It was late, and I was on my way back to Bishop’s Stortford after a great day out in Thetford. I got on the first train that came along, thinking it would take me to Cambridge where I could change trains to get back to Bishop’s Stortford. When the ticket inspector came along, he told me that I wasn’t on the correct train, so I would have to alight at Ely and wait for a train to Cambridge. This proved fortuitous because I had never been to Ely. So, rather than waiting on the platform for the next train to Cambridge, I headed in to the centre. That’s when I came across Ely’s magnificent cathedral, which is this week’s Foto Friday. The original abbey was built in the 7th century by the East Anglian Royal Family. It was destroyed by the Vikings and rebuilt by Benedictine monks.
Over the course of the next few hundred years, Ely became one of England’s most successful Benedictine abbeys until the 16th century when the monastery was closed during Henry VIII’s rein with the Dissolution of the Monasteries. During this time, the shrines to Anglo-Saxon saints, the stained glass windows, and sculptures were destroyed. Fortunately, it wasn’t completely destroyed, as many other Catholic buildings were. This was because it was both an abbey and a cathedral. In the 17th century, times got harder when Oliver Cromwell’s army occupied the Isle of Ely, but the building wasn’t destroyed, just neglected. It wasn’t until Victorian times when the restoration began.
In the foreground of the photo, you will see a Russian cannon. Why is it there? Well, apparently, it was captured during the Crimean War, and, in 1860, Queen Victoria gave it to the city to mark the creation of the Ely rifle volunteers.
Ely is a city in Cambridgeshire, which is a short train journey from Cambridge. So, if you happen to be in Cambridge, you could hop on a train to Ely to see this cathedral.
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Have you been to Ely Cathedral? Do you have any further information about the Russian cannon? If so, please get in touch.