The Sacred Grandeur of Ely Cathedral

When I wrote Bertie’s Grand Day Out I said that we would be going back to visit Ely Cathedral near Cambridge.  Well finally, after the better part of a year, we made it to Ely and during the day when the cathedral was open, so this post is about our visit to this amazing building.

With my love of doors the cathedral has plenty to keep me captivated, not least the doors we had to go through to get inside.

 The above picture is looking up into the Octagon, which we were lucky enough to be just in time for a tour up onto the roof and inside the upper part of the Octagon who’s central height is 43 metres.  To get up to the roof there were lots of very narrow winding stairs and then finally a doorway that was probably only 5 feet high, and only 18 inches across (apparently).  Now I’m not sure if you’ve noticed from any of the pictures of me, but I am not 18 inches in any direction!!!  On the way up I seemed to squeeze through somehow, but on the way back down the laws of physics kicked in and I thought they may have to get a helicopter to airlift me from the roof as my body was not going through the doorway no matter how I manipulated – luckily my beloved wasn’t adverse to a little shoving and I eventually popped through.

The Octagon is built entirely of wood and is covered in lead – the internal beams are huge trees and it is amazing touching them and thinking how they built such an amazing space with none of today’s technology. The inside of the Octagon is covered with beautiful paintings of angels as the Octagon represents the link between heaven and earth.

When looking up into the Octagon it doesn’t seem that high, but it’s a different story when looking back down into the cathedral.

Despite the difficulty and the effort it was really lovely to be up on the roof of the cathedral – I always try and imagine what the view would have been like when the cathedral was built in the 12th century.

A glimpse of the stairs we had to climb – very narrow and winding.  It was very lovely to have my beloved pushing me up with a hand on my posterior.

There are some beautiful stained glass windows in the cathedral and there is also a stained glass museum which I know my brother Keith would love – it shows the evolution of glass windows through the centuries.

There are some really lovely memorials throughout the building but these two in particular caught my eye, the first because of the name – you don’t see the name Gotobed very often.  The second because I just thought it was lovely to see how much this man meant to so many.

The earliest church on the site of the now cathedral was a monastery founded by St Etheldreda in AD 673, so as you would expect there are quite a few memorials to her throughout the building and people come on pilgrimage to her.

There are lots of different types of memorials and tombs throughout the building – the one below seemed very casual in his demeaner.

Loved this little cherub that was on the side of one of the tombs – if you look closely you’ll see that they’ve even carved a tear to roll down his face.

The beautiful sculpture of the cross below is entitled The Way of Life and is by Jonathan Clarke – showing that faiths journey is not always smooth.  Below the cross you can see that on the floor of the cathedral is a labyrinth.  Walking a labyrinth is a great meditative tool and also can reflect a spiritual journey.

The below memorial is beautiful – it’s not flat and lifeless like so many, but a three dimensional plaque to the choristers who died in the second world war.  It says, ‘they sing a new song before the throne’.  You may also note that there is a Gotobed amongst the names.

We were blessed to have the choir and an orchestra rehearsing for a concert the whole time we were wandering around the cathedral – it was beautiful.  You can just make them out in the distance surrounded by the magnificent architecture. 

The feature below is a prayer net.  Anyone can add a piece of wool to the net as part of their prayer – I think it’s a beautiful idea and a really lovely thing as anyone can do it.

All around the cathedral there are ducks meandering around the grounds – they’re very tame and don’t mind you getting close to them as you can tell by the sleepy ducks below.  Anyone that rustles a bag gets mobbed as they think that they’re going to get fed.

So that was the stunning Ely Cathedral – if you’re ever in the area make sure it’s on your list of things to do as it is well worth it.

Until next time, be good, stay safe, and do something nice for someone who can never repay you.

Pamela & Ken

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