Some say it’s the oldest city in England. The tiny city of Ripon has a small population that belies its long, rich heritage. Travellers to Ripon, from the year 2024 onwards, will need to apply for the new UK ETA. This guide explains how to do that and what to see when you arrive in this hidden Yorkshire gem.
The Growth of Ripon
Ripon was not settled by the Romans. Instead, it developed long after they had left Britain in the 7th century. The first building in Ripon was a Christian church built in the year 658. From its earliest origins, the town had religious ambitions. Many of its first settlers were stonemasons and other artisans who came to work in the monastery. This period was a troubled time in English history. First, Danish Vikings raided and attacked Ripon, among many other settlements. Then there was the Norman invasion, followed by northern rebellions that led to the Harrying of the North, campaigns to quash unease. During this time, Ripon remained firmly a religious community with the monastery at its heart.
The original monastery is long gone, but the magnificent Ripon Cathedral stands in its place. Much of the current building dates back to the 13th century, but the 7th-century crypt can still be seen and is one of the earliest examples of Christian architecture in the country. The original church was founded by Saint Wilfrid, who was buried in the crypt. For centuries, the church was considered a ministry. It finally attained cathedral status in 1836, when the Diocese of Ripon was founded. Its Early English style of architecture attracts visitors, while it is still used as a regular house of worship.
The cathedral is not the only significant religious building in the area. Although long since abandoned, Fountains Abbey is one of the country’s best-preserved ruined Cistercian monasteries. The abbey was founded in 1132, at a time when Ripon was growing in religious prominence. It was to become one of England’s wealthiest monasteries, but its days were numbered. When Henry VIII broke up with the Catholic church, he ordered the dissolution of the monasteries. Fountains Abbey was seized by the crown in 1540 and allowed to fall into disrepair. Today, it is a National Trust site, with the manicured Studley Royal Gardens having been built around the ruins.
Ripon was to suffer during the Tudor period. As a deeply religious town, it was heavily affected by Henry VIII’s Reformation. The surrounding area rose in a revolt against Henry, a failed rebellion known as the Pilgrimage of Grace. A second revolt, the Rising of the North, also ended in disaster, with 300 rebels hanged at Ripon’s Gallows Hill in January 1570. Although the Tudor era was not a good one for Ripon, the town enjoyed happier days under the Stuarts. King James I granted the town a Royal Charter in 1604 and even stayed here in 1617 when the town’s renowned steel workers presented him with a pair of bespoke riding spurs.
As well as religion, Ripon was known for its trade and industry. The current marketplace is Georgian, and Ripon Market continues to take place each week, with stallholders setting up here on Thursday mornings. A curious tradition continues to take place every day in the marketplace at 9 pm when the town Hornblower comes out to start the night watch. This tradition dates back 1,000 years, and it was initially the responsibility of Ripon Wakeman. His nightly horn signalled the townsfolk to be on the alert for Viking raiders. When James I gave Ripon a Royal Charter, the Wakeman was replaced by a Mayor. The tradition remained in place, though, and is still a nightly ritual in the 21st century. Visitors can also see the Wakeman’s House, a remarkably well-restored Tudor building in the marketplace.
Those who are curious about the history of Yorkshire can visit the Ripon Museums, which have a particular emphasis on law and order. There are three: the Workhouse Museum, Courthouse Museum, and Prison and Police Museum. Although they have some exhibits explaining its earlier history, they focus primarily on Yorkshire during the Victorian era. These are very family-friendly museums, with costumed guides and interactive exhibits to spark youngsters’ imaginations.
The UK ETA for Ripon
The introduction of the new UK ETA system in 2024 will impact travellers to Ripon. The ETA, or Electronic Travel Authorisation, is inspired by modern programmes that are now in place in the United States and Canada. It helps digitalise the border and gives the government more control and oversight over entries and departures.
Currently, the UK has a visa waiver programme, which allows citizens of 92 countries to travel without a visa. Under the new system, these visitors will need to apply for an ETA. The current visa waiver programme will disappear, replaced by the new ETA system.
The ETA is a requirement for visitors who plan to spend less than six months in the country, whether they are on holiday, visiting family, travelling on business or studying for a short period. Visitors who intend to spend more than six months or wish to work in the United Kingdom will still need to apply for a separate visa.
The UK ETA Application System
The application form for the UK ETA for Ripon is only available online. An approved ETA will be a condition of entry for those visiting the UK without a visa. Travellers should ensure that they apply well in advance of their journey, as carriers might deny them boarding if they do not have an approved ETA.
Several requirements must be met during the ETA application process. For instance, travellers will need to have a valid biometric passport. The application will also ask for personal information, including contact details, employment information, date of birth and so on.
As part of the process, travellers will also be expected to disclose sensitive information. This includes criminal records, immigration offences and membership of proscribed organisations. Additionally, they will need to share information about their travel plans in the UK. This could include the address or addresses at which they will stay, as well as an itinerary of their trip.
After an ETA form has been correctly submitted, there is a processing time of up to 72 hours, so travellers should keep this in mind when preparing for their trip. The ETA application also has a non-refundable fee. Applications will not be processed until this has been paid.
Travelling With the UK ETA for Ripon
Once an application for the UK ETA for Ripon has been approved, a visitor has the right to stay in the United Kingdom for six months. During this time, they can travel freely around the state. The United Kingdom consists of four constituent countries, but there is no border control between them. Thus, a traveller is not limited to England — they can also visit Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. Ripon is about 120 miles from the Scottish border, so travellers will often visit as part of their trip.
Travellers can move around the UK in any way they please: by train, road, boat or plane. However, they should take care if they intend to visit any other countries. The Republic of Ireland is a separate sovereign state, and the UK ETA does not grant permission to travel there. Similarly, other European countries set their own entry requirements. It is the traveller’s responsibility to stay informed and to meet these requirements before making any attempt to cross international borders.
Visiting Ripon With the New UK ETA
When your application for a UK ETA is complete, you are ready to visit Ripon. Its long history and proud, ongoing traditions make it a fascinating destination for anyone who wants to learn more about Britain’s past. Combine a trip to Ripon with an adventure in the rolling Yorkshire Dales, explore more cities around the north of England or cross the border into Scotland. With your ETA application approved, the United Kingdom is waiting for you.