As we’ve mentioned before, we’re musical types. This is great, because it takes us to some of the country’s most gorgeous cities and cathedrals. Last weekend, we were in Ely – not somewhere I’d ever been to before [I’d sung there once before when at university, although I’d forgotten just how stunning the cathedral is]. It’s one of those places that isn’t much of a city beside its cathedral; nonetheless there were some great pubs and places to while away our (limited) free time.
More noteworthy, though, was the cathedral. Oh wow. I have a book on the world’s cathedrals (yup, I’m cool like that) and this place makes the cover. We went on a tour of the roof and up into the Octagon tower, so were lucky enough to see the views from above as well as below. To anyone visiting Ely, we’d definitely recommend the tour – £8 well spent, with a fascinating and lovely guide, and access to some breathtaking parts of the building.
The main quire, with rood screen and altar behind:
Quite a colourful cathedral, apparently the Victorians restored the original colours – amazing to think all cathedrals were this vibrant when newly completed!
The most notable feature of Ely, though, is the central octagon at the crossing. Going up into a wooden tower, beautifully painted and with stunning stained glass, it provides the building’s remarkable focal point.
The Octagon is supported by huge wooden beams on the inside, suggesting that the original concept was to keep going even higher, possibly with a stone cupola, like St Paul’s, or a spire, like Salisbury.
As high as we could go, we could see the stone buttressing supporting the Octagon tower on the outside, to relieve the internal beams’ pressure points:
Originally Norman, the enormous cathedral shows evidence of architectural change over the years, where parts have fallen down and sometimes been replaced. This photo also shows the *ahem* metropolis of Ely…
We had a wonderful view down from the tower onto the nave.
It was the perfect weather for a tour of the roof, too – some stunning stonework.
Easily accessible from most of the country (unlike some cathedrals – Wells, I’m looking at you…) it was a breathtaking experience, especially since it wasn’t really even on my list of beautiful things to see in England! Speaking of which, if you have anything for the list, or you think we’re missing out on a winning day out, let us know in the comments below. We hope you all had great weekends!