York & North Yorkshire

Ripon City Council advertises ancient hornblower job

Former Ripon Hornblower Cyril Hawley Image copyright PA
Image caption The hornblower's duties have been performed every night in Ripon since AD886

A city council is looking to recruit a new hornblower to help maintain a centuries-old ceremony.

A horn has been sounded four times in Ripon's Market Place every night at 21:00 BST since AD886 to "set the watch".

Ripon City Council is advertising for a new member of the Hornblowing Team to work up to three nights a week.

Clerk Paula Benson said: "It is a very old tradition and one everybody in the city loves and is very proud of."

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Image caption George Pickles was the last person to hold the post exclusively

The job description states the main responsibilities are "to sound the horn at 9pm... provide a brief history of the horn blowing ceremony for the public in attendance... and sound the horn three times outside the mayor's house".

In exchange for their services the hornblower is paid £8.72 an hour and £21.12 for attendance at civic events.

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Media captionRipon City Council advertises ancient hornblower job

Setting the watch

The Ripon Hornblower has set the watch every night since AD886 and it is one of the oldest ceremonies still performed in England.

It is said to have begun following a visit to the city by Alfred the Great who urged residents to be more vigilant and gave a horn to the city as a symbol of it being granted a Royal Charter.

The ceremony involves a horn being blown at the four corners of the obelisk in Ripon Market Square at 21:00 BST and then three times outside the mayor's house.

It commemorates the time in the Middle Ages when Ripon's first citizen, the Wakeman, was responsible for crime prevention in the city from 21:00 BST until dawn and had to compensate victims of burglary.


Image copyright Ripon City Council
Image caption The current hornblowing team is made up of (l to r) Wayne Cobbett. Paul Schofield, who is due to stand down, and Jim Vauvert

The job was carried out by a single person until 2015 when the council decided to appoint several hornblowers.

Ms Benson said: "It was decided to have a team of three blowing the horn because to do it every night of the year at 21:00 BST is a massive commitment."

She said the ceremony can attract close to 100 people each night during the summer.

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