Visit Ely by Mouse
Ely in Cambridgshire is 79 miles northeast of London and also 79 miles south of Lincoln. It was on an island in the Fens before they were drained--an island around which there were lots of eels. That is how Ely got its name. It is a very pretty city, pleasant to walk around with nice shops and Thursday and Saturday open-air markets. It is close to Cambridge and near the river Great Ouse where the Cambridge rowing team has a boat house, and where they practice.
It has a lovely cathedral, built over a very early monastery dating from 673 AD. The present Ely Cathedral dates from shortly after the Norman invasion and was finished about 1215 AD. The style is Norman and Romanesque. Inside there are some very pleasing features, a beautiful ceiling that has a colorful geometric design, an octagonal tower with a lantern section that lets in light, and a light and airy Lady Chapel (see photos).
Ely was where Oliver Cromwell lived for a time. His house is still there and serves as a tourist office with rooms furnished as they might have been during Cromwell's residency. It is adjacent to St. Mary's Church. Before the Civil War, Cromwell was the agent who collected tithes for this church, and he was known to do this through a back window of his home.
Below are a few photos from Ely, including a couple of the Cromwell house, and one of a very pretty front garden.  And there is a page of photos and a slide show of this unusual and interesting cathedral.
After the British Civil War and during it, Cromwell ordered his men to destroy all signs of Catholicism and High Church Anglicanism. That meant especially destroying or pulling down statues of saints. That destruction is still visible today in most cathedrals in England. But there was very little destruction in this cathedral. Note the bronze floor inlay on the picture page, still intact. In other cathedrals these were all destroyed--pulled out to be smelted down for armaments. We were told that Ely is less damaged because the soldiers assigned the job of destroying idols here were home town boys and did not want to incur the anger of their family members who were quite protective of this treasure. Perhaps they were, too. Letter
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(click for photos of Ely Cathedral and slideshow)
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