ly Cathedral's site dates back to at least AD 673, when a monastery for both monks and nuns was founded by St. Etheldreda. Etheldreda died on 23 June 679 and on 17 October 695 her body was moved from the monastery into the Saxon church. On the same date in 1107 and again in 1253, her body was moved into improved locations. The dates of 23 June and 17 October are now important festival dates in the Cathedral's calendar. The area of the fens on which the Cathedral stands would have been more water logged leaving the Cathedral sitting on an island. The Danes attacked the monastery in 869 and left the buildings totally destroyed. In the reign of Edgar and under the direction of Dunstan, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Ethelwold, Bishop of Winchester a monastery at Ely was reinstated. The first Norman abbot, Simeon started rebuilding work on parts of the existing building around 1083, a couple of years after he was appointed. Ely was then given the status of a bishopric in 1109. The west front of the Cathedral is odd because the northern side of it collapsed in the fifteenth century leaving the remainder lopsided. When the central tower collapsed in 1322 a new design was incorporated resulting in the unique octagonal central tower and lantern.
The octagonal vault and the lantern above if were designed and built by the master mason William Hurley at Ely Cathedral. ¹
3D Virtual Reconstructions
Transport yourself back up to a thousand years and explore historical buildings as they may have appeared in the past. Built using the popular game development tool Unity 3D, these reconstructions will run in the most of the popular web browsers on your desktop or laptop computer.
Uncover the lives of the hundreds of kings, queens, lords, ladies, barons, earls, archbishops and rebels who made the medieval people an exciting period of history to live through.
Selection of references used:
1. T. Francis Bumpus, The Cathedrals of England and Wales, 1934
2. John H Harvey, Henry Yevele, LIfe of an English Architect