Ely Cathedral

Ely Cathedral

Overview
Ely Cathedral is the principal church of the Diocese of Ely
Diocese of Ely
The Diocese of Ely is a Church of England diocese in the Province of Canterbury. It is headed by the Bishop of Ely, who sits at Ely Cathedral in Ely. There is one suffragan bishop, the Bishop of Huntingdon. The diocese now covers Cambridgeshire and western Norfolk...

, in Cambridgeshire
Cambridgeshire
Cambridgeshire is a county in England, bordering Lincolnshire to the north, Norfolk to the northeast, Suffolk to the east, Essex and Hertfordshire to the south, and Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire to the west...

, England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, and is the seat of the Bishop of Ely
Bishop of Ely
The Bishop of Ely is the Ordinary of the Church of England Diocese of Ely in the Province of Canterbury. The diocese roughly covers the county of Cambridgeshire , together with a section of north-west Norfolk and has its see in the City of Ely, Cambridgeshire, where the seat is located at the...

 and a suffragan bishop, the Bishop of Huntingdon
Huntingdon
Huntingdon is a market town in Cambridgeshire, England. The town was chartered by King John in 1205. It is the traditional county town of Huntingdonshire, and is currently the seat of the Huntingdonshire district council. It is known as the birthplace in 1599 of Oliver Cromwell.-History:Huntingdon...

. It is known locally as "the ship of the Fens
The Fens
The Fens, also known as the , are a naturally marshy region in eastern England. Most of the fens were drained several centuries ago, resulting in a flat, damp, low-lying agricultural region....

", because of its prominent shape that towers above the surrounding flat and watery landscape.

Most of what is known about the early history of Ely comes from Bede
Bede
Bede , also referred to as Saint Bede or the Venerable Bede , was a monk at the Northumbrian monastery of Saint Peter at Monkwearmouth, today part of Sunderland, England, and of its companion monastery, Saint Paul's, in modern Jarrow , both in the Kingdom of Northumbria...

's Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum
Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum
The Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum is a work in Latin by Bede on the history of the Christian Churches in England, and of England generally; its main focus is on the conflict between Roman and Celtic Christianity.It is considered to be one of the most important original references on...

and above all from the Liber Eliensis
Liber Eliensis
The Liber Eliensis is a 12th-century English chronicle and history, written in Latin. Composed in three books, it was written at Ely Abbey on the island of Ely in the fenlands of eastern Cambridgeshire. Ely Abbey became the cathedral of a newly formed bishopric in 1109...

, an anonymous chronicle written at Ely some time in the 12th century and covering the history of the Abbey and Cathedral from 673 until the mid-12th century.


The first Christian building on the site was founded by St. Æthelthryth
Æthelthryth
Æthelthryth is the proper name for the popular Anglo-Saxon saint often known, particularly in a religious context, as Etheldreda or by the pet form of Audrey...

 (romanised as "Etheldreda"), daughter of the Anglo-Saxon
Anglo-Saxons
Anglo-Saxon is a term used by historians to designate the Germanic tribes who invaded and settled the south and east of Great Britain beginning in the early 5th century AD, and the period from their creation of the English nation to the Norman conquest. The Anglo-Saxon Era denotes the period of...

 King Anna of East Anglia
Anna of East Anglia
Anna was King of East Anglia from the early 640s until his death. Anna was a member of the Wuffingas family, the ruling dynasty of the East Angles. He was one of the three sons of Eni who ruled East Anglia, succeeding some time after Ecgric was killed in battle by Penda of Mercia...

, who was born in 630 at Exning
Exning
Exning is a village in Suffolk, England.It lies just off the A14 trunk road, roughly east-northeast of Cambridge, and south-south-east of Ely...

 near Newmarket.
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Encyclopedia
Ely Cathedral is the principal church of the Diocese of Ely
Diocese of Ely
The Diocese of Ely is a Church of England diocese in the Province of Canterbury. It is headed by the Bishop of Ely, who sits at Ely Cathedral in Ely. There is one suffragan bishop, the Bishop of Huntingdon. The diocese now covers Cambridgeshire and western Norfolk...

, in Cambridgeshire
Cambridgeshire
Cambridgeshire is a county in England, bordering Lincolnshire to the north, Norfolk to the northeast, Suffolk to the east, Essex and Hertfordshire to the south, and Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire to the west...

, England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, and is the seat of the Bishop of Ely
Bishop of Ely
The Bishop of Ely is the Ordinary of the Church of England Diocese of Ely in the Province of Canterbury. The diocese roughly covers the county of Cambridgeshire , together with a section of north-west Norfolk and has its see in the City of Ely, Cambridgeshire, where the seat is located at the...

 and a suffragan bishop, the Bishop of Huntingdon
Huntingdon
Huntingdon is a market town in Cambridgeshire, England. The town was chartered by King John in 1205. It is the traditional county town of Huntingdonshire, and is currently the seat of the Huntingdonshire district council. It is known as the birthplace in 1599 of Oliver Cromwell.-History:Huntingdon...

. It is known locally as "the ship of the Fens
The Fens
The Fens, also known as the , are a naturally marshy region in eastern England. Most of the fens were drained several centuries ago, resulting in a flat, damp, low-lying agricultural region....

", because of its prominent shape that towers above the surrounding flat and watery landscape.

History


Most of what is known about the early history of Ely comes from Bede
Bede
Bede , also referred to as Saint Bede or the Venerable Bede , was a monk at the Northumbrian monastery of Saint Peter at Monkwearmouth, today part of Sunderland, England, and of its companion monastery, Saint Paul's, in modern Jarrow , both in the Kingdom of Northumbria...

's Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum
Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum
The Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum is a work in Latin by Bede on the history of the Christian Churches in England, and of England generally; its main focus is on the conflict between Roman and Celtic Christianity.It is considered to be one of the most important original references on...

and above all from the Liber Eliensis
Liber Eliensis
The Liber Eliensis is a 12th-century English chronicle and history, written in Latin. Composed in three books, it was written at Ely Abbey on the island of Ely in the fenlands of eastern Cambridgeshire. Ely Abbey became the cathedral of a newly formed bishopric in 1109...

, an anonymous chronicle written at Ely some time in the 12th century and covering the history of the Abbey and Cathedral from 673 until the mid-12th century.

Previous buildings



The first Christian building on the site was founded by St. Æthelthryth
Æthelthryth
Æthelthryth is the proper name for the popular Anglo-Saxon saint often known, particularly in a religious context, as Etheldreda or by the pet form of Audrey...

 (romanised as "Etheldreda"), daughter of the Anglo-Saxon
Anglo-Saxons
Anglo-Saxon is a term used by historians to designate the Germanic tribes who invaded and settled the south and east of Great Britain beginning in the early 5th century AD, and the period from their creation of the English nation to the Norman conquest. The Anglo-Saxon Era denotes the period of...

 King Anna of East Anglia
Anna of East Anglia
Anna was King of East Anglia from the early 640s until his death. Anna was a member of the Wuffingas family, the ruling dynasty of the East Angles. He was one of the three sons of Eni who ruled East Anglia, succeeding some time after Ecgric was killed in battle by Penda of Mercia...

, who was born in 630 at Exning
Exning
Exning is a village in Suffolk, England.It lies just off the A14 trunk road, roughly east-northeast of Cambridge, and south-south-east of Ely...

 near Newmarket. She may have acquired land at Ely from her first husband Tondberht, described by Bede
Bede
Bede , also referred to as Saint Bede or the Venerable Bede , was a monk at the Northumbrian monastery of Saint Peter at Monkwearmouth, today part of Sunderland, England, and of its companion monastery, Saint Paul's, in modern Jarrow , both in the Kingdom of Northumbria...

 as a "prince" of the South Gyrwas
Gyrwas
Gyrwas was the name of an Anglo-Saxon population of the Fens, divided into northern and southern groups and recorded in the Tribal Hidage; related to the name of Jarrow....

. After the end of her second marriage to Ecgfrith
Ecgfrith of Northumbria
King Ecgfrith was the King of Northumbria from 670 until his death. He ruled over Northumbria when it was at the height of its power, but his reign ended with a disastrous defeat in which he lost his life.-Early life:...

, a prince of Northumbria
Northumbria
Northumbria was a medieval kingdom of the Angles, in what is now Northern England and South-East Scotland, becoming subsequently an earldom in a united Anglo-Saxon kingdom of England. The name reflects the approximate southern limit to the kingdom's territory, the Humber Estuary.Northumbria was...

, she set up and ruled a monastery at Ely in 673, and, when she died, a shrine was built there to her memory. The monastery is traditionally believed to have been destroyed in the Danish invasions of the late 9th century, together with what is now the city. However, while the lay
Laity
In religious organizations, the laity comprises all people who are not in the clergy. A person who is a member of a religious order who is not ordained legitimate clergy is considered as a member of the laity, even though they are members of a religious order .In the past in Christian cultures, the...

 settlement of the time would have been a minor one, it is likely that a church survived there until its refoundation in the 10th century.

A new Benedictine monastery was built and endowed on the site by Athelwold
Æthelwold of Winchester
Æthelwold of Winchester , was Bishop of Winchester from 963 to 984 and one of the leaders of the tenth century monastic reform movement in Anglo-Saxon England....

, Bishop of Winchester
Bishop of Winchester
The Bishop of Winchester is the head of the Church of England diocese of Winchester, with his cathedra at Winchester Cathedral in Hampshire.The bishop is one of five Church of England bishops to be among the Lords Spiritual regardless of their length of service. His diocese is one of the oldest and...

, in 970, in a wave of monastic refoundations which locally included Peterborough
Peterborough Cathedral
Peterborough Cathedral, properly the Cathedral Church of St Peter, St Paul and St Andrew – also known as Saint Peter's Cathedral in the United Kingdom – is the seat of the Bishop of Peterborough, dedicated to Saint Peter, Saint Paul and Saint Andrew, whose statues look down from the...

 and Ramsey
Ramsey Abbey
Ramsey Abbey is a former Benedictine abbey located in Ramsey, Cambridgeshire, England, southeast of Peterborough and north of Huntingdon, UK.-History:...

. This became a cathedral in 1109, after a new Diocese of Ely
Diocese of Ely
The Diocese of Ely is a Church of England diocese in the Province of Canterbury. It is headed by the Bishop of Ely, who sits at Ely Cathedral in Ely. There is one suffragan bishop, the Bishop of Huntingdon. The diocese now covers Cambridgeshire and western Norfolk...

 was created out of land taken from the Diocese of Lincoln
Diocese of Lincoln
The Diocese of Lincoln forms part of the Province of Canterbury in England. The present diocese covers the ceremonial county of Lincolnshire.- History :...

.

Overview and dimensions



The cathedral is built from stone quarried from Barnack
Barnack
Barnack is a village and civil parish in the City of Peterborough unitary authority of Cambridgeshire, England. It is located in the north-west of the district, only four miles south-east from Stamford in Lincolnshire. According to the 2001 census, it had a population of 851 people. Barnack's...

 in Northamptonshire
Northamptonshire
Northamptonshire is a landlocked county in the English East Midlands, with a population of 629,676 as at the 2001 census. It has boundaries with the ceremonial counties of Warwickshire to the west, Leicestershire and Rutland to the north, Cambridgeshire to the east, Bedfordshire to the south-east,...

 (bought from Peterborough Abbey, whose lands included the quarries, for 8000 eels a year), with decorative elements carved from Purbeck Marble
Purbeck Marble
Purbeck Marble is a fossiliferous limestone quarried in the Isle of Purbeck, a peninsula in south-east Dorset, England.It is one of many kinds of Purbeck Limestone, deposited in the late Jurassic or early Cretaceous periods....

 and local clunch
Clunch
Clunch is a term for traditional building material used mainly in eastern England and Normandy. It is a term which encompasses a wide variety of materials, often locally variable....

. The plan of the building is cruciform (cross-shaped), with an additional transept
Transept
For the periodical go to The Transept.A transept is a transverse section, of any building, which lies across the main body of the building. In Christian churches, a transept is an area set crosswise to the nave in a cruciform building in Romanesque and Gothic Christian church architecture...

 at the western end. The total length is 537 feet (163.7 m), and the nave at over 75 m long (250 ft) remains one of the longest in Britain. The west tower is 66m high (215 ft). The unique Octagon 'Lantern Tower' is 23 m (74 ft) wide and is 52 m (170 ft) high. Internally, from the floor to the central roof boss the lantern is 43 m (142 ft) high.

Abbot Simeon's Cathedral


The present cathedral was started by Abbot Simeon
Simeon (abbot)
Simeon was a relative of King William I of England and the brother of Walkelin, Bishop of Winchester. It was through his brother's influence that Simeon was made prior of Winchester, then in 1082 Abbot of Ely, where he began work on the present building...

 (1082–1094, brother of Walkelin
Walkelin
Walkelin was the first Norman bishop of Winchester .-Life:Walkelin was of noble birth and related to William the Conqueror, whom he served as a royal chaplain. Prior to the Norman Conquest he had probably been a canon at Rouen Cathedral...

, the then bishop of Winchester
Bishop of Winchester
The Bishop of Winchester is the head of the Church of England diocese of Winchester, with his cathedra at Winchester Cathedral in Hampshire.The bishop is one of five Church of England bishops to be among the Lords Spiritual regardless of their length of service. His diocese is one of the oldest and...

) under William I
William I of England
William I , also known as William the Conqueror , was the first Norman King of England from Christmas 1066 until his death. He was also Duke of Normandy from 3 July 1035 until his death, under the name William II...

 in 1083. Building continued under Simeon's successor, Abbot Richard (1100–1107). The Anglo-Saxon church was demolished, but some of its relics, such as the remains of its benefactors, were moved to the cathedral. The main transepts were built early on, crossing the nave below a central tower, and are the oldest surviving part of the cathedral. Construction work continued throughout the 12th century. The Western transepts and tower were completed under Bishop Ridel (1174–89) in an exuberant Romanesque
Romanesque architecture
Romanesque architecture is an architectural style of Medieval Europe characterised by semi-circular arches. There is no consensus for the beginning date of the Romanesque architecture, with proposals ranging from the 6th to the 10th century. It developed in the 12th century into the Gothic style,...

 style with a rich decoration of intersecting arches and complex mouldings.

Early Gothic elements


A Galilee
Galilee
Galilee , is a large region in northern Israel which overlaps with much of the administrative North District of the country. Traditionally divided into Upper Galilee , Lower Galilee , and Western Galilee , extending from Dan to the north, at the base of Mount Hermon, along Mount Lebanon to the...

 porch was added under Bishop Eustace (1198–1215) in the Early English Gothic
English Gothic architecture
English Gothic is the name of the architectural style that flourished in England from about 1180 until about 1520.-Introduction:As with the Gothic architecture of other parts of Europe, English Gothic is defined by its pointed arches, vaulted roofs, buttresses, large windows, and spires...

 style. It was originally a two-storey structure (it was opened up into a single vaulted space in the 18th century) where liturgical processions could gather before entering the nave. Several details of its decoration, particularly the 'syncopated arches' and the use of Purbeck marble shafts, reflect the influence of St Hugh's Choir at Lincoln Cathedral
Lincoln Cathedral
Lincoln Cathedral is a historic Anglican cathedral in Lincoln in England and seat of the Bishop of Lincoln in the Church of England. It was reputedly the tallest building in the world for 249 years . The central spire collapsed in 1549 and was not rebuilt...

, built a few years earlier.

Under Bishop Northwold, work began on a new eastern end in 1234, replacing the short Norman chancel
Chancel
In church architecture, the chancel is the space around the altar in the sanctuary at the liturgical east end of a traditional Christian church building...

 with a much grander 10-bay structure. Northwold's chancel, completed by around 1252, adopted several of the stylistic elements already used in the Galilee porch.

Later Gothic elements


In 1321, under the sacrist Alan of Walsingham
Alan of Walsingham
Alan of Walsingham , also known as Alan de Walsingham, was an English architect, first heard of in 1314 as a junior monk at Ely, distinguished by his skill in goldsmith's work, and for his acquaintance with the principles of mechanics....

 work began on a massive (100' long by 46' wide) free-standing Lady Chapel
Lady chapel
A Lady chapel, also called Mary chapel or Marian chapel, is a traditional English term for a chapel inside a cathedral, basilica, or large church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary...

, linked to the north transept and the north aisle of the chancel by covered walkways. This new structure was built in an exuberant 'Decorated
English Gothic architecture
English Gothic is the name of the architectural style that flourished in England from about 1180 until about 1520.-Introduction:As with the Gothic architecture of other parts of Europe, English Gothic is defined by its pointed arches, vaulted roofs, buttresses, large windows, and spires...

' Gothic style. Around most of the wall surface are sedilia
Sedilia
Sedilia , in ecclesiastical architecture, is the term used to describe stone seats, usually to be found on the south side of an altar, often in the chancel, for the use of the officiating priests...

-like niches, flanked by pilasters of Purbeck marble and covered by sinuous ogee
Ogee
An ogee is a curve , shaped somewhat like an S, consisting of two arcs that curve in opposite senses, so that the ends are parallel....

 arches which project forward away from the wall (sometimes known as 'knodding ogees'). Most wall surfaces are covered with richly carved vegetal and diaper patterns which were originally brightly polychrome
Polychrome
Polychrome is one of the terms used to describe the use of multiple colors in one entity. It has also been defined as "The practice of decorating architectural elements, sculpture, etc., in a variety of colors." Polychromatic light is composed of a number of different wavelengths...

d. An extensive sculpted Life of the Virgin
Life of the Virgin
The Life of the Virgin, showing narrative scenes from the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus, is a common subject for pictorial cycles in Christian art, often complementing, or forming part of, a cycle on the Life of Christ. In both cases the number of scenes shown varies greatly with the space...

 cycle originally filled the spandrels between the niches but this was severely damaged by iconoclasts (either following the Dissolution of the Monasteries
Dissolution of the Monasteries
The Dissolution of the Monasteries, sometimes referred to as the Suppression of the Monasteries, was the set of administrative and legal processes between 1536 and 1541 by which Henry VIII disbanded monasteries, priories, convents and friaries in England, Wales and Ireland; appropriated their...

 or by Puritans during the English Civil War
English Civil War
The English Civil War was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists...

 - historians still disagree over which).

In February 1322, possibly as a result of instabilities caused by the digging of the foundations for the Lady Chapel, the great Norman crossing tower collapsed, injuring nobody but damaging the first four bays of Bishop Northwold's Early Gothic choir. These western bays of the liturgical choir were rebuilt in a more modern style. More noticeably, the old crossing tower was replaced by an innovative octagonal lantern
Lantern
A lantern is a portable lighting device or mounted light fixture used to illuminate broad areas. Lanterns may also be used for signaling, as 'torches', or as general light sources outdoors . Low light level varieties are used for decoration. The term "lantern" is also used more generically to...

. Although it is supported on eight massive masonry piers, the lantern itself is constructed from oak timbers and was designed by William Hurley, who later became Master Carpenter to the King at Westminster. Because the crossing was a key part of the liturgical choir, this rebuilding work took priority over other activities and the lantern was largely complete by 1340. The windows on the sides of the upper octagon are a particularly successful way of lighting the centre of the cathedral. The angels painted below the windows are however purely Victorian inventions, a product of the restoration
Victorian restoration
Victorian restoration is the term commonly used to refer to the widespread and extensive refurbishment and rebuilding of Church of England churches and cathedrals that took place in England and Wales during the 19th-century reign of Queen Victoria...

 under Thomas Gambier Parry
Thomas Gambier Parry
Thomas Gambier Parry, J.P.,D.L., was an English artist and art collector. He is best remembered for his development of the Gambier Parry process of fresco painting....

 in 1874. When built, the Octagon was the largest crossing span in northern Europe and remains Ely Cathedral's most distinctive feature, visible from miles around across the Fens
The Fens
The Fens, also known as the , are a naturally marshy region in eastern England. Most of the fens were drained several centuries ago, resulting in a flat, damp, low-lying agricultural region....

.

Dating from the early 16th century is a set of 44 misericord
Misericord
A misericord is a small wooden shelf on the underside of a folding seat in a church, installed to provide a degree of comfort for a person who has to stand during long periods of prayer.-Origins:...

s.

Later history


In 1539, during Henry VIII
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

's Dissolution of the Monasteries
Dissolution of the Monasteries
The Dissolution of the Monasteries, sometimes referred to as the Suppression of the Monasteries, was the set of administrative and legal processes between 1536 and 1541 by which Henry VIII disbanded monasteries, priories, convents and friaries in England, Wales and Ireland; appropriated their...

, the cathedral suffered only minor damage, but St Etheldreda's shrine was destroyed. The cathedral was soon refounded in 1541, although many of the statues in the lady chapel were severely damaged.

The Bishop of Ely in the mid 17th century was Matthew Wren
Matthew Wren
"Matthew Wren" is also a British actor who appeared in BBC children's show Trapped!.Matthew Wren was an influential English clergyman and scholar.-Life:...

 and in connection with this, his nephew Christopher Wren
Christopher Wren
Sir Christopher Wren FRS is one of the most highly acclaimed English architects in history.He used to be accorded responsibility for rebuilding 51 churches in the City of London after the Great Fire in 1666, including his masterpiece, St. Paul's Cathedral, on Ludgate Hill, completed in 1710...

 was responsible for a rather splendid Gothic door, dating from the 1650s, on the north face of the cathedral.

The building has been the subject of several major restoration projects:
  1. in the 18th century, under James Essex
    James Essex
    -Professional life:Essex was the son of a builder who had fitted the sash windows and wainscot in the Senate House , under James Gibbs; and also worked on the hall of Queens' College, Cambridge . He died in February 1749....

    ;
  2. in 1839, under George Peacock, with the architect George Gilbert Scott
    George Gilbert Scott
    Sir George Gilbert Scott was an English architect of the Victorian Age, chiefly associated with the design, building and renovation of churches, cathedrals and workhouses...

     (the architect Basevi
    George Basevi
    Elias George Basevi FRS was an English architect. He was the favourite pupil of Sir John Soane.-Life:Basevi was the youngest son of a City of London merchant, also named George Basevi...

     died in a fall from the west tower). A painted wooden ceiling was added to the nave in this restoration
    Victorian restoration
    Victorian restoration is the term commonly used to refer to the widespread and extensive refurbishment and rebuilding of Church of England churches and cathedrals that took place in England and Wales during the 19th-century reign of Queen Victoria...

    .
  3. from 1986 to 2000

Burials


  • Saint
    Saint
    A saint is a holy person. In various religions, saints are people who are believed to have exceptional holiness.In Christian usage, "saint" refers to any believer who is "in Christ", and in whom Christ dwells, whether in heaven or in earth...

     Eadnoth the Younger
  • Wulfstan II - buried in the monastery
  • Byrhtnoth
    Byrhtnoth
    Byrhtnoth was a 10th century Ealdorman of Essex. His name is composed of Old English beorht and noth ....

     - leader of Anglo-Saxon forces at the Battle of Maldon
    Battle of Maldon
    The Battle of Maldon took place on 10 August 991 near Maldon beside the River Blackwater in Essex, England, during the reign of Aethelred the Unready. Earl Byrhtnoth and his thegns led the English against a Viking invasion. The battle ended in an Anglo-Saxon defeat...

    , 991.
  • Hervey le Breton
    Hervey le Breton
    Hervey le Breton was a Breton cleric who became Bishop of Bangor in Wales and later Bishop of Ely in England. Appointed to Bangor by King William II of England, when Normans were advancing into Wales, Hervey was unable to remain in his diocese when the Welsh began to drive the Normans back from...

    , Bishop of Ely
    Bishop of Ely
    The Bishop of Ely is the Ordinary of the Church of England Diocese of Ely in the Province of Canterbury. The diocese roughly covers the county of Cambridgeshire , together with a section of north-west Norfolk and has its see in the City of Ely, Cambridgeshire, where the seat is located at the...

     (1109–1131)
  • Nigel - may have been buried here
  • Geoffrey Ridel
    Geoffrey Ridel
    Geoffrey Ridel was the nineteenth Lord Chancellor of England, from 1162 to 1173.Ridel was probably the great-nephew of Geoffrey Ridel, who died in 1120 and was a royal justice. He was a royal clerk by about 1156, when he first starts witnessing charters. He was a king's clerk before he was...

    , the nineteenth Lord Chancellor
    Lord Chancellor
    The Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, or Lord Chancellor, is a senior and important functionary in the government of the United Kingdom. He is the second highest ranking of the Great Officers of State, ranking only after the Lord High Steward. The Lord Chancellor is appointed by the Sovereign...

     of England
    England
    England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

     and Bishop of Ely (1173–1189)
  • Eustace, also the twenty-third Lord Chancellor of England and Lord Keeper of the Great Seal
    Lord Keeper of the Great Seal
    The Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England, and later of Great Britain, was formerly an officer of the English Crown charged with physical custody of the Great Seal of England. This evolved into one of the Great Officers of State....

  • Geoffrey de Burgo
    Geoffrey de Burgo
    -Life:Geoffrey was the brother of Hubert de Burgh, Earl of Kent, and William de Burgh, Lord of Connacht. He was born no later than 1180 or so, based on his appointment as archdeacon in 1200...

    , Bishop of Ely (1225–1228)
  • Hugh of Northwold
    Hugh of Northwold
    -Life:Hugh was born in the parish of Northwold in Norfolk, the son of Peter and Emma. He became a monk at Abbey of Bury St Edmunds in 1202.Hugh was elected Abbot of Bury St. Edmunds on 7 August 1213...

    , Bishop of Ely (1229–1254)
  • William of Kilkenny
    William of Kilkenny
    William of Kilkenny was a Lord Chancellor of England and Bishop of Ely.-Life:William may be the same William of Kilkenny who was elected Bishop of Ossory in 1231, but resigned the office in 1232 before being consecrated. Whether that William is the same William that later became Bishop of Ely, the...

    , Lord Chancellor of England and Bishop of Ely (1254–1256) - his heart was buried here, having died in Spain
    Spain
    Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

     on a diplomatic mission for the king
    King
    - Centers of population :* King, Ontario, CanadaIn USA:* King, Indiana* King, North Carolina* King, Lincoln County, Wisconsin* King, Waupaca County, Wisconsin* King County, Washington- Moving-image works :Television:...

  • Hugh de Balsham
    Hugh de Balsham
    -Life:Nothing is known of Balsham's background, although during the dispute over his election he was alleged to have been of servile birth. He was a Benedictine monk at Ely, and appears first as sub-prior of the cathedral chapter there...

    , Bishop of Ely (1256–1286)
  • John Kirkby
    John Kirkby
    John Kirkby was an English ecclesiastic and statesman.-Life:Kirkby first appears in the historical record in the chancery during the reign of King Henry III of England...

    , Lord High Treasurer
    Lord High Treasurer
    The post of Lord High Treasurer or Lord Treasurer was an English government position and has been a British government position since the Act of Union of 1707. A holder of the post would be the third highest ranked Great Officer of State, below the Lord High Chancellor and above the Lord President...

     of England and Bishop of Ely (1286–1290)
  • William of Louth
    William of Louth
    -Life:William probably was born in Louth, Lincolnshire but his parentage is unknown. William attended a university and held a university degree. He probably held an office in the chancery under King Henry III of England. Soon after the coronation of King Edward I of England, Edward appointed...

    , Bishop of Ely (1290–1298)

  • William Grey, Lord High Treasurer of England and Bishop of Ely (1454–1478)
  • John Alcock
    John Alcock (bishop)
    -Biography:Alcock was born at Beverley in Yorkshire, son of Sir William Alcock, Burgess of Kingston upon Hull and educated at Cambridge. In 1461 he was made dean of Westminster, and his subsequent promotion was rapid in both church and state. In the following year he was made Master of the Rolls,...

    , Lord Chancellor of England and Bishop of Ely (1486–1500) - in the Alcock Chantry
  • Nicholas West
    Nicholas West
    Nicholas West , English bishop and diplomatist, was born at Putney, and educated at Eton and at King's College, Cambridge, of which he became a fellow in 1486....

    , Bishop of Ely (1515–1534) - in a chapel he built
  • Richard Cox
    Richard Cox
    Richard Cox may refer to:*Dick Cox , American baseball player*Richard Cox , American actor*Richard Cox , English clergyman, Dean of Westminster and Bishop of Ely...

    , Bishop of Ely (1550–1581) - is buried under choir box. (tomb was covered when they built choir box)
  • Peter Gunning
    Peter Gunning
    Peter Gunning was an English Royalist church leader, Bishop of Chichester and later of Ely.-Life:He was born at Hoo St Werburgh, in Kent, and educated at The King's School, Canterbury, and Clare College, Cambridge, where he became a fellow in 1633. Having taken orders, he advocated the Royalist...

    , Bishop of Ely (1675–1684)
  • John Moore (bishop of Ely)
    John Moore (Bishop of Ely)
    John Moore was an English cleric, scholar, and book collector. He was bishop of Norwich and bishop of Ely ....

  • William Fleetwood
    William Fleetwood
    William Fleetwood was an English preacher, Bishop of St Asaph and Bishop of Ely, remembered by economists and statisticians for constructing a price index in his Chronicon Preciosum of 1707.-Life:...

    , Bishop of Ely (1714–1723)
  • Robert Butts
    Robert Butts (bishop)
    Robert Butts was an English churchman and strong partisan of the administration of Sir Robert Walpole, successively Bishop of Norwich and Bishop of Ely.-Life:...

    , Bishop of Ely (1738–1748)
  • Matthias Mawson
    Matthias Mawson
    Matthias Mawson was an English churchman and academic, Master of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, Bishop of Llandaff, Bishop of Chichester, and Bishop of Ely.-Life:...

    , Bishop of Ely (1754–1771)
  • Edmund Keene
    Edmund Keene
    Edmund Keene was an English churchman and academic, Master of Peterhouse, Cambridge, Bishop of Chester and Bishop of Ely.-Life:He was the third but second surviving son of Charles Keene, and younger brother of Sir Benjamin Keene, and was born at King's Lynn, Norfolk...

    , Bishop of Ely (1771–1781) - in West's Chapel (his wife, Mary, was buried in the south side of the choir)
  • James Woodford, Bishop of Ely (1873–1885) - in Bishop Wren's chapel on the south side of the cathedral choir


Stained Glass Museum


The south gallery of the nave is home to The Stained Glass Museum, a collection of stained glass
Stained glass
The term stained glass can refer to coloured glass as a material or to works produced from it. Throughout its thousand-year history, the term has been applied almost exclusively to the windows of churches and other significant buildings...

 from the 13th century to the present that is of national importance and includes works from notable contemporary artists including Ervin Bossanyi
Ervin Bossanyi
Ervin Bossányi was a Hungarian artist, who worked mainly in northern Germany until his emigration in 1934. He then started a new career as a notable stained glass artist in England.-Biography:Bossányi was born in a small village in southern Hungary and educated in Budapest...

.

Music


Ely has a cathedral choir
Choir
A choir, chorale or chorus is a musical ensemble of singers. Choral music, in turn, is the music written specifically for such an ensemble to perform.A body of singers who perform together as a group is called a choir or chorus...

 of boys and men, which has recently attracted international attention because of its association with The Choirboys
The Choirboys (boyband)
The Choirboys are an English boy band, made up of cathedral choristers. In 2005, a talent search was held to find a young chorister to bring choral music into the then current music scene, however, the judges could not decide which of its three finalists should be given the recording contract and...

: two of its members, Patrick Aspbury and CJ Porter-Thaw, are choristers at the cathedral. Boys are educated in the junior department of The King's School, Ely
The King's School, Ely
The King's School, Ely, is a coeducational independent day and boarding school in the cathedral city of Ely, Cambridgeshire, England. It was founded in 970 A.D., making it one of the oldest schools in the world, though it was given its Royal Charter by King Henry VIII in 1541...

.

The Ely Cathedral Girls' Choir was also launched in 2006, comprising 18 girl choristers. The choir's debut CD, Sing reign of fair maid: Music for Christmas and the New Year, directed by Sarah MacDonald, is available from Regent Records.

The cathedral community also has an adult voluntary choir, The Ely Cathedral Octagon Singers and a children's choir The Ely Imps
Ely Imps
The Ely Imps is a Choir for 7-13 year olds based in Ely Cathedral, their conductor is Paul Trepte-2006: John Rutter Concert:The Ely Imps was started in 2006 as a choir for a concert with John Rutter conducting and composing music for them. Children from all around the District came to perform, some...

.

Organ


Details of the organ from the National Pipe Organ Register

Organists



  • 1453 William Kyng
  • 1535 Thomas Barcroft
  • 1541 Christopher Tye
    Christopher Tye
    Christopher Tye was an English composer and organist, who studied at Cambridge University and in 1545 became a Doctor of Music both there and at Oxford.He was choirmaster of Ely Cathedral from about 1543 and also organist there from 1559...

  • 1562 Robert White
    Robert White (composer)
    Robert White probably born in Holborn, a district of London, was a catholic English composer whose liturgical music to Latin texts is considered particularly fine...

  • 1567 John Farrant
  • 1572 William Fox
  • 1579 George Barcroft
  • 1610 John Amner
    John Amner
    John Amner was an English composer.A composer of sacred works, John Amner was born at Ely, Cambridgeshire and had a close association with Ely Cathedral, even before his employment there as Informator choristarum , through his relatives, Michael and Ralph Amner, who were both lay clerks there...

  • 1641 Robert Claxton
  • 1662 John Ferrabosco
  • 1681 James Hawkins

  • 1729 Thomas Kempton
  • 1762 John Elbonn
  • 1768 David Wood
  • 1774 James Rogers
  • 1777 Richard Langdon
  • 1778 Highmore Skeats (sen.)
  • 1804 Highmore Skeats (jun.)
  • 1830 Robert Janes
  • 1867 Edmund Thomas Chipp
  • 1887 Basil Harwood
    Basil Harwood
    Basil Harwood was an English organist and composer.-Life:Basil Harwood was born in Woodhouse, Gloucestershire on 11 April 1859. His mother died in 1867 when Basil was eight. His parents were Quakers but his elder sister Ada, on reaching 21 in 1867, converted to the Anglican Church...

  • 1892 Thomas Tertius Noble

  • 1898 Hugh Allen
  • 1901 Archibald Wilson
  • 1919 Noel Ponsonby
  • 1926 Hubert Stanley Middleton
    Hubert Stanley Middleton
    Hubert Stanley Middleton was an cathedral organist, who served at Truro Cathedral and Ely Cathedral before an appointment to Trinity College, Cambridge.-Background:Hubert Stanley Middleton was born on 11 May 1890 in Windsor....

  • 1931 Marmaduke Conway
    Marmaduke Conway
    Marmaduke Percy Conway, Mus.D, FRCO, ARCM , was an English organist and writer.-Education:Conway was educated at Bedford Grammar School and the Royal College of Music, obtaining a B.Mus in Oxford and a Mus.D in Dublin.-Organist:...

  • 1949 Sidney Campbell
    Sidney Campbell
    Sidney Schofield Campbell, , was an English organist.-Education:He studied organ under Ernest Bullock and Harold Darke. In 1931 he was awarded the FRCO.-Career:He was*organist of St...

  • 1953 Michael Howard
    Michael Howard (musician)
    Michael Stockwin Howard was an English choral conductor, organist and composer. He was an important part of the Early Music movement in the middle of the last century, in particular as a celebrated interpreter of 16th century polyphony In his later years he made notable recordings of the late...

  • 1958 Arthur Wills
    Arthur Wills
    Dr Arthur Wills OBE is a musician, composer, and professor. He was Director of Music at Ely Cathedral from 1958 to 1990, and also held a Professorship at the Royal Academy of Music in London from 1964 until 1992...

  • 1990 Paul Trepte
    Paul Trepte
    Paul Trepte is an English cathedral organist, who served in St Edmundsbury Cathedral and is at Ely Cathedral-Background:Paul Trepte was born on 24 April 1954 in Morley, Yorkshire...



Assistant organists



  • Mr. Bailey ???? - 1857
  • William J. Kempton ???? - 1865
  • George Legge
  • William George Price (later organist to the City of Melbourne)
  • Frederick Chubb 1903 - 1906
  • Harold Carpenter Lumb Stocks
    Harold Carpenter Lumb Stocks
    Harold Carpenter Lumb Stocks was an English cathedral organist, who served in St Asaph Cathedral-Background:Harold Carpenter Lumb Stocks was born on 21 October 1884 in Essendon, Hertfordshire...

     1906 - 1909
  • Edwin Alec Collins 1911 - 1915
  • Guillaume Ormond
    Guillaume Ormond
    Guillaume Ormond was a cathedral organist, who served at Truro Cathedral.-Background: Guillaume Ormond was born on 27 January 1896 in Sanremo, Italy....

     1927 - 1929 (afterwards organist of Truro Cathedral
    Truro Cathedral
    The Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Truro is an Anglican cathedral located in the city of Truro, Cornwall, in the United Kingdom. It was built in the Gothic Revival architectural style fashionable during much of the nineteenth century, and is one of only three cathedrals in the United Kingdom...

    )
  • William Bean
  • C.P.R. Wilson 1939
  • Russell Missin
    Russell Arthur Missin
    Russell Arthur Missin was an English cathedral organist, who served in Newcastle Cathedral.-Background:He was born in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire on 15 July 1922...

     1945 - 1949
  • Arthur Wills
    Arthur Wills
    Dr Arthur Wills OBE is a musician, composer, and professor. He was Director of Music at Ely Cathedral from 1958 to 1990, and also held a Professorship at the Royal Academy of Music in London from 1964 until 1992...

     1949 - 1958
  • Michael Dudman 1961 - 1964
  • Anthony Greening 1964 - 1966
  • Roger Judd
  • Gerald Gifford 1973 - 1976
  • Stephen Le Prevost 1977 - 1989
  • Jeremy Filsell 1989 - 1991
  • David Price
    David Price (musician)
    David John Chandler Price GTCL DMus HonFASC is a British choral conductor and organist.- Biography :David Price studied organ at Trinity College of Music, graduating in 1991. He was also organ scholar at Croydon Parish Church. During his last year at Trinity, he was organ scholar at Rochester...

     1991 - 1996 (Now organist of Portsmouth Cathedral)
  • Sean Farrell 1996 - 1998
  • Scott Farrell 1999 - 2002
  • Jonathan Lilley 2002 -
  • Edward Taylor (assistant for the Girls' Choir now Assistant Organist at Carlisle Cathedral
    Carlisle Cathedral
    The Cathedral Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, otherwise called Carlisle Cathedral, is the seat of the Anglican Bishop of Carlisle. It is located in Carlisle, in Cumbria, North West England...

    )
  • Oliver Hancock (current assistant for the Girls' Choir)

Directors of Ely Cathedral Girls' Choir

  • Louise Reid 2006 - 2007
  • Sarah MacDonald
    Sarah MacDonald (musician)
    Sarah MacDonald is a Canadian-born organist and conductor, living in the UK, and is currently Director of Music at Selwyn College, Cambridge, and Director of Ely Cathedral Girls' Choir. Sarah came to the UK from Canada in 1992 as OrganScholar of Robinson College, Cambridge, after studying at the...

     2008
  • Louise Reid 2009 - 2010
  • Sarah MacDonald
    Sarah MacDonald (musician)
    Sarah MacDonald is a Canadian-born organist and conductor, living in the UK, and is currently Director of Music at Selwyn College, Cambridge, and Director of Ely Cathedral Girls' Choir. Sarah came to the UK from Canada in 1992 as OrganScholar of Robinson College, Cambridge, after studying at the...

     2010 -

Residentiary Chapter

  • The Dean - vacant
  • The Acting Dean and Canon Pastor, The Revd Canon David Pritchard
  • The Canon Precentor, The Revd Canon Dr James Garrard
  • The Canon Missioner, The Revd Canon Dr Alan Hargrave

Non-residentiary Chapter

  • Canon Susan Pope
  • Canon Tom Green
  • Canon Rosemary, Lady Hughes
  • The Revd Canon Hugh Shilson-Thomas


The Chapter is assisted by the Minor Canons and Priest Vicars:

Minor Canons

  • The Revd Toby Humphry (Chaplain of the King's School, Ely)
  • The Revd Professor Sarah Coakley
  • The Revd David Herrick

Priest Vicars

  • The Revd Canon Chris Barber
  • The Revd Canon Michael Law
  • The Revd Canon Bruce Curry
  • The Revd Eric Rowland
  • The Revd John Sansom
  • The Revd Peter Beech
  • The Revd Canon Colin Travers

Honorary Canons



  • 1989 John Beer
  • 1999 Timothy Elbourne
  • 2001 Jonathan Young
  • 2003 Vanessa Herrick
  • 2004 Margaret Guite
  • 2004 Richard Longfoot
  • 2004 Hugh McCurdy
  • 2004 Les Oglesby
  • 2004 Owen Spencer-Thomas
    Owen Spencer-Thomas
    Owen Robert Spencer-Thomas MBE is perhaps best known as a television and radio news journalist over three decades, but he has also undertaken a wide range of philanthropric work as volunteer charity fundraiser, pioneer and campaigner for people with autism and other disabilities...

  • 2005 Fiona Brampton
  • 2005 Andrew Greany
  • 2005 Jane Keiller
  • 2005 Stephen Leeke

  • 2005 Shamus Williams
  • 2007 Peter Baxendall
  • 2007 John Binns
  • 2007 Stephen Earl
  • 2008 Richard Darmody
  • 2008 Malcolm Griffith
  • 2008 Martin Seeley
  • 2008 Fraser Watts
  • 2008 David Thomson
    David Thomson (bishop)
    David Thomson is the Bishop of Huntingdon.He was educated at King Edward VII School , followed by Keble College, Oxford, where he was awarded an MA and DPhil , and Westcott House and Selwyn College, Cambridge, where he read Theology...

  • 2010 Sue Wyatt
  • 2010 Brian Atling
  • 2010 Michael Goater



In popular culture

  • The cathedral appears on the cover of Pink Floyd
    Pink Floyd
    Pink Floyd were an English rock band that achieved worldwide success with their progressive and psychedelic rock music. Their work is marked by the use of philosophical lyrics, sonic experimentation, innovative album art, and elaborate live shows. Pink Floyd are one of the most commercially...

    's 1994 album The Division Bell
    The Division Bell
    The Division Bell is the fourteenth and last studio album by English progressive rock group Pink Floyd. It was released in the United Kingdom by EMI Records on 28 March 1994, and in the United States by Columbia Records on 4 April....

    .

  • A number of John Rutter
    John Rutter
    John Milford Rutter CBE is a British composer, conductor, editor, arranger and record producer, mainly of choral music.-Biography:Born in London, Rutter was educated at Highgate School, where a fellow pupil was John Tavener. He read music at Clare College, Cambridge, where he was a member of the...

    's choral albums feature the cathedral, a reference to early recordings of his music being performed and recorded in the Lady chapel.

  • Direct references to the cathedral appear in the children's book Tom's Midnight Garden
    Tom's Midnight Garden
    Tom's Midnight Garden is a children's novel by Philippa Pearce. It won the Carnegie Medal in 1958, the year of its publication. It has been adapted for radio, television, the cinema, and the stage.-Plot summary:...

     
    by Philippa Pearce. A full-length movie with the same title was released in 1999.

  • A section of the film Elizabeth: The Golden Age was filmed at the cathedral.

  • Filming for The Other Boleyn Girl took place at the cathedral in August 2007.

  • Parts of Marcus Sedgwick
    Marcus Sedgwick
    Marcus Sedgwick was born in Kent, England. Marcus is a British author and illustrator as well as a musician. He used to play for two bands namely playing the drums for Garrett and as the guitarist in an ABBA tribute group...

    's 2000 novel Floodland
    Floodland (novel)
    Floodland is a children's fantasy novel by Marcus Sedgwick, published on March 2, 2000 by Orion Children's Books and aimed at children. Floodland won the Branford Boase Award in 2001 for an outstanding first published novel.- Plot introduction :...

     take place at the cathedral after the sea has consumed the land around it turning Ely
    Ely, Cambridgeshire
    Ely is a cathedral city in Cambridgeshire, England, 14 miles north-northeast of Cambridge and about by road from London. It is built on a Lower Greensand island, which at a maximum elevation of is the highest land in the Fens...

     into an island.

  • Direct references to Ely Cathedral are made in Jill Dawson
    Jill Dawson
    Jill Dawson is an English poet and novelist who grew up in Durham, England. She began publishing her poems in pamphlets and small magazines. Her first book, Trick of the Light, was published in 1996...

    's novel Watch Me Disappear.

  • A week's filming took place in November 2009 at the cathedral, when it substituted for Westminster Abbey
    Westminster Abbey
    The Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, popularly known as Westminster Abbey, is a large, mainly Gothic church, in the City of Westminster, London, United Kingdom, located just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English,...

     in The King's Speech.

See also

  • List of cathedrals in the United Kingdom
  • Architecture of the medieval cathedrals of England
    Architecture of the medieval cathedrals of England
    The medieval cathedrals of England, dating from between approximately 1040 and 1540, are a group of twenty-six buildings which together constitute a major aspect of the country’s artistic heritage and are among the most significant material symbols of Christianity. Though diversified in style, they...

  • St Etheldreda's Church
    St Etheldreda's Church
    St Etheldreda's Church is located in Ely Place, off Charterhouse Street, Holborn, London. It is dedicated to Æthelthryth, or Etheldreda, an Anglo-Saxon saint who founded the monastery at Ely in 673. The building was the chapel of the London residence of the Bishops of Ely.The chapel was purchased ...

  • English Gothic architecture
    English Gothic architecture
    English Gothic is the name of the architectural style that flourished in England from about 1180 until about 1520.-Introduction:As with the Gothic architecture of other parts of Europe, English Gothic is defined by its pointed arches, vaulted roofs, buttresses, large windows, and spires...

  • Romanesque architecture
    Romanesque architecture
    Romanesque architecture is an architectural style of Medieval Europe characterised by semi-circular arches. There is no consensus for the beginning date of the Romanesque architecture, with proposals ranging from the 6th to the 10th century. It developed in the 12th century into the Gothic style,...

  • Church of England
    Church of England
    The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...


Further reading

  • W. E. Dickson. Ely Cathedral (Isbister & Co., 1897).
  • Richard John King. Handbook to the Cathedrals of England - Vol. 3, (John Murray
    John Murray (publisher)
    John Murray is an English publisher, renowned for the authors it has published in its history, including Jane Austen, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Lord Byron, Charles Lyell, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Herman Melville, and Charles Darwin...

    , 1862).
  • D. J. Stewart. On the architectural history of Ely cathedral (J. Van Voorst, 1868).
  • Peter Meadows and Nigel Ramsay, eds., A History of Ely Cathedral (The Boydell Press, 2003).
  • Lynne Broughton, Interpreting Ely Cathedral (Ely Cathedral Publications, 2008).
  • John Maddison, Ely Cathedral: Design and Meaning (Ely Cathedral Publications, 2000).
  • Janet Fairweather, trans., Liber Eliensis: A History of the Isle of Ely from the Seventh Century to the Twelfth Compiled by a Monk of Ely in the Twelfth Century (The Boydell Press, 2005).
  • Peter Meadows, ed., Ely: Bishops and Diocese, 1109-2009 (The Boydell Press, 2010).

External links