Cathedral is new home for ancient stone

Enid and Peter Nutland from the Blackpool Church return the ancient cross to Canon Barry Pyke, Canon for Rural Engagement and Education and Ripon Cathedral Dean, The Very Rev. John Dobson

Enid and Peter Nutland from the Blackpool Church return the ancient cross to Canon Barry Pyke, Canon for Rural Engagement and Education and Ripon Cathedral Dean, The Very Rev. John Dobson

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An ancient Saxon stone, which had been housed for many years in a Blackpool church, has been returned to its home in Ripon.

The stone, which was housed in St Wilfrid’s Church in Langdale Road, Mereside, part of The Church of England in Lancashire (Blackburn Diocese) was dedicated during the Cathedral’s annual Founders and Benefactors service with a special prayer which was said in Anglo Saxon.

The service was also being held in recognition of the hundreds of people who support the work of Ripon Cathedral which has been at the heart of the community and of rural life in North Yorkshire for 13 centuries.

Ripon Cathedral’s roots date back to the mid-650s with the arrival of Celtic monks. A short time later the land was given to St Wilfrid and he built a stone basilica in the style of buildings he had seen in Rome. The 7th Century crypt is the oldest structure in any English cathedral.

The Saxon stone, which was the top part of a damaged cross on the Cathedral, was gifted to St Wilfrid’s in 1965 when the now-closed church was dedicated.

It was believed to be the oldest cross in Blackpool and was displayed on the east wall.

It was given to the church on indefinite loan and a plinth was built into the wall to support it.

Since the closure of St Wilfrid’s the stone had been stored at St Paul’s Church, Marton. Earlier on the same day on which it was returned to Ripon Cathedral the stone was blessed by Rev. Linda Tomkinson at an emotional service at St Paul’s before being transported back across the Pennines.

Rev. Tomkinson said: “We thanked God for this cross and blessed it as we sent it on its journey back to Ripon.

“We also reflected on the faith of Christians over the last 1,000 years who have been encouraged by this cross and we prayed for the many more who will see it over the next 1,000 years.

“It reminded us that we have our place in a vast Christian heritage but we also play our part in its future too.”