Ely Cathedral

Ely Cathedral
The West Tower (1174-97)
Dedication Holy Trinity
Denomination Church of England
Tradition Broad Church
Administration
Diocese Ely
Province Canterbury
Clergy
Dean Very Revd Dr Michael Chandler
Sub-dean (Vice Dean) Revd Canon Dr Peter Sills
Precentor Revd Canon David Pritchard
Canon (Canon Missioner) Revd Canon Dr Alan Hargrave
Other
Organist/Director of Music Paul Trepte
Organist Jonathan Lilley
Website www.cathedral.ely.anglican.org
Coordinates Coordinates:
Enlarge picture
Nave of the present Ely Cathedral.
Enlarge picture
The Lantern from the interior.
Ely Cathedral (in full, The Cathedral Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Ely) is the principal church of the diocese of Ely, in Cambridgeshire, England, and the seat of the Anglican Bishop of Ely. It is known locally as "the ship of the Fens", because of its prominent shape that towers above the surrounding flat and watery landscape.

History

Previous buildings

The first Christian building on the site was founded by Etheldreda, daughter of the Anglo-Saxon king of East Anglia, who was born in 630 at Exning near Newmarket. She acquired the land from her first husband, Tondberct, chief of the South Gyrvians, and after the end of her second marriage to Eegrfrid, a Northumbrian prince, set up and ran a monastery on the site in 673. When she died, a shrine was built to her memory in the Saxon church on the same site. (Incidentally, the common version of Etheldreda's name was St. Awdrey, which is the origin of the word tawdry - because cheap souvenirs were sold at fairs held in her name.) The monastery, and much of the city of Ely, were destroyed in the Danish invasions that began in 869 or 870.

A new Benedictine monastery was built and endowed on the site by Athelwold, Bishop of Winchester, in 970, in a wave of monastic refoundations which also included Peterborough and Ramsey. [1] This became a cathedral in 1109, after a new Diocese of Ely was created out of land taken from the Diocese of Lincoln.

The present building

The present cathedral was started by Abbot Simeon (1082-1094, brother of Walkelin, the then bishop of Winchester) under William I 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. The West Tower (215 feet) was built between 1174 and 1197 and the Romanesque style of the west front overall shows that it was built in the 12th century, with the later addition of the Galilee porch (1198-1215). The west tower is about 65m high.

The cathedral is built from stone quarried from Barnack in Northamptonshire (bought from Peterborough Abbey, whose lands included the quarries, for 8000 eels a year), with decorations in Purbeck Marble and local clunch. The plan of the building is cruciform (cross-shaped), with the altar at the east end. The total length is 565 feet (172.2 m), with the nave over 75 m long.

Enlarge picture
Inside of the Lantern.
Attached to the north transept is the Lady Chapel (built 1321-1349 in the Decorated style) by the sacrist Alan of Walsingham. It was to his plans too that the octagonal tower or octagon (1322-1328) was built after Simeon's original crossing tower collapsed in 1322, injuring nobody but destroying the choir. This central octagon rises from the whole breadth of the building and towers up until its roof, a wooden lantern, forms the only Gothic dome in existence. The north-west transept collapsed in the 15th century and was never rebuilt, leaving a scar on the outside of that corner that can still be seen.

Later history

In 1539, during Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries, 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 and in connection with this, his nephew Christopher Wren 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
  2. in 1839, under George Peacock, with the architect George Gilbert Scott (the architect Basevi died in a fall from the west tower). A painted wooden ceiling was added to the nave in this restoration.
  3. from 1986 to 2000


The building is still in active use, and also houses a collection of stained glass from the 13th century to the present that is of national importance and includes works from notable contemporary artists like Ervin Bossanyi and others.

Music

Ely has a fine cathedral choir of boys and men, which has recently attracted international attention because of its association with The Choirboys: 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.

Recently, the cathedral community has started up an adult voluntary choir, the Octagon Singers, and a children's choir, the Ely Imps. The Ely Cathedral Girls' Choir was also launched in 2006, comprising 15 girl choristers.

Organ

Details of the organ from the National Pipe Organ Register

Organists

  • 1453 William Kyng
  • 1535 Thomas Barcroft
  • 1541 Christopher Tye
  • 1562 Robert White
  • 1567 John Farrant
  • 1572 William Fox
  • 1579 George Barcroft
  • 1610 John Amner
  • 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
  • 1892 Thomas Tertius Noble
  • 1898 Hugh Allen
  • 1901 Archibald Wilson
  • 1919 Noel Ponsonby
  • 1926 Hubert Middleton
  • 1931 Mamaduke Conway
  • 1949 Sidney Campbell
  • 1953 Michael Howard
  • 1958 Arthur Wills
  • 1990 Paul Trepte

Honorary Canons

  • 1988 Frederick Kilner
  • 1989 John Beer
  • 1994 Brian Watchorn
  • 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
  • 2005 Fiona Brampton
  • 2005 Andrew Greany
  • 2005 Jane Keiller
  • 2005 Stephen Leeke
  • 2005 Shamus Williams
  • 2005 Francis Woolley
  • 2007 Peter Baxendall
  • 2007 John Binns
  • 2007 Stephen Earl
  • 2007 Wim Zwalf [2]

In popular culture

  • The cathedral features prominently on the cover of Pink Floyd's 1994 album The Division Bell.
  • A number of John Rutter'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 Ely Cathedral appear in the children's book Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce. A full-length movie with the same title was released in 1999.
  • A section of the film The Golden Age was filmed at the cathedral.
  • Filming for Scenes on the movie "The Other Boleyn Girl" began in August 2007.

References

1. ^ [1]Consumption and Pastoral Resources on the Early Medieval Estate, accessed July 12, 2007
2. ^ Diocese of Ely Directory 2007

Gallery





West Tower of Ely Cathedral, from The Gallery, 2004

The tower of Ely cathedral from the North-West.

Distant view of the cathedral

Stained glass commemorating WWII

Engraving of Ely Cathedral, ca. 1830.

Ely interior

Choir of the Ely Cathedral, looking east. ca. 1890

Interior and exterior elevations.







Ely Cathedral and Palace Green.

Looking up from the main entrance of the Cathedral

The ornate Cathedral Stonework.

Mist clearing from Ely Cathedral Octagon tower.

Ely Cathedral and The Gallery

Stained glass window in the Cathedral

New stained glass in the link corridor to Lady Chapel

A colourful tomb in the Cathedral

The Octagon Tower (Lantern)

The High Altar in the Cathedral


See also

External links

List of Anglican Cathedrals in the United Kingdom and Ireland
Anglican Communion
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Diocese of Ely

Province Canterbury
Diocesan Bishop Bishop of Ely
Cathedral Ely Cathedral

Archdeaconries Cambridge, Huntingdon & Wisbech
Suffragan Bishop(s) Bishop of Huntingdon
Parishes 309
Churches 335
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Ely

Ely (United Kingdom)

Ely shown within the United Kingdom
Population 15,102
OS grid reference TL535799
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    Cambridgeshire (abbreviated Cambs) 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.
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    "God and my right"
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    The Bishop of Ely is the Ordinary of the Church of England Diocese of Ely in the Province of Canterbury.

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    The British Fens, also known as the Fenland
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    Hervey Translated from Bangor
    1133 to 1174 Nigel
    1174 to 1189 Geoffrey Ridel Died in office
    1189 to 1198 William Longchamp
    1198 to 1220 Eustace
    1215 to 1219 Robert of York election quashed 1219
    1220 to 1225
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    Æthelthryth, or Æðelþryð, (c. 636-23 June 679) is the proper name for the popular Anglo-Saxon saint almost universally known as Etheldreda or by the pet form of Audrey (or variations).
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