Ely Cathedral


673.St. Etheldreda. Foundress, and first Abbess.
679.St. Sexburga.
699.St. Erminilda.
?St. Werburga.


970.Brithnoth. First Abbot.
1016.Leofwin, or Oschitel.
1066.Thurstan. Last Saxon Abbot.
1072.Theodwin. A monk of Jumièges.
1075.[Godfrey, Administrator ad interim.]
1081.Simeon. Founder of the Norman Church.
Interval of seven years.
1100.Richard. Completed the Norman Choir. Translated into it the remains of the sainted Abbesses. Commenced negociations for the conversion of the abbacy into a bishoprick. Died 1107.


1. Vincent.
2. Henry.
3. William.
4. Tombert, or Thembert.
5. Alexander.
6. Solomon.
7. Richard.
8. Robert Longchamp.
9. John de Strateshete.
10. Hugh.
11. Roger de Brigham.
12. Ralph.
13. Walter.
14. Robert de Leverington.
15. Henry de Banccis.
16. John de Hemingston.
17. John de Shepreth.
18. John Saleman.
19. Robert de Orford.
20. William de Clare.
21. John de Fresingfield.
22. John de Crauden.
23. Alan de Walsingham.
24. William Hathfield.
25. John Bucton.
26. William Walpole.
27. William Powcher.
28. Edmund Walsingham.
29. Peter de Ely.
30. William Wells.
31. Henry Peterborough.
32. Roger Westminster.
33. Robert Colville.
34. William Witlesey.
35. William Foliott.
36. John Cottenham.
37. Robert Wells, alias  Steward, last Prior, and first Dean.

The Dean and Chapter


HEN the abbacy was converted into a bishopric, a.d. 1109, the office of Abbot merged into that of bishop, and an officer called the Prior, or Lord Prior, became the head of the community; he presided in chapter, and governed generally the affairs of the monastery; and in the reigns of some of our kings he was summoned to sit in Parliament. The first Prior after this alteration was Vincent, and there followed in succession thirty-six others, the last of whom, Robert Wells otherwise Steward, surrendered the monastery, with its goods and possessions, into the hands of King Henry the Eighth, at the general dissolution in November, 1539. Agreeably to the powers vested in him by Parliament, the king, by letters patent dated September 10th, 1541, "did grant his royal charter for erecting the Cathedral Church of the late monastery of St. Peter and St. Etheldreda  at Ely into a Cathedral Church, by the name and title of "The Cathedral Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Ely " to consist of one Dean, a priest, and eight Prebendaries,[15] priests, with other ministers necessary for the celebrating Divine service therein." And "did ordain the said Cathedral Church to be the Episcopal See of the Bishop of Ely and his successors, with all the honours and privileges of an Episcopal See and Cathedral Church. And that the said Dean and Prebendaries be one body corporate, have perpetual succession, one common seal, be the Chapter of the then Bishop of Ely, and his successors, and be called 'The Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Ely :' also did give and grant unto them the whole site of the late dissolved monastery, with all the ancient privileges, liberties, and free customs of the same, and nearly all the revenues thereof." Robert Steward, the late Prior, was made the first Dean, since whose time twenty-three others have held the office exclusive of the present Dean, who was appointed in December, 1869.

We append a list of the Priors and Deans of Ely.

[15]By an Act of Parliament passed in 1840, the number of Prebendaries was in future to be reduced to six, two of which stalls were to be attached respectively to the Regius Professorships of Greek and Hebrew in the University of Cambridge.

The See of Ely


DGAR "the peaceful," by his charter, as mentioned in the Introduction, restored the powers and privileges enjoyed by the Superiors of the monastery previous to its destruction by the Danes, to the newly-appointed Abbot on its re-foundation by Bishop Ethelwold, a.d. 970, and the Abbots of Ely successively exercised powers nearly similar to a County Palatine, and after the change from an abbacy to a bishopric, the bishops continued to exercise similar authority until the reign of Henry VIII., when they were greatly abridged by an Act of Parliament. The successive Bishops of Ely, however, until the year 1836, possessed a jurisdiction of considerable importance, and had almost sovereign authority within the district known as the Isle of Ely, which was styled "The Royal Franchise or Liberty of the Bishops of Ely."

On the conversion of the abbacy into a bishopric a.d. 1109, a division of the property and revenues took place, and the bishop took care to protect his own interests and those of his successors, but the charge and repairs of the church and monastery fell to the share of the prior and monks, the bishop retaining a certain jurisdiction over them. The County of Cambridge, with the exception of a few parishes, was transferred from the See of Lincoln to the new See of Ely, and the Manor of Spaldwick, in the County of Huntingdon, was given to the Bishop of Lincoln in compensation. The See now comprises the Counties of Cambridge, Huntingdon, and Bedford, and the western division of the County of Suffolk, comprised in the Archdeaconry of Sudbury. It is divided into four Archdeaconries, which are subdivided into thirty-three Rural Deaneries, except the Isle of Ely, which is under the peculiar Archidiaconal jurisdiction of the Bishop, and is divided into two Rural Deaneries. There are five hundred and fifty-four benefices in the diocese. The population of the whole is about 500,000; and the area in acres is 1,357,756.

The Bishop has patronage to a considerable extent; he appoints to the Chancellorship, to the Registrarship, to the four Archdeaconries, the Rural Deaneries, to four Canonries in the Cathedral, and several Honorary Canonries; to the Mastership and one Fellowship of Jesus College, to one Fellowship at St. John's College, to the Mastership of St. Peter's College, and is Visitor of four Colleges, in Cambridge, and of several schools; and has about fifty livings in his gift.

Arms of the See —Gu. three ducal coronets or. These are derived from the arms of the East Anglian kings.


1541.Robert Steward, or Wells, M.A., last Prior.
1557.Andrew Perne, D.D., Master of Peterhouse, Cambridge.
1589.John Bell, D.D., Master of Jesus College, Cambridge.
1591.Humphrey Tindall, D.D., President of Queen's College, Cambridge.
1614.Henry Cæsar, or Adelmare, D.D.
 Dean Cæsar was a great patron of Music. A musical Service, known as "Cæsar's Service,"
but written by John Amner, Organist, is preserved among the MSS. in the Cathedral Library.
1636.William Fuller, D.D. In 1646, Dean of Durham.
1646.William Beale, D.D., nominated but never admitted; Master of St. John's College, Cambridge. Died at Madrid, 1650.
A vacancy of ten years.
1660.Richard Love, D.D., Master of Bene't College, Cambridge.
1661.Henry Ferne, D.D., Master of Trinity College, Cambridge; in 1662 Bishop of Chester. Died five weeks after his consecration.
1662.Edward Martin, D.D., Master of Queen's College, Cambridge. Died a few days after his institution.
1662.Francis Wilford, D.D., Master of Bene't College, Cambridge.
1667.Robert Mapletoft, D.D., Master of Pembroke Hall, Cambridge.
 Dean Mapletoft left several acres of land to augment the Stipends of the Singing Men.
1677.John Spencer, D.D., Master of Bene't College, Cambridge.
1693.John Lamb, M.A., Chaplain to King William and Queen Mary.
1708.Charles Roderick, D.D., Provost of King's College, Cambridge.
1712.Robert Moss, D.D., Fellow and Tutor of Bene't College, Cambridge.
1729.John Frankland, D.D., Master of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge.
1730.Peter Allix, D.D., Fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge.
 Commenced important repairs in the fabric of the Church.
1758.Hugh Thomas, D.D., Master of Christ's College, Cambridge.
1780.William Cooke, D.D., Provost of King's College, Cambridge.
1797.William Pearce, D.D., Master of Jesus College, Cambridge.
1820.James Wood, D.D., Master of St. John's College, Cambridge.
1839.George Peacock, D.D., Lowndean Professor of Astronomy, Cambridge.
 Extensive repairs and restorations were commenced in 1844.
1858.Harvey Goodwyn, D.D. In 1869, Bishop of Carlisle.
1869.Charles Merivale, D.D., D.C.L.

Arms of the Deanery —Gu. three keys or. These were the arms of Ethelwold, Bishop of Winchester, and from him assumed as the arms of the monastery.

The Dean and Chapter have the patronage of sixteen livings in this diocese, three in the diocese of Norwich, and one in the diocese of Rochester. They also appoint to the Minor Canonries and other offices connected with the Cathedral.

Historical Summary

673 Foundation of the Monastery for men and women, married and single, by Queen Etheldreda. Etheldreda, first abbess, succeeded by
(1) her sister Sexburga.
(2) Erminilda, daughter of Sexburga.
(3) Withburga, daughter of Erminilda.
870 The Monastery destroyed by the Danes.
970 The secular clergy, who had returned to Ely, dismissed by Ethelwold, bishop of Winchester, and the monastery reconstituted for monks only under the rule of St. Benedict. Brithnoth first abbot.
1071 The Abbey, after a long defence by Hereward, surrendered to William the Conqueror by Abbot Thurstan.
1083 The building of the present Cathedral commenced with the south-eastern Transept, by Abbot Simeon, brother of Walkelin of Winchester.
1109 Erection of the Diocese of Ely, Hervè le Breton being appointed the first Bishop. Building of the Nave, Transepts, Tower and Choir continued through the twelfth century.
1215 (about) Erection of Galilee Porch.
1235 Erection of the Presbytery, eastward of the Choir, by Bishop Northwold. A spire erected on the Tower.
1321 Building of the Lady Chapel (Trinity Church) commenced.
1322 Fall of the Central Tower, followed by construction of the Octagon and Lantern, by Alan de Walsingham. Western portion of the Choir reconstructed by Bishop Hotham.
1330 (about) Prior Crauden's Chapel and the Guest Chamber, now the Deanery, erected.
1340 The Stalls, the work of Alan de Walsingham, placed in the Octagon, the position of the Choir before the fall of the central Tower.
1400 (about) William de Walpol, prior, erected the great gate of the Abbey (Ely Porta). About this time erection of the Octagon or Campanile on the West Tower, followed by the strengthening of the piers below.
1440 Erection of the Cloisters, and towards the end of the century, Bishop Alcock's Chapel.
1534 Bishop West's Chapel.
1541 The Abbey dissolved by Henry VIII. and reconstituted as a Chapter of Dean and Canons. Robert Steward last Prior and first Dean. The conventional  buildings sold and destroyed, portions only reserved for residence of Dean and Canons and other officers. The Guest Chamber used as the common Hall of the College, but converted at a later period into the Deanery.
1642 Dean Fuller deprived by the Parliament. During the Rebellion Ely occupied by Cromwell's soldiers, and the Cathedral said to have been used for stabling their horses.
1649 Commissioners under the Commonwealth survey and cause further destruction of the conventual buildings.
1676 Pavement of the Nave restored by Mr. Clopton.
1699 Fall of the north-west angle of the north-eastern Transept; rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren.
1754 Extensive repairs of the roof of the Octagon and Choir by Bishop Mawson, and Deans Allix and Thomas.
1770 The stalls transferred from the Octagon to the Presbytery by Essex, architect, and important repairs of the fabric executed.
1771 Publication of Bentham's "History and Antiquities of Ely Cathedral"
1801 The upper parts of the Tower repaired.
1823 The Nave, Octagon, Lantern, and Transepts coloured, and the Stalls painted. This was done at considerable expense, and deemed at the time a great improvement.
1831 A new Organ put in the old case.
1842 A fire accidentally commenced in the roof of the Nave adjoining the Tower, but was soon extinguished. The roof of the Nave re-covered with lead.
1845 Commencement of the modern Restoration of the Cathedral under Dean Peacock. St. Catherine's Chapel rebuilt. South-western Transept restored. Interior of the western Tower opened and ceiled.
1847 Sir G. Gilbert Scott appointed architect. The stalls removed westward and Choir re-arranged. Painting of the Nave ceiling commenced, &c. A large number of stained windows introduced.
1851 The Organ re-modelled, enlarged and removed to the triforium.
1857 The east windows filled with stained glass.
1858 Restorations continued under Dean Goodwin. The Reredos erected. The Lantern reconstructed as a memorial to Dean Peacock. Western entrance repaired. Commencement of pavement of the Nave, &c., &c. Foundations of the South Aisle of the Choir repaired.
1867 The Organ further enlarged and improved, towards which some of the inhabitants of the town contributed £80 for a sub-base of 32 feet tone.
1870 Restorations continued under the present Dean. Foundations of south-east Transept and south side of the Choir repaired. Western Tower braced with iron bands. Pavement of Nave and Aisles completed. Further additions to stained glass in Choir. Fourth stained window placed in the Octagon.
1873 Celebration of the Bissexcentenary or Twelve-hundredth anniversary of the foundation of the Monastery.
1874 Commencement of the decoration of the Octagon, Lantern, &c.
1875 Several new sculptured figures placed in the Octagon, and the decoration of the Octagon and Lantern completed and re-opened.
1876 The paving of the north Transept completed.
1878 The ceiling of the Baptistry painted by Mr. Parry.
1879 The corona of pinnacles on the exterior of the Octagon completed. A monument to Canon Selwyn placed in the South Aisle of the Choir.

The Cathedral Organ

The following brief account of this fine instrument, furnished by the Rev. the Precentor, may be interesting to many:—

At a very early period the Cathedral or Conventual Church contained an organ or organs: this clearly appears from records preserved among the muniments of the Chapter; and at the dissolution of the Abbey we read that there were "two pair of organs in the Quire, and one pair in the Lady Chapel." It is highly probable, from indications in the stone-work, that one, at least, of these Pre-Reformation organs was placed in the triforium of the present nave, on the north side. It is well known that the Quire at that period extended westward across the Octagon: the organ therefore was situated near the gates, and above the stalls of the ancient Quire, nearly as it is now in the modern Quire. The Great Rebellion swept away organs from Ely, as from all other English Cathedrals; and during this dreary period the Choral Service was suppressed and prohibited. After the Restoration, viz., about the year 1685, a new organ was erected by the celebrated Harris; and it is remarkable that this organ remained in daily use up to the year 1831, without material alteration, not even a swell having been added to the original great and choir. It is worthy of mention, that during the extensive repairs of the Cathedral, conducted by the able architect, Essex, about the middle of the last century, a proposition to place the organ at the eastern end of the Quire was seriously urged by him on the consideration of the Dean and Chapter. He alleged that the instrument would "conceal much cold unornamented wall!" The condition of Harris' organ had become dangerously crazy when Messrs. Elliot and Hill were employed to rebuild it, or rather to insert a new instrument in the old case. This they did with great ability and success, and the organ which comprised ten stops in the great, five in each of choir and swell, and one set of pedal pipes, was a fine specimen of the art as it was understood and practised about forty years ago. When the restorations were commenced which have resulted in the present splendid embellishment of the Cathedral, the organ-screen was removed; and in 1851 the organ was re-modelled and altered to the CC compass, enclosed in its costly and exquisite case of carved oak, and suspended  from the triforium of the Choir, above the stalls on the north, or (at Ely) Decani side. Provision was made for an adequate pedal organ, lodged in the triforium gallery, where an admirable site was also secured for the swell-box: the choir organ is beneath  the great, and behind it, in a picturesque stone tribune or loft, the organist was seated at the manuals. Three stops, viz. a manual Double of wood and metal, 16 feet tone; a metal Quint of 6 feet; and a Posaune of 8 feet; were added to the great organ, which then possessed a tone of great power and beauty.

By the liberality of the Chapter, the completion and great enlargement of the organ was effected in the year 1867. Messrs. Hill have introduced a new swell of 13 stops throughout, with a pedal organ of adequate dimensions. To this pedal organ the principal inhabitants of the city of Ely contributed the important addition of a Sub-base of 32 feet tone, at a cost of upwards of £80. The whole instrument has 40 sounding stops, and it will be seen from an inspection of the list that every stop, even to the clarionet, is complete and entire, extending through the full compass of its manual. The tone of the full organ, with swell coupled, is very grand. The reeds, like all the stops of this class manufactured by Messrs. Hill, are positively models of smoothness, equality, and power. The two 8 feet reeds of the great, and the 16 feet reed, with the Horn, of the swell, are specimens of which the builders may well be somewhat proud. All the compound stops are very brilliant. Equal temperament has been applied to the tuning.


Great Organ —CC to F in Alt.

1. Double Diapason, open metal to GG, 12 feet stopt wood below 16 54
2. Open Diapason, metal 8 54
3. Open Diapason, metal 8 54
4. Stopt Diapason, wood 8 54
5. Principal, metal 4 54
6. Harmonic Flute, metal (vice Quint)4 54
7. Twelfth, metal 2⅔54
8. Fifteenth, metal 2 54
9. Sesquialtera, iii ranks, metal 162
10. Mixture, iii ranks, metal 162
11. Posaune, metal 8 54
12. Trumpet, metal 8 54
13. Clarion, metal 4 54

Swell Organ —CC to F in Alt.

1. Double Diapason, open metal to Gamut G, 6 feet, stopt wood below.16 54
2. Open Diapason, metal 8 54
3. Salcional, metal 8 54
4. Stopt Diapason, wood 8 54
5. Principal, metal 4 54
6. Lieblich Flute, metal 4 54
7. Fifteenth, metal 2 54
8. Mixture, iv ranks 2 216
9. Double Trumpet, metal and wood 16 54
10. Horn, metal 8 54
11. Trumpet, metal 8 54
12. Oboe, metal 8 54
13. Clarion, metal 4 54

Choir Organ —CC to F in Alt.

1. Open Diapason, metal to 6 feet, open wood below 8 54
2. Dulciana, metal 8 54
3. Stopt Diapason, wood 8 54
4. Principal, metal 4 54
5. Flute, wood 4 54
6. Gamba, metal 4 54
7. Clarionet, metal 8 54

Pedal Organ —CCC to E.

1. Sub-bass, wood 32 tone 29
2. Open wood 16  29
3. Open metal 16  29
4. Bourdon, wood 16 tone 29
5. Octave, metal 8  29
6. Mixture, iii ranks, metal 4  87
7. Trombone, wood 16  29


1. Swell to Great.
2. Great to Pedal.
3. Ditto by the foot.
4. Choir to Pedal.
5. Swell to Pedal.

Six composition pedals, three to the Great, acting simultaneously on Pedal: three to Swell.
Total number of Pipes, 2421.


1109.Hervè, or Hervey, first Bishop. The abbey estates divided, and the See firmly established. Died 1131.
1133.Nigellus, a Prebendary of St. Paul's, London. Treasurer to the King, Henry I. A Baron of the Exchequer. Died 1169.
1174.Geoffry Ridel, Archdeacon of Canterbury. Chaplain to King Henry II. Baron of the Exchequer. Opponent of Becket. He built the lower part of the great western tower of the church.
1189.William Longchamp, Chancellor of England. Papal Legate. Died at Poictiers, 1197.
1198.Eustachius, Archdeacon of Richmond, Treasurer of York, and Dean of Salisbury. Chancellor of England. Founder of the Galilee or western porch. (See Stewart's Arch. Hist. of Ely Cathedral, p. 50.) Died 1215.
1215.[Robert of York, chosen by the monks, but never consecrated, held possession of the temporalities of the See for five years.]
1220.John de Fontibus, Abbot of Fountains in Yorkshire.
1225.Geoffery de Burgh, Archdeacon of Norwich.
1229.Hugh de Northwold, Abbot of St. Edmundsbury. This distinguished prelate built the magnificent Presbytery, or eastern portion of the choir. On the occasion of the dedication of the whole church, he entertained sumptuously the King, Henry III., Prince Edward his son, and many nobles and bishops.
1254.William de Kilkenny, Archdeacon of Coventry, and Chancellor.
1257.Hugh de Balsham, Sub-prior of the abbey. Founder of St. Peter's, the first endowed College at Cambridge.
1286.John de Kirkeby. Treasurer of King Edward I. Canon of Wells and York. Archdeacon of Coventry.
1290.William de Luda, (or Louth), Archdeacon of Durham. Prebendary of St. Paul's, of York, and of Lincoln. Sometime Chancellor. Died 1298.
1299.Ralph de Walpole, Bishop of Norwich.
1302.Robert de Orford, Prior of the convent.
1310.John de Ketene, almoner of the church.
1316.John Hotham, Chancellor of the king's (Edward II.) exchequer; Prebendary of York; Rector of Cottingham, in Yorkshire. Bishop Hotham was a munificent promoter of the great architectural works carried on under the rule of Prior Crauden, and from the designs of Alan de Walsingham, then Sacrist. In his time the Lady Chapel was begun; the Octagon completed; and the exquisite bays of the western Choir designed.
1337.Simon de Montacute, Bishop of Worcester.
 The Monks had chosen Prior Crauden.
1345.Thomas L'Isle, Prior of Dominicans at Winchester.
 The choice of the Monks, which had fallen upon Alan of Walsingham the illustrious
architect, then their Prior, was again set aside by the Pope, 1361.
1362.Simon Langham, Abbot of Westminster, and Treasurer of England. Afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury, and Chancellor. In 1368 created Cardinal.
1366.John Barnet. Treasurer of England. Had been Bishop of Worcester; afterwards of Bath, thence translated to Ely.
1374.Thomas de Arundel, Archdeacon of Taunton. Appointed Chancellor of England in 1386; Archbishop of York in 1388, of Canterbury, 1396.
1388.John Fordham, Dean of Wells; Keeper of the Privy Seal.
1426.Philip Morgan, Bishop of Worcester. Died 1435.
1438.Louis de Luxemburg, Archbishop of Rouen. Had been Chancellor of France and Normandy. Afterwards Cardinal.
1444.Thomas Bourchier, Bishop of Worcester; translated to Canterbury 1454. Cardinal, 1464.
1454.William Gray, D.D., Archdeacon of Northampton. Chancellor of the University of Oxford. Lord Treasurer. Bishop Gray altered some of the aisle windows of the Presbytery.
1478.John Morton, LL.D., Master of the Rolls. Archdeacon of Winchester. Lord Chancellor, 1479. Translated to Canterbury, 1486. Cardinal, 1493.
 Bishop Morton was the first to attempt to drain the Fens; hence
"Morton's Leam," a drain extending from Guyhirn to Peterborough.
1486.John Alcock, LL.D., Master of the Rolls. Bishop of Rochester; afterwards of Worcester; translated to Ely. Founder of Jesus College, Cambridge. Bishop Alcock built the elaborate mortuary chapel in which his remains lie buried, and much of the Episcopal Palace at Ely.
1501.Richard Redman, D.D., Bishop of St. Asaph; then of Exeter.
1506.James Stanley, D.D., Archdeacon of Richmond; Precentor of Salisbury.
1515.Nicholas West, LL.D., Chaplain to King Henry VII. Dean of Windsor. Built a chapel bearing his name.
1534.Thomas Goodrich, D.D., a zealous promoter of the Reformation. One of the revisers of the Translation of the New Testament. Lord Chancellor, 1551. Built Gallery of the Palace.
1554.Thomas Thirlby, D.D., Bishop of Westminster; translated to Norwich; thence to Ely. Dispossessed for refusing the oath of supremacy to Queen Elizabeth, 1559.
1559.Richard Cox, D.D., Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, and of Westminster. Died 1581.
The See vacant eighteen years.
1600.Martin Heton, D.D., Dean of Winchester.
1609.Lancelot Andrewes, D.D., Bishop of Chichester. Translated from Ely to Winchester, 1619. Author of the celebrated Book of Devotions.
1619.Nicholas Felton, D.D., Bishop of Bristol. One of the Translators of the Bible.
1628.John Buckeridge, D.D., Bishop of Rochester.
1631.Francis White, D.D., Bishop of Carlisle; then of Norwich.
1638.Matthew Wren, D.D., Bishop of Hereford; thence translated to Norwich; thence to Ely. Bishop Wren was confined in the Tower for 18 years, in consequence of his firm support of the Royal Authority.
1667.Benjamin Laney, D.D., translated from Peterborough to Lincoln; thence to Ely. Bishop Laney bequeathed an estate to trustees for putting out youths as apprentices.
1675.Peter Gunning, D.D., translated from Chichester.
1684.Francis Turner, D.D., translated from Rochester. Bishop Turner was one of the seven bishops committed to the Tower, and was deprived, as a non-juror, in 1691. Died 1700.
1691.Simon Patrick, D.D., Dean of Peterborough; Bishop of Chichester: translated to Ely. Well known for his Devotional and Theological Works.
1707.John Moore, D.D., Bishop of Norwich.
1714.William Fleetwood, D.D., Bishop of St. Asaph.
1723.Thomas Greene, D.D., Bishop of Norwich.
1738.Robert Butts, D.D., Bishop of Norwich.
1748.Sir Thomas Gooch, Bart., D.D., Bishop of Bristol; translated to Norwich; thence to Ely.
1754.Matthias Mawson, D.D., Master of Corp. Chris. College, Cambridge; Bishop of Llandaff: translated to Chichester; thence to Ely.
 Bishop Mawson was the first to make a road practicable for wheeled
carriages from Cambridge.
1771.Edmund Keene, D.D., Bishop of Chester. Effected great improvements in the Palace at Ely.
1781.James Yorke, D.D., Bishop of St. David's; translated to Gloucester; thence to Ely.
1808.Thomas Dampier, D.D., Bishop of Rochester.
1812.Bowyer Edward Sparke, D.D., Bishop of Chester.
 On the death of Bishop Sparke the temporal jurisdiction exercised
within the Isle of Ely by the Bishops ceased by Act of Parliament.
1836.Joseph Allen, D.D., Bishop of Bristol.
 The additions to the Diocese of the Counties of Huntingdon and
Bedford, and the Archdeaconry of Sudbury were made in 1837.
1845.Thomas Turton, D.D., Dean of Peterborough; afterwards of Westminster, Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge.
1864.Edward Harold Browne, D.D., Canon of Exeter; Norrisian Professor of Divinity at Cambridge. Translated to Winchester, 1873.
1873.James Russell Woodford, D.D., Vicar of Leeds, Chaplain in Ordinary to the Queen.

Statement of Restorations Accomplished and Required,and of Sums Expended Thereon

The following extract from a Memorandum issued by the Dean in October,
1873, is appended, by permission, to show the progress of works
done, and the amount expended; as well as of works
required to complete the restorations.

The following Memorandum of Works accomplished or required, was issued by Dean Goodwin, January, 1866:—

"The time seems to be now come, when the completion of the great work of restoration, commenced under Dean Peacock and guided for many years by his care and judgment, may be looked upon as being within reach.

The works which have been hitherto accomplished may be enumerated as follows:—

1. The Choir restored and re-arranged.

2. Central Lantern restored (Peacock Memorial).

3. South-east Transept restored.

4. South-west Transept restored.

5. Roof of North Transept restored and painted. (The painting at the expense of tradesmen employed upon the Cathedral.)

6. The Nave ceiled and painted. (The painting by the late Mr. le Strange and Mr. Gambier Parry.)

7. Nave roof repaired and re-leaded.

8. St. Catherine's Chapel rebuilt.

9. Bishop Alcock's Chapel restored.

10. Galilee Porch re-paved.

11. The Western Tower opened, ceiled, (the ceiling painted by Mr. le Strange), re-roofed, strengthened, &c., (part of the expense borne by the late H.R. Evans, Esq., and his son, the present H.R. Evans, Esq.)

12. About seventy windows filled with painted glass.

The expense of the restoration of the Cathedral cannot be given with perfect accuracy, but the account which is here subjoined will be near enough for all practical purposes.

Contributed by the public to the "Ely Cathedral Restoration Fund"9578 0 0
Expended by the Dean and Chapter (about)11,000 0 0
Contributed by the friends of Dean Peacock to the restoration of the Lantern 2407 0 0
Expended by the Dean and Chapter (about)4200 0 0

It would thus appear that since the commencement of the great works in 1845 to the present time, the sum of £27,185 has been expended, of which £15,200 has been furnished by the Dean and Chapter. It ought to be added that the sum contributed by the public includes a donation of £500 by the Bishop of the Diocese, and about £1000 contributed by members of the Chapter in their individual capacity.

It must be observed, however, that the sum just mentioned by no means represents all that has been done for the Cathedral. The following works and gifts are not included:—

1. The painted windows, which have been supplied partly by individual donors, partly by a bequest of Bishop Sparke. Amongst the donors are Her Majesty the Queen and the Prince Consort. To the bequest of Bishop Sparke the Cathedral is indebted for the East windows, and those in the clerestory of the Choir, and the fund is not yet exhausted.

2. The carved panels above the Stalls in the Choir, now amounting to 37, and supplied almost entirely by individual donors, at a cost of about £18 each.

3. Bishop Alcock's Chapel, restored by Jesus College, Cambridge.

4. A pinnacle at the south-east corner of the Choir, built by A.J.B. Beresford Hope, Esq.

5. The magnificent Reredos, presented by J. Dunn-Gardner, Esq.

6. The contribution of Canon E.B. Sparke towards the restoration of the south-west Transept, and that by the two Messrs. Evans to the works in the western Tower.

7. The Font, presented by Canon Selwyn.

8. The Gates of the Choir Aisles, presented by Alan Lowndes, Esq. and Dean Peacock.

9. The Brass Eagle Lectern, presented by Canon E.B. Sparke.

10. The Tombs of Bishop Allen and Dr. Mill.

11. A legacy of £100 by the late Mr. Millers, Minor Canon of the Cathedral, and a contribution of £300 by his residuary legatees, applied to the ceiling of the Nave.

Neither does the sum mentioned as having been contributed by the public include a legacy of £500 from the late Miss Allen, daughter of Bishop Allen, (which has been appropriated to a new pulpit, now in progress from the designs of G.G. Scott, Esq.,) and a legacy of equal amount, from Bishop Turton, for the purpose of re-paving the Nave.

It may be safely stated that the expense of the works and the gifts above specified has not been less than £13,000; the windows alone have cost nearly £9000. The entire sum already expended upon the Cathedral will thus be found to exceed £40,000.

In order to bring the Cathedral into such a condition as would appear satisfactory to those who have taken part in its restoration, the following works require to be done:—

1. The Nave, Octagon, and Transepts must be paved. Towards this work Bishop Turton gave by his will (as before stated) the sum of £500. The whole expense will probably be not less than £2500.

2. The stone-work of the Octagon must be completed by the restoration of the pinnacles and parapet. The external effect of Alan de Walsingham's Lantern cannot be rightly estimated until this restoration has been made; the cost will be about £2500.

3. The Lantern must be internally decorated. This work, though highly necessary for completing the effect of the interior, will probably cost not more than £500.

4. The Galilee porch requires extensive repair, partly from the decay of the Purbeck marble which is largely used in its construction, and partly from the unskilful treatment to which it has been submitted in former times. A grand commencement of this work has been made by Mrs. John Thomas Waddington, of Twyford Lodge, Winchester, at whose sole expense the portal which forms the eastern side of the Galilee is undergoing complete restoration, as a memorial of her late husband. The restoration of the remainder of the Galilee would probably cost £2000.

5. The warming of the Cathedral is another work, for which it would be impossible to set down less than £500; probably it would cost much more; but this is a work which, if considered desirable, may fairly be left to the Dean and Chapter.

6. The proper lighting of the Cathedral is a matter for consideration; this also might be regarded as a work devolving upon the capitular body: but when the extremely artistic character of the standards or coronæ, which such a building requires, is taken into account, perhaps it may be fairly added to the list of works in which the friends of the Cathedral may be asked to co-operate.

From this statement then it would appear that an expenditure of from £7000 to £8000 would complete the principal necessary works of the Cathedral, with the exception of the rebuilding of the north-west Transept, which it will probably be deemed desirable to omit from consideration, at all events until all the other works specified have been finished.

Call the sum necessary £7000; this is not much to raise for so good a purpose; and when it is considered what the effect of the expenditure of such a sum will be, it seems difficult to believe that the money will not be forthcoming.

The Dean and Chapter have not shown themselves hitherto insensible to the primary claim which the Cathedral has upon them, nor are they likely to do so in the completion of the great work which they have now had in hand so long. But the Cathedral has claims upon others beside the Capitular body. It has claims, which it is believed will be once more acknowledged by the wealthy landowners of the Diocese, by the Colleges of Cambridge, several of which are intimately connected with Ely, and finally by lovers of architectural beauty and ecclesiastical propriety throughout the country.

To all persons, therefore, who take an interest in Ely Cathedral on Diocesan or any other grounds, an appeal is now made, and they are respectfully urged to make one final effort for the purpose of completing a work which has been so well begun, and hitherto so prosperously carried out.


"The Deanery, Ely, January, 1866."

Since the issue of the foregoing memorandum further progress has been made in the Restoration of the Cathedral.

1. The Nave and Aisles have been re-paved.

2. The great Western doors have been repaired and decorated.

3. The Cathedral has been warmed and lighted.

4. Many stained windows have been inserted in the Choir.

5. The fourth large window in the Octagon has been filled with painted glass.

6. The foundation of the south side of the Choir and the south-eastern Transept have been underpinned and thoroughly repaired.

7. The great Western Tower has been braced with iron bands, and, it is believed, effectually secured.

8. The stone pulpit in the Octagon has been erected.

9. Many figures in wood have been placed on the Choir screen, the decoration of which is now completed.

10. Nine stone figures have been placed in the ancient niches in the Octagon; three more are needed to complete the design.

11. The whole of the carved panels over the stalls in the Choir have been completed.

Several works still remain to be effected before the restoration can be considered as complete.

1. The paving of the Octagon and Transepts. The cost of the paving of the Nave has much exceeded the sum anticipated. The completion of this work will cost from £1000 to £2000 additional.

2. The re-paving of the aisles of the Choir, a work of no pressing importance at present, but which will demand great care and consideration whenever it is undertaken.

3. The decoration of the blank space of wall beneath the great East Window, on which there remain some traces of painted figures. If these are found too faint and uncertain for restoration, the space might perhaps be covered with a copy of some appropriate painting in mosaic.

4. The restoration of the exterior of the east end of the Choir. Window shafts to the number of about fifty have disappeared or are broken. The south-east angle turret has been crowned with a pinnacle, but the corresponding turret at the north-east still remains truncated. In the eastern face of the Choir there are twelve niches, which probably were once all filled with figures.

5. The restoration of the Galilee is still very incomplete. The shafts of Purbeck marble, which are so numerous throughout it, require to be repaired or replaced. The niches in the west face, intended for figures, are all empty.

6. The pitch of the roof of the Galilee and of the south-western Transept ought to be raised to give their full effect to the proportions of the great western Tower.

7. The rebuilding of the fallen Transept (north-west) is a work much to be desired, perhaps hardly to be anticipated, yet surely not to be despaired of.

8. The completion of the pinnacles and parapet of the Octagon. This is very important to give full effect to the central portion of the Cathedral, which suffers unduly in estimation from the original design being so imperfectly carried out.

9. Exterior repairs of Trinity Church, formerly the Lady Chapel, which is still under the charge of the Capitular body. The cost of restoring the interior decoration of this elaborate specimen of art, if it be deemed desirable, may be left at present out of calculation.

A generous offer has been made for the interior decoration of the Lantern and vault of the Octagon, which there is every reason to hope will be executed at no distant time.


The Deanery, October, 1873.

Summary of Expenditure upon Restorations, Memorials, and Special Works executed in Ely Cathedral within the last thirty years.

Restoring the interior and exterior of the Choir, providing Memorials, special works, and decorations 28,067 0 0
Restoring the Lantern as a memorial to the late Dean Peacock, furnishing Octagon, and filling large windows with stained glass 10,022 0 0
Restoring north and south-east Transepts 4123 0 0
Repairing roof, making new ceiling, laying new floors to the Nave and side aisles, providing memorials, &c.7269 19 4
Opening the Lantern of the great Western Tower, securing the Tower, &c.4017 15 10
Restoring St. Catherine's Chapel, restoring the south-west Transept, now the Baptistry 2384 16 9
Restoring west Entrance-gates, &c.1168 15 10
 £57,053 7 9

Lists of those persons who have contributed from time to time to these Restorations have been published. The general amount of these offerings are shown by the following summary:—

Contributions and special works by the Bishops of Ely and their families    3600 0 0
Contributions and payments by the Dean and Chapter corporate 22,927 10 7    
Contributions by individual members of the Chapter and their families 14,907 19 0    
    37,835 9 7
Contributions and special works by the Officers and Tradesmen of the Dean and Chapter    1412 1 0
Contributions by other Inhabitants of the City of Ely    365 11 0
Contributions by the general public    13,840 6 2
    £57,053 7 9

Besides the Restorations of the Cathedral, and the defraying of numerous expenses incident to their position as patrons or proprietors, considerable works have been carried on by the Dean and Chapter during the last thirty years in providing houses for the Masters of the Grammar School, converting the Great Gate into suitable Schoolrooms (towards which friends have contributed £575, including £325 by the City of Ely), partially restoring Prior Crauden's Chapel, improving the Deanery and the Canons' houses, building new Schools for the Choristers, with a Master's house, turning part of the old Sacristy into a muniment room and Verger's lodge, executing important sanitary works, laying underground drains, laying out and planting the grounds around the Cathedral, &c., at a cost altogether exceeding £12,000, exclusive of ordinary repairs. Total cost of Restorations and Improvements about £70,000.

Some of the works named as being required to be done have been completed since the issue of the Dean's statement in 1873, viz., the decoration of the Octagon and Lantern; the three figures of the Apostles required to complete the series in the Octagon; the floor of the north arm of the Transept; and the erection of pinnacles on the exterior of the Octagon.

Christianity was first introduced into East Anglia about the end of the sixth century, by Redwald, the grandson of Uffa, founder of that kingdom; but it appears that little progress was made in his time, although Ethelbert, king of Kent, is said to have founded a monastery at Ely about a.d. 604. Eorpwald, and after him, Sigebert, sons of Redwald, greatly promoted the cause of Christianity, and it was during the reign of Sigebert that the truths of the Gospel spread over the kingdom; three monasteries were founded, one at Bury St. Edmunds, another at Burgh Castle, near Yarmouth, and a third at Soham; and the first Bishop of East Anglia was consecrated. The pagan king of Mercia frequently disturbed the tranquility of the kingdom, and Sigebert and his cousin Egric (to whom Sigebert had resigned his kingdom) were both slain in repelling an invasion. Anna met with the same fate; he was a prince greatly esteemed for his good qualities; he married Heriswitha, sister of St. Hilda, the foundress of Whitby Abbey, and had a numerous family, among whom may be named Sexburga, who was married to Ercombert, king of Kent; Withburga, who founded a nunnery at Dereham; and Æthelryth, or, as she is more commonly called, Etheldreda, the renowned foundress of the monastery at Ely, who was born about the year 630, at Exning, in Suffolk, a short distance from Newmarket.

Before commencing our sketch of the life of Etheldreda, we may by way of explanation say that what is now the Isle of Ely, was "anciently called Suth Girwa,"[1] and is a large tract of high ground en-compassed with fens that were formerly overflowed with water, of which Ely is the principal place, and gives name to the whole. The boundaries as now recognised are Lincolnshire on the north, Norfolk on the east, Huntingdonshire and Northamptonshire on the west, and Cambridgeshire on the south, of which county it forms the northern portion, with a jurisdiction partially separate; within its bounds there are, besides the city of Ely, several towns and villages, as Wisbech, March, Chatteris, &c. and the former great waste of marsh and fen has become, by means of drainage, a fertile corn-growing district of great importance. Ely is believed to have taken its name from Elig  in the Saxon tongue, signifying a willow; or from Elge  in the Latin of Bede the historian, from the abundance of eels produced in the surrounding waters. We now continue our sketch.

Etheldreda, or Audrey, a princess of distinguished piety, devoted herself to the service of God in early life, but urged by her parents, was married to Tonbert, or Tonberet, Earldorman, or Prince of the South Gyrvii, or Fenmen, a.d. 652, who settled upon her the whole Isle of Ely as a dower. Three years after her marriage Tonbert died, and left Etheldreda in sole possession, who, after a short time, committed the care of her property to Ovin, her steward, and retired to Ely for the purpose of religious meditation, for which it was well adapted, as being surrounded by fens and waters it was difficult of access. She was again solicited to enter the marriage state, and, although for some time reluctant, she was induced by her uncle Ethelwold, then king of East Anglia, to give her hand to Egfrid, son of Oswy, king of Northumberland, and she afterwards became queen by the accession of her husband to his father's kingdom. After the lapse of twelve years she gained the permission of her husband to withdraw from his court, and retired to the Abbey of Coldingham, where she took the veil; thence withdrew to Ely, and repaired the old church founded by Ethelbert, at a place called Cratendune, about a mile from the present city, (of which place however nothing is now known); but, shortly after, a more commodious site was chosen nearer the river, where the foundations of her church were laid, and the monastery was commenced.

The history of this distinguished princess as related by various writers, would be interesting and amusing, if space allowed; it is to be found in Bede's Ecclesiastical History, in the Liber Eliensis, a very valuable manuscript written or compiled by Thomas, a monk of Ely, who lived in the twelfth century; and Mr. Bentham also relates it at some length in his work;[2] but it would extend far beyond the limits allowed in this sketch; we have, however, we hope given sufficient to throw some light upon remarks we may make in subsequent pages. She governed her house in such a manner as to gain the esteem both of its members and the inhabitants of the surrounding country; living and dying an example of piety and holiness, for we read that "in her last sickness, when sensible of her approaching end, she was calm and composed, and retained her memory and understanding to the last, and expired in the very act of her calling, in the presence of her flock; and whilst she was instructing them how to live, by her example also taught them how to die."[3] She was interred, in accordance with her own wish, in the grave-yard of the monastery, but after a period of sixteen years her remains were translated, with much reverence and ceremony, to the church she had founded. The account of this translation might interest some of our readers, but is too long for insertion here.

The following lines, written at an early date, picture the fen country as a series of lakes and water-courses, (as it was until drained six centuries after,) studded with islands, on one of which the monastery of Ely stood, and the music of its 'nones ' or 'vespers ' sounding soft and sweet over the solitude.

Sweetly sang the Monks at Ely,
Knüt, the king, row'd nigh:
"Listen how the winds be bringing
From yon church a holy singing!
Row, men, nearer by."

Newborn sunbeams kiss the turrets
Of the minster high,
All the beauties of the morning,—
Grey at first, then golden dreaming,—
Deck the vernal sky.

Loudly sang the Monks of Ely
On that Thursday morn:
'Twas the Feast of "God Ascended"—
Of the wond'rous drama ended;—
God for sinners born!

Hark! "I will not leave you orphans,
I will not leave you long,"
Grand the minster music sounded
And the fen-land air resounded
With the holy song!

Sweetly sang the Monks at Ely
Knüt, the king, row'd nigh:
"Listen to the angels bringing
Holy thoughts  that seem like singing!
Row yet nearer by."

We will now continue our narrative, briefly taking in review the history of the monastery as it is handed down to us. About a.d. 673 Etheldreda commenced the foundation of a monastery for both sexes, and was installed the first abbess; she gave the whole Isle of Ely to the monastery as an endowment, and died a.d. 679. She was succeeded by her elder sister Sexburga, then a widow, who died a.d. 699, and was buried beside her sister in the church of the monastery. Erminilda, daughter of Sexburga, and widow of Wulfure, king of Mercia, next succeeded; and the fourth abbess was Werburga, daughter of Erminilda, the time of whose death is not known. Although St. Etheldreda's monastery continued to enjoy a regular succession of abbesses for nearly two centuries, not a single name of its superiors is preserved; protected by its situation in the midst of waters, it was little molested by external troubles until a.d. 870, when it was destroyed—like that of Peterborough—by the Danes, the monastery burnt, and the inhabitants put to the sword.

After the destruction of the monastery a century elapsed before steps were taken for its restoration. At length Ethelwold, then Bishop of Winchester, who is spoken of as "a great builder of churches and of various other works," re-founded the monastery in the year 970, by the direction of Edgar "the peaceful," who then sat on the throne of England. After some time Ethelwold arranged with the king for the surrender of the whole district of the Isle of Ely, by way of purchase and exchange, for the use of the monastery. The king, for certain considerations, gave his royal charter [4] restoring the revenues, rights, and privileges to the monastery for ever. This charter (which was afterwards confirmed by king Edward the Confessor,) formed the base of that temporal power given to the church and monastery of Ely by St. Etheldreda, and exercised (with some interruption) by the abbots and bishops down to the year 1836, when it was discontinued by an Act of Parliament.

On the re-foundation of the monastery it was placed under the Benedictine rule, which required the separation of the sexes, whereas under the previous order both men and women had resided in the same establishment. Brithnoth, prior of Winchester, was instituted as the first abbot of the restored monastery, by Ethelwold, and appears to have been zealous in his duty; he governed the house eleven years, but in the year 981 he met an untimely death at the instigation of Elfrida, queen dowager of king Edgar. He was succeeded by Elsin, Leofric, Leofsin, Wilfric, Thurstan, (the last Saxon abbot, who surrendered the monastery to the Conqueror in 1071,) Theodwin, Godfrey, (a monk, as Administrator ad interim,) and Simeon, the ninth abbot, who was a relative of king William, and prior of Winchester; he recovered for his monastery some of the lands which had been given to the Normans during the siege of the fen district. This was the "Camp of Refuge" for all the English who refused submission to the arbitrary rule of the foreigners, and thus it was the last strong hold of the Saxons, and cost the Norman king much loss of time, blood, and treasure, before he obtained possession, which was, however, at last effected by the treachery of the abbot Thurstan. Simeon, though a very old man when he was appointed abbot, laid the foundation of a new church (the present Cathedral) a.d. 1083, as his brother Walkelin, bishop of Winchester, had done there about four years before; he lived to the age of one hundred years, and died in 1093; after this a vacancy of seven years occurred, during which the revenues were claimed for the use of the king (William II.) after whose death the work was continued by Richard, the tenth and last abbot, who was appointed on the accession of Henry I. a.d. 1100, and governed the monastery seven years, and his church is said by Thomas of Ely [5] to have been one of the noblest in the kingdom, and a marvel of architectural skill; and was sufficiently far advanced to allow him to translate into it on the 17th of October, 1106, the remains of Etheldreda and her companions and canonized successors, placing them behind the high altar in the new presbytery, with great pomp and ceremony. Further progress was made under Hervè le Breton, formerly Bishop of Bangor, who was appointed administrator to the monastery after the death of Richard.

Hitherto, spiritual jurisdiction over the Isle of Ely had been claimed by the Bishop of Lincoln, but Abbot Richard obtained the consent of the king (Henry I.) to a scheme for converting the abbacy into a bishopric; and after much negociation, the change was effected in 1109, by the appointment of Hervè (then administrator) as the first Bishop of Ely. He set himself energetically to the task of settling the government of his See, and of apportioning the lands and revenues of the monastery between the monks and himself, with a keen eye to his own interests and those of his successors.

At the time of the conversion of the abbacy into a bishopric, when the Conventual Church became a Cathedral, the number of monks was about fifty, though the usual number was seventy; of these the chief in subordination to the Bishop, was the Prior, (sometimes styled the Lord Prior) who had the superintendence over all the inferior members; and next, the Sub-Prior, or Prior's deputy, to assist him when present and act for him in his absence. The other officers were, the Sacrist, who had the care of the books, vestments, plate, and ornaments belonging to the church, as well as the superintendence of the buildings; the Cellarer, who procured all the necessaries for the living of the community; the Chamberlain, who provided their clothes, beds, and bedding; the Almoner, who distributed the charities of the monastery; the Precentor, who regulated the singing and the choristers; the Hosteller, who entertained strangers; the Infirmarer, who had the charge of the sick; and the Treasurer, who received the rents and other means of revenue, and made the disbursements.

We have endeavoured briefly to bring down our history from the period of the introduction of Christianity into East Anglia, and the foundation of the monastery, to the time when the present Cathedral was commenced and some way advanced; we will follow it up with a brief account of the periods of erection of this noble edifice, reserving the more particular description of the several parts for our survey of the building.

There is no Cathedral in England which possesses finer examples of the various successive styles of ecclesiastical architecture than that of Ely; affording excellent opportunities of judging of the comparative merits of each. The Norman portion of the building—the Nave and Transept—is lighter in character than earlier examples of the same style; indeed, in many places it bears marks of transition from the round to the pointed style. Of each of the several periods of what is usually termed Pointed, or Gothic, Ely Cathedral possesses pure and perfect specimens: the Galilee, or western porch, and the Presbytery were built when the Early English style was perfected: the Octagon, the three bays of the stalled Choir, and the Lady Chapel, when the Decorated English prevailed: and the chapels of bishops Alcock and West when the Perpendicular style was adopted. "It will be thus seen that this remarkable structure completely illustrates the history of church architecture in England from the Conquest to the Reformation," viz., Norman, a.d. 1066-1150; Transitional, 1150-1200; Early English, 1200-1300; Decorated, 1300-1460; Florid, or Perpendicular, 1460-1550.[6]

The Cathedral was commenced, as before stated, in a.d. 1083, by Simeon, in the Norman style; the Choir, with its apse or semicircular end—altered however to a square end before it had proceeded far—the central Tower, the great Transept, and part of the Nave were begun by him, but were not finished at his death in 1093; of this work, only the ground-story of the great Transept now remains; the original plan, as was usual in Norman churches, comprehended an eastern arm of moderate length, a Transept, with a central Tower at the crossing, and a Nave; the Choir usually occupying the crossing and one or more bays of the Nave, the eastern arm being used as a presbytery or sanctuary.

After a delay of seven years, the work was carried on by Abbot Richard (1100-1107), who probably completed them, with the exception of the Nave, which was finished about 1174, affording a fine specimen of later Norman, and by its extension westward gave the church the form of a Latin cross, then much used. It is not improbable that the Conventual Church, which the new building was intended to supersede, stood on the site of the present Nave, and was removed from time to time to make room for the new and enlarged building then in progress.

A few years later the great western Tower with the wings, forming a second Transept, were begun, but whether by Bishop Harvey or by the monks themselves during the episcopate of Bishop Nigel (1133-1169), we cannot say; they were carried on during the episcopate of Bishop Ridel (1174-1189), and completed as high as the first battlements during that of his successor, Longchamp (1189-1197), producing a fine example of what is called the Transitional style. During this latter period the Romanesque had been rapidly giving way to the Pointed style, and thus as the building progressed one style merged into the other.

After some years further progress was made towards the west, as the Galilee, or western porch, is stated to have been erected by Bishop Eustace (1198-1215), of whom it is recorded that "he built from the foundation the new Galilee of the Church at Ely, towards the west, at his own cost." "This has given rise to much difference of opinion. Some persons think that by the 'Galilee towards the west,' is meant the western porch, while others holding that so fine a work is inconsistent with so early a date, suppose the Galilee to have been the northern half (now lost) of the western Transept.... My own impression has always been that it was the west porch which still exists."[7] Be this as it may, it is a beautiful specimen of the Early English style; and Bishop Northwold (1229-1254) took down the east end of the church and lengthened it by the six eastern arches, usually called the Presbytery, with its magnificent eastern façade, in the same style; they were begun a.d. 1234, and finished and dedicated in 1252, being "one of the noblest pieces of architecture of that glorious architectural period." About the same time a spire of timber covered with lead was erected on the Tower.

We now come to the period in which the "two great and famous productions of the fourteenth century—the two special objects of pride which our Cathedral boasts—the Lady Chapel and the central Octagon, with the three adjoining bays eastward,"[8] were erected; "each work is of the highest and of undisputed merit, and forms a most marked feature in the building;"[9]affording most admirable specimens of the Decorated English style. In 1321 the foundation stone of the vast and magnificent Lady Chapel was laid by Alan de Walsingham, then sub-prior, in the time of Bishop Hotham (1316-1337), the work was continued under Bishop Montacute (1337-1345), and finished in 1349, under Bishop L'Isle (1345-1362). In the year following the commencement of this work the fall of the great central Tower took place, ruining the adjoining bays all round, and especially those of the Norman Presbytery. This catastrophe was not altogether unexpected, for the monks had discontinued the use of the Choir and held their services in St. Catherine's Chapel, in the western part of the Cathedral. The Tower fell with such noise and violence as "to make the whole city to tremble, and to cause men to think that an earthquake had taken place." The work of rebuilding was soon undertaken, and under the skilful directions of the same Alan de Walsingham (who was doubtless the architect of both these erections,) the grand work was accomplished; the stone-work of the Octagon was finished (if indeed it ever was quite finished) in 1328, and the woodwork and roof about 1342. The plan of the Octagon included in its area one bay on each of its four sides. The expense of rebuilding the three bays on the eastern side was defrayed by a sum of money left by Bishop Hotham.

The spire erected on the western Tower by Bishop Northwold was taken down in the latter part of the fourteenth century, and was replaced by an octagonal story, flanked with turrets, in the Decorated style, above which a spire was again placed. This was an injudicious step, and has been thought to have been the primary cause of the ruin of the north-western Transept, the great additional weight being more than the four supporting arches (which were lofty) were intended to bear. Of the period when the Transept fell, or was taken down, we have no record; but the character of the buttress on the site of the western wall shows that it must have been at an early period, probably about a.d. 1400, as the strengthening arches placed within the original ones appear to have been erected a few years after.

We have no further additions to the fabric to particularise in this sketch, with the exception of the chapel of Bishop Alcock, (1486-1500), in the Perpendicular style; and that of Bishop West (1515-1533), in the same style, but when it was approaching to Renaissance; but the alterations of windows and other parts, together with necessary repairs, have been numerous and various at different periods.

The Choir was under the Octagon until 1770, when it was removed to the east end of the church; it was again altered in 1852 to its present position. Many costly and extensive restorations [10] and alterations have been made within the last thirty-five years, and others are still in progress. The Galilee, or western porch, has been cleansed and floored, and the arch of communication with the Tower beautifully restored; the western Tower has been strengthened, the interior thrown more open, a painted ceiling put up, and a new floor laid; the south-west Transept has been opened, repaired, ceiled, paved and cleansed; the apsidal Chapel of St. Catherine has been rebuilt and paved; the roof of the Nave has been re-covered with lead, the interior walls have been cleansed, a new and beautiful painted ceiling completed, and a new floor laid in the Nave and aisles; the Octagon and Lantern have undergone a thorough repair, and the decoration of the dome and lantern has been effected; the great Transept has been repaired, the polychrome roof re-painted, and a new floor laid in the northern portion. The whole of the eastern portion of the church has been cleansed and restored; the beautiful Purbeck marble pillars have been re-polished; the floor of the Choir has been re-laid with veined and black marble combined with encaustic tiles; an enriched oaken screen has been erected at the entrance of the Choir, near which a new and elegant stone pulpit has been placed; the original stalls have been repaired, and improved by the introduction of a series ofcarved panels, and new sub-stalls erected; and a new and elaborate reredos or altar screen has been placed in the Choir. More than eighty windows, exclusive of the eight lights at the east end of the church, have been filled with stained glass by various artists, and several others, which had for many years been stopped up, have been re-opened; the organ has been very considerably enlarged and improved, put into a new and elegant case, and placed in another position; and several stoves have been introduced for warming the Cathedral when necessary. The whole has been done at considerable expense, to meet which the funds have been raised by subscriptions, towards which the late Bishops Sparke, Allen, Turton, and Browne, the late Deans Peacock and Goodwin, the Canons and their families and connections, with many noblemen, gentlemen, and others, have been contributors: the capitular body have done much towards the work in general, but particularly towards the repairs of the fabric, the enlargement of the organ, and the warming of the Cathedral. 

St. Etheldreda's church was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin; the church erected by Ethelwold to St. Peter and St. Etheldreda; but since the Reformation the dedication of the Cathedral has been to "The Holy and Undivided Trinity."

[1]Bentham's History, i. 47.

[2]Bentham's History, i. 45, &c.

[3]Ibid. i. 59.

[4]This Charter is given at length in the Saxon language, with an English translation, in the Appendix to Bentham's History.

[5]Liber Eliensis, ii.

[6]The periods were thus divided by the late Mr. Sharpe: Norman, a.d. 1066-1145; Transitional, 1145-1190; Lancet, 1190-1245; Geometrical, 1245-1315; Curvilinear, 1315-1360; Rectilinear, 1360-1550.

[7]Lecture on Ely Cathedral by the late Sir G.G. Scott, at the Etheldreda Festival, Oct. 1873.



[10]The Restorations, which have been for some years in progress, have been executed throughout with the most scrupulous care, preserving every portion of uninjured surface, and re-producing what is mutilated or destroyed as nearly as possible in exact conformity with the indications of the ancient work afforded by the parts which remain, and in the same material. They were at first carried out under the directions of the late Dean Peacock, assisted from time to time by Professor Willis, and by the occasional advice of Professional friends: but towards the end of the year 1847, Sir G.G. Scott was appointed architect to the works, and under his direction the rearrangement of the Choir was effected, and other restorations in progress carried out until his death. The windows have been filled with stained glass chiefly through the munificence and exertions of the late Canon E.B. Sparke.

The Monastic Buildings

&c. &c


E will commence our notice of these remains of former ages by observing that as they now, in a great measure, form private residences, they can only be seen by visitors externally; it will be sufficient, therefore, for us to point out the several localities, and state, as far as we are able, their original uses, and present appropriation.

On the north side of the Lady Chapel stands an old square tower, now used as a belfry for the parish of the Holy Trinity, but it is not certain for what purpose it was originally used. Adjoining this is a building recently erected on the site of a former one, comprising a practice-room and school-room for the Choristers, with a residence for the master; beyond this, eastward, is an arched gateway communicating with the public street: this was closed up for many years, but has lately been re-opened; over it is the muniment room of the Dean and Chapter. Next is a residence for one of the Vergers, and beyond that is another dwelling house; the next portion is in a dilapidated state, and at the present time is used as a mason's yard and workshop for carrying on the works in progress: these occupy the site of the ancient Sacristy. A little further in the same direction stands the residence of one of the prebendaries, on the site of the ancient Almonry ; there are in this building some remains of Early English vaulting, and at the east end may be observed the remains of a triplet window of the same period; the middle window has been destroyed by the insertion of a modern window, now blocked up, but the stone work of the side windows can easily be traced.

We next proceed round the east end of the Cathedral to the south end of the Transept, a few yards south of which may be observed a range of Early English arches, each containing a double arch, which is again subdivided, but all have been long blocked up; this was a portion of what was called the "Dark Cloister." To the eastward of these is another range of arches with piers about twelve feet in height, some of which are comparatively perfect; these piers are alternately cylindrical and octagonal, the octagonal columns presenting alternately a side or an angle in front. The arches are profusely enriched with mouldings; the walls above were pierced with a row of small windows with semicircular heads. These piers and arches may be seen on both sides of the road-way, corresponding with each other like the nave of a church, and afford a good example of "highly refined Norman work." A beautiful arch at the end leads to another series, and beyond this, in one of the prebendal houses, is a vaulted room which seems to have been erected about the period of the transition from the Norman style to the Early English.

They form a church-like building, and by some historians have been described as the remains of the Conventual Church erected at the restoration of the monastery by Ethelwold, a.d. 970, and including the ruins of St. Etheldreda's own church, founded a.d. 673. This, if correct, would make it one of the oldest specimens of the Saxon style in the kingdom. This statement has been contradicted by others, and Professor Willis, who had devoted much attention to these buildings, stated that they are the remains of the Infirmary  of the monastery, with a chapel attached, and erected many years subsequent to the period mentioned; the portion we have likened to the nave of a church—now affording an approach to several residences—was the body of the Infirmary; the portion east of the arch was no doubt the chapel, and the vaulted room spoken of, the chancel. This statement derives some confirmation from the existence, in a similar position, of the Infirmary at Peterborough, and at some other places. The style of architecture too denotes a period subsequent to the erection of the nave of the Cathedral.

The house on the north side, adjoining the chapel before mentioned, now a prebendal residence, appears to have undergone little alteration since its erection; the parapet, and the almost flat roof covered with lead, appear to be original. This was probably used by the master of the Infirmary as a residence, and a hall to entertain the aged and infirm separately from the sick monks, being near the chapel and the Infirmary. The next house westward, now the residence of a Minor Canon, is said to have been the "Painted Chamber," but to what use it was applied we are not able to say.

The residence on the south side of the Infirmary, opposite to the last mentioned, now the residence of a prebendary, stands on the site of the "Cellarer's Lodging"; and the next house, eastward, also a prebendal residence, on the site of the "Black Hostelry," or near it.

The Dormitory  of the monks was generally a long narrow room, standing north and south, near the church, convenient for the monks' attendance on the nocturnal services; here it was situated near what has been pointed out as part of the "Dark Cloister," not far from the south end of the Transept, and probably the communication was by a passage leading to a winding stair still standing in the south-east angle of the Transept.

The Chapter House  is believed to have stood between the north end of the Dormitory and the Transept, similar to Peterborough, having its entrance from the east side of the Cloisters; nothing however remains to shew its exact position; both Mr. Bentham and Mr. Millers describe it as having stood on the space now occupied by the Dean's flower garden, where are some remains of a building in the Norman style, but which has since been stated to have been the Monks' kitchen; but in consequence of the many alterations which have been made at different periods, the demolition and removal of some buildings, and the ruin of others, it is difficult to speak with certainty. The monastery was a large one, and the buildings numerous for the various requirements, of many of which no traces remain, nor is it known where they were situated.

The only part remaining of the Cloisters  is the north-east angle, through one part of which is the south entrance to the Cathedral. The inner wall of the north side and part of the east side are yet standing, with the openings partially bricked up, but the roof is gone. These are not the original Cloisters, but occupy nearly the same position as the earlier ones.

The Refectory , according to Professor Willis and others, stood at the south side of the Cloisters, on part of the space now occupied by the Dean's garden, a portion of a very thick wall, in which are some Early English corbels, is still remaining.

Our attention will next be directed to the Deanery, sometime thought to have been the Refectory, but was more probably the Guest-hall  for the entertainment of strangers and others visiting the monastery. It is a large building, standing like several others upon vaults, and appears to have been built in the latter part of the thirteenth century; it has, however, undergone considerable alterations at different times, and now presents but few remains of that period, although the walls, buttresses, and vaults bear strong characteristics of it. This formed the northern side of a small court, around which were buildings forming the residence of the priors of the monastery, of which also the next house, now the residence of a prebendary, formed a part; the vaulting of this is very ancient, probably in the early part of the Norman era, but the superstructure is of a later period. There is a fine fourteenth-century fire place in the house.


Prior Crauden's Chapel


Adjoining this house, at the south-west corner, next the garden, stands a building generally known as “Prior Crauden's Chapel,” having been founded by John de Crauden, prior of Ely (1321-1341), as a private chapel attached to his residence, and built under the direction of Alan de Walsingham, the skilful architect of the Octagon. It is most interesting for the rich remains of architectural beauty which it displays. "It is," says Mr. Rickman, "one of the most curious and valuable Decorated remains in the kingdom; its ornaments are of the best character, and well executed, and the whole design is of great excellence." It belongs to the Deanery, but was for many years used in connection with the adjoining house, having been converted into three rooms by floors inserted; these floors have been removed, and the chapel in some degree restored; some of the windows which had been closed have been re-opened, and the eastern one filled with stained glass, the gift of Mrs. Smart. It is now used as a private chapel for the Grammar School.

The Chapel stands upon a vault, the floor of which is nearly upon a level with the surrounding ground; the vault has a groined ceiling supported by plain columns, and the original entrance was directly under the west window of the Chapel, but is now on the north side. The entrance to the chapel is by a staircase which winds within the buttress at the north-west angle. The length is divided into four compartments by clustered columns, from the tops of which sprung the ribs of the vaulting. The first compartment is plain, and was probably the ante-chapel: the second is ornamented with a double niche, richly decorated with small columns, pinnacles, crockets, &c.; in the lower niche the wall is pierced for a small window; the upper one probably contained a figure: the third and fourth compartments have long pointed windows, separated into two lights by a mullion. The east end has ornamented niches in the angles, it projects a little beyond the compartments, forming a recess, in which is the large window, divided into five lights, with elaborate tracery. The floor is elevated at the east end for the altar, and is formed of mosaic tiles; upon the raised portion is represented the Fall of man, and the remainder is ornamented with various other figures and devices; some portions are nearly perfect, but the colouring is greatly faded. Some remains of fresco painting were discovered on the walls when the restorations were in progress, and probably the chapel had originally been richly embellished with colours and gilding, in the style of the period in which it was built.

We have now an opportunity of glancing at some of the other portions of the monastic buildings, which formerly extended from the Prior's Lodge to the gateway, but are now somewhat short of it, as a garden intervenes.

The first, adjoining the Deanery, formerly the Registry, but originally part of the residence of the former priors, was called “The Lodge,” and contained the great hall, named "The Fair Hall," the high sharp-pointed windows of which still remain in the first story; from the corner of this hall a gallery or passage led to the prior's chapel just mentioned. This formed the western side of the small court before spoken of, around which the residence of the priors was built. This is now the residence of the Rev. R. Winkfield, Head Master of the Grammar School, and the adjoining house, formerly the school house, is used as a dormitory, &c. for the pupils. Next to this is the residence of the Rev. W.E. Dickson, Minor Canon and Precentor, which brings us to the end of this series of the buildings. These all stand upon vaults or crypts, which were probably used as cellars or store-houses, and the superstructure as lodgings for guests of the prior, being near his residence; these buildings formed the western side of the monastery, and were built about 1180, but raised and altered by Alan de Walsingham, about 1320.


Ely Porta


This brings us in our progress to the great gate of the monastery, called “Ely Porta,” or more frequently, the "Porter's Lodge." It is a large and massive pile, having square towers at the angles, and was begun by Prior Buckton shortly before his death in 1397, and probably finished by his successor, Walpol, as it is sometimes spoken of as "Walpol's Gate." On theeastern side the opening is a single arch of great span, but on the western side there are two, a large one—but smaller than that on the eastern side—for carriages, and a still smaller one for foot passengers. The north end of the building is occupied as the residence of the Porter, who is also a Verger of the Cathedral; the south end with the rooms above, including a large one over the archway, is used for the Cathedral Grammar School, or King's School , founded in 1541, by Henry VIII., and is under the control of the Dean and Chapter. The foundation is for twenty-four boys, who are elected without restriction as to birth or residence, and are entitled to some privileges in reduction of school fees. The school has lately been re-modelled by the Dean and Chapter, in order to bring it up to the requirements of the age, and extensive alterations have been made to provide accommodation for boarders.[54] The school is not restricted to the foundation boys, but is open to all who are prepared to accede to the terms, and is now in a flourishing condition.

We will now cast our eyes over the Park, which was much improved by the exertions of Dean Peacock; it was formerly divided into several inclosures by walls or hedges, but is now in two pieces, separated by iron fencing, and has been planted in various parts with ornamental trees; a pathway runs round the south-eastern portion, and another across it, and by a pair of iron gates (closed at night) a communication is formed with a street at the lower part of the city. On the south side is an artificial mound generally called "Cherry Hill," the origin of which is uncertain; but it was probably occupied by a mill for the use of the monastery; Mr. Millers thought it once formed the site of a castle erected for the defence of the monastery, which in early times experienced some of the vicissitudes of war; it is covered with trees and shrubs, and a winding path leads to the top, where there is a kind of summer-house. A good view of the adjacent country may be had from the summit, particularly towards the east, south, and west.

From the foot of this hill, extending to some length westward, is a range of buildings used in part as stables and coach-houses, and partly as workshops and store-houses for stone and materials required for the repair of the Cathedral and buildings; this was the small grange within the precincts, a larger one stood more to the westward, outside the monastery.

We will pass through the gateway and examine its western front which remains nearly in its original state; there are some niches and canopies, and several shields but their bearings are nearly all obliterated. The gates are closed at night.

While here we may notice at a short distance to the left, at the south-west corner of the open space, the new Theological College, designed for candidates for Holy Orders desirous of religious preparation, theological instruction, and pastoral training; and is open to students who have graduated at one of the Universities: of which the Rev. Dr. Luckock, Canon of the Cathedral, is principal. The building is of red brick with stone dressings, and contains chapel, lecture room, studies and dormitories for the accommodation of twelve students, with the usual offices.

Our course will now take us northwards towards the Cathedral, outside the western boundary of the monastery, thus giving the opportunity of observing the other side of the buildings we noticed after Prior Crauden's chapel: that they are of great antiquity is evident by the flat Norman buttresses on part of the western wall; but they have at various times undergone considerable alterations which have done much to obliterate their original appearance, and alter the character of the buildings. We first pass the house occupied by the Rev. W.E. Dickson, then those occupied by the Rev. R. Winkfield, including the house standing a few feet in retreat, originally part of the prior's residence, which adjoins the western end of the Deanery; the remaining space to the south-west Transept being occupied as a private garden by the Dean. On our left are the gardens belonging to the Bishop's Palace; and this brings us to the west end of the Cathedral, from whence we started on our tour of observation.

The Cathedral is too much encumbered by buildings to allow us to take the whole of it into view from any one position; but several good points of view may be found at moderate distances, ranging from south-west to east, which will, we think, amply repay those who may have leisure and inclination to go a short distance to observe them.

Having endeavoured to point out, to the best of our ability, the objects most worthy of notice in the Cathedral, as well as others around it within the precincts of the ancient monastery, we will add a brief notice of a few other buildings which are without the precincts, but should not be passed without some observation.

The Bishop's Palace

This is a large mansion consisting of a centre and two wings, nearly adjoining the west end of the Cathedral, being separated from it only by a public road. But little is known of a palace here prior to the time of Bishop Alcock, who erected the present wings with a noble hall or gallery about the end of the fifteenth century: his arms, and those of the see may be seen in the face of the eastern wing. The gallery adjoining the western wing was erected by Bishop Goodrich in the third year of the reign of Edward VI., whose arms appear in stone on the centre of the lower panels of the bay window; on the panel to the right of this are the arms of Bishop Goodrich, and on the left panel, the same arms impaling those of the see; on the left-hand splay panel is carved the "Duty towards God," and on the right-hand splay panel the "Duty towards our neighbour." The more modern part of the house next the garden is said to have been erected by Bishop Keene, but was perhaps only altered by him, as there was on the eastern side of the part projecting into the garden, a stone door arch apparently much older than this part of the house; and another on the eastern side near the chapel; this has been removed, and now forms the servants' entrance from "the Green."

The interior of the house has been much improved, and the chapel in the eastern wing fitted up with taste, the windows being filled with stained glass. The gardens are neat and kept in excellent order. There are in the Palace several portraits of bishops and others, also a curious painting called the "Tabula Eliensis " representing the forty knights who were quartered on the monastery by William I., each with his shield of arms, and a monk as his companion. There is also a picture 6 ft. 6 in. long and 2 ft. 2 in. high, representing the funeral of Bishop Cox, in 1581. Bishop Turton left by his will two pictures, to remain in the palace; and there is a good library belonging to the see.

Formerly the bishops of Ely had residences at several other places, viz., palaces at Somersham and Downham; Wisbech Castle, and the Manor-houses at Doddington, Fen Ditton, and other places in Cambridgeshire; and Hatfield, and Hadham, in Hertfordshire; there were ten manor-houses and places of residence belonging to the Bishop of Ely at the time of Bishop Barnet. The London residence of the bishops of Ely was formerly in Ely Place, Holborn, which was occupied successively by forty-one bishops, extending over a period of nearly five hundred years; it is now in Dover Street, Piccadilly, in a house built by Bishop Keene, on the site of Albemarle House and other messuages, which were purchased for the see in 1772.

The "Green" in front of the palace was formerly a piece of waste ground; a few years ago it was laid out and planted with shrubs, and fenced off with a neat iron railing, at the expense of Bishop Turton, reserving to the public the right of free admission from eight a.m., until an hour after sunset; this improvement has, we regret to say, through an unfortunate misunderstanding, been done away, and it now presents an appearance of desolation and neglect much to be deprecated. We hope something may be done in order to remedy this sad state, and render it more worthy of its position in front of one of the noblest Cathedrals in England, and of the residence of the chief pastor of a large and important diocese.

The house standing in a garden with iron gates, nearly opposite the bay window in the palace stands upon the site of the residence of the chaplains of an ancient chantry founded by Bishop Northwold, called "The Chantry on the Green."


St. Mary's Church


St. Mary's Church

This church will be found a short distance to the westward of the Palace, standing in a large grave-yard with a row of lime trees in front. It is a neat building having a Nave with aisles, a Chancel and a Tower surmounted by a spire at the west end. The Church is a mixture of the Transitional and Early English styles, but the Tower and Spire are in the Decorated style. It was built by Bishop Eustachius in the early part of the thirteenth century on the site of a former church. "It contains," says Mr. Millers, "some curious architectural remains, particularly the north and south [55] door arches, which are pointed and decorated with different sorts of Norman mouldings; but the columns have slender detached shafts, united under one capital wreathed with foliage, as in the Early English style. Of this mixture there is no other specimen at Ely, and I have not met with an account of such an one in any other place." "In the Tower of the Cathedral we have the Norman style with pointed arches; in the Galilee, built a very few years after, we have the Early English style; but each of these is perfectly and characteristically distinct: in the interval, between the erection of one and the other, the public taste had undergone a change. It seems as if the work before us had been erected in that interval, and that the architect was disposed to adopt the new style without quitting the old one."[56] The Galilee of the Cathedral was erected about 1215, and it is not improbable that this church was erected shortly before, and as it is stated during the episcopate of the same bishop.

The columns of the Nave are simple and cylindrical, the capitals are Norman, and nearly similar to some of those in what has been called "The Infirmary," but the high pointed arches which they support are of a shape usual in the age in which this church was built, and some of the mouldings are Early English. The windows in the aisles and clerestory are Perpendicular, probably inserted at a later period, when the church was repaired. The Chancel is Early English, with an inserted Perpendicular east window; there is a double sedile under one trefoil arch, and a double piscina in the south wall.

A chapel on the south side is also Early English; it has a triple lancet east window, and a west window of two lights with a quatrefoil in the head; there is here also a double piscina in the south wall. A portion of this chapel was partitioned off for use as a vestry, but is now thrown open to the church.

The church was repaired and pewed, and a gallery erected on the south side in 1829-30, but this gallery, with another at the west end erected many years before, have lately been removed, the tower arch opened, and the nave restored, the floor raised, and the passages and other portions laid with Staffordshire tiles; the nearly flat plastered ceiling is divided into compartments by moulded ribs of wood, and the panels painted in distemper, among the patterns of which may be seen the sacred monogram, the arms of the see and of the Dean and Chapter. The pews erected in 1829 have been removed and replaced by open seats of oak, free to all, and a new oaken pulpit resting on a pillar of stone, the gift of the Bishop, placed against the chancel arch on the south side. A new font, the gift of one friend, and an elegant brass lectern the gift of another, have assisted in the general improvement. A fine-toned organ, built by Bishop and Sons, removed from Trinity Church, Paddington, has been erected at the east end of the north aisle, on a site formerly occupied by a large faculty pew belonging to "Chantry House".

The chancel has been partially rebuilt and thoroughly restored, and fitted with appropriate seats in oak, at the cost of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.

The church is warmed by hot water, and lighted by gas. A fine peal of eight bells hang in the Tower. There are no ancient monuments, but a few modern tablets on the walls record the deaths of some former residents of the parish; and a new and elegant memorial brass has been put up in the chancel to the Rev. Solomon Smith, M.A., Minor Canon of the Cathedral, and for forty years incumbent of the parish.

The restoration of the church, the purchase of the organ, the fittings, &c., has been effected by subscriptions at a cost of nearly £2500, but a further sum is still required to repair and restore the tower and spire, improve the church-yard, &c.

The living is a vicarage, in the patronage of the Dean and Chapter; the present incumbent is the Rev. John Franey, M.A. Minor Canon of the Cathedral.

The Grange

The premises adjoining the church-yard on the west stand on part of the ground formerly occupied by "The Grange" of the monastery, and the house is stated to have been at one time the residence of the Protector, Cromwell. The "Sextry Barn," one of the largest in the county, perhaps in the kingdom, stood here, and is stated to have been 291 ft. 6 in. long, and 39 ft. 5 in. wide, inside; it was built about the middle of the thirteenth century, and taken down in 1842, and the space once occupied by the monastic "farm-yard" is now covered by modern buildings, part of which at least, are used for as good purposes; on one part excellent and commodious National Schools for both boys and girls have been erected, and on another a series of substantial and comfortable Almshouses for aged men and women, inhabitants of Ely.

St. John's Hospital

The site of this hospital is a few hundred yards further west; the remains of it are very scanty, but sufficient to show that the buildings were of an early age, although not enough to enable us to give an opinion as to their form or extent; what is left has been converted into use as farm buildings, one portion near the dwelling house, and another a short distance from it. There were formerly two hospitals in Ely, this dedicated to St. John the Baptist, and another to St. Mary Magdelene, the site of which is now unknown. According to Mr. Bentham, the revenues of the two were united, and the communities associated by Bishop Northwold about a.d. 1240, by whose ordinance the united hospital was to consist of thirteen chaplains and brethren, who were to have a common refectory and dormitory, and to wear an uniform habit, and be under the immediate government of the Sacrist of Ely. It seems that this was not, like other hospitals of the kind, dissolved by Henry VIII., for it was held under the mastership of Edward Leedes, the second prebendary of the eighth stall, who was also chancellor of the diocese under Bishop Goodrich, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth; he was at the same time chaplain to Archbishop Parker, and Master of Clare Hall, Cambridge; he afterwards obtained from the queen a grant of the hospital, and with the consent of Bishop Cox, he surrendered the whole site and possession to his college; his grant to the college was confirmed by the Dean and Chapter in 1562, and the property is now in the hands of the Master, Fellows, and Scholars of Clare College, Cambridge.

[54]We understand it is intended to make some further alterations, and to build a new "hostel," on a plot of ground nearly opposite the gateway on the western side, forming a block of buildings to include accommodation for sixty boys, with masters' and servants' offices, as well as the dormitories, studies, and day rooms for the boys.

[55]This door was blocked up when the Church was repaired in 1829.

[56]Millers' Description of Ely Cathedral, p. 148, 149.

The Cathedral

"Without—the world's unceasing noises rise,
Turmoil, disquietude, and busy fears.
Within—there are sounds of other years,
Thoughts full of prayer, and solemn harmonies."
The Cathedral.

The West Front


N taking a survey of this noble edifice it is better to commence with the western front, which, as Mr. Millers observes, on account of its height and breadth, should be viewed from a competent distance; a good point of observation may be easily found on the Palace Green. Even in its present state it must be admired for its impressive though irregular grandeur, but when the north wing was standing, corresponding with the south, which remains comparatively perfect—before the erection of the octagonal story on the Tower, and the Galilee or portico, which, however beautiful in itself, has no proper connection with the rest—it must have presented a frontage exceedingly grand, and inferior to but few others in the kingdom. Such, we believe, was the original design, but succeeding bishops or rulers made such alterations and additions as their tastes dictated, and in the style then prevailing. This may in some measure account for the alterations of windows and other parts from their original designs, and the transitions from one style to another, producing examples partaking of two periods, but not perfect in either.

The stone used in the erection of the Cathedral was brought from Barnack, near Stamford, and is of a much harder nature than what was commonly used; it gives proof of great soundness and durability in the excellent preservation of some of the mouldings. The soft white stone used for some of the interior decorations is called "clunch," and is found within a few miles of Ely; it is well adapted for the purposes to which it is applied, it is easily worked and capable of being highly finished, but will not bear exposure to the weather. Most of the pillars with their capitals and bases, as well as many of the mouldings and ornaments in the Early English portion of the church, are of Purbeck marble.

The lower portions both of the Tower and wings were built by Bishop Ridel (1174-1189), and completed as high as the first battlements, during the episcopate of his successor, Longchamp (1189-1197), who however, spent none of his money on the fabric; the lower part of this work is late Norman, but the upper portions show indications of transition towards the pointed style. The architecture of the Tower is worthy of attention, as it shews some beautiful specimens of arcading in bands between rows of windows, all enriched with mouldings of various kinds; the western face shows three rows of windows, the others but two, as the lower one would have been hidden by the roof of the nave and of the wing on each side, these last being originally of a higher pitch than the remaining one now is. The upper band consists of circular openings with quatrefoils in the centre, and above that is a corbel-table. A spire of timber covered with lead was erected on the Tower about the middle of the thirteenth century, but it was afterwards removed, and the upper portion of the Tower, in the Decorated style, was added, and it was again surmounted by a spire. These additions were found to be injurious, and it became necessary to strengthen the lower portions of the Tower to support it; nor is it improbable that the fall of the north-western Transept was in some degree owing to the great additional weight, or that it was so far injured as to require removal. The spire was, we believe, finally removed about the end of the last century.

The octagonal story does not harmonize with the lower portion. There is a large window with transoms in each of the four principal sides, the upper portions only being glazed; it is flanked by octagonal turrets, which rise a little higher than the centre, they are faced with shallow arcading and connected with the centre portion by small flying buttresses; in each turret is a winding stair, but only that in the south-eastern turret is used. In the top of this turret is placed the clock bell.

The wings of the western Tower formed a second Transept to the church, and were doubtless perfectly similar; the remaining wing has towers at the angles; that at the south-west angle is larger than the other, though they are of equal height, and rise considerably higher than the wing. Both wing and towers are covered with ranges of arcading one above another, commencing a few feet from the bottom; the three lowest tiers are round-headed, the fourth are trefoil-headed, the fifth and all above are pointed and profusely adorned with mouldings; and the whole surface is enriched with diaper patterns. The roof was formerly of a higher pitch, as may be seen by the marks on the Tower.

Some years ago there was a communication by a covered viaduct over the road, between this Transept and the east wing of the Bishop's Palace, which enabled him to visit the Cathedral under cover; and the road over which it passed is still called "The Gallery."

"Mr. Stewart has pointed out the fact that the Galilee porch is not parallel to the axis of the Nave, but has a marked inclination to the north, while the Choir on the other hand (like that of Exeter), inclines to the south. This doubtless was for a symbolical reason. The ground plans of churches, by so frequently assuming a cross form, typify the doctrine of the Atonement—the Choir or Chancel marking the position of the Saviour's Head, the Transepts His Arms, and the Nave His Body. By an expansion of this idea the Choir is made to bend southwards to shew the inclination of the Redeemer's Head upon the cross; while, as it would seem here the Porch is turned in an opposite direction to indicate the position of His feet."[22]

The Galilee [23] or Western Porch

This has been stated to have been erected by Bishop Eustace (1198-1215), but although he is known to have made large additions to the building and to have built the Church of St. Mary, it has been thought the present building is not quite so early as that date, and that it was "the work of some unknown benefactor, who had probably seen Hugh de Northwold's presbytery, and determined to lengthen the church westward as it had been extended in the opposite direction?"[24] and that it occupies the site of a former building. Sir G. Scott seemed to think it was the work of Bishop Eustace.[25]

It is a beautiful specimen, and may fairly be ranked among the most exquisite Early English works we possess. "Nothing," says Mr. Parker, "can exceed the richness, freedom and beauty of this work; it is one of the finest porches in the world."[26] Externally, both sides are adorned with four tiers of arcading of different heights, one above another; in front, the recesses of the arches are deeper, and were probably intended for the reception of statues; some of them are ornamented with dog-tooth mouldings, and have trefoils in the spandrils. It is of two stories without windows in the sides; in the upper story there is a triple lancet window at the west end, the middle light being higher than the one on either side; the lower story receives light through the western opening. The arch of entrance is very elegant, and worthy of notice; it is receding, with rich and various mouldings, which on each side rest upon slender columns; a central group of shafts separates the opening into two smaller arches, with good tracery in the tympanum. The length on each side, internally, is occupied by two large pointed arches, comprehending under each two tiers of subordinate ones, the upper tier of five and the lower of three, which contains both outer and inner arches of different heights, supported by very slender columns; all the shafts were originally of Purbeck marble, with elegant capitals; the ribs of the vaulting are of free-stone, but the vault is of clunch. The arch of communication with the Tower is also very beautiful; it is similar in form to the exterior arch, but the ornaments in the mouldings are richer and more delicate: this has just been restored, and the Purbeck marble pillars—some of which had disappeared and others had become decayed—have been replaced by pillars of Devonshire marble with Purbeck plinths and capitals; the vesica in the tympanum has been filled with stained glass representing St. Etheldreda, the foundress; the original oaken doors have been repaired, faced, and ornamented with scrollwork in iron: this has been effected at a cost of more than £1000. contributed by Mrs. Waddington, of Twyford House, Winchester, as a memorial to her husband.

The Interior of the Tower

has been considerably improved by the removal of a floor which had been inserted just above the lower arches, thus opening it to the great lantern, bringing into view a series of beautifulcolonnades and arches, for many years hidden, except to those who explored the upper portions, besides relieving it of the weight of a large quantity of stone and materials.[27] The tops of the four fine arches which originally supported the Tower can now be partially seen; they were spacious openings, but are contracted by interior arches in a different style, which were inserted in the early part of the fifteenth century, for the purpose of strengthening the building. The beautiful painted ceiling of the Tower was designed, and all its essential parts executed, with a rare union of artistic skill and archæological knowledge, by H.S. le Strange, Esq., of Hunstanton Hall, Norfolk, at the expense of H.R. Evans, Esq., then Registrar to the Dean and Chapter; the centre contains a figure of the Saviour in an aureole: He is represented as holding a globe in His left hand, and is surrounded by the sun, moon, and stars; on either side are Cherubim and Seraphim bearing scrolls containing the words "Holy! Holy! Lord God of Sabaoth." The eastern centre contains a shield on which is the dextra Domini, the "right hand of the Lord," as an emblem of the Creator; the corners are enriched with foliage, and the whole is surrounded by a border containing the words "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honour, and power; for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created." This was finished in 1855. The floor, of which the pattern forms a labyrinth, was completed in 1870.

The window over the entrance from the Galilee, was inserted a.d. 1800, and improved in 1807 at the expense of Bishop Yorke, who filled two portions of the upper part with stained glass, the other two being filled at the cost of Dr. Waddington, then a Prebendary of the Cathedral; the remainder has lately been completed by Mr. Clutterbuck; the subjects are taken from the history of our Lord. This, with the wall decoration below, has been done at the expense of J.T. Waddington, Esq., and of his widow. Beneath the window are four shields of arms; the upper one on the south side shows the arms of Bishop Yorke impaled with the arms of the see; on the north side are those of Bishop Yorke with those of Dr. Waddington; the lower ones contain on the south, the arms of J.T. Waddington, Esq., and on the north side, the same impaled with those of the family of Cocksedge, of which Mrs. Waddington was a member.

Before proceeding further the visitor should pause, and observe the great length of the Cathedral, the noble appearance of the lofty arches, and the sublime grandeur of the whole. When we look around and see the lofty Tower with its decorated ceiling above; on the right, the south-west Transept, rich in the extreme with its several arcades of plain, intersecting, and trifoliated arches; and in front, through the long vista of the Nave, the noble Octagon, and the enriched Choir, to the extreme end of the church, we cannot but pause and admire the skill of man shewn in such a work; but when we consider to whose honour and glory such skill is exerted, we no longer wonder that man's best energies should be called forth to construct and ornament such a temple,

"Where through the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault
The pealing anthem swells the note of praise."—Gray.

May those who visit this temple for the purpose of examining it as a building made with hands, ever bear in mind the great and solemn purpose for which it was erected—the worship of Almighty God—and let their aspirations of prayer and praise ascend to Him in thankfulness for the privilege afforded to them of freely and openly worshipping Him, who as freely invites all to become partakers of a home made without hands, eternal in the heavens.

The South-west Transept

was, until a few years ago, separated from the Tower by a wall of stud and plaster, and used as a receptacle for materials required for the repair of the fabric, but is now thrown open in all its beauty; it has been repaired and restored at considerable expense.

The architecture of this portion of the Cathedral is worthy of special notice; the various forms of the arches, and the beautiful mouldings and ornaments on some of them, cannot but attract attention. The panelled ceiling has been painted by T. Gambier Parry, Esq., of Highnam Court, Gloucester; the floor has been re-laid with encaustic tiles and marble; a new font [28] in the transitional style, has been placed here, at the cost of the late Canon Selwyn, and this Transept will in future be used as the Baptistry of the Cathedral. Several windows, which had for many years been blocked up with stone and rubbish, have been re-opened, and those of the lower tier at the south end filled with stained glass by Mr. Wailes:

The west window contains—the Meeting of Jacob and Rachel; the Choice of Esther; and the Crowning of Esther; and was the gift of Dean Peacock.

The east window comprises—the Meeting of Isaac and Rebecca; of Boaz and Ruth; and the Marriage at Cana: given by Hamilton Cooke, Esq., of Carr House, Doncaster.

Adjoining this Transept on the east is the apsidal Chapel of St. Catharine , for many years in ruins, but rebuilt in 1848, and the floor laid in a combination of marble and encaustic tiles, with borders of incised Portland stone, the incisions being filled with coloured cement; the windows have been filled with stained glass by Mr. Wilmshurst:

The east window, representing the Baptism of our Lord, by John, after a picture by Bassans; given by the Rev. W.G. Townley, of Upwell, Norfolk, as a memorial of his brother, R.G. Townley, Esq., of Fulbourn, for several years one of the representatives of the county in Parliament.

The subject of the other window is from the words of our Lord, "Suffer little children to come unto me;" from a picture by Overbeck: the gift of Canon Selwyn.

We now proceed on our course, and enter

The Nave

which is of ample dimensions, being 203 feet in length; it has a lighter appearance than many churches of Norman architecture, and may be considered a late specimen of that style, having been finished about 1174. The length originally comprised thirteen bays, one of which has been included in the plan of the Octagon; there are no single cylindrical columns as in many churches, but the pillars are clustered and alternate in size and pattern; the arches appear to be somewhat higher than semicircular, being stilted, or some little way rectilinear before they take the circular bend. Those of the second tier comprehend in each two smaller ones, supported by a much lighter column; each compartment in the upper tier is divided into three small arches, the middle one being larger and higher than that on either side of it. Over the whole aisle on each side runs a broad gallery usually called the "triforium," lighted by Perpendicular windows in the outer wall; and above is the "clerestory," or "clear-story," affording a narrow passage in the thickness of the main wall, lighted by the original Norman windows; thus the height is divided into three parts—ground-story, triforium, and clerestory; and the breadth into the same number—nave, north aisle, and south aisle; probably designed as a type of the Trinity, as it is thought by many that these symbolical considerations were used in the building of churches in early ages.

A new floor has been laid in the Nave [29] in a design which introduces several kinds of stone and marble, each bay in a pattern differing from the adjoining one; the large slab of marble which laid in the second bay from the east, and from which the memorial brass has long disappeared, remains in situ, it is not known to whose memory it was originally placed, but evidently to some dignified ecclesiastic. Towards the west the floor has been lowered so as to shew the bases of the columns which had for many years been hidden. A semicircular roof-shaft runs from the floor to the top of the wall between the bays, but the roof, until lately, was open to view from the floor to the rafters; a new painted ceiling has been executed,[30] which adds much to the grandeur of the building.

This ceiling was commenced in 1858, by Henry Styleman le Strange, Esq., of Hunstanton Hall, and the six western bays were designed and the chief parts executed by him, and finished in 1861; his lamented decease in the following year gave rise to some fears as to its completion, but his friend T. Gambier Parry, Esq., undertook to finish the work so ably begun, as a token of affection to his memory, and it now presents a beautiful series of pictures in compartments, forming, as it were, a carefully studied epitome of the sacred history of man as recorded in Holy Scripture; and exhibiting specimens of skill and taste executed by two gentlemen of independent fortune that may be almost considered marvellous.

It may be mentioned that the ceiling is upwards of 200 feet long, and is 86 feet from the floor, and the general size of the principal figures in the painting is nine feet.

The central subjects are arranged in chronological order from the west, each being surrounded by a border varying in form, and containing a legend; in the ten western bays the subjects are supported by figures which are for the most part representations of Patriarchs and Prophets, carrying scrolls upon which are written words of their own, bearing more or less forcibly upon the coming of the Messiah. The eleventh subject has, properly speaking, no supporters, but the Shepherds and the Magi are so arranged as to carry on the artistic effect of a central group with conspicuous lateral figures. In the twelfth and last subject, the picture extends entirely across the ceiling; in the centre is the Lord Jesus in His glorified humanity, seated on a throne, round about which is a "rainbow like unto an emerald." Above His head is the choir of Seraphim, painted in prismatic colours, and reflected in the "sea of glass before the throne." On the right and left are the figures of the twelve apostles seated; beyond them, on the dexter side, are two archangels, St. Gabriel, "the angel of redemption," holding the standard of the cross, and St. Raphael, holding a sword with its point downwards, expressive of victory and peace; at their feet rise three figures, typical of the blessed received into glory. On the sinister side are also two archangels, St. Uriel holding his sword downwards, and St. Michael spearing the dragon, expressive of the condemnation of, and victory over, sin. The figure of our Lord is connected with the tree of Jesse by its last branches, which break into scrolls and golden fruit at His feet.

The arch which separates the Nave from the Octagon has also been decorated, as well as the wall which connects the arch with the ceiling; the design contains the evangelistic symbols of St. Matthew and St. John, and the text "Blessed be the Name of His Majesty for ever, and all the earth shall be filled with His Majesty. Amen and Amen."


ceiling key


Transcriber's Note: The text in the above illustration appears below. The first paragraph contains the text along the sides of the image.


The heads forming the border represent the human ancestors of our Lord, according to the genealogy in St. Luke's Gospel; they commence at the Eastern end, and terminate at the Western, thus linking together the Glorified Manhood, as exhibited in the last of the pictorial representations, with the Creation of Man in the first.

"Non nobis, Domini, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam."

'I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.'

'Unto us a child is born: Gentiles shall come to thy light, and Kings to the
brightness of thy rising.'


'The Word was made flesh, and dwelt
among us: full of grace and truth.'

'The Sun of Righteousness
shall arise.'

'I will bring forth my servant
the Branch.'
'A Virgin shall conceive and bear a Son,
and shall call his name Immanuel.'
'The Lord their God shall
visit them.'

'Him that bringeth glad
'Unto David a righteous
'Of the fruit of thy body shall I set upon
thy throne.'
'My servant David shall be a
'He shall confirm the
'There shall come forth a rod out
of Jesse, and a branch shall grow
out of his roots.'
'The desire of all nations
shall come.'
'Out of thee, Bethlehem, shall
He come forth.'
'The Lord make the woman like Rachel
and Leah. Be thou famous in Bethlehem.'
'There shall come a rod out of
the stem of Jesse.'
'I will raise up the tabernacle
of David.'
'In thee and in thy seed shall all the
families of the earth be blessed.'
'O Grave I will be thy
'Thou hast brought up my life
from corruption.'

'Behold the fire and the wood, but
where is the burnt offering?'
'I will pour out my spirit upon
all flesh.'
'The Lord shall raise up a
prophet like unto me.'
'I do set my bow in the cloud, to be a
token of covenant between me
and the earth.'
'I will stablish the throne of
His kingdom.'
'I know that my Redeemer liveth.'
'Her seed shall bruise they head, and
thou shalt bruise his heel.'
'There shall come a star out of Jacob.'
'My son, God will provide
himself a lamb.'
'Which was the son of God.'
'The sceptre shall not depart
until Shiloh come.'

"Sit splendor Domini Dei nostri super nos, et opera manuum nostrarum dirige super nos," &c.



Traces of early fresco work may be seen on some of the arches of the Nave, on both sides, and in all probability other parts were also decorated.

Before proceeding further eastward we will examine the

Nave Aisles

commencing with that on the south, at the western end. We first observe a range of small semicircular arches running under the windows, with a chevron moulding over some of them; in the first bay from the west there is a row of intersecting arches over them. The vaulting is supported by semi-columns placed at the back of the pillars on one side, and on the other by wall-shafts between the windows, and forms a great contrast to the rich vaulting of the eastern portions of the Cathedral. Several traces of early fresco work may be observed in the vault of the tenth bay from the west, and in other places.

Under the fourth window is a doorway, which is, on the exterior, richly ornamented, filling all available space, the whole of the imposts, arch mouldings and capitals being thickly sculptured with interlaced carving. In the tympanum is a figure of the Saviour in an aureole (or 'glory' of a pointed oval shape), held up by two angels sitting, holding an open book surmounted by a cross in His left hand, His right being elevated in the act of benediction. The mouldings above, as well as the capitals, jambs, and pilasters, are enriched with running foliage, and with a series of medallions containing birds, animals, flowers, &c., some of which are very curious. This was formerly the Prior's entrance from the cloisters; it now opens into a private garden belonging to the Deanery.[32]

Near this doorway stands a curious relic, deserving attention. It is the lower portion of a stone cross with a square pedestal, found some years ago at Haddenham, in the Isle of Ely, where it was used as a horse-block; the inscription on the pedestal is in Roman capitals, except the E, which is Saxon:


A translation of it is thus given by Mr. Bentham: "Grant, O God, to Ovin, thy light and rest. Amen." On reference to the history of St. Etheldreda, foundress of the monastery at Ely,[33] to which allusion was made in the introduction to this work, it will be seen that her steward bore the name of Ovin, and it is not improbable that the cross was erected either to his honour during his life, or to his memory soon after his death; probably in the early part of the eighth century: this would make it earlier by nearly four hundred years than anything else in the church. The Bissexcentenary, or twelve-hundredth anniversary of the foundation of the monastery at Ely by St. Etheldreda was commemorated by a grand Festival in October, 1873.

The doorway at the east end of the aisle, under the last window, formerly the entrance for the monks from the cloisters, now the south entrance to the Cathedral, is also worthy of special observation; the head is trefoiled, and ornamented with figures holding pastoral staves; above, two dragons are represented with their necks entwined; the mouldings are rich and various, and the capitals and jambs are sculptured with grotesque ornaments. By some persons it has been thought that these doorways were insertions, as they do not accord with the lines of the adjoining wall, perhaps brought from some other building, and re-erected here when the cloisters were built.

On the second pillar from the east end of the Nave in both aisles, may be observed a niche with a canopy, indicating the position of the rood-screen at the western extremity of the original Choir, which extended eastward across and beyond the space now covered by the Octagon.

The windows of the aisles, as also those of the triforium, were originally Norman, but were altered at some subsequent period to a later style; those, however, of this aisle have, with one exception, been restored to their original form, and all are filled with stained glass. We will endeavour to describe them in their order, beginning at the western end of the aisle.

1st. The days of Creation; Adam expelled from Eden; the punishment of Mankind; the Offerings of Cain and Abel—executed by Messrs. Henri and Alfred Gerente, of Paris; the contributions of Visitors to the Cathedral.

2nd. The Building of the ark; the entry into the ark; the Flood; and Noah's Sacrifice—by M. Alfred Gerente: the gift of Mrs. Pleasance Clough, as a memorial of her aunt, Susannah, wife of John Waddington, Esq.

3rd. The Annunciation; the Salutation of Mary and Elizabeth; the Birth of Christ—by Mr. Warrington: his own gift.

4th. The Tower of Babel and the Confusion of tongues—by Mr. Howes: the contribution of various tradesmen connected with the Cathedral.

5th. Abraham visited by angels; the expulsion of Hagar; and the Blessing of Jacob—by Mr. Gibbs, his own gift.

6th. The institution of the Passover; the Death of the firstborn; and the Exodus of the Israelites—by Mr. Howes, his own gift.

7th. The fall of the walls of Jericho; the passage of the Jordan; and the return of the spies—by Mr. Wailes: presented by the Rev. G. Millers, as a memorial of his wife.

8th. Samson slaying the lion; Samson carrying away the gates of Gaza; and Samson destroying the Philistines—executed and presented by M. Alfred Gerente.

9th. The history of the Venerable Bede—by Mr. Wailes: his own gift.

10th. David anointed; David playing before Saul; David chosen king; and David reproved by Nathan—by Mr. Hardman: presented by the ladies of the (then) Dean and Canons.

11th. The Judgment of Solomon; the Building of the Temple; the Dedication of the Temple; and the Queen of Sheba's visit—designed and executed by the Rev. A. Moore, of Walpole St. Peter, Norfolk, at the cost of the Chapter.

We now turn our attention to the north aisle, and observe a range of arches similar to those in the south aisle, but with the line of chevron moulding in the eastern bay only; an intermission under one of the windows marks the place where probably was a doorway for communication with the church of St. Cross, but closed above two hundred years ago, when the Lady Chapel was given for the use of the parish of the Holy Trinity in lieu of that church which had become ruinous.

The windows in this aisle retain their altered form; and all have been recently filled with stained glass; in describing them we will commence at the western end, as the subjects are arranged chronologically.

1st. From the history of our first parents—Adam tilling the ground; Cain ploughing the earth, and Abel attending sheep; Adam and Eve discovering the body of Abel—by Mr. Cottingham: presented by Mr. Bacon, Clerk of the Works to the Dean and Chapter, as a memorial of his father.

2nd. From the history of Lot—Angels visit Lot; Lot entertaining angels; the multitude struck with blindness; Sodom destroyed; Lot's departure; Lot entering Zoar—by Mr. Preedy; as a memorial of the Rev. John Maddy, D.D., Canon of the Cathedral.

3rd. From the History of Abraham—the Death of Sarah: Abraham purchasing the cave of Machpelah; and the Burial of Abraham—by Mr. Preedy: designed as a memorial of Mr. Freeman; given by his family.

4th. From the Book of Judges—Gideon and the Angel; Gideon's present consumed; the Midianites put to flight—by Mr. Ward: subscribed for by some of Her Majesty's Judges who were educated at the University of Cambridge.

5th. From the history of Samuel—Hannah praying; Samuel presented to Eli; Eli blesses Elkanah and Hannah; Samuel praying; Samuel called; Samuel telling his vision to Eli—by Messrs. Ward and Nixon: as a memorial of H.R. Evans, sen., Esq., for many years Chapter Clerk; given by his family.

6th. David and the Minstrels; executed by Mr. Oliphant, from designs by W.R. Dyce, Esq., R.A.: the gift of Mr. Thomas Ingram, Professor of Music, formerly a Chorister and Pupil in the Cathedral.

7th. From the history of Elijah—Elijah feeds the prophets in a cave; Elijah praying for rain; Elijah visited by angels—by Mr. Wailes: presented by Colonel Allix, as a memorial of Dr. Peter Allix, a former Dean of Ely.

8th. From the history of Elijah—Elijah fed by ravens; Translation of Elijah; Elijah's burnt offering—by Mr. Wailes: presented by J.J. Rawlinson, Esq., as a memorial of the Rev. G. Millers, Minor Canon, and author of a "Description of Ely Cathedral."

9th. From the history of Elisha—Elisha healing the Shunamite's son—by Mr. Wailes: presented by the Rev. S. Smith and others, connections and legatees of the Rev. J. Griffith, B.D., many years Minor Canon of the Cathedral.

10th. Events from the history of Hesekiah—by Mr. Wailes; presented as a memorial of Thomas Archer, Esq., of Ely, by his family.

11th. From the history of Jonah—the People of Ninevah mourning; Jonah preaching; Repentance of the Ninevites—by Mr. Edgland; presented by C. Steggall, Esq., Mus. Doc., designed as a memorial of his wife.

12th. From the history of Daniel—Daniel interpreting Nebuchadnezzar's dream; Daniel before king Darius; Daniel in the lion's den—by M. Lusson, of Paris: designed to commemorate the establishment of a Savings Bank in Ely, in 1839, being the contribution of certain subscribers, assisted by a special contribution from Canon J.H. Sparke.

A tablet on the wall, near the eastern window of this aisle, bears the following inscription:—

Roger Clopton,
Rector of Downham,
Gave two hundred pounds,
By which The greatest Part
of the Nave of This
Church Was

The Nave and aisles do not now require a gift of this kind, having been recently paved at considerable expense, but the floor of the Octagon, South Transept, and Choir aisles will require a large sum to complete them, and if some kind friends will follow the example of Roger Clopton it will indeed be a timely benefaction, and now very much to be desired as an important step towards the completion of the work of restoration.

Before examining the Octagon we will make some observations on

The Great Transept

This includes both arms, although for distinction it is frequently spoken of as the north and south Transept. This is the oldest portion of the Cathedral, having been begun by Abbot Simeon a.d. 1083, of whose work, however, but little more than the ground story remains. Before the fall of the Norman Tower in 1322, each arm was longer by one bay, which is now included in the plan of the Octagon, in the same manner as the Nave. Both arms have aisles, but those of the south, and one in the north, are enclosed for various purposes. In each arm there is a simple cylindrical shaft, of which no other specimen occurs in any other part of the church. The capitals of the columns and the arches above the lower tier are similar to those of the Nave. The roof in both is of bare rafters with rich cornices, painted with flowers and devices, and angels with wings expanded under the principals; both arms have recently undergone a thorough repair, the rafters and cornices have been re-painted and gilded in their original style, which, with the stained glass lately inserted in the windows, produces an amount of colour the effect of which is very striking.

We will first refer for details to the north arm; of which the western aisle is open, and is lighted by three Norman windows, all of which have been recently filled with stained glass:

The south window—executed by M. Lusson, of Paris; the subjects taken from the Parables; as a memorial of the Rev. A. Moore, of Walpole, who designed and executed three windows in the Cathedral.

The middle window, by the same artist; subject, the Good Samaritan: given by John Muriel, Esq.

The northern window was executed by the Rev. A. Moore; the subject taken from the parable of the Prodigal Son.

At the north end of the Transept is a small colonnade, the arches of which are irregular, those opposite the lower windows being higher than the others to allow free passage to the light. At the north-east corner is a doorway communicating with a staircase leading to the upper parts of the church. In the year 1699 the fall of a portion of the north-west corner took place, but it was so well rebuilt as not to be discernable in the interior. The windows in the triforium on the east side are original; those of the triforium on the west side, and the upper ones at the north end, are Perpendicular insertions; the rest are all in their original form, or have been restored to it; those in the north end have been filled with stained glass:

The two lower, and the western window of the second tier, by Mr. Wailes, at the cost of the late Canon E.B. Sparke.

The eastern window of the second tier, by the Rev. A. Moore. The subjects of these four windows are incidents in the history of St. Paul.

The windows in the upper tier—by Messrs. Ward and Hughes—also at the cost of the late Canon E.B. Sparke, contain figures of eminent persons in New Testament history, with arms, &c. in the tracery. Those in the western window represent Silas; Clement, bishop; Apollos; Judas Barsabas; Dionysius, areopagite; and Philip, deacon: in the eastern window, Titus, bishop; St. Paul; Timothy; St. Mark; St. Barnabas; and St. Luke.

The eastern aisle is divided by walls behind the columns into compartments; the northern one forms a communication with the entrance to the Lady Chapel; the middle one a vestry for the Grammar Scholars; and the third a vestry for the Lay-Clerks; remains of fresco paintings may be seen on the walls of both these compartments.

The stained glass window in the middle compartment contains subjects from the history of our Saviour; executed by Messrs. Clayton and Bell: presented by—Heywood, Esq., as a memorial to his mother.

The window in the third compartment, by the same artists, represents the Entombment and the Ascension, and is the gift of C.L. Higgins, Esq., of Turvey Abbey.

The floor of this portion has been recently re-laid by the munificence of the late Canon E.B. Sparke.

We now cross the Octagon (which we will examine afterwards) to the south arm of the Transept. At the south end is a colonnade, but differing in design to that in the north arm, the arches being all of equal height, but not so high as the others; over these is a row of intersecting arches. It is probable that these galleries were added at a period subsequent to the erection of the Transept, and intended as a means of communication from one triforium to the other; in the south east corner is a staircase leading to the triforium. Some remains of ancient decoration may be observed on the walls and capitals, portions of which have been renewed.

The eastern aisle was formerly divided by a wall behind each column into three compartments, with wooden screens in front; but these were all removed in 1814, when it was enclosed as we now see it to form the Library, which is lighted on the east by three Early English windows, and on the south by a Norman one. The western aisle appears to have been closed for many years, as on the walls built in the arches (and which until lately completely filled the openings,) there is an arcade of intersecting Norman arches. Of this aisle, thus inclosed, one portion is used as a vestry by the Vergers, having an entrance from the south aisle of the Nave; the remaining portion as a vestry for the Clergy. The carved oak door to this vestry deserves attention; it is not exactly known whether it originally belonged to the Cathedral, the carved devices are similar to those in the chapel of Bishop Alcock, in the north aisle of the Choir; there is no doubt that it belonged to some building erected by that prelate, if not to this, probably to the chapel of Jesus College, Cambridge, of which Bishop Alcock was the founder. It was found at Landbeach, and sent to the Cathedral by Canon Fardell.

The windows of the western aisle and those of the clerestory on both sides are in their original form, and so are those of the two lower tiers at the south end, but the others are of later age; in the gable is a low window of seven lights, very different to the upper windows in the north arm: those in the south end and two in the western aisle have been filled with stained glass:

The eastern window of the lower tier of the south end, by M. Henri Gerente, contains incidents in the history of Joseph; presented by the late Canon E.B. Sparke.

The western window by the same artist, contains incidents from the history of Moses: contributed by some of the then Lessees under the Bishop.

The eastern window of the second tier, by Messrs. Henri and Alfred Gerente, contains subjects from the history of Abraham, with parallels: the gift of Incumbents of livings in the diocese, and in the patronage of the Bishop.

The western window, by M. Alfred Gerente, contains subjects from the history of Jacob; the gift of Incumbents of livings formerly in the patronage of the Bishop, but not in his diocese.

The gable window contains six figures of the Patriarchs, with a figure of our Lord in the centre; some of which were executed by Mr. Howes and others by Mr. Preedy: the gift of some of the Peers and Prelates educated at the University of Cambridge.

The middle window of the western aisle, by M. Lusson; the subjects taken from the Book of Jeremiah: given by the Rev. G. Rous, Laverton, as a memorial of Dr. Hugh Thomas, nineteenth Dean of Ely.

The north window is also by a French artist, and given by the late Canon E.B. Sparke.

The piece of tessellated pavement in the floor was found some years ago between the Choir and the Lady Chapel, under the present level of the earth, and was placed here for preservation; when the floor of this arm of the Transept is re-laid, this may perhaps be again inserted, or removed to some other place.

The Octagon

We now come to this special glory of the Cathedral, "in which," says Mr. Millers, "elegance, magnificence, and strength are so happily blended, that it is impossible to determine in which respect it is most admirable." We follow up the description nearly in his own words. Here stood originally a square Norman tower, which in the year 1322, from the unequal pressure of the four parts of the church, gave way and fell eastward, crushing in its fall several adjoining arches. "It could not have happened at a more favourable conjuncture; as the convent was rich, spirited, and liberal; and though another great work had been begun the preceding year, (the erection of a new Lady Chapel,) the repair of this great dilapidation was immediately undertaken, and completed in a few years, by Alan de Walsingham, at that time sacrist,[34] an officer under whose particular charge were all the monastic buildings. It has continued above five hundred years, and may it yet continue a noble proof of his consummate skill as an architect!" The conception was original, being perhaps the first building of the kind ever erected. By throwing the weight upon eight strong piers and arches instead of four, he has probably guarded against the recurrence of a similar accident; at the same time he has given a larger space, a more agreeable form, and greater scope for embellishment, which is, however, most judiciously confined within such limits as not to interfere with sober and impressive grandeur. No one can behold it without admiring the skill which has suspended, rather than supported, a very heavy timber roof over so wide an area without a pillar.

"It is not equilateral; there are four longer and four shorter sides, alternate and respectively equal. Four lofty arches, in the four longer sides, open into the four principal parts of the church: alternately with these, in the four shorter sides, are as many more, much lower, opening obliquely into the aisles above and below the Transept. The arches are all supported by elegant clustered and conjoined columns, and their capitals are wreaths of flowers and foliage."

In the shorter sides there is room for some ornamentation, but the ornaments are chaste and not profuse. The four low arches in them are under canopies resting on good carved heads, which remain perfect. Those on the north-east are said to be intended for Edward III. and his queen Phillippa, in whose time the building was erected; on the south-eastern arch are represented the heads of a bishop and a priest, perhaps meant for Bishop Hotham and Prior Crauden, superiors at the period of erection. On the north-west arch are the heads of another priest, apparently younger, and of some secular person with long hair; the former is supposed to represent Alan de Walsingham, the skilful architect of this noble work; and the latter the chief mason. On the remaining arch are two figures, the meaning of which we can scarcely comprehend.

A little above each of these lower arches are three brackets, or corbels, with canopies; the original figures (if any) placed on these brackets have long since disappeared, but the spaces have lately been filled with sitting figures of the Apostles,[35] executed in stone by Mr. Redfern, each holding a symbolical instrument. If we start from the Choir and proceed to the right hand we shall find them placed in the following order:—

 {St. Matthew—box.
S.E.St. John—chalice and dragon.
 St. James, minor—club.
 {St. Philip—small cross.
S.W.St. Paul—sword.
 St. Bartholomew—knife.
 {St. Thomas—mason's square.
N.W.St. Peter—keys.
 St. Andrew—cross.
 {St. Jude—spear.
N.E.St. James, major—pilgrim's staff.
 St. Simon—saw.

There are also sixteen small stone heads, four connected with each group of three Apostles, which are not very clearly seen, perhaps, from the floor of the Cathedral, but which, when examined, shew by the conventual prophetic cap given to them, that they are intended to represent the sixteen Prophets of the Old Testament. Above these canopies, in each of the four sides, is a gallery or passage with an embattled parapet, and above that a large window of four lights with geometrical tracery; it is extremely sharp pointed, and towards the top each window is faced internally with a trellis or lattice-work of stone, which adds to its elegance without intercepting the light. These windows rise to the same height as the higher arches; they have been filled with stained glass by Mr. Wailes, and the subjects are chiefly representations of persons who were instrumental in the foundation, erection, or restoration of the Cathedral, of the reigning sovereigns at the respective periods, and of others who figured in the traditionary history of the foundress.

The window in the south-east angle is designed to commemorate the principal persons who figured in the traditionary history of the foundress. The figures in the upper tier represent Anna, father of St. Etheldreda; St. Etheldreda as queen; Tonbert, her first, and Egfrid, her second husband. In the lower tier, St. Etheldreda as abbess; Wilfred Bishop of York; St. Erminilda, the third abbess; and St. Sexburga, the second abbess. The tracery contains other figures and emblems, with the arms of the donor, the late Canon E.B. Sparke.

The window in the north-east angle, in continuation of the same design, contains in the upper tier figures representing St. Withburga, St. Edmond, St. Werberga, fourth abbess of Ely, and Archbishop Dunstan. In the lower tier, Bishop Ethelwold; Brithnoth, Duke of Northumberland; Abbot Brithnoth, and King Edgar. The tracery contains the arms of the University of Cambridge, with other figures and devices: contributed by subscriptions from the Bachelors and Undergraduates of the University of Cambridge.

The window in the north-west angle also contains eight representative figures, viz., in the upper tier, (reading from right to left) are William I., Henry I., Henry III., and Edward II.; and under these, Abbot Simeon, who commenced the present Cathedral; Harvey, the first Bishop of Ely; Bishop Northwold, who erected the Presbytery; and Alan de Walsingham, the skilful architect of the Octagon. The tracery contains medallions in which are pictured the shrine of St. Etheldreda; Abbot Simeon laying the foundation stone of the Cathedral; Alan de Walsingham and monks weeping over the ruins of the central tower; the arms of the University of Cambridge, of the See of Ely, of Bishop Sparke, with other devices. Half the cost of this window was defrayed by subscriptions from some graduates of the University of Cambridge, and the other half by a portion of the accumulation of the money given by Bishop Sparke [36] for the east window.

The window in the south-west angle also contains eight figures in the four principal lights, arranged in the following order—the Queen in her coronation robes; the Prince Consort in his robes as Chancellor of the University of Cambridge; and under these are represented Dr. Turton, the then bishop, and Dr. Peacock, the then dean of Ely; these figures being commemorative of the present extensive restorations: the other four represent King Edward III. and his queen Philippa, in whose reign the Octagon was built; and under these, Bishop Hotham and Prior Crauden, the great officers of the Cathedral at that period. The tracery contains the arms of the University of Cambridge in the centre, and on either side the arms respectively of those whose figures are represented in the window. The cost of a portion of this was graciously defrayed by Her Majesty; Bishop Turton and Dean Peacock gave the cost of their own figures respectively, and the remainder was paid by the capitular body.

Midway up each vaulting shaft is a canopied niche of unusual but very beautiful character; these niches rest upon sculptured corbels representing some striking incidents of St. Etheldreda's life, by beginning at the right-hand side of the north-west arch, and continuing our course to the right-hand round the Octagon, we may examine them in detail.

The first represents her marriage.

The second, her taking the veil at the Monastery of Coldingham at the hands of Wilfred, bishop of York; her crown laid upon the altar.

The third, her pilgrim's staff taking root and bearing leaves and branches over her whilst she slept by the way.

The fourth, her preservation, with her attendant nuns, on a rock surrounded by a miraculous inundation, when pursued by the king and his attendants.

The fifth, her installation as abbess of Ely, by Wilfred.

The sixth, her death and burial.

The seventh, a legendary tale of one Brithstan delivered from bonds by her merits.

The eighth, the translation of her body.

These were probably placed there to break the apparent great preponderance of vertical lines. The vaulting is of wood, and its fan-shaped compartments terminate at a distance from the centre, thus allowing an aperture thirty feet wide, over which rises the Lantern, an exact octagon, having on each of its sides a large pointed window of four openings with rich tracery, all filled with stained glass, which has the effect of subduing the light; below these windows are a series of panels with decorated heads, and under them another series of smaller ones; above the ceiling is a chamber formerly used for bells. The Lantern also is of English oak, and its construction a curious piece of carpentry. The whole has been thoroughly repaired, and in a great measure restored in exact conformity with the original, at a considerable expense.[37]

When the white and yellow-wash was cleared away from the woodwork of the Octagon and Lantern in 1850, some remnants of ancient colouring were discovered. In the archives of the Cathedral are preserved the accounts of the materials used in this painting, the prices of the colours, and the wages paid to the workmen. The name of the principal artist was Walter; he is dignified by the name of "Pictor," but he only received Eightpence per week, "præter mensam et robam " the "roba " being the painter's dress of the period, which was very like a modern gentleman's dressing gown. The colouring of this "Walter" between the years 1335 and 1351 seems to have been of a very simple character. The only evidence of designs that remained in 1850 were on the flat panels of the vaulting, which was covered with an imitation of ordinary gothic flowing tracery. The pattern was a series of quatrefoils painted in stone-colour on the wood, outlined black, and filled with green. The bosses of the Lantern, which are not carved, had been evidently painted and gilt, but the patterns of foliage were rough and too much injured to afford any distinct composition.

The small amount of colouring which remained on some of the mouldings of the Octagon was principally of a bright red, but only in small patches, the ground-work having peeled off and the colour with it.

In attempting to describe briefly the recent decoration of the Octagon and Lantern we cannot do better than quote the substance of a paper read during the Conference in June, 1875, explaining the history and nature of the ornamentation which has been carried out with such loving care and artistic skill under Gambier Parry, Esq., who designed the whole and painted the chief figures.

"The internal repair of the Lantern and Octagon was begun in February, 1874, and required a year for its completion. The ornamentation is in the style of the fourteenth century. The central boss of the lantern groining is a half-length figure of Christ in glory, considerably above life size, and with the conventual clouding around it; it is boldly carved in oak. The right hand is raised in the attitude of blessing, and with the left the inner garment is drawn open to exhibit the wound in the right side. Around this figure is painted a group of Seraphim on a grey blue ground. The panels of the window hoods are painted red, marking the distinction already made by the architectural construction, and on them are painted Cherubim and golden stars. The windows of the lantern were filled, some years ago, with coloured glass, the colouring of which is harsh, and in strong contrast with the mellow and rich painting of the woodwork, and injurious to the general effect.

"Below the windows are thirty-two openings surmounted with rich tracery. They are filled by panels on which is painted the angel choir. The figures are composed in groups of four, under each window, and are represented playing mediæval instruments. The two eastern and two western bays are intended to be severally grouped together, forming distinct series of eight figures. The instruments in the hands of the figures over the transepts are the psaltery and cithern, the regale, tabret, lute, violin, bagpipe and trumpet, (illustrating the 150th Psalm.) Below this range of figures are smaller panels, simply ornamented with the sacred monogram, the cross and the crown, resting on a fine and richly carved cornice, which forms the base of the lantern. The groining of the Octagon forms eight hoods, four above the windows, and four above the great arches of the Choir, Nave and Transepts. Beneath these last are remarkable statues of the four evangelists, about life size, seated in the attitude of writing, with a pen in one hand and a long scroll in the other; a writing table by the side of each figure with the inkhorn attached to it by a strap, and a loop to hold the pen, is very complete. The space between the great arch and the groining of the Choir is filled with rich tracery, on the central panel of which is painted the Crucifixion, with angels holding the chalice and palm branch on the right and left. The long spandrils of the groining are painted with conventional scrollwork of leaves and flowers in a style contemporaneous with the architecture. The monogram and crown of St. Etheldreda are found in several parts of the ornamental design. The total expense of the decoration has been about £2500."

An elegantly carved pulpit has been placed near the entrance to the Choir; it is of Ancaster stone resting upon columns of Purbeck marble, the front relieved by alabaster figures of St. Peter and St. Paul; the steps are of Purbeck marble, guarded by very elaborate scrollwork in iron. It was designed by Sir G.G. Scott, and executed by Messrs. Rattee and Kett; the figures by Mr. Redfern, and the iron work by Messrs. Potter and Son. It was supplied by a legacy left by the daughter of Bishop Allen, and adds much towards the general improvements.

Before leaving the Octagon the visitor would do well to contemplate this portion of the building, as affording an extraordinary example of the skill and judgment of the man who designed and carried into effect so grand and unique a specimen of architecture, covering, as it does, a large area without supporting columns; no heavy mass of stone-work meets the eye, but the pillars, though strong and of great height are so constructed as to give an appearance of lightness and elegance; the vaulting is rich though simple, and the lantern above deserves notice from its singular position, apparently without support, but starting as it were from the ends of the ribs of the groining: taken as a whole it may be fairly considered as without parallel in this country.

The architectural views from the Octagon in every direction are exceedingly fine, and will repay the visitor for a pause of a few minutes to notice them; on all sides are examples of great beauty and variety. There are many other points in the Cathedral which afford attractive scenes as shewn in the effects of light and shade, the intersections of arches, perspective, &c., which may be found by the visitor in his survey, if watched for, but we cannot undertake to point them out.

The next portion of the building to which our attention is attracted is

The Choir

which, previous to 1322 was under the central Tower, and extended, including the rood-loft, from the second column at the eastern end of the Nave, as it now is, (it then extended one bay further eastward,) to about the same distance, or rather more, on the opposite side; and after the erection of the Octagon was again placed there; in 1770 it was removed to the six eastern arches of the Cathedral, the space under the Octagon and the two bays eastward of it being used as a sermon-place.[38] It was again removed in 1852, and now commences at the eastern side of the Octagon, extending to the length of seven bays, (the stalled portion occupying three of them,) leaving the two eastern bays as a retro-choir.

This will be better understood by reference to the accompanying plans, (for the use of which we are indebted to the kindness of the Editor of the "Architectural Quarterly Review,") one shewing the position of the Choir previous to the year 1770, and the other the arrangement made at the last alteration.


General Plan


[Enlarge ]

A Octagon, with the arrangement of Choir previous to 1770.
B Presbytery.
C The Nave.
D North Transept.
E South Transept.
F Part of Cloisters (ruined.)
G Western Tower.
H West Porch or Galilee.
I St. Catharine's Chapel.
K The Lady Chapel.
L The Font.
M Rood Screen.
N Foundations of Norman apse.
O Foundations of n.w. Transept.
P South-western Transept.



Choir and Transept

CHOIR AND TRANSEPT, shewing new arrangements.

[Enlarge ]

The black tint represents the Norman work of Abbots Simeon and Richard, 1083-1106.

The lined tint represents Bishop Northwold's work, 1229-1254.

The dotted tint represents the work of Bishops Hotham, Montacute, and L'Isle, 1316-1361.

A The Octagon.
B Choir, as now carried out.
C Nave.
D North arm of Transept.
E South arm of Transept.
F Lady Chapel.
a  Altar.
b  Bishop Alcock's Chapel.
c  Bishop West's Chapel.
d  Organ and Staircase.
e  Part of Cloisters (ruined).
f  Monuments.


The new oaken screen at the entrance of the Choir will attract the attention of the visitor, both by its elegant design and its skilful execution; it is of open work, comprising a centre opening with brass gates, through which is the passage into the Choir, under a pointed arch, over this is rich tracery within a high pointed gable, having an elegant foliated cross on the apex: on either side are three smaller openings, each divided into two parts by a bar or transom, and finished at the top with a gable; the openings below the transoms are filled with elaborate grilles of brass foliage; a beautiful cresting runs over the whole, with a high pinnacle of tabernacle work at each end; several statuettes have been placed under canopies in each face, which add considerably to the general effect. The screen was designed by Sir G.G. Scott, and executed by Mr. Rattee; the statuettes by M. Abeloos, and the brass gates with the foliage in the lower panels by Mr. Hardman: the whole testifies highly to the taste of the designer as well as to the skill of those who executed the several parts.

In making a particular survey of the Choir, it would perhaps be better to examine carefully the architecture of the six eastern bays first, and then the three western bays, which were built subsequently to the others, before examining the reredos, monuments, &c.; this is simply a suggestion, we leave the visitor to follow his own inclination, and continue our description in the order of our course from west to east.

The architecture of the three first bays is greatly to be admired as a specimen of the Decorated style, perhaps not surpassed by any other in the kingdom; they were erected about the same time as the Octagon, and most probably under the superintendence of the same skilful architect, and for which purpose Bishop Hotham left a sum of money at his death; they were built during the episcopate of his successors, Bishops Montacute (1337-1345), and L'Isle (1345-1361). The lower columns are nearly, the capitals entirely, of the same form with those of the Octagon, but the arches are more ornamented, some of them having bosses of foliage attached to their mouldings; and those of the triforium are, as Mr. Bentham observes, "embellished with tracery work of such elegance and delicacy as seems scarcely consistent with strength." Between each of the lower arches is a corbel or elongated bracket profusely adorned with foliage carved in high relief, richly coloured and gilded; from this rises a column between the upper arches, and from the top of this column spring the ribs of the vaulting, which spread in lavish ramifications over it, dividing it into angular compartments, and at the angles are flowers and other ornaments, curiously carved, and originally were coloured. In the spandrils of the lower and triforium arches (with the exception of the first bay on the south side, which contains the arms of the see, those of Bishop Hotham, and another shield), are sunk trefoils, some of which are painted dark blue relieved with small stars in gold, having an elegant appearance. The range of pierced parapet at the bases of the triforium and clerestory has been entirely renewed; and on the south side, the triforium roof (which on both sides is of bare rafters,) has been recently painted and ornamented in a style similar to those of the Transept. The windows in the clerestory are large, filling the whole opening, having in each four lights with rich tracery, and the same kind of trellis-work we noticed in the large windows in the Octagon; these windows, on both sides have been recently filled with stained glass, executed by Mr. Wailes, the expense defrayed out of the balance of the accumulated fund for the east window; the subjects are illustrative of two verses of the "Te Deum," with figures of angels and the arms of the donor, &c., in the tracery:

North side —"The noble army of Martyrs "—represented in the western window by figures of St. George, St. Agnes, St. Catharine, and St. Alban; middle window—St. Lawrence, St. Cecilia, St. Justin, and St. Prisca; eastern window—St. Ignatius, St. Polycarp, St. Lucian, and St. Stephen.

South side —"The Holy Church throughout all the World," the Eastern Church being represented in the western window by figures of St. Chrysostom, St. Basil, St. Athanasius, and St. Gregory Nazienzen; the Western Church in the middle window, by figures of St. Jerome, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, and St. Gregory the great; the British Church in the eastern window, by figures of St. Columba, St. David, the Venerable Bede, and St. Augustine of Canterbury.

The absence of a bishop's throne is peculiar to this Cathedral; the bishop occupies the return stall on the south side, and the dean that on the north; those seats being generally appropriated to the dean and sub dean. When the abbacy was converted into a bishopric (a.d. 1109) the bishop took the seat previously held by the abbot, the prior retaining his own; and, on the re-foundation in 1541, the dean took the seat previously used by the priors, and here occupies traditionally the side opposite to his customary position.

On the right hand of the entrance, therefore, is the seat of the bishop, and on the left hand that of the dean, both surmounted by lofty pinnacles of tabernacle work; and the ancient stalls, formerly used under the Octagon, extend on both sides to the length of the three western bays. These, which we believe form the sole existing specimen of stalls of that date in England, have been cleansed from their coats of paint and restored, and harmonise well with the new work: the canopies are rich and elaborate, and the panels in the upper portions have recently been filled with sculptured groups illustrative of Scripture history, those on the north side from the New, and those on the south side from the Old Testament; they are beautifully designed, and contribute greatly to the good effect of the whole. These sculptures have been executed in oak by M. Abeloos, of Louvain, (with one exception, "the Nativity," by Mr. Philip,) and are the gifts of various benefactors. They are placed in chronological order and, as we proceed from west to east, the subjects may be noticed in the positions described as follows.


The Annunciation.
The Salutation.
The Nativity.
The Presentation in the Temple.
The Adoration of the Magi.
The Murder of the Innocents.
The Flight into Egypt.
Jesus disputing with the Doctors.
The Baptism.
The Temptation.
The Miracle at Cana in Galilee.
The Transfiguration.
Mary anointing the Lord's feet.
The Betrayal.
Our Lord before Caiaphas.
Jesus mocked.
Pilate washing his hands.
Jesus scourged.
"Behold the Man."
The Crucifixion.
The Entombment.
The Resurrection.
Our Lord at Emmaus.
The incredulity of Thomas.
The Ascension.

The Creation of Man.
The Creation of Woman.
Adam and Eve in Paradise.
The Fall of Man.
The Expulsion from Paradise.
Adam and Eve at Work.
Cain killing Abel.
Noah building the Ark.
The Deluge.
Noah's Sacrifice.
Promise to Abraham.
Isaac carrying the wood.
Abraham's Sacrifice.
Isaac blessing Jacob.
Jacob's Dream.
Joseph sold by his Brethren.
The Burning Bush.
The Passover.
Moses striking the Rock.
Moses raising the brazen serpent.
Return of the Spies.
David anointed by Samuel.
Queen of Sheba's visit to Solomon.
Elijah's ascent to Heaven.

The sub-stalls are new, and of good design; the stall-ends in the upper range have a series of statuettes of the principal among the ancient benefactors, or of the builders of various portions of the church, each under a canopy, and for finials they have figures of angels with instruments of music. Each of the statuettes (where finished) is represented as holding some type or model of the particular portion with which its prototype is more intimately connected. They were designed and modelled by Mr. J. Philip, and executed partly by him and partly byMr. Rattee; we append a list of them in the order in which they are placed, commencing from the west, as before:


St. Etheldreda.
King Edgar.
Abbot Simeon.
Abbot Richard.
Bishop Hervey.
Bishop Ridel.

Bishop Alcock.
Alan de Walsingham.
Prior Crauden.
Bishop Hotham.
Bishop Northwold.
Bishop Eustachius.

The fronts of the stalls are generally of open work, shewing the hinged seats, or misereres as they are usually called, behind; in both series of stalls these are curiously and grotesquely carved beneath. On the faces of the stall-ends of the lower tier are various emblematical devices, crests, and shields, beautifully carved; our list is made in the same order as of the statuettes.


Crest of Dean Peacock.
Crest of the late Canon Sparke.
Crest of Canon Fardell.
Arms of Canon Ashley.
Bull—emblem of St. Luke.
Eagle—emblem of St. John.

Arms of the See of Ely.
Arms of Canon Selwyn.
Arms of Canon Mill.
Pelican—ancient Church symbol.
Lion—emblem of St. Mark.
Angel—emblem of St. Matthew.

An elegant brass lectern the gift of the late Canon Sparke, has been placed in the Choir, as a memorial of H.S. le Strange, Esq., who painted the ceiling of the Tower and the western portion of the Nave ceiling.

The organ is placed in a position differing from that of most others in England, although not unusual in Continental Cathedrals. The pedal and swell organs have been placed in the triforium on the north side, and the great organ, with the choir organ beneath it, project in front of the third bay, resting upon an over-hanging chamber behind the stalls. The organ was reconstructed, with great additions, by Messrs. Hill and Son, of London, when the removal took place in 1851, and several important additions were made in 1867, by the same firm. The magnificent organ-case, with its sculptures, was executed by Mr. Rattee; the pipes in front have been gilded and ornamented by Mr. Castell, of London, and much of the woodwork having been left in its natural colour forms an agreeable contrast, and the effect produced, from almost every point of view, is rich and beautiful; while from its unusual position it loses little of its power or sweetness of tone, but sends forth its pealing sounds reverberating through the lofty arches with fine effect. We know nothing more sublime than the voices of a congregation, guided and supported by such an instrument, praising and adoring the great Creator and Father of all, and are led to exclaim with the poet Milton—

"There let the pealing organ blow,
To the full voiced choir below,
In service high and anthems clear,
As may with sweetness through mine ear,
Dissolve me into ecstacies,
And bring all heaven before mine eyes."

The division between the Early English work of Bishop Northwold and that part generally spoken of as Hotham's work is marked by two steps in the floor, and by two strong piers rising from the floor to the vault, which were in fact the original Norman shafts near the commencement of the apse or east end taken down by Hugh de Northwold, eighth bishop, who added the six beautiful eastern bays at his own expense; these form a pure and good example of Early English work, and were completed a.d. 1252, and dedicated in the same year, in the presence of King Henry III., and many nobles and prelates. This was called the "Presbytery," or "Sanctuary," a common name at that time for the east end of a church.

"The character of the three western bays is singularly yet beautifully arranged to harmonize, in point of elevation of its parts, with the six eastern arches; this and the very great excellence of the details, render this part of the edifice a most valuable study."[40] The absolute contact here of the two styles, Early English and Decorated, affords the spectator an opportunity of contrasting them, and of judging of the comparative merits of each. By many, the eastern bays are preferred for their chaste and elegant appearance, not being so profusely ornamented as those of the western ones, but, as Mr. Millers observes, "everything seems in its proper place and fitly proportioned: all harmonize, and taken altogether, give a general character of lightness and elegance. This is nowhere more conspicuous than in the roof; the plain ribs of which, diverging from their imposts, instead of crossing each other and spreading into intricate forms, go straight to a longitudinal midline running from west to east, and decorated with coloured figures or flowers where the springers meet it. There is a precise line of separation between this and the more elaborate ceiling of Bishop Hotham's work; being thus brought into contact the two may be compared with singular advantage."[41]

The bases of the piers of the lower arches are octagonal, but the shafts are cylindrical, surrounded by slenderer detached ringed shafts with foliated capitals, all of Purbeck marble. The triforium (except in the first and second bays on both sides,) extends over the aisles, and is lighted by large windows with Decorated tracery in the outer wall; and the arches are separated by a cluster of slender shafts into two smaller ones with trefoil heads; and between the two is a quatrefoil; all highly adorned with mouldings. Between each of these lower arches is an enriched corbel of Purbeck marble, adorned with foliage in high relief, from which rises the vaulting-shaft, in a group of three, between the arches of the triforium to the base of the clerestory, having a capital of leafage, and from the top of which spring the ribs of the vaulting. The spandrils throughout are relieved with trefoils and quatrefoils, deeply sunk and backed with Purbeck marble; and, on the whole, the contrast of light and shade, depth and projection, produces a very fine effect. The clerestory arches are of the same span, but each is divided into three smaller ones, the centre arch being higher than those on either side, in order to admit light through the windows behind, which are three lancet-shaped lights under one arch in the outer wall, and are, we believe, original; these windows have been filled with stained glass, which is another important step towards the general improvement.

The windows of the aisles and triforium were originally three lancet-shaped lights under one arch, but were replaced in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries by larger windows of a flamboyant character. In the first and second bays on both sides the triforium windows are placed in the inner wall, probably to give more light to the high altar, the position of which was indicated by a boss in the ceiling with a figure of St. Peter; and also to give greater effect to the rich and gorgeous shrine of St. Etheldreda, said to have been of pure silver adorned with jewels, which at that period stood near the altar and to her place of sepultre, indicated by a boss in the ceiling with her effigy on it. The tracery in these windows bears a similarity to those in the corresponding arches of Hotham's work, but is not so ornamented. All have been filled with stained glass by Mr. Wailes, the expense defrayed out of the east window fund:

The western window on the north side—The descent of the Holy Ghost, with figures and emblems.

The eastern window—The Ascension, with figures, &c.

The western window on the south side—Incidents from the history of Moses, with figures, &c.

The eastern window—Incidents from the history of Elijah, with devices, &c.

"The east end," says Mr. Millers, "is eminently beautiful, and will not by any means shrink from comparison with the more gorgeous termination of any church built after great end windows came into fashion. There are two tiers of lights; the lower consists of three very high lancet-shaped lights, nearly all equal; the second of five, the middle one being higher, and those on the sides gradually lower."[42] They are enriched by slender columns, with leafy capitals, and ornamented with toothed and other mouldings, presenting altogether more gracefulness and elegance than one large window filling nearly the whole end. In the last century Bishop Mawson had formed a design of filling this window (for it is generally considered as one window of eight lights,) with stained glass, and selected an artist to carry it into effect; the work, however, was not then finished; a figure of St. Peter, and the arms of the bishop and contemporary members of the Chapter, are the only remains of it known to be in existence, and these were lately removed from the centre lancet and placed in the east window of the north triforium of the Nave. The window has at length been completed by the liberality of Bishop Sparke, who gave in his lifetime a large sum for that purpose. The bishop died some few years after making his munificent donation, and his two sons, Rev. J.H. Sparke and Rev. E.B. Sparke, then Canons of the cathedral, as Trustees of the fund, took steps to carry his wishes into effect. Several designs were prepared, and one by Mr. Wailes was selected, but the execution was deferred for some years in order that advantage might be taken of further experience, and thus, if possible, to realize some of those gorgeous effects which have made the thirteenth century windows of Canterbury, Chartres, Bourges, and elsewhere, so justly celebrated.

The eastern lancets were executed by Mr. Wailes in 1857, and the representatives of the donor have good reason to be satisfied with the result. The general effect produced is magnificent;the three lower lancets in particular present that happy combination of sparkling brilliancy with that somewhat mysterious indefiniteness in the distribution of colour which is so well suited to the architectural effect. It is sufficient to compare the present window with others in the Cathedral, not excluding the productions of Mr. Wailes himself, to shew the great advance which the art of glass-painting has recently made, both in the richness of the colours employed and their arrangement—the improvement arising, doubtless, from a more accurate study of the great masters of the middle ages.

The figures and groups in the three noble lancets are executed with great spirit; and although numerous, are arranged, more especially in the central window, in masses which the eye can readily follow, and by occupying so large a portion of the entire surface, leave little room for the monotonous repetitions of foliage or other patterns; the distribution of colour is also thus sufficiently varied without its masses in one part of the window unduly preponderating over those in another, a condition which is never grossly violated without serious injury to just architectural effect.

In the central window of the clerestory range, the spaces between the medallions and the border are filled with a diapered ground, which, though rich in colour, is somewhat formal in effect; whilst the field in the side windows, within the border, is too narrow to allow the figures to be sufficiently separated and relieved from the rest of the ground. It arises, probably, from these or other causes that the general effect which the upper lancets produce, though otherwise good, is by no means so rich and sparkling as that of the lower windows.

The subjects of the three lower lights are illustrative of the history of our blessed Lord; commencing at the bottom of the south lancet—where is represented a figure of Jesse, from whose body issues a genealogical tree—and continuing in ascending order, through a series of nine medallions, following in the same manner through a similar number in the north lancet, and five others in the central lancet; alternately with these five are quatrefoils containing representation of types from the Old Testament of the events of the Passion represented in the other medallions; and in the segmental spaces round these quatrefoils are represented eighteen other incidents of the last days of the Saviour. In the segmental spaces in the south lancet the figures of the kings are disposed in pairs; and in the north lancet these spaces are filled with the figures of Moses, Elias, and the prophets; and at the bottom a kneeling figure of the donor. The five upper windows, two on the north and two on the south, contain figures of the apostles; at the top of the central window our Lord is represented as sitting in glory, beneath which are depicted four incidents which occurred after the Crucifixion.

The floor of the Choir has been re-laid with marble combined with Minton's encaustic tiles, and a large marble slab has been placed over the grave of Bishop Hotham, inlaid with brass and bearing the arms of the see and those of the bishop, surrounded by an inscription. At the foot of this another has been laid over the grave of Prior Crauden, superior of the monastery at the time of the erection of the Octagon; this is the original gravestone of the prior, but it had been removed with several others to another part of the church; the brass insertion has been renewed, shewing a kneeling figure with a large foliated cross issuing from his bosom, with the initials I.C. on either side, and surrounded by an inscription.

In the wide treading of one of the steps at the end of the stalled choir are placed the arms of some of the benefactors to the restoration of the Cathedral;[44] executed by Messrs. Minton. In the Presbytery, where the absence of stall-work allows space for more elaborate design, it will be seen much care and skill has been used, and the effect produced is very good. The communion table is raised five steps above the level of the floor, each step being laid in mosaic and encaustic tiles of beautiful and varied patterns, used in conjunction with veined, and faced with black, marble.

The new reredos or altar screen is remarkable for its chaste but elaborate design and richness of detail, as well as skill in execution; and is not, perhaps, surpassed by any modern work of the kind; our limited space will not allow us to attempt anything like an adequate description of this beautiful work, but we will endeavour briefly to point out the prominent features, and recommend to the visitor a careful examination of its various details.

It comprises a centre with wings, having openings with geometrical tracery and foliated mouldings, surmounted by an elegant cresting. The front of the central portion is of the most beautiful design, executed in alabaster, enriched with colour and gilding, and will doubtless claim the first attention of the visitor. The sides of the space occupied by the altar is covered with diaper work exhibiting a series of roses, apparently connected together by their stems running through the pattern under the bars of the diaper-work; above this, the whole width is divided into five compartments—the centre one being wider than the others—separated by enriched columns, around which are spiral belts with cornelians and blood-stones on a gold ground, and having elegant foliated capitals, copied from natural objects; on these capitals stand a series of angels bearing instruments of the passion—cross, crown of thorns, nails, spear, &c., and each having under his feet a dragon or other reptile, typical of the triumph over Satan by the Sacrifice of the Atonement. The lower part of each compartment is occupied by quatrefoils ornamented with ball-flowers, and filled in with mosaic work of verd antique,rosso anticogialo antico, and lapis lazuli : above these are panels containing alto-relievo sculptures of great excellence, the subjects taken from the life of the Saviour; beginning on the north side, we find Christ's entry into Jerusalem, Christ washing His disciples' feet, the Institution of the Sacrament, Christ's agony in the Garden, and Christ bearing His cross: another series of spiral pillars stand in the front and on the sides of these panels with capitals similar to those already mentioned. These pillars have their spiral course in the opposite direction to the former, which adds to the general beauty of the whole. Above the sculptured panels, each of the four side compartments is surmounted by two small gables with their outer mouldings foliated, crowned with a finial, and finished at the bottom by a grotesque figure of a dragon or other animal; the inner face of each gable contains within a circle a head in bas-relief, those on the north side representing the major prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel; those on the south represent four doctors of the church, Jerome, Ambrose, Augustine, and Gregory; the other portions being filled in with mosaic work. The centre compartment has three projecting canopies, the faces of which are enriched with mosaic, the angles are crocketed, and finished at the bottom with roses and grotesque figures. Above the centre canopy, on a lofty enriched pinnacle, stands a figure of our Lord; on the north side, on a lower pinnacle, stands a figure of Moses; and on the south side a figure of Elias, the three being typical of the Transfiguration.

The upper portion of the white stone screen behind the alabaster work is also divided into five compartments of open work with geometrical tracery; in front rise five gables, the centre being larger and higher than the others. The outer mouldings of the centre gable are enriched with foliated crocketing with which is intermixed the early church symbol—pelican feeding her young—and the apex surmounted by a figure of our Lord enthroned: the inner portion of the gable contains, in a trefoil, a basso-relievo of the Annunciation, in alabaster. The four sidecompartments are also surmounted by gables, on the top of which stand respectively the figures of the four Evangelists, in alabaster, their respective emblems being worked in the crockets; on the inner faces of the gables, within trefoils, are busts in relief, those on the north side represent Mary Magdelene and Mary the mother of James; those on the south, St. John the Baptist and St. John the divine; the remaining space in each gable being filled in with mosaic. Outside and between these gables rise spiral pillars, on the tops of which are placed figures of the virtues, Faith, Hope, and Charity, on the north side; and of the graces, Justice, Prudence, and Fortitude, on the south side, executed in alabaster.

The wings also are of white stone, and not so high as the centre; in each are three openings with geometrical tracery; and below these openings the wall is covered with diaper-work of an elegant pattern.

The portion of this screen, which forms the reredos, is the munificent gift of John Dunn Gardner, Esq., of Chatteris, in this county, and designed as a memorial to his first wife. The work took upwards of five years to execute, and cost about £4000. Some of the more important of the sculptures, mosaics, and other decorations, were suggested by the donor, and the whole was designed by Sir G.G. Scott, and affords a magnificent example of his skill and taste. The stone-work, including the architectural carving, was executed by Mr. Rattee and his successors, at Cambridge; the sculptures by Mr. Philip; the mosaics by Mr. Field; and the gilding and painting by Mr. Hudson.

The Reredos was expressly designed with reference to a painted window placed behind it: it is hardly necessary to say that it is greatly benefitted by the general reduction of the glare of light, which rendered the outlines of much of the statuary and more delicate ornaments undistinguishable at a distance, but still more by the transmission through it of glimpses of themost beautiful colours, which change with every movement, however slight, in the position of the eye, and whose very indistinctness and transitory character contributes not a little to the effect which they tend to produce on the mind.

The altar being raised above the level of the floor shews to advantage the magnificent altar cloth, which is of rich crimson velvet, embroidered with much taste and skill by Miss Agnes and Miss Ellen Blencowe, and is thought to be worthy of the best ages of Mediæval embroidery. "Its length is divided into three parts; the middle containing a very beautiful figure of our Lord as risen, contained within a pointed aureole of a deep blue colour, and bordered by radiating beams. Broad orphreys embroidered in flowers divide the middle compartment from the sides, which are of red velvet powdered with conventional flowers;"[45]the largest were copied from ancient examples at East Langdon, Kent, and the others from Ottery, Somersetshire. The following passage is worked in gold on the super-frontal:—

Agnus Dei

"Agnus Dei qui tollis peccata mundi dona nobis pacem.
Agnus Dei, miserere nobis."[46]

We now direct our attention to the monuments in the Choir, and commence with the first arch on the south side of the Presbytery which is occupied by the once gorgeous monument of Bishop de Luda, or Louth (1290-1298), it consists of a lofty central arch with smaller openings on the sides; above the arches are enriched gables with pinnacles and finials; over the centre arch in a trefoil is a figure of the Saviour; the restoration of the north side of this monument will afford some idea of its original appearance; the effect has been somewhat subdued by the softened light from the east window. The indent in the gravestone under the arch leaves no doubt of its having been once finished with a brass effigy.

The next arch contains the tomb of Bishop Barnet (1366-1373); it is of Purbeck marble, with quatrefoils on the sides, and had originally the effigy of the bishop engraved in brass on the table of the tomb.

Under the third arch is the high monument of John Tiptoft, earl of Worcester, one of the patrons of Caxton, the first English printer; this is in the Perpendicular style, but less beautiful than that of Bishop Redman, on the opposite side: on the table of the tomb are the effigies of the earl and his two wives; the two latter only were buried here, the earl having been beheaded and buried in London in 1470.

The tomb of Bishop Hotham (1316-1337) has been partially restored and placed in the next arch, on the south side of the altar; it formerly stood under a high canopy on the north side, but originally in the first arch of his own work. There was probably a recumbent figure on the top, but it has long since disappeared.

Opposite to this, on the north side of the altar, on a base of Purbeck marble, are placed the interesting remains of the tomb of Bishop Northwold (1229-1254), the munificent founder of the Presbytery, which were originally placed over his grave in the centre of his own work. It is a large slab of Purbeck marble, highly adorned with carving; perhaps one of the finest specimens of its period: the effigy of the prelate is represented as resting beneath a cinquefoil canopy in his robes, bearing his crosier, with a lion and dragon under his feet; beneath this is a representation of the martyrdom of St. Edmund, a prince of East Anglia, by the Danes, commemorative of his having been lord abbot of Bury before he was preferred to the see of Ely; the niches in the sides of the prelate's stall have statuettes—on the left, St. Etheldreda, an abbess crowned, and a nun; on the right, a king, an abbot, and a monk: at the top on each side of the head are angels with censers, and other symbolical figures.

The monument or shrine which was formerly placed over the tomb of Bishop Hotham, has been in part restored, and now occupies the third arch on the north side. This, with the tomb now on the south side of the altar under it, originally stood in the first arch of his own work, near his place of sepultre; it is in the Decorated style, and was richly coloured and gilded. Part of it was cut away in order to make room for the stalls when the choir occupied the six eastern arches, but this has been rebuilt. This is now thought to have been part of the sub-structure of the shrine of St. Etheldreda, as adapted by Alan de Walsingham.

The second arch from the west, is occupied by the tomb of Bishop Kilkenny (1254-1256,) who died at Sugho, in Spain, while on an embassy to the Spanish Court; his body was buried there, his heart being only interred here. The tomb is of Purbeck marble, and is a fine example of the Early English style. The bishop is represented as in the act of benediction, with a pastoral staff, and in full pontificals; his head is shown as resting on a cushion, and is surmounted by a trefoil arch with a crocketed gable, and a censer-bearing angel on each side.

In the next, or more western arch, is the beautiful monument of Bishop Redman (1501-1505). It is a fine specimen of the Perpendicular Style, and is richly ornamented with niches and canopies, and a variety of shields with arms, and emblems of the passion; the effigy of the bishop is recumbent on a high tomb under a rich canopy, with a space left at the foot for a chantry priest. Passing through this space we enter the

North Aisle of the Choir,

and first proceeding towards the western end of it, we notice the new back screens which have been erected to mask the stall work in two of the bays, and against which have been placed the monuments of Bishop Fleetwood (1714-1723), and of his son Dr. Charles Fleetwood (1737); the third bay is occupied by the new and elegant staircase to the organ; it is of open work, richly carved, with foliated mouldings and ornaments.

Opposite to this, in the north wall, is a beautiful door-arch, formerly the means of communication with the Lady Chapel; it has statues in large niches on each side, many smaller niches, crockets, and finials, and over the keystone a sitting figure; the mouldings and ornaments were originally beautified by colours and gilding, but all are injured and defaced, and the figures have disappeared.

A little further eastward is the memorial brass laid over the grave of Mr. Bassevi, the eminent architect of the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge, who was accidentally killed by a fall in the western Tower in 1845.

The monuments of Bishop Redman and Kilkenny, which we noticed in our survey of the Choir, are in their original places; and we now pass in succession those of Bishops Patrick (1691-1707), Mawson (1754-1770), and Laney (1667-1675). In 1770 many monuments were removed from the Presbytery to make room for the Choir, and a few were again removed for the purpose of carrying out the recent arrangements. In the last bay but one (now opening to the Retro-Choir) stood the monument of Bishop Gray (1454-1478), but the gravestone only remains, from which the brass has been removed. The arms of this prelate may be observed in the sides of three of the windows of this aisle, no doubt altered by him to their present form.

The first or western window of the Presbytery has been filled with stained glass executed by M. Lusson, of Paris, illustrative of the history of St. John the Baptist; the gift of the Rev. Chancellor Sparke.

The second window, executed by Messrs. Clayton and Bell, contains subjects illustrative of the miracles; designed as a memorial of the Rev. J.H. Sparke, many years Canon of the Cathedral, and Chancellor of the Diocese.

The third window, by the same artist, also contains subjects illustrative of the miracles; designed as a memorial of Agneta, widow of Chancellor Sparke.

The fourth window, executed by Mr. Hughes, contains subjects from the parables—the wheat and tares, the vineyard, and the lost sheep; and the miraculous draught of fishes, designed as a memorial of Eliza, widow of Canon Fardell.

The fifth window, executed by Mr. Ward, contains in the two western lights subjects from the parable of the ten virgins; and in the others illustrations of the passage in Matt. XXV. 35, 36. "I was an hungered and ye gave me meat," &c.; designed as a memorial of Rev. H. Fardell, Canon of Ely.

At the end of this aisle, occupying the space of one bay, is the Chapel of Bishop Alcock , (1486-1500), who was comptroller of works under Henry VII., and founder of Jesus College, Cambridge. The chapel is in the Perpendicular style, and was built a.d. 1488, as appears from a stone found underground some years ago, and inserted in the wall under the east window, bearing the following inscription, scarcely legible:

Alcock inscription

"Johanes Alkoc epus Eliesis hanc fabrica fieri fecit.

The ornamental portion is curiously executed, but the pinnacles are disproportioned and crowded, presenting a confused and heavy appearance; the vaulted ceiling is rich and elaborate, with a large pendent of curious workmanship in the centre. The principal entrance is on the west, but there is a door on the south side; and the bishop's tomb is on the north side with a window behind containing some fragments of stained glass. It is probable from its appearance that the monument contained two effigies, one representing the bishop in his pontifical robes and another on a higher ledge, which represented a body in a state of decay, as contrasting life and death. A carved oak door at the foot of the monument appears as an entrance to a chantry, or as by some supposed to have been a confessional. The bishop was buried in the centre of the chapel; his favorite device—a rebus of his name—a cock standing on a globe, and his arms may be seen in the window and in several other places. The chapel has been much defaced and many figures and ornaments have disappeared, but something has been done towards restoration at the cost of the Master and Fellows of Jesus College; the new portion of the floor was laid at the cost of the Rev. Lord Aylwyne Compton; and we hope ere long to see the east window filled with stained glass, which will contribute much to its improvement.

The Retro-Choir.

This occupies the space of the two eastern bays of the Cathedral, allowing a passage behind the altar-screen from one aisle to the other, and affords a good position for a closer inspection of the lower portions of the east window, under which are some remains of ancient decoration on the wall.

Nearly under the central window, a memorial brass has been laid over the grave of Canon Fardell, who died in 1854, and of his widow, who died in 1861; to whose memories respectively the two stained glass windows were inserted in the north aisle of the Choir. Near this stands an ancient oaken chest, covered with elaborate and curious ironwork, with four locks.

Behind the new altar-screen, beneath a large and costly slab of Alexandrine mosaic, is the grave of Bishop Allen (1836-1845), to whose memory a monument in white marble has been erected in the south aisle of the Choir. A little further southward is a monument erected over the grave of Dr. Mill, Canon of Ely, and Regius Professor of Hebrew in the University of Cambridge, who died in 1853. It is an altar tomb of serpentine and alabaster, ornamented with marble mosaic and polished stones, bearing a recumbent effigy of Dr. Mill in his robes; at the feet are two kneeling figures, one an oriental character, and the other a student; the figure is in copper and was formed by the electrotype process. It was designed by Sir G.G. Scott, and executed by Mr. Philip.

In the eastern bay on the south side is a monument of Cardinal de Luxemburg, Archbishop of Rouen, and Bishop of Ely (1438-1443). This monument was for many years hidden by a screen, but on the removal of the Choir the screen was taken away and the monument partially restored, the figure remains but the head is gone. The Cardinal-bishop died at Hatfield, and his body was buried at Ely, but his heart was conveyed to his Cathedral at Rouen. The niches and canopies with their finials in the tympanum of the arch above this monument will attract attention, being chaste and elegant; they are similar to those in the interior of Bishop West's chapel, but are in a more perfect state.

South Aisle of the Choir.

The eastern portion of this aisle is occupied by the elegant mortuary Chapel of Bishop West , (1515-1534), filling the space of one bay in a similar way to that of Bishop Alcock in the north aisle. It is a rich specimen of that gorgeous style by some called the "Florid English," by others the "Perpendicular," but when that style was verging into "Renaissance." The niches and canopies are very numerous, and almost endless in variety of size, shape, and decoration. There are places for upwards of two hundred statues, large and small; and some of the carved heads were of medallion size, and well executed. It is impossible to contemplate this beautiful oratory, even in its mutilated state, but with feelings of admiration; the taste of the designer, no less than the execution of the sculptor, are wonderful, and although every part is covered with niches, pedestals, and canopies, interspersed with relievos, grotesque designs and ornaments, the whole appears light and airy. The ceilings of the canopies are covered with tracery that can only be compared to lace-work exquisitely varied and finished; the ceiling and pendents are deserving attention; the former is divided into lozenge shaped compartments of different sizes, all are coloured, and on many of them are painted the arms of the see, and those of the founder of the chapel; the pendents are formed by figures of angels holding the same arms and those of Henry VIII. Over the door on the inside is this inscription:


and the same without the date and the word "id" is to be seen in several other places both within and without. The gates are worthy of notice as originals, and as specimens of wrought-iron work of that period. This chapel, which is the burial place of Bishop West, may be compared with that built by him in the parish church of his birth-place, Putney; but every part of it has suffered the most barbarous mutilation, not a figure can be found perfect, all have been removed or defaced, probably in consequence of an order in council made a.d. 1547-8, against the Romish superstition, and for removing images out of churches; or it might have been done by the Puritans in the time of the Protector (Cromwell), whose soldiers it is stated, made use of the Cathedral as stabling for their horses.

Bishop Keene (1771-1781), was also buried here; and Bishop Sparke (1812-1836) and Mrs. Sparke were interred in this chapel, to whose memories the monument at the east end has been erected, and the stained glass window behind is inserted:

The window was executed by Mr. Evans, of Shrewsbury, and contains figures of the four Evangelists, with St. John the Baptist in the centre; the tracery being filled with appropriate emblems and ornamental devices.

A slab of black marble, inlaid with a foliated cross, the arms of the sees of Chester and Ely, and surrounded by an inscription in brass, has been laid over the grave of Bishop Sparke, and the gravestones of Bishops West and Keene have been replaced, and the remainder of the floor laid with encaustic tiles.

Some fragments of stained glass may be seen in a window on the south side, under which stand the remains of Bishop West's monument. Just above this, in seven small arches, closed with as many stones inscribed with names and dates, are immured the remains of seven eminent persons [47] of the tenth and eleventh centuries, who were originally interred in the Conventual church, but from which they were removed in 1154, and the small chests which contained their remains, were placed in the north wall of the Choir of the present Cathedral; and when the position of the Choir was altered in 1770 they were again removed, and deposited in their present resting places.

The perspective view westward through the south aisles of the Choir and the Nave is worthy of notice for the various intersections of the arches and groinings, as seen from a narrow window in the west side of the chapel, or from the door.

The architecture of the south aisle is similar to the north aisle, and the windows were probably altered to their present form about the same period as those in the north aisle. Five of them (as on the other side) have been filled with stained glass:

The first window from the chapel, executed by Messrs. Clayton and Bell, contains subjects taken from the Parables; designed as a memorial of Astley Sparke, Esq., (son of the Rev. Chancellor Sparke,) who was killed in the celebrated cavalry charge at Balaclava in 1854.

The second window was executed by Mr. Cottingham, and contains subjects from the history of Lazarus; the joint gift of Lady Buxton and of her son, Sir Robert Buxton, Bart., of Shadwell Park, Norfolk.

The third window contains incidents in the history of the Saviour, and of St. John; executed by Messrs. Clayton and Bell: the gift of Mrs. Pratt, youngest daughter of Bishop Sparke.

The fourth window, by the same artists, contains subjects illustrative of the history of St. Peter; the gift of the same lady, as a memorial of her husband, Colonel Pratt.

The fifth window, by the same artists, contains subjects illustrative of the history of our Lord: given by the same lady.

Under the second window from the chapel is an arched recess, which is thought to have formed an entrance to the church for the convenience of the sisters and others attendant on the sick in the Infirmary which stood near, but it has been closed on the exterior for many years. The interior may have been since used as a receptacle for relics; now it is occupied as a receptacle for a beautiful life-size effigy of Dr. Selwyn, for upwards of forty years Canon of Ely, and for many years St Margaret Professor of Divinity at Cambridge;[48] who died in 1875. The figure is represented as vested in cassock, surplice, and stole, with the hands joined as in prayer, in white statuary marble, and resting on a moulded base of Purbeck marble. The cost was defrayed by subscriptions from several noblemen and gentlemen formerly Eton scholars.

Near this we may notice an ancient gravestone, or part of a monument found under the floor of the nave in St. Mary's Church, in 1829. It represents an angel with wings raised above the head, bearing a small naked figure, probably representing the soul of a bishop, as a crozier appears at the side; the angel has on a kind of cope with an ornamental border; and around the head is a large circular aureole, and the canopy shows a mass of buildings with semicircular arches. There is an inscription on the rim, "St. Michael oret p' me." To whose memory it was executed it is impossible to say, but it is doubtless of great interest.

A good view of the organ may be had from this aisle by looking over the tomb in the fourth bay from the chapel.

Several other monuments to former prelates of the church, and to other persons, may be observed in this aisle: one to Bishop Gunning (1675-1684), worthy of remembrance as the author of the "Prayer for all sorts and conditions of men." Near the foot of this monument is a piscina in the wall. A little further we find one to Bishop Heton (1600-1609), occupying the fifth bay, and is perhaps the only instance since the Reformation, of the effigy of a bishop in a cope ornamented with saints; the figures on the left border are those of St. Bartholomew, St. Matthias, St. Andrew, St. Peter, and St. John.

Before passing on to the few remaining monuments we will notice the only two specimens of ancient memorial brasses, of which there were many in the Cathedral, as appears by the numerous incised stones in different parts of the church, many of them were evidently of a rich and elaborate character, but all, with the above exception, have disappeared by the act of the mercenary or the fanatic. The first is a memorial to Bishop Goodrich (1534-1554), a singular instance of a hot reformer commemorated by a brass in which are pourtrayed all the ecclesiastical vestments, he holds his crozier in his left hand, and in his right he carries a Bible from which depends the great seal of England, the bishop having been appointed Lord High Chancellor in 1551; the inscription has been removed. The other is in memory of Humphrey Tyndall, fourth dean of the Cathedral (1591-1614), who is represented in his robes, with a square-cut beard; an inscription is engraved in the border, and the following lines beneath the feet of the effigy:

"The body of the woorthy & Reverende Prelate
Vmphry Tyndall, doctor of divinity, the fovrth Dean
of this Chvrch, and master of Qveenes Colledge in
Cambridge doth here expect the coming of ovr Saviovr.

"In presence, gouerment, good actions and in birth,
Graue, wise, couragious, Noble was this earth,
The poor, the church, the colledge saye here lyes
'A friende, A Deane, A maister, true, good, wise.'"

We have now an opportunity of noticing the piers which separate Bishop Northwold's work from that of Bishop Hotham; "they are," as Mr. Millers observes, "a combination of the two sorts of column severally in use at the respective times at which the two fabrics were erected; the east side has the small shafts distinct from the main column, and the west side is clustered, and where they meet is a niche for a statue."[49] In the niche on this side is a tablet to the memory of the Rev. James Bentham, Canon of Ely, and author of "The History and Antiquities of Ely Cathedral," a work of acknowledged merit, the result of many years' labour and research. He died in 1794, aged 86.

The monument to Robert Steward, Esq., who died a.d. 1570, is next in our route, and beyond that one to Sir Mark Steward, who died a.d. 1603, both examples of no particular style. In the last bay is the monument erected to the memory of Bishop Allen, whose gravestone we noticed in passing the retro-choir; on the table of the monument is a reclining figure of the prelate in his robes, in white marble, considered to be a good likeness.

Back-screens to mask the stalls, similar to those in the north aisle, have been erected on this side, against which have been placed the monuments of Bishop Moore (1707-1714), Bishop Butts (1738-1748), and Bishop Greene (1723-1738). On the pillar between the two last is a tablet to the memory of William Lynne, gentleman, of Bassingbourne, the first husband of Elizabeth, daughter of William Steward, of Ely, and afterwards mother of Oliver Cromwell.

The new screens with gates at the western end of the aisles are worthy of notice as specimens of modern work in wrought iron; they were executed by Mr. Skidmore, of Coventry, from designs by Sir G.G. Scott. That in the south aisle was given by G.A. Lowndes, Esq., of Barrington Hall, Essex; and that in the north aisle by Dean Peacock.

Near the Library door is a simple memorial stone to Dean Peacock, the great promoter of the recent restorations, who died in 1858, and was buried in the Cemetery. Just below this is an elegant memorial brass to the Rev. Solomon Smith, M.A., for over forty years a Minor Canon of the Cathedral, and for many years Incumbent of St. Mary's.

Several other memorial remains may be observed in various parts of the church, but to enumerate them or to point them out would exceed our limits, one we may notice in passing, that of Dean Cæsar (1614-1636), which has been removed from a position it long occupied in the north aisle of the Choir, to the junction of that aisle with the closed end of the eastern aisle of the north Transept, near the new pulpit.

We may also notice a new oaken lectern or reading desk near the pulpit, containing a beautifully carved figure representative of the first beatitude, under a cinquefoil canopy, the gift of the Very Rev. the Dean.

"Of fifty-four bishops of Ely," says Mr. Millers, "thirty-five are known to have been buried in this Cathedral, and two in the Lady Chapel. Of these thirty-seven, there are memorials of twenty; some of them very scanty and much mutilated, and many removed from the spots where the bodies of those whom they commemorate repose. Of the other seventeen, there were no doubt, similar memorials, but they 'are perished as though they had never been.'"[51]Since the above was written two others have been buried in the Cathedral—Bishop Sparke in West's chapel, and Bishop Allen behind the altar screen, as we have noticed; Bishop Turton (1845-1864), was buried at Kensal Green.

The Lady Chapel.

We will now direct the attention of the visitor to this most interesting building, which stands on the north side of the Cathedral, parallel with the Choir, and is approached through a doorway at the north-east corner of the north Transept. This chapel was erected in the early part of the fourteenth century, the first stone being laid on Lady-day, 1321, by Alan de Walsingham, then sub-prior, and the whole was completed a.d. 1349. The works were carried on chiefly under the charge of John de Wisbech, one of the monks, who, it is stated, whilst assisting in digging the foundations, found a brazen pot of old coins buried in the earth, and which proved a great assistance in carrying on the work. This was, perhaps, one of the most beautiful and elaborate specimens of the Decorated style in England; and as Mr. Stewart observes, "must have been a perfect storehouse of statuary and elaborate tabernacle work." Even in its present dilapidated state it will amply repay a careful examination. It was dedicated to St. Mary, and after the Reformation, was (in 1566) assigned by the Dean and Chapter for the use of the inhabitants of the parish of Holy Trinity in lieu of their own church then in ruins, and has since been frequently called "Trinity Church."

This is, perhaps, the widest single-span church in the kingdom, being 46 feet in width; the length is 100 feet, and the height 60 feet to the centre of the ceiling. Its length is divided into five severies, in each of which, on both sides, is a window of great size with four lights and rich tracery, in some of which are fragments of the original stained glass, sufficient to indicatethat they were all, at one period, entirely so filled. The end windows are noble and spacious, the west window having eight lights, and the east window seven, both have transoms, and each with tracery differing from the other, and from the windows in the sides. Both are insertions of a somewhat later date than the building, the east window by Bishop Barnet about 1373, and the other a little later.

The walls everywhere display a rich profusion and variety of ornament, once beautified with colouring and gilding, but some years ago covered with whitewash; a few faint traces of its former splendour may yet be found in various parts of the chapel, enough perhaps to shew that it must have been gorgeous in the extreme.

A low bench table runs along the walls and carries a series of niches with canopies richly decorated, the piers of which rise from the floor, but each is divided into two by a slender pillar rising from the bench table; the arcade on the north side consists of nineteen tabernacles separated by square pilasters of Purbeck marble; there are five sets of three each under the windows, and the remaining four fill up the intermediate spaces between the five groups. The canopy of each of the fifteen tabernacles consists of a head of singular beauty, radiated and inclined forwards, on the apex is, or was, the figure of a saint; above these is a hood-mould crocketed, and terminating with a finial. The other four are wider, and instead of the figure of a saint on the apex each terminates in a group of three elaborately carved brackets or corbels, which support two other ranges of niches in pairs, surmounted by ornamented canopies, and between them runs a roof-shaft, from which spring the ribs of the vaulting, which is similar to that of the stalled Choir. The spandrils of the tabernacle work is filled with diaper work and alto relievos which are supposed to represent some legendary history, most probably that of the virgin.

The south side is similar to the north, except that the range of tabernacles is broken by doorways. The west end contains eight of these tabernacles, and at the east end a larger niche occupied the centre with others on the sides, but these were altered at a later period. The altar is elevated above the level of the floor, and the niches on the side walls are raised in accordance. Large niches are placed on the sides of all the windows, and a pierced parapet standing on an entablature formed of a receding hollow, runs under the side windows only.

The backs of the niches and indeed many parts of the chapel show remains of rich colouring; the ceiling was painted a rich blue studded with silver stars, the bosses at the intersections of the ribs represented flowers, foliage, and grotesque masks, and some of those along the mid-rib represented emblems of the nativity, crucifixion, the virgin, &c.; they had been richly coloured and gilded, but, like other parts of the building, have been defaced and injured; and every person who sees it must feel a deep regret that so beautiful a building should ever reach such a stage of desecration.

A few modern monumental tablets are placed on the walls, but they diminish rather than increase the decoration: some others have been removed to the entrance, and in 1865 the close pews were taken away and replaced by open seats; the organ has been enlarged and its position changed, which does not improve the appearance of the church; some of the windows have been re-glazed and other improvements effected. The present Incumbent is the Rev. E.H. Lowe, M.A.

The position of the Lady Chapel here is rather unusual, it is generally placed at the east end of the Church; but in some few instances that honourable position was appropriated to the shrine of the local saint; here it was occupied by the shrine of St. Etheldreda, whose final resting place was within the apse of the original Choir, before the Presbytery was built.

The Upper parts of the Church

To those who may feel disposed to explore the upper parts of the church, facilities are afforded by a staircase commencing at the south-west Transept leading to the western Tower; and by another leading from the north Transept; but permission must be obtained, for which an application should be made to the Verger in attendance. The ascent, though tedious, is not dangerous, if due caution be used. Many parts will be found worthy of attention; the timber work of the Octagon is a very curious piece of carpentry executed in English oak, and very massive. A fine view of the interior may be had by standing against the upper tier of the windows at the east end, and looking westward; and another from the great Tower, by looking eastward through one of the openings near the clock face in the Nave. An extensive view of the surrounding country may be obtained from the summit of the Tower, exhibiting a complete panorama of the district, with several churches peeping from among the trees, and the river Ouse tracing its meandering course towards the sea, while corn-fields, meadows, and pastures contribute towards the beauty of the scene.

Exterior of the Cathedral

After a careful examination of the interior, the visitor will do well to look round the exterior. We will continue our observations for his guidance and assistance, starting from the western front where we began; or by leaving the Cathedral by the north door into the church-yard, we turn to the left hand towards the north-west corner of the building, and proceed eastward.

While we are on the spot it may be well to observe the burial-ground near us, where lie the remains of generation after generation of former inhabitants of the town. Reader, let thy foot tread lightly hereabout, for the dust it presses on is all that remains of the earthly portion of creatures once breathing and living like yourself. What a lesson is afforded us when we contemplate, on the one hand the works of men of ages long past, but still standing as monuments of their skill and piety, and on the other the graves of the silent dead; the heads which planned and the hands which executed, where are they? Long since consigned to earth. All must feel, more or less, the influence of impressions to which such thoughts and scenes give rise, and may such feelings cause us to remember that we are but dust, and that we must, perhaps soon, become as those who lie beneath our feet!

"Our time is fixed, and all our days are numbered,
How long, how short, we know not."—Blair.

The church-yard has been closed from burials for some years, and a cemetery has been formed a short distance from the town for the use of both parishes, as well as for the precincts which are extra-parochial. Many of the gravestones have been laid down, others removed, but a few inscriptions might be found which would afford food for meditation to those who may feel inclined to examine them.

At the commencement of our survey we examined the western front, and will now turn our attention to the remains of the north-west Transept. Some persons have doubted whether this wing ever existed, but Sir. G.G. Scott, in his able Lecture on the Cathedral, delivered at the Etheldreda Festival in October, 1873, gave good reasons for believing that it was built at the same time as the Tower and the south wing; and we cannot but think the ruins give strong evidence of its having been similar in all respects to that on the south side. There is in this, as in the other, a grand semicircular arch on the eastern side, and portions of another which probably communicated with some chapel, of which however there are neither remains nor record. It would appear that after the fall of the original wing a new building was begun on the same spot, not however of the same dimensions, and carried but a few feet and then discontinued. A band of panelling in the western face of the buttress corresponds with the work on the monument of Bishop Redman, who died in 1505, but the fall of the Transept took place some years, probably a century, before that. The arches built within the original arches of the Tower to afford additional support are believed to have been erected in the early part of the fifteenth century.

We have reasons to hope that steps will ere long be taken to raise a fund towards rebuilding this Transept;[52] which would indeed be a grand improvement, and worthy the support, not only of the Diocese of Ely but of the nation at large.

A good view of the Nave may be obtained as it is unobstructed through its whole length. A band of treble billet moulding runs under the lower windows; a double hatched moulding under the second tier; and immediately below the parapet is the ornament called the corbel table; these with the billet moulding round the clerestory windows, are in excellent preservation. The parapet on the wall of the aisle is embattled, that above the clerestory windows is plain. Although at one time battlements ran the whole length on both sides, those on the north were removed nearly one hundred years ago. The windows in the clerestory retain their original form, but those of the two lower tiers have been altered. Over one of the lower windows there appears a date (1662), probably referring to the period of some important repairs or alterations on this side. The removal of the ruins of the old Church of St. Cross, which stood near this spot, took place in the reign of Elizabeth, when the use of the Lady Chapel was granted to the parish of Holy Trinity.

We next turn our attention to the Octagon, which forms a grand central point from which radiate the four principal parts of the church—the Nave, the Choir, and the north and south arms of the Transept. Here originally stood a large square Norman Tower, which fell down in 1322, and was replaced by the present building; it is not an exact octagon, having four longer sides adjoining the four main portions of the building, and four shorter sides at the angles. The design was a grand one, but whether it was ever fully carried out is somewhat doubtful, the stone-work is carried up to a height a little above the roof of the Nave, &c., but the Lantern above is of English oak covered with lead. From a strong buttress, surmounted by a pinnacle, at each of the angles formed by the walls of the Nave and Choir aisles with those of the Transept spring two massive flying buttresses, abutting octagonal turrets at each angle of the Octagon; these turrets were probably originally designed to be finished with pinnacles, and thus form a corona; between them runs a pierced parapet formerly surmounted by a bold cresting of leaves and other ornaments; and there are bases of pillars at the cardinal points. These pinnacles with the cresting have just been completed in Clipsham stone, by Mr. Wood, of Ely, in a manner highly creditable to his skill, and greatly to the improvement of the appearance of the building. Beneath the parapet, instead of a corbel table, there is a deep hollow, with running leaves, and small ball flowers at intervals. The sides of the Octagon are adorned with an arcade of pointed arches, some of which are pierced and glazed to admit light; the longer sides have six, and the shorter three, of these arches. In each of the turrets is a winding stair communicating respectively with the main parts of the building. The Lantern above is of two stories, the lower, (which is open to the interior of the Octagon) is lighted by windows assimilating with the large windows in the angles of the Octagon; the upper story is lighted by louvres as adapted to a belfry, for which purpose this chamber was originally designed; the lower windows have been reconstructed, a series of flying buttresses (which had been taken away) have been re-placed against the angle divisions, which are finished with embattled turrets instead of pinnacles, and between them runs an open-work parapet. The whole of the Lantern has been repaired, and the exterior wood work re-covered with lead.

The portion of the north Transept which fell down in 1699, although soon afterwards carefully restored, and the mouldings and ornaments nicely replaced, may yet be distinguished from the old work: the Tuscan door-arch, however, in its northern face, is quite out of place here, not according with the style of the building in which it is placed. The restorations were executed under the directions of Sir Christopher Wren. The northern face of the Transept shows two pairs of Norman windows, the second pair being longer than those in the lower tier; above these is an arcade of small arches, and over these are two high Perpendicular windows, which reach partly into the gable. Over the doorway in the eastern aisle is an original Norman window, and in the western aisle is a replaced one.

The west front of the Lady Chapel [53] is richly decorated with niches, and has a noble window, under which is an arcade of small arches formed entirely in the thickness of the wall, in the back of some of which may be seen traces of coloured decoration; the gable point is adorned with a niche rising above the pierced parapet running up the sides. On each side of the building are five large windows, the tracery of which is much decayed, having been executed in a softer kind of stone than the walls. Between each two windows is a deep projecting buttress surmounted by a crocketed pinnacle; at the angles are double buttresses, on which are two kinds of tabernacles, both are square and occupy the breadth of the buttress, the upper one is recessed in the body of the buttress, the lower one is open on three sides, and had small pillars at the front angles rising from the set-off and carrying the projecting canopy; the tops being finished with crocketed pinnacles. The east end is not so richly ornamented as the west; the window is a very fine one but not so large as the western one, and there are no niches on the sides nor beneath it.

The north side of the Choir is somewhat hidden by the Lady Chapel, which stands parallel to it, although the latter is much shorter; but a better view may be had by going between them. An opportunity is also thus afforded of observing the original Norman windows of the triforium of the Transept.

The windows of the aisle are uniform in size and shape, those of the triforium are nearly similar, but all were originally lancet-shaped, but altered to their present form in the latter part of the fifteenth century. The aisle roof of the two western bays of Bishop Northwold's work (the six eastern bays) was perhaps originally as high as the other parts, but altered at a later period; the tracery of these windows on the north side remains, but on the south side there is a difference which should be noticed. The lighter style of architecture and the large windows of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries made the support of buttresses necessary, in this instance they are deep, and surmounted by crocketed pinnacles; on the sides of many of them are gargoyles, or water-spouts of grotesque figures; flying buttresses are sometimes used in addition, reaching from the side buttresses to the clerestory walls, thus forming an important addition to the support as well as to the external beauty of the fabric: of this the exterior of the Choir of Ely Cathedral is a splendid proof.

The east end of the Cathedral is one of the finest specimens extant of an Early English east front. It is divided into three stories; the lowest has three lancet windows of nearly equalheight; the next tier has five windows of the same shape, side by side, the centre one being higher and those on the sides gradually lower; the third story, which is within the gable, contains three lancet windows, not seen in the Choir, but giving light to the space between the ceiling and the roof. There are several niches for statues, but no figures; and the spandrils of the window arches are relieved by quatrefoils and other ornaments. The gable point is adorned with an ornamented cross, which has been restored at the expense of Lady Mildred Hope; and a crocketed pinnacle at the south-east corner has been given by A.J.B. Beresford Hope, Esq. Rather more than a century ago this end was about two feet out of the perpendicular, but was skilfully restored by Mr. Essex, the architect.

The eastern faces of the aisles appear as wings to the end of the Choir, and are flanked with double buttresses at the angles, upon which are set larger pinnacles crocketed. The windows lighting the two chapels at the end of the aisles were probably inserted when the chapels were erected; that in the north aisle is set in the wall, while that in the south aisle projects beyond the wall nearly to the depth of the buttress.

The south side of the Choir is similar to the north, with the exception before mentioned—the two western bays of Bishop Northwold's work, in each of which the opening in the triforium is formed into two arches of a style differing from the adjoining portion of the building, but which have the appearance of originality. The walls of the triforium, both in the Choir and Nave were not originally so high as we now see them, but no doubt were heightened when the larger windows were inserted.

The south end of the Transept differs from the north in the arrangement of the windows; in the gable is a low Perpendicular window of seven lights, sunk within a deep recess; the north end has in the upper tier two large Perpendicular windows side by side. There is also a difference in the gable and pinnacles. Some corbels in the lower part of the wall would indicate the former existence of an adjoining structure but what it was we cannot undertake to say.

Considerable anxiety has been felt as to the stability of some portions of the south side, and it has been found necessary to underpin some of the buttresses of the Choir and the walls of the Transept with large slabs of Yorkshire stone. It has also been deemed desirable to circumscribe the two round towers of the south west Transept with iron bands.

The south entrance to the Cathedral is through a portion of the eastern side of the Cloisters. The arch of entrance however, does not harmonise with the other portions of the Transept, and was doubtless an insertion, probably at the same time as a similar one in the north Transept, and by the same architect. It passes through a beautiful Norman door-arch in the south wall of the Nave, as described in. Near this are the remains of an enriched arch, recently discovered when the wall was repaired; if it is in its original position it must have formed a communication from the Cloisters to that portion of the western aisle of the south Transept which now forms the Vergers' vestry.

The south side of the Nave is nearly similar to the north, but there is no corbel table under the embattled parapet of the aisle: the aisle windows have, with one exception, been restored to their original form; those in the second tier retain their altered shape; but those of the clerestory, as on the north side, are original.

The apsidal Chapel of St. Catharine , adjoining the south-west Transept, has been rebuilt in accordance with the original structure.

Dimensions of the Cathedral


The Galilee, or Western Portico 42 0
The Tower 40 4
The Nave 208 0
Crossing the Octagon 71 5
The Choir 123 0
Retro-choir 35 10
The whole length, from west to east 520 7
The length of Transept from north to south (including the Octagon)178 6
Breadth of the Nave with the Aisles 77 3
Breadth of the Transept with the Aisles 73 0
Breadth of the Choir with the Aisles 77 3
Height of the walls of the Nave 72 9
Height of the ceiling from the floor, at the east end of the Nave 86 2
Height of the Pillars which support the Dome and Lantern 62 0
Perpendicular height of the Dome, springing from the capitals of the pillars, to the aperture of the Lantern 32 0
Height of the Lantern itself, from its aperture on the Dome to its vaulted roof 48 0
The whole height from the floor to the centre of the Lantern 142 0
Height of the vaulted roof of the Choir 70 0
Clear diameter of the Octagon, from one pillar to the opposite 65 4
Clear diameter of the Lantern, within 30 0
Length of the Lady Chapel (now Trinity Church)100 0
Breadth of the same 46 0
Height to its vaulted roof 60 0


The whole length, from west to east 537 0
The length of the great Cross, or Transept, from north to south 190 0
Height of the four stone turrets of the western Tower 215 0
Height of the two Towers of the south-west Transept 120 0
Height of the roof over the Nave 104 0
Height of the Lantern over the Dome 170 7
Height of the eastern front, to the top of the Cross 112 0

Having finished our survey of this noble edifice, we will proceed to make a few observations on the remains of the monastery, which will form the subject of a separate chapter. In order to bring them all conveniently before the visitor we will retrace our steps for a short distance round the east end of the Cathedral, and commence with the buildings on the north side of the Lady Chapel.

[22]Hewitt's description of Ely Cathedral, p. 13.

[23]The name "Galilee" is thus accounted for by the late Rev. G. Millers in his "Description of Ely Cathedral," p. 43. "As Galilee, bordering on the Gentiles, was the most remote part of the Holy Land from the Holy City of Jerusalem, so was this part of the building most distant from the sanctuary, occupied by those unhappy persons, who, during their exclusion from the mysteries, were reputed scarcely, if at all better than heathens."

Another writer gives as a reason for the name, that upon a woman applying for leave to see a monk, her relation, she was answered in the words of Scripture, "Behold he goeth before you into Galilee, there you shall see him."

[24]Stewart, p. 53.

[25]Mr. Scott's Lecture.

[26]Parker's "Introduction to the study of Gothic Architecture," p. 91.

[27]At the time these works were in progress (Oct., 1845), Mr. Bassevi, the eminent architect of the Fitzwilliam Museum, at Cambridge, visited the Tower, and unfortunately fell from one floor to another, and was killed. He was buried in the north aisle of the Choir, and an elegant monumental brass, by Messrs. Waller has been laid over his remains.

[28]A font, the gift of Dean Spencer, in 1693, formerly stood under the third arch on the south side of the Nave, but having no accordance in style with the architecture of the building, it has been removed, and placed in a newly erected church at Prickwillow, near Ely.

[29]Bishop Turton by his will left the sum of £500 towards this object, and Bishop Harold Browne gave a like sum towards the completion of the paving of the Nave and aisles.

[30]A portion of the expense of this work was defrayed by a bequest by the Rev. G. Millers, a Minor Canon, augmented by the liberality of his Executors to £400.

[32]A new door, with scrollwork in iron, has been put in at the cost of the Bedfordshire Archæological Society.

[33]Bentham's History, i. 45, &c.

[34]He was made Sub-Prior, then Prior, and elected Bishop, a.d. 1344, but the election was not confirmed.

[35]These were contributed by the Bishop of Carlisle (5), Dr. Kennedy, Sir G.G. Scott, Captain Horton, Canon Underwood, and others.

[36]Bishop Sparke gave £1500 stock in the Reduced Three per cents. about 1833, but the east window was not completed until 1857; the amount had in the mean time accumulated considerably, and proved sufficient to defray the cost of the east window, of six windows in the clerestory of the Choir, of the four windows of the triforium of the Presbytery, and half the cost of the north-west window of the Octagon.

[37]This great work is designed as a memorial of Dean Peacock, and a more fitting one could scarcely be found, as it is one of the great works he had in contemplation. "The Dean and Chapter felt that they could not propose any record of the zealous exertions of the late Dean, so appropriate as the restoration of the central portion of the Cathedral Church; which, after the great improvements executed under his superintendence in the eastern and western portions of the fabric, would form as it were a keystone of the whole work." Subscriptions amounting to about £10,000, were given by many noblemen as well as other friends of Dean Peacock; the capitular body contributing very largely towards the work.

[38]Previous to the last removal, the custom was that only one sermon was preached in the morning to the congregations severally from the Choir, St. Mary's Church, and Holy Trinity Church, who assembled together, and occupied generally seats provided by themselves, in the Octagon and the two bays east of it, the third being taken up by the screen dividing it from the Choir with the organ loft over. The sermons were usually preached by the Canon in residence at the time.


[41]Millers' Description of Ely Cathedral, p. 74.

[42]Millers' Description of Ely Cathedral, p. 76.

[44]In the centre are the arms of the Duke of Bedford; on the south side those of Alexander Beresford Hope, Esq., and the Rev. T. Halford; on the north those of J. Dunn Gardner, Esq., and J.C. Sharpe, Esq.


[46]"O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, grant us Thy peace. Lamb of God, have mercy upon us."

[47]Wolstan, Archbishop of York; Osmund, a Swedish bishop; Ednoth, Bishop of Dorchester (Lincoln); Alfwyn, Elfgar, and Athelstan, severally Bishops of Elmham; and Brithnoth, Duke of Northumberland. An interesting account of the removal of these remains may be found in the Addenda to Bentham's History, vol. ii. p. 23, &c.

[48]The Professor left the sum of £10,000 towards the erection of Divinity Schools in connection with the University of Cambridge, which have just been completed.

[49]Millers' Description of Ely Cathedral, p. 89.

[51]Millers' Description of Ely Cathedral, p. 85.

[52]At the meeting of the Diocesan Conference at Ely, in July, 1874, the subject of the Restorations of the Cathedral was discussed, and the following Resolution passed unanimously.—"That it is desirable that a Diocesan Committee of Clergy and Laity, with Branch Committees in each Archdeaconry, be formed to co-operate with the Bishop, Dean, and Chapter, for raising funds to carry on the Restoration of the Cathedral by rebuilding in the first instance, after the completion of the works now in hand, the north-west Transept."—Ely Conference Report, 1874.

[53]Now in course of restoration.