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ely cathedral cambridgeshire
The cathedral has its origins in AD 672 when St Etheldreda built an abbey church. The present building dates back to 1083, and cathedral status was granted it in 1109. Until the Reformation it was the Church of St Etheldreda and St Peter, at which point it was refounded as the Cathedral Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Ely, continuing as the principal church of the Diocese of Ely, in Cambridgeshire. It is the seat of the Bishop of Ely and a suffragan bishop, the Bishop of Huntingdon. Architecturally it is outstanding both for its scale and stylistic details. Having been built in a monumental Romanesque style, the galilee porch, lady chapel and choir were rebuilt in an exuberant Decorated Gothic. Its most notable feature is the central octagonal tower, with lantern above, which provides a unique internal space and, along with the West Tower, dominates the surrounding landscape. Ely Cathedral is a major tourist destination, receiving around 250,000 visitors per year, and sustains a daily pattern of morning and evening services.
Anglo Saxon Abbey
Ely Abbey was founded in 672, by Æthelthryth (St Etheldreda), daughter of the East Anglian King Anna. It was a mixed community of men and women. Later accounts suggest her three successor abbesses were also members of the East Anglian Royal family. In later centuries the depredations of Viking raids may have resulted in its destruction, or at least the loss of all records. It is possible that some monks provided a continuity through to its refoundation in 970, under a Benedictine rule. The precise siting of Æthelthryth's original monastery is not known. The presence of her relics, bolstered by the growing body of literature on her life and miracles, was a major driving force in the success of the refounded abbey. The church building of 970 was within or near the nave of the present building, and was progressively demolished from 1102 alongside the construction of the Norman church. Ermenilda of Ely was an Abbess here, as well, after her husband Wulfhere of Mercia died in 675.
he cathedral is built from stone quarried from Barnack in Northamptonshire (bought from Peterborough Abbey, whose lands included the quarries, for 8000 eels a year), with decorative elements carved from Purbeck Marble and local clunch. The plan of the building is cruciform (cross-shaped), with an additional transept at the western end. The total length is 537 feet (164 m), and the nave at over 75 m (246 ft) long remains one of the longest in Britain. The west tower is 66 m (217 ft) high. The unique Octagon 'Lantern Tower' is 23 m (75 ft) wide and is 52 m (171 ft) high. Internally, from the floor to the central roof boss the lantern is 43 m (141 ft) high. It is known locally as "the ship of the Fens", because of its prominent position above the surrounding flat landscape.
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