A Brief History of The St Wilfrid's Procession

Outlined below is a  Brief history of the St Wilfrid's Procession, starting with St Wilfrid himself and extending through to the modern day.

St Wilfrid's 2022 - Main Procession 4

St Wilfrid

633ad - 709AD

St Wilfrid was born in 663 to a noble Northumbrian family and during his late teens, studied at the monastery on Lindisfarne before continuing to Canterbury & Rome to strengthen his devotion to the Roman Church.

Upon return from mainland Europe, Wilfrid returned to Northumbria before receiving a monastery in Ripon from the reigning King Oswiu’s son, Alhfrith, from where he continued his journey before dying in what is now Sussex in 709 / 710ad.

After his death, Wilfrid’s body was transferred to Ripon where he was buried and venerated as a saint with his shrine being situated in Ripon Cathedral, roughly where the high alter is today.

Origins of The Procession

1108 Charter

The St Wilfrid’s Procession around the City of Ripon dates back to 1108 when King Henry I granted a charter to the city to hold an annual feast each year around the 30th July.

It is not however clear if the charter actually references the birth of St Wilfrid or whether it is associated with the celebratation of St Wilfrid’s return from unjust exile in around 705AD.

St Wilfrid's 2022 - Main Procession 2

The Modern Procession

1950's - 2022

The procession as we know it today with brightly decorated lorries and a carnival like atmosphere is rumoured to have slowly evolved since the 1950's but nobody seems to be able to decide on which year it started.

What is abundantly clear is that for centuries, the annual feast of St Wilfrid has been marked with a procession through the streets of Ripon, although significantly more low-key than we know today. 

In days gone by, it is likely that the only recognisable component of the procession was the horse.

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