Taxi cab designer Hansom’s heritage gem a step closer to major renovation

What do St Wilfrid’s Roman Catholic Church in Ripon and the first taxi cab have in common? Surprisingly, they share the same designer!

However, while the hansom cab fell out of fashion with the invention of the automobile, the historically significant church in Yorkshire that was designed by the same architect - Joseph Hansom, with his colleague, Edward Pugin - is determined to ensure it remains at the beating heart of its community for many generations to come. And with the help of an Allchurches Trust grant, it can!

Opened in 1862, the historically significant Roman Catholic Church recently found out it has been awarded £6000 funding to help restore it to its former glory from Allchurches, which gives grants to churches from all Christian denominations.

The grant takes the Grade II listed church closer to reaching its £363,000 fundraising target, having now raised £285,000, with almost a quarter of a million pounds raised by the congregation and the wider community. They hope to start work in autumn 2019.

Barrie Price, Chairman of the St Wilfrid’s RC Church Ripon Restoration Committee, said: “As the Catholic community in Ripon, we are proud to be the custodians of this building and committed to caring for this precious part of our city’s heritage.

“After the restoration, the church will be open to the public – not only as part of the St Wilfrid’s tourist trail from Fountains Abbey to Ripon Cathedral, but also as a venue for concerts, events and visits. It will be fantastic to open up its treasures for more people to appreciate and enjoy.”

The church chancel’s design is unique in England, rising to a great height within an octagonal tower and casting light upon the collection of glass, mosaics and carvings in the sanctuary, many of which are by some of the best craftsmen of the late 19th Century. A stone reredos designed by Pugin and carved by Farmer & Brindley is a highlight of the space, while the windows are by John Hungerford Pollen – the curator of the South Kensington Museum (now the V&A).

Following the restoration, visual and audio aids will be added to improve the visitor experience and schools will be invited in for activities and learning opportunities. There will also be ‘Education for All’ opportunities for adults, including talks and lectures.

Paul Playford, grants officer at Allchurches Trust, said: “The sensitive renovation will restore many of the building’s exquisite features and ensure these previously hidden treasures are brought back to life and preserved for future generations. This exciting project will enable people of all ages in the local community and visitors from all over the world to learn about and enjoy the colourful history of the church, which tells a rich history of the Catholic faith in the area.” St-Wilf-for-web.jpg#asset:895