Cathedral of Ely
Ely Cathedral is the only building in the UK to be listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages. Visible for miles, the cathedral is often called the "Ship of the Swamps." Or boasts one of the most amazing engineering achievements of the Middle Ages in the form of the unique (octagonal) Octagon tower. The building was one of the main Saxon churches in England, along with Glastonbury and Canterbury.
The history of the creation of the Ili Cathedral
The almost legendary founder of the site was Etheldreda, the wife of a Northumbrian king, who founded a monastery on this site in 673. Etheldreda's monastery flourished for 200 years until it was destroyed by the Danes. It was re-established as a Benedictine community in 970.
After the Norman invasion, Simeon, a relative of William the Conqueror, was named Abbot of Ely. It was he who began to restore the earlier Saxon cathedral, creating in the process one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture in England. Most English cathedrals are built on the pattern of double west towers, but Ely Cathedral has only one west tower and a huge octagonal tower.
Legacy of the past
The current structure dates back to 1081 and is an example of a combination of different architectural styles. It was at the beginning of the 12th century that the existing monastery church received the status of Ely Cathedral, and since then various additions, alterations and restorations have been made to it over the centuries. The Great Restoration began in 1986, costing over £12 million, and was triumphantly completed in 2000. Ely Cathedral entered the 21st century in excellent condition and has been beautifully restored to the delight of numerous visitors.
Modern cultural center
The role of Ely Cathedral today is not so far removed from when it was a Benedictine monastery. In keeping with its mission of “Worship, Joy and Caring,” Ealy offers regular daily worship with a special emphasis on choral music. The cathedral still houses a choir of 22 choristers and 6 laity, and so continues the tradition of a choral evening every day of the week.
Ely Cathedral is not only a major tourist attraction, but also the cultural center of East Anglia, providing a unique venue for art and music, exhibitions, concerts and theatrical performances. The cathedral has recently become a popular filming location for some epic films including Elizabeth: The Golden Age, The Other Boleyn Girl and The King's Speech.