Ely Cathedral

Cathedral in Ely

Ely (pronounced eee-lee), Famous for Oliver Cromwell also contains a magnificent cathedral.  Founded in 672 by Etheldreda, this cathedral has undergone many facelifts over the years. The story of Etheldreda is fascinating and can be read here.

The cathedral in its most recognisable form took 112 years to complete and this can be seen in the architecture.  The bottom of of the cathedral reflects a much older period with rounded simples arches.  These arches become more ornate as the levels increase, with interlocking arches and pillars.  Interestingly the top arches reflect a much more stable and newer design with a more pointed top.  In one wall you can see 112 years of architectural history and innovation.

Time wall Ely
The Time wall – Unseen is the first layer with rounded arches. At the bottom you can see the interlocking arches, then the more ornate (but still rounded) arches and above, the small classical revival pillars mimicking the romans. Lastly you can see the pointed arches that reflected the better knowledge of architecture after 112 years since the start of the build.

Candice and I took the West Tower tour which I highly recommend. It is 15 pound for the tour and cathedral general admission fee.  The tower tour also includes an excellent history on the cathedral and the west tower, and with our guide, a history of the local fens too!

Amazingly Ely Cathedral is built on only 6 ft of foundations.  That is incredible, but over the years this has caused some major structural issues.  Here you can see where the original arch used to be before strengthening with these newer pointed…and thicker arches were implemented.

New Arch
The original and the new arch

On the west tower we were able to climb to the top where we we treated to great views of Ely and the Cambridgeshire.  Here you can see the octagon tower, which is unusual for a normal church.  This tower was created after the original tower fell down.  The foundations for the Lady Chapel, seen of the left, caused the lowering of the water table and the drying out of the clay beneath.  This then caused the tower to collapse at about 4 am.  The octagonal chase was the formed by building just outside the original footprint of the previous tower.

ely-outside-1

The stone used to create the cathedral is not local stone, which is too hard and brittle and cannot be shaped, but was shipped down river from Barnack in Northamptonshire. Barnack stone is more easily sculpted, however some of the local stone can be seen in the walls as infill.

After the tour we browsed the rest of the cathedral and boy is it HUGE!

The choir Gallery of Ely Cathedral
Choir gallery
Ely Cathedral
Lectern in Ely Cathedral
ely-small-room-1
Bishop West’s Chantry Chapel
Cathedral in Ely
Ely cathedral

Many a grand palace has been built in the name of ones god and this is no exception.  I’m not a religious person, intact I am atheist, however Ely Cathedral is an excellent example of grand design and beautiful architecture.  At least, in my non expert opinion!

The wooden box in the above photo is a mirror allowing you to view the magnificent painted ceiling.

Ely Cathedral Ceiling
The decorated ceiling of Ely Cathedral

Lastly, and although we didn’t go in, there is a stained glass museum on site.  If the window depicting the crowning of Esther are anything to go by, the stained glass at Ely Cathedral is just as ornate and magnificent as the rest of the building!

Stained Glass at Ely Cathedral
The Crowning of Esther – Stained Glass

 

 

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Ely Cathedral

    1. You lived in Ely? Such a beautiful little town. I hope wherever you are now is just as nice! It’s funny, I used to miss certain aspects of living in the UK after my move to Australia, but now that I’m back, I find that actually I miss the Aussie quirks more!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s