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.

Dimensions: General

FeetInches
Total Length5170
Length from tower arch to east window4450
Length of nave2300
Height of nave860
Width of nave780
Transept1800
Diameter of octogon740
Height of western tower2150
Area46000 sq.feet
Source: Medieval Monasteries and Minsters:Roberts;
YearMonthEvent
1083   Ely Cathedral building begins
 Work began on Ely Cathedral 
1106 Oct 17  St. Etheldreda's Day
 In 1106 or 1107 at Ely Cathedral the remains of saint Etheldreda were moved into the newly built presbytery. This was done on the saint's day, October 17th.[1] 
1109   Church at Ely becomes seat of bishop
 The church at Ely became a Cathedral when it became the seat of the bishopric (or Diocese) of the area. 
1252   Shrine to St. Ethelreda installed at Ely
 A shrine to St. Ethelreda was installed in the retrochoir of the cathedral. The ceremony was attended by Henry III and many other dignitaries. 
1321   Lady Chapel construction at Ely
 The construction of the Lady Chapel (also known as the Trinity Chapel) was started in 1321 at Ely Cathedral. Shortly after work began the central tower fell down damaging the choir area.[1] 
1322   Collapse of central tower at Ely Cathedral
 The collapse of the central crossing tower of Ely Cathedral allowed the construction of the unique Octagon that took its place. 
1334   Construction of the Ely Lantern
 The octagonal vault and the lantern above if were designed and built by the master mason William Hurley at Ely Cathedral.[2] 

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