There are two schools of thought as to how Ripley got its name.
One traces the origins back to the Hrype tribe, who occupied this area c. 500 AD; Hrype leah is 'the field of the Hrypes'. The other believes that it originates from ripa lea 'the field by the bank of the river'.
Fourteenth century life contained many hazards: Black Douglas and his Scottish raiders virtually destroyed several of the local towns and villages and the Black Death wiped out many of the survivors. The Ingilbys, who had received Ripley Castle and the lands around it as a dowry when they married the heiress to the estate in 1308/9, resettled the village to its existing site.
By 1825 many of the thatched houses and cottages were in a poor state: Sir William Amcotts Ingilby, a colourful eccentric and keen europhile, rebuilt the whole village, virtually from scratch. He had been much inspired by a model estate village that he had seen, apparently on his travels in Alsace-Lorraine. He combined architectural features from the castle with some less conventional ideas: Ripley is certainly the only place in Britain to have a Hotel de Ville instead of a Town Hall! Ripley currently has a population of about 260, but is a thriving community.
There are few more picturesque villages in Britain. The central feature is a cobbled market square, complete with village stocks, war memorial and market cross. The Boar's Head overlooks the square, fulfilling the true objective of an Inn: providing food, refreshments and a comfortable bed for the night for passing travellers. Click here to discover more information.
All Saints' Church occupies the whole of the southern side of the square. The church was moved to its present site c1395, and is well worth visiting to see the ancient and unique Weeping Cross, tomb chests and musket ball holes, a memento of Oliver Cromwell's brief stay in the village. The Castle Gate House guards the western approach to the square, it's huge arch giving you a glimpse of Ripley Castle.
Ripley Endowed School was founded with the fortune of Katherine and Mary Ingilby in 1702, and rebuilt in 1820. You will find this delightful building slightly set back from the Main Street, almost opposite the Hotel de Ville. Tiny laundry buildings occupy the gap between the terraced cottages on the east side of the Main Street.
Today there are lots of shops to browse in: The Chantry House Art Gallery, Birchwood Farm Museum, Ripley Store and Ice Cream Shop, Hutchinsons Butchers, The Castle Gift Shop, and Hopkins Porter. Ripley also has its own Post Office and hairdressing salon.
Several beautiful walks have their starting point in the village: the Nidderdale Way passes through the centre of the village and Hollybank Lane takes you through the lovely open countryside and woods to the west of the village. You also get some beautiful views of the Castle and Nidderdale from the village car park and the adjacent cricket field. Shire horses graze under the ancient hardwood trees.