Sunday, October 18, 2015



A rainy Friday, and we set off on a long-planned trip to Ely by train.  The previous evening we had been to see Benedict Cumberbatch in "Hamlet"; a truly gripping, naturalistic performance.  Somehow it felt right to maintain the momentum, instead of snuggling down indoors.

Visually, Ely is a delight, the cathedral surrounded by a park and many ancient buildings, some obviously occupied by the King's School.  We were a little taken aback to hear three uniformed schoolboys conversing in fluent Russian, before we realised that it must be their native language.

My husband took a ticket for the tour of the West Tower, lasting the best part of an hour.  The cathedral is a very ancient building: the other tower collapsed in the 1300s and was replaced by the Octagon, visible in this photo.

Ely, at the time, was an island.  The huge timbers used in the structure were floated here from Bedford.

After exploring the cathedral, I visited  - where else? - the yarn shop.  The address for this was in the Market Square, but it was a shock to see that a block of 60's retail premises filled what might have been an old market space.

We went up stairs in the cathedral to the Stained Glass Museum, which was a delight.  So unusual to be able to examine stained glass close to.

This is a rare example of a peasant figure.


Some of the pieces are from redundant churches and some from secular buildings.

A memorial plaque in the cathedral.  I wonder why this Christian name never caught on?

One strange thing: on the hour, an amplified voice rang out, encouraging all visitors to engage in prayer, or at least a moment's stillness.  We visit cathedrals regularly; this was a first.  It apparently costs £6000 per day to maintain the cathedral at Ely, so we didn't mind paying an entrance fee.  But that is a different matter to being exhorted to pray.

We finished by looking into the Lady Chapel, a large and airy structure, much knocked about in the Reformation.  Once it must have been a  multi-coloured marvel; now, it has the fragility and texture of old lace.

We walked down through the Jubilee Gardens to the river and back to the station.  Everywhere, there are art works picking up the references to eels.



Hawthorn Spellweaver said...

Some beautiful pieces of mediaeval works of art :) So primitive yet so accurate and intriguing :)

Susan Smith said...

What a lovely day out and so interesting. I could spend so much time visiting your churches, cathedrals and ruined abbeys as they are so interesting. Love the canals too. Take care.

Sylvia Sellers said...

Hello Anne

I'm in Ireland, as you know, with my daughter Jane. She got into my Blog and from there we found ourselves in your Blog. Great outings, bringing back memories for Jane when she used to cycle all over Constable Country and beyond thirty odd years ago. Been to Altmore Gardens today, glorying in the autumn colours which, like Marks Hall, were magnificent, if not better! When you see my pictures you'll be coming over here doing a cycle tour of County Wicklow.

Hope you had a good Woollies, unless of course you were away on another jaunt.


SmitoniusAndSonata said...

I remember Ely as quite magical , shimmering in the distance . Seems odd that you can get there by train !