Dean Moses Fowler, which you can still see today in the south quire. The royalist forces eventually drove the roundheads out following some intense fighting in the town, however this victory was short lived and Charles I was held as a prisoner in Ripon in 1646.
Ripon was subject to a more natural disaster in 1653, when lighting struck the central tower. Seven years later in 1660, the same year Charles II was crowned, the spire fell through the cathedral’s roof and damaged the quire, resulting in almost £6,000 (£1m in today’s money) of damage. Charles II requested the damage be repaired, but the spire was never rebuilt. Permission from the King was later sought and granted to remove the spires on the western towers to minimise future risk of damage.
Despite the varying degrees of damage and upheaval to Ripon Cathedral, it has continued throughout as a place of worship and modern governance of the cathedral is still founded on the Charter of James I granted in 1604.