History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: 14th century lantern tower is an engineering tour de force
When a ceiling becomes a major tourist attraction, you know its a very remarkable ceiling indeed. At Ely, the ceiling in question certainly qualifies as remarkable. Ely Cathedral boasts one of the most amazing engineering feats of the Middle Ages in the form of its unique Octagon Tower.
There has been a church here since the 7th century, when St. Etheldreda, a Saxon queen, founded a cathedral on an island rising out of the surrounding marshes of the Fenland.
Ely Cathedral was one of the premier Saxon churches in England, on a par with Glastonbury and Canterbury.
After the Norman invasion, Simeon, a kinsman of William the Conqueror, was named Abbot of Ely, and it was Simeon who began rebuilding the earlier Saxon cathedral in 1083, creating in the process one of the best examples of Romanesque architecture in England.
The "lantern tower" is actually formed by a series of massive oak beams which rise to a height of 63 feet. The tower is supported by diagonal oak beams resting upon stone pillars. These pillars support a total weight of some 400 tons of wood and lead.
Most English cathedrals are built to a pattern of twin west towers flanking the main entrance and a central (crossing) tower. Ely has just one west tower and the huge Octagonal Tower.
The beams of Alan of Walsingham's creation were carefully restored by Sir Gilbert Scott in the Victorian period, and Scott added restrained restoration work to the interior. Much of the stained glass at Ely is Victorian also.
The Cathedral is much more than just a tower, however. The Norman carvings at are remarkable in themselves, particularly those decorating the Prior's Door, and the choir is resplendantly rich in Gothic carvings, this time in wood.
About Ely Cathedral
Address: Minster Place, Ely, Cambridgeshire, England, CB7 4DL
Attraction Type: Cathedral
Website: Ely Cathedral
Phone: 01353 667 735
Fax: 01353 665 658
OS: TL541 801
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
We've 'tagged' this attraction information to help you find related historic attractions and learn more about major time periods mentioned.
Find other attractions tagged with:
Norman (Architecture) -
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
Stained Glass Museum - 0 miles (Museum)
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Wilburton, St Peter's Church - 5 miles (Historic Church)
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Wicken Fen - 6.2 miles (Countryside)
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