The 18th-century gem in a Yorkshire city that few people have ever seen

It's the Grade II-listed building that most people in Ripon have never heard of.

The Gazebo
The Gazebo

The Gazebo is hidden behind a sheltered housing complex in the cathedral city, and is rarely seen by the public.

The 18th-century building stands in what was once the gardens of a fine Georgian townhouse on Park Street, then one of Ripon's most prestigious addresses.

The Gazebo

It was built to act as a viewpoint over the surrounding countryside and was used as a banqueting house where guests of its wealthy owners, the Baynes family, could be entertained.

Their home was later converted into two separate dwellings and newer housing built around the plot, but The Gazebo remains as a protected monument and undiscovered treasure.

Next month, Ripon Civic Society will be running tours of the listed structure as part of the Heritage Open Days festival. As the building stands on private land, it's the only day of the year when visitors can see inside due to health and safety regulations.

The Gazebo has overcome a period of neglect and a long-running ownership wrangle before being restored to its original Georgian condition.

David Winpenny from Ripon Civic Society believes that the building more than justifies its 'hidden gem' label.

"Few people, even locals, know the location of this interesting structure, and even fewer have visited it. Yet it is one of the city’s most important buildings; it is listed officially as Grade II*, acknowledging it as being ‘of particular importance and of more than special interest.’

"It may come as a shock to anyone who thinks of a gazebo as a flimsy plastic-and-steel-pole construction bought from the local DIY store. Ripon’s Gazebo is a much grander and more sturdy affair of brick and stone."

The Gazebo was built in 1719 by the Bayneses, who lived on Park Street until 1791. Guests would retire to its banqueting rooms for after-dinner 'sweetmeats' and to admire the gardens.

It's thought that Ripon's was originally two separate towers, that were later linked by a gallery walkway that was probably built in the 19th century.

By the 20th century, it had become derelict, and in the 1980s its roof had gone, the brickwork was crumbling and the wood had rotted. The problems stemmed from the fact that the garden had been split and divided between the owners of the now-converted house, and neither was able to take on full responsibility for The Gazebo.

Harrogate Council later issued a Compulsory Purchase Order which allowed them to buy the building and make urgent repairs. It was restored in 1986.

In its early post-restoration years, it was possible for the public to enter the Blossomgate Court sheltered housing complex's grounds to access The Gazebo, but this access has since been revoked.

"People are amazed when they see it - there are residents of Ripon who have lived here all their lives and tell us they never knew it existed. It's a great shame that it can't be more visible."

The Gazebo on Blossomgate is open on Sunday September 15 from 2-4pm. Entry is free. Private tours for special interest groups can also be arranged via the Society.