Picture of the Obelisk and Civic Society Crest Banner: a montage of Ripon architecture
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11th February 2013
The connection between the real Lord Grantham and Ripon – fictionally familiar from the television series Downton Abbey – was remembered at a ceremony to unveil a new Ripon Civic Society plaque at the city’s Prison and Police Museum.

The 3rd Baron Grantham of Newby Hall near Ripon and Wrest Park in Bedfordshire was an amateur architect, and designed the cell block that now houses the Museum that was added to Ripon House of Correction in 1816. He also designed his own house at Wrest Park in Bedfordshire, and in 1834, the year after he became the 2nd Earl de Grey, he was asked to become the first President of the newly-founded Institute of British Architects.

The new plaque, which notes his work and the building’s subsequent history as a West Riding Constabulary Police Station from 1887 to 1958, was unveiled by Richard Compton of Newby Hall, Lord Grantham’s great-great-great-great grandson, who is President of the Historic Houses Association and a former High Sheriff of North Yorkshire. Also attending the event were representatives of the (now Royal) Institute of British Architects.

Richard Taylor, who coordinates the plaques programme for Ripon Civic Society and is Chairman of the Ripon Museum Trust, which opened the building as a museum in 1984 , says, ‘When Julian Fellowes set Downton Abbey near Ripon and had it occupied by Lord Grantham, he was following in great footsteps. The 3rd Lord Grantham, later Earl de Grey, who designed the Prison and Police Museum building, was a great supporter of Ripon and the uncle of the Marquess of Ripon, another great local benefactor. We are delighted that their descendant, Richard Compton, was able to unveil the plaque as part of the Civic Society’s series telling the history of the city.’

• The Prison and Police Museum, the Ripon Workhouse Museum and The Courthouse Museum reopen on 16 February and are open every day until 3 November – see www.riponmuseums.co.uk

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