Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Ely Cathedral (Ely)

The Cathedral of the Holy and Undivided Trinity at Ely is one of the most beautiful in England.

The original religious house at Ely, was founded by St. Etheldreda, who had married twice but retained her virginity. Her second husband, Egfrith, King of Northumbria, took a dim view of this, and appealed to St. Wilfrid to have a word with her. He did, and encouraged her to continue in this vein. She founded the monastery in 673.

The original building was sacked by the Danes in 870, but the Benedictines later established a thriving community.

The present cathedral was begun late in the 11th century, and a shrine was created, to contain the bones of St. Etheldreda, her sisters St. Sexburga and St. Withburga (stolen from Dereham) and her niece St. Ermenilda.

The glory of Ely is the Octagon, said to be the only Gothic dome in existence. The central tower had fallen in 1322, and the sacrist, a genius named Alan of Walsingham, planned and built this wonderful structure, visible for many miles across the Fens, which astonishingly is made of oak.

The Lady Chapel is enormous, and is now dominated by a brightly coloured and perhaps controversial statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary immediately following the Anunciation.

In one of the chapels rest the bones (minus head) of Britnoth, the Earl of Essex who valiantly tried to beat the Danes at the Battle of Maldon in 991.

Ely Cathedral contains the National Museum of Stained Glass.

There are considerable remains outside of the former monastic buildings, as well as Ely Porta, which is now an entrance into the King’s School.

Inside the cathedral are a gift shop and refectory. There is, however, a more extensive tea room and restaurant in the nearby Almonry, and another gift shop in the High Street.

Bookmark this page

Bookmark this page with

What is

Places in Ely...

Events in Ely...