Ripley Castle 2022: What to See & Do (+Ripley Village)

Tiny little Ripley (population 232) is one of Britain’s last surviving estate villages, tucked away on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, yet it’s only three miles from elegant Harrogate and less than 1 hour from the hustle and bustle of Yorkshire’s biggest city – Leeds.

With the magnificent Ripley Castle and gardens, a medieval church, a splendid hotel and restaurant, and ‘The World’s Best Ice Cream‘, Ripley village is an off-the-beaten-path gem that’s perfect for gentle exploring. You’ll soon see why Ripley, Yorkshire, has been voted “Best Village in North Yorkshire to live“.

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What to see and do in Ripley Village, Yorkshire

The Doomsday Book (written in the year 1086) mentions Ripley Yorkshire as a settlement. It was initially located on the north bank of the River Nidd.

1. Ripley Castle

In the 14th century, the principal local family (the Ingilby family) moved Ripley village to the north and started to build Ripley Castle. 700 years later, the Ingilby family still owns and occupies the castle – the current residents are the 28th generation! 

View of Ripley Castle and gardens
Beautiful Ripley Castle

While neither as significant nor as grand as some of Britain’s better-known castles, Ripley Castle estate has plenty to offer the discerning visitor, with picturesque architecture, colourful history, a fabulous female heroine, and stunning gardens. 

I’ve visited Ripley village many times; however, this was my first visit to the Castle itself, which has survived wars and plagues and narrowly escaped destruction during the civil war. Today it’s packed with a treasure trove of historic family treasures. 

What to See and Do at Ripley Castle and Gardens

Ripley Castle yard, Ripley village, North Yorkshire

Some of the highlights include the magnificent spiral stairway in the old tower and the secret rooms and hiding places (including a priest hole) used by Catholics to escape persecution during the reign of Protestant monarchs after the death of “Bloody Mary”.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t join a guided tour on this visit due to restrictions related to the pandemic, but I’ll be back to do this as soon as I can! On this visit, I focussed on learning about the Castle’s history and exploring the gardens and parkland. 

The Ripley Castle Gardens

The Castle is set in extensive grounds, designed by English landscape architect Lancelot ‘Capability Brown‘. There’s an orangery, Victorian walled garden, a large lake with a cascading weir, and a beautiful deer park to see. 

Cascading weir Ripley castle, North Yorkshire

Visit from mid-spring until June to see the high south-facing walls of the Castle covered with glorious amethyst blooms from ancient wisteria and clematis.

The Walled Gardens – Home of the National Hyacinth Collection.

The best time to visit the Walled Gardens is in April when the bulbs are in bloom – the sight and scent of the massed flowers are intoxicating! There’s also an extensive herb garden, an extraordinary collection of rare fruit and vegetables, plus some of the most significant herbaceous borders in England. 

View of Ripley castle, North Yorkshire from the Deer Park

The Hothouses at Ripley Castle

A peek into the hothouses produces many more delights: tropical plants, ferns, and cacti of such variety.

The Pleasure Gardens

Take a look at the specimen trees from around the world and thousands of spring-flowering bulbs, daffodils, narcissi, snowdrops, aconites, and bluebells in the Pleasure Gardens too.

The Deer Park at Ripley castle

Ripley castle Deer Park
The beautiful deer park at Ripley Castle

One of the most enjoyable walks is the park walk which takes you around the Castle’s sizeable ornamental lake, across the waterfall, and into the deer park itself. Visit to see cute bridges, waterfalls, and peaceful woodland trails among ancient oak trees – some as old as one thousand years. 

There’s plenty of wildlife in the deer park too. Look out for fallow deer, rabbits, squirrels, heron, Canada and greylag geese, mallard, teal and wigeon, pheasants, woodpeckers, and, if you are lucky, a kingfisher as it flashes past. 

Expect to spend a good few hours on your tranquil walk around these tranquil gardens! 

Ripley Castle History

How the Ingilby family got their coat of arms

The Ingilby family originated in Lincolnshire during the early Middle Ages, before Thomas Ingilby married heiress Edeline Thweng and moved north to Ripley. Thomas found favour with King Edward III, who fell from his horse in the royal forest of Knaresborough while out hunting. 

The King was almost gored by a wild boar; however, Ingilby rode to the rescue and killed the boar. His reward was a knighthood and a family crest featuring a boar’s head. 

When you walk around Ripley village and castle today, you’ll see many references to pigs and boars. Look out for the massive statue of a boar outside the church!

Wild Boar statue Ripley Village, Yorkshire, UK

The Wild Boar statue is also a drinking water fountain – great for topping up your water bottle or giving your thirsty dog a drink!

Ripley Castle in Tudor and Stuart Britain

When Protestant Queen Elizabeth I succeeded to the English throne after the death of her Catholic sister Mary, life got tough for the Catholic Ingilby family. Sir William remained loyal to the crown during the Catholic Rising of 1569; however, his son Francis, who was a priest, was hanged, drawn, and quartered for high treason! 

In the early 17th Century, Sir William Ingilby (1546-1618) hosted Scotland’s James VI on his journey to London, to his coronation as King James I of England. 

Just two years later, Sir William also hosted the Catholic gang of the Gunpowder Plot as they plotted to kill the new Protestant King. While Sir William was charged with treason, he was acquitted and escaped with his life. 

During the First English Civil War, the formidable Jane Ingilby (known as ‘Trooper Jane’) took part in the nearby Battle of Marston Moor (1644) beside her Royalist brother, the 6th Sir William.

After the Royalist defeat, Jane made it back to Ripley Castle just as the victorious Cromwell turned up seeking a room for the night. While her brother hid in a secret priest hole, Jane let Cromwell in on the condition that she could keep her pistols!

Later History of Ripley Castle Yorkshire

Sir John Ingilby rebuilt the Castle in the 1780s, and then his son, also called Sir John, completely rebuilt Ripley’s village. More eccentric Ingilbys followed, leaving behind them a trail of mistresses, illegitimate children, and disinherited heirs. 

More Things to See in Ripley

Ripley is a very pretty village, with an immaculate high street, manicured grass verges, and chocolate box-worthy houses and cottages.

2. All Saints Church

Overlooking the Castle, Ripley’s church dates to the 14th century and is rich in history. In addition to housing tombs for members of the Ingilby family, one of the church walls is scarred with bullet holes.

All Saints Church Ripley Village, Yorkshire

These mark the time when Oliver Cromwell’s Parliamentarian soldiers executed Royalist prisoners after the battle of Marston Moor. (First English Civil War 1644).

All Saints Church Ripley Village, Yorkshire

Sir Thomas Ingilby and Lady Edeline were buried in the old parish church on the banks of the River Nidd, but the church began to subside when the river changed course. Their son built today’s Perpendicular church on higher ground, opposite the castle gates, and relocated their tomb to the new church.

3. The Ancient Weeping Cross

The ancient weeping cross at All Saints Church, Ripley Village, Yorkshire, UK

The churchyard features a 14th-century “weeping cross”, believed to be the last one remaining in Britain. The stone pedestal features small (tiny!) recesses where pilgrims and penitents would kneel. The cross itself has been lost for years. It’s now replaced by stones where the base of the cross would have been. 

A weeping cross is a stone cross built on or by a road for the devotions of penitents or pilgrims.

4. More Ancient Monuments

Cobbled village square Ripley Village, Yorkshire, with ancient cross and stocks

The cobbled village square has two Grade II ancient monuments. The first is the 15th-century village cross with a sundial that dates back to the 18th century. The cross has a square base with five steps; however, only the base of the cross remains today.

An 18th-century set of stocks remains next to the cross. The victim could sit on the lowest step of the cross while secured in the stocks.

5. Incredible Spring Flower Displays

Both within the castle gardens and all-around Ripley village, the spring displays of snowdrops, daffodils, and primroses are breathtaking. Ripley is famous for its beautiful bluebell woods too.

Read More: Discover Beautiful Bluebell Walks in the UK

Directions to Ripley Castle

By Car: Ripley is just off the A61, between Ripon and Harrogate. The A61 connects to M1 18 miles south, to M62 20 miles south, and to A1 8 miles north).

By Bus/Train: Ripley is on the number 36 bus route (Leeds – Harrogate – Ripon, with onward train connections available in Harrogate and Leeds.

Where to Eat in Ripley

The Boar’s Head Ripley: Find this stunning hotel and bar just outside the castle entrance, in the cobbled village square. 

Quaint shops in Ripley, North Yorkshire, including Ripley Ice Cream

Ripley Ice Cream: It’s almost impossible to visit Ripley without trying some of the “World’s Best Ice Cream”! The ice cream is lusciously soft and creamy, with a great selection of delicious flavours. Expect to queue, as the shop is always ridiculously busy. 

Ripley FAQs

Q1. Has Ripley ever been a film location?

Yes. Filmmakers chose the village of Ripley as one of the locations for the 1970 TV adaptation of Jane Eyre, in which Susannah York was Emmy-nominated for her portrayal of Jane. All Saints Church features several times in the movie.

Ripley Castle was also a location for “Frankenstein” (1984), starring Robert Powell and Carrie Fisher.

Q2. Where can I park in Ripley Village?

The village car park is located just off the A61 and offers plentiful, free parking. It’s moments from the centre of the village. Satnav HG3 3AX. 

Q3. Is Ripley Castle dog-friendly?

No dogs (other than assistance dogs) can visit the castle or gardens due to the deer in the park. There is a scenic dog walk through the woods on Hollybank Lane, around the outside of the castle walls, with dog bins at regular intervals along the lane.

Ripley castle and castle wall from Hollybank lane
Ripley Castle and castle wall from Hollybank lane

Do you love countryside walks? Here’s a picturesque 9-mile circular walk around pretty North Yorkshire villages which starts and ends in Ripley.

Pin for later – How to Visit Ripley Castle & Gardens [Yorkshire, UK]

Do you enjoy visiting countryside villages and exploring Britain’s castles too? Which ones have you visited, and which was your favourite? Maybe you’ve already been to Ripley? What did you love? Did I miss anything important? Please share your thoughts in the comments! As always, I love to hear from you x

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Coralie Thornton

Coralie is an over 50s travel writer based in Yorkshire in the UK who writes engaging travel tips, destination guides, and detailed itineraries about the UK, Europe and beyond to inspire boomer travel. When she's not travelling, she's either planning a new trip, exploring locally in the UK, visiting castles and cathedrals, or finding somewhere new to enjoy afternoon tea.

16 thoughts on “Ripley Castle 2022: What to See & Do (+Ripley Village)”

  1. My hubby and I have been talking about a trip to the UK as of late. I only know London and I would love to get out and explore more. I have been to a lot of chateaus in France, but no castles in the UK, that would be a lot of fun!

  2. I love visiting castles when we travel. So would want to add the Ripley Castle to my travel plans one day. How fascinating that the same family has owned the castle for 28 generations! It would be fun to explore the secret rooms and wonder about all the secrets they have seen. It would be wonderful to visit in the spring when the garden was in bloom.

    • Thanks Linda, I’m glad to hear that you’re a fellow castle fan! It’s lovely to visit the big well-known castles, but discovering the smaller ones is just as rewarding for me – and often much less crowded! I hope that you do get to visit one day.

  3. I have always driven through Yorkshire and never taken the time to explore it. Ripley sounds quaint and I like the sound of the Hyacinth Collection at Ripley Castle, a lovely bonus to visiting the castle.

  4. I love castles! I would love to visit this place where owners have lived for 28 generations and definitely not miss that special ice cream from Ripley’s. The deer park and the lake are inviting. 🙂

  5. As a lover of history I would thoroughly enjoy staying in this sweet little village and making a visit to the castle, passed down through 28 generations. That is certainly amazing. It certainly would be an experience to wonder the corridors soaking up the history and to explore the secret rooms, to hide priests. Fascinating read 📖.

    • Hi Marilyn, it’s wonderful to explore historical old buildings and soak up the atmosphere, isn’t it? I’m such a history nerd, I can’t help imagining what life was like for those who lived in these old places!

  6. Ripley village sound too cute and its population is also very less. In India, 232 means people in one family. This village looks very small and relaxing here. The deer park looks very interesting to me and I would surely visit this village.

    • Hi Yukti, how interesting to think about the population of a village in this way – thanks for sharing this perspective. I’m sure you would enjoy a trip to Ripley 🙂

  7. What a beautiful place & yet another to add to my list of UK must-visits! I really like the idea of the walk around the N Yorks villages too. It looks idyllic & with such a fascinating history could only be in the UK. Loved this post & quaint Ripley, thanks for sharing & introducing me to somewhere else closer to home to explore!


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