OK, so we had the opportunity to go to the town of Ely (not Nevada). As we got closer I could see the Ely cathedral. It was pretty big. Well, John Litecky was driving and as we got inot town, we were very close to all the buildings so I lost sight of the cathedral.
We parked in the "car park" and started to walk through the town.
As we turned a corner, my hand immediately covered my open mouth (it was jaw dropping). I stopped in my tracks. What I had thought from a distance as a pretty big building was the biggest church I have ever seen!
The Ely Cathedral. At 537 feet, Ely is the fourth longest of the English cathedrals (Winchester is the longest at 547 feet). The west tower, which can be seen from miles around, is 215 feet high. There has been a church in Ely since AD 673. The original church was destroyed by the Danes and the Ely cathedral was built by the Normans between 1081 and 1189.
It was amazing. As we walked in the doors, it was one long open building, floor to ceiling.
This is a picture of the octagon. On February 22nd, 1322 the central tower collapsed. It's width of 74 feet was too big to support a stone vault and so it was built of wood and covered in lead. The octagon's internal height is 142 feet and it's total weight is 400 tons. It took 18 years to build! It reminded me of a kaleidoscope, and as most of you know, I love kaleidoscopes. It was beautiful.
I didn't want to use my camera flash inside so I had a hard time getting some pictures. So, I hope you enjoy the few that I did get.
The 13th and 14th centuries saw the rise of the cult of the virgin Mary. And chapels in her honor were added to many churches and cathedrals, including Ely. We entered what was called "The Lady Chapel". It was completed in 1349. At one time it was colored and had stained glass and painted statues in the niches. It was all destroyed, as you can see in the pictures below, in the 16th century during the reformation. The Puritans rejected all forms of religious decoration.
If you look closely you can see the damage. Figures have been defaced and there are now empty pedestals where the statues stood. As I thought about these broken stones, I was actually quite sad. I thought about our 11th article of faith; "We claim the privilege of worshipping all mighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may." So, the history of this beautiful building has been destroyed because the Puritans had no tolerance for others' beliefs.
Can I tell you how awesome it was to see this building and everything in it and around it and know that it was older than our own country?
The north and south choir aisles are full of memorials. We found some interesting names, stories, and very old dates.
This guy's obituary that was carved into the sarcophogas said he was from the family "Stewart" and had some wonderful adventures and stuff he'd been involved in. In all actuality it was all lies. Apparently his real name was "Stywart", meaning "one who works with pigs", and his obituary was his way of trying to make his life seem much more impressive.
We had a great time in Ely. The next post will be about our visit to Cambridge.