A service of Commemoration of Founders and Benefactors took place on Sunday 15 October, near to the Feast of St. Wilfrid, the missionary bishop who built the first stone church at Ripon in the seventh century.
During the service the long history of Ripon Cathedral was recited, with benefactors throughout the centuries being recalled and today’s supporters being thanked.
A high point for many of those attending the service was hearing the Lord’s Prayer and a passage from St. Matthew’s Gospel read in Anglo Saxon by Professor Joyce Hill, a member of the Cathedral’s Chapter.
A credence table, a new missal stand – which holds the books used in Holy Communion – and new copes – or cloaks – for the clergy were dedicated by the Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Rev Nick Baines, during the service. The items were bought thanks to legacies or gifted in memory of loved ones.
Amongst the congregation were friends and family of those in whose memory the gifts were made – together with the Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire Barry Dodd, CBE and other civic dignitaries from across the region.
The credence table was bought thanks to a legacy from Rev John Langdon, who – shortly before his death – was awarded the prestigious Legion d’Honneur.
Rev Langdon, whose ecclesiastical career included being a minor canon at Ripon and Chaplain of St John’s and St Mary Magdalen’s Chapels – was a former Royal Marine in charge of landing troops on to Sword Beach during the D-Day Landings. The young lieutenant made five crossings – delivering more than 5,000 British and US troops to Normandy before his ship was sunk.
The Dean of Ripon, the Very Rev John Dobson said: “I’ve known John all my life; he baptised me and when I moved to Ripon he led the prayers in my installation service. I was not surprised when I learnt that he had kindly left money to the cathedral – knowing how important it had been to him over the decades.
“In a service celebrating the contributions made by people over 13 centuries John Langdon’s legacy is a reminder that those leaving legacies today make an important contribution to sustaining the mission and ministry of this ancient cathedral.”
Receiving no regular government funding the cathedral relies on donations, gifts and legacies to sustain it. No one knows this better than long-time server Norman Kitney, who, together with his family commissioned a missal stand for the cathedral in memory of Norman’s late wife Ann.
Norman recently celebrated 70 years as a server, assisting the clergy at the altar during Holy Communion. The missal stand has been made at the famous Mouseman workshops in Kilburn in North Yorkshire and it is indeed fitting that it should now stand in a cathedral whose medieval wood carvings inspired the Mouseman himself – Robert Thompson.
Norman found the current missal stand being held together with sticky tape when he returned to serving after losing his wife. He said: ‘I asked what had happened and was told that some staging had dropped on it. So together with my sons and their families and with the approval of the Dean and Chapter, we decided to buy a new one in memory of Ann.”
It’s not the first gift or bequest from Norman’s family. He explained: “Whenever the items are used in whatever service – and I am there – it is as though they are part of the family.”
The stunning new copes have been bought thanks to a generous legacy left by Bill Forster – a former Dean’s Verger at Ripon and author of Ripon Cathedral: Its History and Architecture.