After schooling at Merchant Taylors', Ratcliff studied oriental languages and theology at St John's College, graduating BA in 1920. His studies were interrupted by the First World War during which he served with the YMCA in India. Ordained in 1922, Ratcliff served as Vice-Principal of Westcott House, Cambridge (1924-30), Fellow and Chaplain at The Queen's College, Oxford (1930-7), University Lecturer in Liturgiology, Oxford (1933-9), Professor of Liturgical Theology, London (1945-7), and Ely Professor (1947-58) and Regius Professor of Divinity (1958-64) at Cambridge. He was elected to a Fellowship at St John's in 1950, which he held until his death, and in 1956 served the Archbishop's Commission to Consider Liturgical Questions.
The papers comprise correspondence, notebooks, manuscript, typescript and printed papers, mostly relating to liturgical matters. Much of the material is to, from and by Arthur Herbert Couratin.
From the library of David Howard Tripp (1940-2007). Subsequently in the possession of Maxwell Johnson. Transferred to St John's College Library by Prof. Paul F. Bradshaw, University of Notre Dame, Feb. 2009.