Ripley Castle

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Ripley Castle has won a Silver Award in VisitBritain's Enjoy England Awards for Excellence 2007 in the category 'Small Visitor Attraction of the Year' (under 100,000 visitors).

Ripley Castle, set on the banks of the River Nidd and surrounded by magnificent gardens, has been the home of the Ingilby family for nearly 700 years. Romance and drama, villainy and heroism, all feature in its fascinating history.

If the castle walls could talk, they would tell the story of kings and queens, civil war and plagues, secrets concealed behind the Knight's Chamber panelling, the swashbuckling daughter who held Oliver Cromwell at gunpoint in the library and numerous clandestine affairs. Tours are very entertaining and informative. Explore the beautiful walled gardens, deer park, lakes and new children's play-trail. The superb facilities include wonderful shops and tea rooms.

Around 1320 Sir Thomas Ingilby married the heiress of the estate and obtained permission from the King to hold a weekly market in the village beside what was to become Ripley Castle. In the mid-15th century his descendant, Sir John Ingilby, constructed the oldest surviving part of the present group of building.

The present house, however, dates from two building phases. In 1548 - 55 Sir William Ingilby erected a three-storeyed semi-fortified tower and in 1783 - 86 another Sir John Ingilby commissioned John Carr of York to build a new house next to the tower.

Ripley Castle is approached through the estate village and entered opposite the 15th century parish church. The house has a plain castellated appearance which blends with the 16th century tower, with its gritstone walls and a crenellated roofline. The house consists of a square block with the original tower projecting to the south and service wing to the east.

The interior of Ripley Castle is decorated in the neo-classical style more usually associated with Carr. The castle is noted for its fine portraits, paintings, furnishings and chandeliers. The Round Drawing Room contains a set of chairs and settees by Thomas Chippendale, whilst the Large Drawing Room has an Adamesque plaster ceiling and some 18th century furniture including two Kentian mirrors on either side of the neo-classical chimneypiece. Paintings here include works by Kneller and Gainsborough. But the highlight of the artworks in this room is the sculpture of 'Venus emerging from her bath' by Canova purchased by Sir William Ingilby in 1817.

Ripley Castle has extensive walled gardens, a Regency conservatory and a landscape designed by 'Capability' Brown. The five acres of walled gardens have been transformed and the planting of hyacinths in formal beds now represents the National Hyacinth Collection. The Ripley tropical plant collection, with many rare and exotic species, is also located here.

Ripley village, the model estate village beside the castle, has many interesting shops, an art gallery and a farm museum.rn