Ripon's hornblowers confined to their homes for the first time in over 1,000 years

They've been sounding a horn every night since 886AD.

A Ripon hornblower
A Ripon hornblower

But now Ripon's three traditional hornblowers will perform the ancient ceremony from their homes for the first time in its history.

Every night of the year, a horn is blown at 9pm at the four corners of the obelisk in Ripon Market Place to set the 'watch', and then outside the mayor's house. The tradition dates back to the Middle Ages, when the 'wakeman' was responsible for preventing crime overnight and patrolling the streets. One of the four horns still in use, the Charter Horn, is medieval in origin and the others date from 1690, 1865 and 1886.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The horn continued to sound through outbreaks of epidemics such as the Black Death and the Spanish flu - but coronavirus has prevented the ceremony from taking place outdoors.

Although it was brought forward to 6pm during World War Two when blackout regulations were in force, it carried on uninterrupted.

There are three hornblowers - Wayne Cobbett, Richard Midgley and Alison Clark - who perform the civic duty on a rotational basis. They have pledged to continue blowing the horn in their own homes to retain a sense of normality.

Dental technician Mr Cobbett, 33, said: "It's sort of part and parcel of life in Ripon that the hornblower blows a horn every night. It's quite important that the tradition continues.

"It's always symbolised security for Ripon, from back in the day when it was about the watchman being on duty and keeping people safe.

"It still represents that safety, and continuity of safety, in Ripon and that's more important than ever these days."

The hornblowers have been posting footage of their home-based blowing on their official Facebook page.

In 2017, two new hornblowers were appointed after the positions were advertised, including the first woman to ever hold the role, Alison Clark.

In 2018 long-serving hornblower Alan Oliver, who had been appointed in 1983, passed away at the age of 63.