Picture of the Obelisk and Civic Society Crest Banner: a montage of Ripon architecture
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8th September 2009

Some of the city of Ripon’s hidden buildings will be revealed to the public on Sunday 13 September when the Gazebo, an 18th-century garden folly off Blossomgate, and the Masonic Hall in Water Skellgate open their doors to visitors.

The Edwardian Masonic Hall of the De Grey and Ripon Lodge will be opening for the first time, and visitors will be able to see some of the Masonic treasures of one of the oldest Lodges in Yorkshire, some dating from the 18th century. At the heart of the building is the Temple, where the ceremonies are carried out. Members of the Lodge will be in the Hall to talk to visitors about the building and about Freemasonry.

The Gazebo was constructed in the first part of the eighteenth century in the garden of a large house in fashionable Park Street. It was restored by Harrogate Borough Council, with the support of Ripon Civic Society, more than 20 years ago after many years of neglect. Two towers are linked by an open, balustraded walkway, from which the owners and their guests could look down on the extensive gardens. On Sunday 13 September visitors will be able to relive the experience, though the gardens are now in different ownership. The Gazebo is approached through Blossomgate Court, a sheltered housing scheme on Blossomgate. Ripon Civic Society opens it once a year to mark Heritage Open Days, when buildings that normally have no public access around the country welcome visitors.

Also open on Heritage Open Day is the Chapel of St Mary Magdalen in Magdalens Road. A mainly 15th-century building with a late Norman doorway, the chapel is the only complete fragment of any of Ripon's mediaeval hospitals to survive in its original state. Like the Gazebo it is a Grade II* listed building.

The Spa Baths in Park Street will also welcome Heritage Open Days visitors, courtesy of Harrogate Borough Council. The spectacular tiled foyer of the building, opened in 1904, still contains the basin where the Edwardians took the spa waters in the last Spa to be opened in England – and the only one to be opened by royalty.

David Winpenny, Chairman of Ripon Civic Society, says, ‘We are very grateful to the De Grey and Ripon Lodge for agreeing to open the Masonic Hall for Heritage Open Day. We know that many people will be interested in seeing inside one of Ripon’s ‘hidden’ buildings. The Gazebo is one of the undiscovered treasures of Ripon, and is a fascinating reminder of 18th-century life in the city. We hope that visitors will enjoy the chance to pay a rare visit to these buildings, as well as enjoying St Mary Magdalen’s Chapel and the Spa Baths.’
• The Masonic Hall at the junction of Water Skellgate and High Skellgate and the Gazebo, off Blossomgate, are open on Sunday 13 September from 2.00 pm to 4.00 pm. St Mary Magdalen’s Chapel on Magdalens Road is open from 2.00 pm to 4.30 pm. The Spa Baths foyer is open Thursday 7.30 am to 1.30 pm, 2.15 pm to 4.00 pm and 6.00 pm to 8.00pm; Saturday 9.00 am to 10.00 am and 1.00 pm to 3.45 pm; Sunday 9.00 am to 5.00 pm. Entry is free to all buildings; there is a charge at the chapel for drinks.

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