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■rc ^ 





* PRO PATRIA ! * (Engush and American 
Sermons.) 35. 6^ 



PRAYER.) (Oxford University Ser- 
mons. 25. 6d. 


VERBA CHRISTI. The Sayings of Jesus. 
(Greek and English.) 15. 6d. net 

B1BI.E.) IS. net. 

new.) 35. 6d. net. 




€lp Catbcaral 






" Ely the Stately 
Shining a land mark 
O'er the broad water, 
Gold-bright in sunrise, 
Gold-red in sunset, 
Grey in the waning, 
Kissed by the moonbeams 
Glimmering through mist cloud 
Mag^c and matchless." 

BryhtnoWs Prayer. 







*' An. DC.LXXIII. Her Ecgbryht Cantwara cyiiing forthfenle. 
Thy geare waes senoth aet Heoroforda. See ^tbeldryht ongon 
thaet Mynster aet Elige." 

A.D. 673. In this year Egbert, king of the Kentish People 
died : and in the same year there was a Synod at Hertford : and 
Saint ^theldryht began the Minster at Ely. 

The English Chronicle. 






IN THE YEAR 1852, 







** Etheldrede of Ely gode inayde was & hende, 
Her father was king of Ingelond, of all the east ende . . . 
Of her me niaketh in holy church great feast I say & wis 
Now God for the love of her bring us to Heven blis." 

M.S. Bodl : 77. fF. 279. 



Historical Sketch of Cathedral Church — Summary of Events- 
Architectural Guide— Original Authorities and Books about Ely— 
The Episcopal See — The Dean and Chapter— Page i. 


The West Front— The Galilee or Western Porch— The Parvise 
Chamber over Galilee Porch— Origin of term Galilee— Interior of 
West Tower— The South-West or Galilee Transept— S. Catharine's 
Chapel — The Nave painted roof— Nave Aisles — The Prior's Door— 
S. Ovin's Cross— The Monk's Door — Abbot Simeon's Door— Clois- 
ter Armarium — Aisle Windows — North Aisle — The Central Tran- 
sept—North Transept— S. Edmund's Chapel— South Transept- 
Page 53. 


The Octagon — The Sculptures in the Octagon — Tomb of Alan 
de Walsingham — The Octagon Vault — The Bell Chamber above 
the Dome— The Pulpit— Page 98. 

The Choir— Choir Screen— Clerestory Windows— Choir Stalls— 
The Miserere Seats— L,ist of the Carvings — The Organ— Page 121. 


The Presbytery— The East Window— Choir Pavement— The 
Reredos — The Monuments — William de Luda— John Bamett — 
The Earl of Worcester— John Hotham — Hugh de Northwold — 
William of Kilkenny — Richard Redman — North Aisle of Choir — 
William Fleetwood — Simon Patrick — Matthias Mawson — Benjamin 
Laney— William Grey— Chapel of Bishop Alcock— The Retro- 
Choir— Cardinal de Luxemburg— Nicholas West— South Aisle of 
Choir — Peter Gunning -Martin Heton — Thomas Goodrich — 
Humphrey Tyndall — Dean Steward — Page 140. 

The Lady Chapel— The Sculptures— Catalogue of the Sub- 
jects — Page 192. 

The Exterior of the Octagon — North West Transept — Lady 
Chapel — Choir and Presbytery — The Eastern Facade — South Tran- 
sept — Dimensions of Cathedral — Page 207. 


The Monastic Buildings — Ely Porta — King's School — Western 
Side of Monastery— Prior Crauden's Chapel — Prior's Lodge— Fish 
Ponds — Prior's Kitchen — Deanery — Norman Monks' Kitchen — 
The Refectory— The Cloisters— The Slype— The Chapter House— 
The Infirmary— The Painted Chamber — Lecturer's House — Monk's 
Burial Ground — Infirmary Chapel— Dark Cloister— Dormitory — 
Cellarer's House— The Black Hostel— Sent Hall— Sextry— Almon- 
ry— Muniment Room -The Park— Cherry Hill— The Bishop's 
Palace— Page 218. 


The Cathedral Organ, by Canon Dickson, Late Precentor 

Page 255. 


Kly Minster from the River— a Sepia Sketch by Richard H. 

Wright— Frontispiece 

Iviber Eliensis 32 

Seal of Bishop Northwold, a.d. 1229 36, 

Seal of Bishop Eustace, a.d. 1198 43 

Seal of the Prior and Convent ' 44, 

Seal of Alan de Walsingham 48. 

The West Front 53. 

Arcading in S. W. Transept (Photo, by E. A. Stubbs) 56. 

Norman Arch in West Transept 69 

Altar in S. Catharine's Chapel 72. 

The Nave looking East 74, 

Ovin's Cross 83 

Norman Window in S. Transept (Photo, by E. A. Stubbs) . . 85 

Altar in S. Edmund's Chapel 93 

Across the Octagon 99, 

The Framework of the Lantern 104. 

Octagon Sculptures 109 

Exterior of Lantern 114, 

Central Boss in Lantern '. 115 

Choir Looking West 120, 

The Ely Imps 125 

The Dean's Stall 127, 

Miserere — Noah's Ark 130. 

„ — S. Giles 134 

North side of Presbytery with organ .... 139, 

The Choir Looking East 141 

An Early English Corbel 145 

Clerestory Arcade Early English 146 

High Altar and Reredos 153, 

The Tomb of Bishop de Luda 161 

„ ,, ,, „ Hugh de Northwold 166 

„ „ „ ,, Richard Redman 168, 

Bishop Alcock's Chapel ; . 177. 

„ West's Chapel 181. 

The Lady Chapel, Exterior 193. 

Sculpture — Shepherds of Joachim 

(Photo, by Rev. H. R. Campion) 200. 

The Cathedral from the South 206. 

The Prior's Undercroft (Photo, by Rev. H. R. Campion) 219. 

Prior Crauden's Chapel 231. 


Cathedral Choir with Monuments 267. 

Cathedral and Monastery Buildings 267. 

All the Photographic illustrations in this book, except those which 
are specially designated above, have been prepared for this Edition 
by G. H. Tyndall, Ely. He has also exepcised a very carejul super- 
vision of the printing of the text. 



In preparing a Revision of these pages for a twenty 
first Edition I have again taken the opportunity of 
making many additions and rewriting many pages. The 
description of the quaint carvings of the Misei'ere seats of 
the Choir stalls is entirely new. I am indebted to a 
paper contributed to the Archaeological Journal (1897) 
by the late Canon Stewart for much additional matter in 
the Chapter on the Conventual Buildings. Among the 
very considerable number of new illustrations I may 
perhaps call attention to the interesting Photographs, 
made by Mr, Tyndall, of the Liber Eliensis, the Chapter 
Seals, the Miserere Stalls, and the model of the timber 
work of the Octagon Lantern, showing the constructive 
principles of Alan de Walsingham*s Gothic Dome The 
final revision of literary form, which is desirable but 
would have made this Handbook unrecognisable as 
the child of its first Editor, I hesitated to make during 
the life time of Mr. Hills. He died as the later sheets 
were going through the press. It is a sad pleasure to 
dedicate this Edition to his memory as to that of an hon- 
ourable tradesman and worthy citizen of Ely. 

Deanery, Ely. 
July, 1904. 


This twentieth Edition of the Handbook to Ely Cathe- 
dral I have throughout carefully revised, and in many 
sections re-written. The Introductory Chapter, in which 
a general sketch has been given of S. Awdrey*s great 
Foundation, is entirely new. In the fifty years, which 
have passed since the first Edition of this book was 
compiled by Mr. Hills, many and great changes have 
taken place in the building. The restoration work 
under Deans Peacock, Harvey Goodwin, and Merivale, 
entailing an expenditure on the fabric of more than j 
;^70,ooo, has brought back to the great Church much of 
its ancient charm and majesty. In the present Edition I 
I have endeavoured to do as full justice as was possible 
in a limited'space lo both the historic and architectural 
features of the Cathedral. For those students who 
desire a closer and more detailed knowledge of the facts 
of Ely history I have appended a list of books,— ancient 
authorities, local histories, architectural notices, — which > 
I trust may be found useful. For architectural students 
the plan of the Church and the Conventual Buildings, 
and the accompanying tabulated guide will simplif}^ I 
hope, their task of following the various changes of 
style from period to period, and at the same time of 
tracing the continuity of artistic aim through all the 
gradual developments of Romanesque and Gothic archi- 
tecture of which Ely furnishes so complete an epitome. 
My special thanks are due to the Rev. Canon Stewart, 
who kindly permitted me to use the MS. of the revised 
edition of his ** Architectural History of Ely," to the 
Rev. H. R. Campion, m.a.. Minor Canon of Ely, for per- 
mission to reproduce his beautiful Photographs of the 
Prior's Doorway, the Lady Chapel and the Octagon 
Sculptures, and to Mr. Roberts, of Newmarket, for his 

very careful and accurate Plans of the Cathedral Church 
and the Conventual Buildings. 

For the rest I am sure I can safely leave the building 
itself— with all the splendid traditions of national piety 
and worship, of valour and freedom and progress, — of 
which to the memories of Englishmen a great Cathedral 
Church must surely always remain the most vivid 
historic witness — to light up this dry record of facts 
with its own special glamour and poetry. 

Charles W. Stubbs. 

Deanery, Ely, 
Easter, 1898. 




" Bissexcenteni sunt, nee plus uec minus, anni 
Dulcis Etheldred^ postquam Elia condita sancta." 

Dean Merivale in 1873. 

np'^EW institutions, few nations even, have lasted twelve 
hundred years. But that is the tale of years in the 
history of Ely Minster — twelve centuries, and more ! 
For the first Christian settlement of the Isle of Ely 
dates back to the seventh century, to that great national 
seething time when the many and various elements 
which were afterwards destined to make the mighty 
England of the generations yet to be, w^re still strug- 
gling one with another. It is difficult to put into a few 
words the story of the gradual evolution of national unity 
and ordef out of social and political chaos But one 
thing is quite plain. The great unifier of the English 
Nation was the English Church. And nowhere perhaps 
can we so well see how the nation in those early days of 
war and wasting grew on and grew up into unity than 
in that side light which is thrown upon the national 
history by the monastic records, by the hagiography of 
founders, by the convent cartularies, of such a Founda- 
tion as that of Ely. For the unity of the Church in 
England was in those early days the only working unity, 
the pattern upon which the unity of the State was after- 
wards to be modelled. 


When Etheldreda, Princess of East Anglia, wife 
of the King of the Northumbrian Supremacy, forsook 
her queendom and first founded the Abbey of Ely, 
there was no one English kingdom and no one 
English nation. Three centuries had to go by before 
all England was organised under one king, the Danish 
Sweyn, in a.d. 994. But there was already the unity 
of the One Church, for that had been practically 
settled when Theodore of Canterbury, Wilfrid of York, 
Bisi of East Anglia, Putta of Rochester, lycutherius 
of the West Saxons, and Winifred of Mercia, set their 
hands to the confirmation of the Canons of the 
Council of Hertford in a.d. 673. This Council, indeed, 
as Canon Bright has well said, was not only a memorable 
assembly in the annals of the English Church, it was 
hardly less so in the annals of the English People. For 
while it gave expression and consolidation to the idea of 
ecclesiastical unity, it was also the first of all national 
gatherings for such legislation as should affect the whole 
land of the English, the precursor of the Witenagemots 
and the Parliaments of the one indivisible imperial 

** About the time of Augustine's arrival in 597, the general posi- 
tion of the several races in this island, in regard to Christianity, 
was roughly as follows : — ^The Britons, who had been Christians 
for a long time (certainly for 400 years, and probably in some parts 
of the island a good deal more than that), had been driven out of 
the eastern and central parts of the districts now called England, 
and occupied the south-west, west and north-west. Tradition 
makes the British Bishops of London and York among the last to 
fly westward, and places the date of their flight very few years 
before AugUvStine's arrival. It is certain that Wilfrith was able, in 
or about the year 675, to identify the sacred sites in West York- 
shire deserted by the Britons when they fled before the sword of 
the Angles. There is no evidence that the Britons at any time 
took any part in Christianising the English invaders ; the evidence 
is all the other way. 


"The English were pagan in all parts which they occupied. 
But when Augustine came to Kent, he found Christianity known 
and practised in the capital city. The king had had for years a 
Christian queen, the daughter of the Prankish king at Paris, 
and the queen had had a Christian Bishop performing Christian 
services for her in a church preserved from British times. Thus 
the first seed of the conversion of the English was sown by the 
Church of Gaul. Further the Kentish men had made applications 
to Gaul for a supply of Christian teachers, but their appeals had 
been neglected. Things were evidently ripe for a general change 
of religion, and it came rapidly. The success of Augustine in 
Kent was great and permanent. In all other parts his work was 
a failure. 

** In the year 597, a week after jthe baptism of Ethelbert of Kent, 
Columba died. That means that his work of spreading the know- 
ledge of Christ in * Scotland ' was finished just at the time when 
Augustine's work in * England * began. Columba's foundations at 
lona and on the mainland of Scotland were thus prepared for the 
reception, a few years later, of the fugitive princes Oswald and his 
brothers, when Edwin drove them out in 616 and possessed himself 
of the northern as well as the southern parts of Northumbria. 
There Oswald and his brothers became Christians. We may fairly 
presume that they were converted before Edwin himself was— 
that is that the Bernician branch of the royal family of Northum- 
bria was converted by the Scotic Church from lona before the 
Deiran branch was converted by Paulinus from Canterbury-. 

" From 627 to 633 Christianity was established in Northumbria 
from Canterbury. Then it was overwhelmed by the Britons. 
Oswald and his brothers in turn drove out the Britons and made 
the land English and Christian again. By their friendships and 
alliances with other sovereigns they introduced Christianity to 
almost the whole of the remaining parts of * England ' other than 
Kent and East Anglia, and the whole of their Christianizing work 
was done by those who had brought them to Christ — the Scotic 
school of Columba.'** 

Two streams of tendency thus meet together in the 
evangelization of England — the one Roman, the other 

* Note by Dr. Browne, Bishop of Bristol, prepared for the 13th Centenary 
of the Latidiug of S. Augustine. 


Celtic. And both these streams seem also to meet in 
Etheldreda, the royal foundress of the first religious 
house at Ely, for she was on the one hand the friend of 
S. Cuthbert, the Saint of lyindisfarne, the Holy Island of 
the Celtic mission in Northumbria, and on the other of 
Wilfrid of York, the great champion of the Roman obe- 
dience, and the organiser of the Northern Church on 
Roman lines. She herself came of kingly race, and was 
connected by her own second marriage, and by the mar- 
riage of her sisters, with most of the English royal houses. 
It is interesting indeed to note how great a part was 
borne in the making of England by Christian women of 
royal race, queens and princesses, who realised the pro- 
phetic foreshadowing, and became nursing mothers of 
their own Israel ; how many indeed of the Early English 
kings were Christian because their wives were Christian — 
Ethelbert of Kent who married Bertha and " was sancti- 
fied by his wife," Edwin of Northumbria who married 
Ethelburga, Bertha's daughter, Peada of Mercia who 
married Alchflaed, Ethelburga's granddaughter ; and how 
many of our earliest Christian Churches again owe their 
origin to queenly Foundresses. Our own Ely is only 
one church of a goodlj'' company — Whitby, Minster, 
Hexham, Folkstone, Oxford, Chester, all of which owe 
their foundation to that holy galaxy of royal English 
ladies, S. Hilda, S. Sexburga, S. Etheldreda, S. Eans- 
with, S. Frideswide, S. Werburga, all near relations, 
three of them Queens as well as Abbesses, and five at 
least of them foundresses of religious houses. 

All our trustworthy information with regard to Ethel- 
dreda is contained in two or three chapters of Bede. 
Yet even these scanty notices suggest the features of 
a striking personality. 

iEtheldryht— Etheldreda, Eldreda, Aldreda, as the 


Norman Latin of the Domesday book wrote it, Aldreth, 
Awdrey — was born in the middle of the seventh century, 
at Exning in Suffolk, a village which is now almost a 
suburb of Newmarket. She was the third of the five 
daughters of Anna, the Christian King of East Anglia 
She is said to have been baptised there by S. Felix, the 
Apostle of East Anglia and the first Bishop of Dunwich. 

**When she grew up she was married to Tondbert, a prince of 
Kast Anglia, who bestowed upon her the Isle of Elge or Ely, as 
her dowry. The marriage seems to have bean sorely against the 
lady's will, for apparently even thus early, possibly under the 
influence of the great Northern Abbess, Hilda of Whitby, who at 
this time appears to have been at Anna's Court, on a visit to her 
sister Hereswitha, who was married to Etheldreda's paternal 
uncle, Ethelhere, the young princess seems to have vowed herself 
to the religious life. Her husband appears to have respected her 
vow and suffered the marriage to be merely nominal. Two years 
later, in 654, her father Anna was killed in battle with Penda, the 
powerful heathen king of Mercia. A year later i till her husband 
Tondbert dies, and the widowed Princess retires to her Manor at 
Ely, evidently intending, amid this general wreck of her family, to 
devote the remainder of her life solely to religion. Her mother 
had retired to the convent of Chelles, near Paris. Her three 
sisters, Sexburga, Ethelburga, Withburga, all at different periods, 
retired from the world, and became distinguished patronesses of 
the monastic life. Etheldreda's widowhood lasted live years. 
Then her father's ancient enemy, the Mercian King, Penda the 
Prompt, was conquered and slain at Wvnwaed, near Leeds, by 
Oswy of North umbria, and there were great rejoicings among 
Etheldreda's Northern kin. 

*'In the river Winwaed is avenged the slaughter of Anna 
The slaughter of the Kings Sigebert and Ecgrice 
The slaughter of the Kings Oswald and Edwine." 

**So rang out the triumphant battle-song of the conquerors. 
The supremacy of the great heathen kingdom of central P)ngland 
was thus broken, and with the ruin of Mercia, the two Christian 
kingdoms of Northumbria and East Anglia drew together. The 
union was cemented by the marriage of the scions of the two 


royal houses. Oswy's son Ecgfrid was marned to Etheldreda, 
Anna's daughter. This union lasted for eleven or twelve years, 
and was of the same nature as that with her first husband, Tond- 
bert. In 670 Ecgfrid came to the throne, and seems then to have 
detennined that his wife should give up her vow. He seeks the 
help of the Archbishop Wilfrid, who had evidently great influence 
with both king and queen. But Wilfrid— so at least the Monk 
Thomas does not hesitate to say — secretly endeavours to confirm 
the resolution of the queen, and finally, after much opposition, 
persuades the king to consent to a divorce. The ill-assorted 
couple separated, — Ecgfrid to seek a second wife, Etheldreda to 
take the veil at the hands of Wilfrid, in the monastery of Colding- 
ham. But Ecgfrid seems shortlj^ to have repented of his permission, 
and set out for Coldingham with a band of followers to take his 
queen from the monastery by force. By the advice of the abbess 
Ebba, who was the king's aunt, Etheldreda fled southwards, to find 
refuge in her old home at Ely. There she arrived after encount- 
ering many perils and after many miracles, according to the later 
records, had been wrought in her favour. In the five centuries 
that elapse between her first biographer Bede and the monk 
Thomas, of the Liber EliensiSy the legend of the saint has 
palpably lost much of its early simplicity. The growth of the 
legend is plain to any one who looks at the sculptured Acts of the 
Saint as they are represented on the eight great corbels which 
support the marvellous dome of Alan de Walsingham's fourteenth 
century octagon." 

"In 673 the first religious house was founded at Ely by the 
Queen. Bede speaks of it as a nunnery, while the monk Thomas 
calls it a twin monastery of monks and nuns like Coldingham, 
with the working of which S. Awdry would of course be perfectly 
acquainted. I think that this supposition is most probably cor- 
rect. For the mixed community was the fashion of the time. It 
was the fashion of the great Irish house of S. Bridget at Kildare. 
It was the fashion of the Norman convents in France at Chelles, 
at Autun Brie and Fontevrault in one of which (Chelles) Etheldre- 
da's mother had taken refuge, in another of which (Fontevrault) 
her sister Ethelburga was at this time Abbess. It was natural, 
therefore, that Etheldreda's house at Ely should be on this same 
model — a side for men, and a side for women, both classes being 
under the rule of the Abbess, and the nuns taking precedence of 


the monks. There was something also in the chivalry both of 
their Northern Christianity and Teutonic race which would give 
this precedence to the woman, and in the case of Etheldreda, as 
in that of her great kinswoman Hilda of Whitby, there was also 
the fact that she was the daughter of a royal race and that she had 
been the Queen of the great Northern Supremacy, which would 
naturally give her leadership in any such community. And we 
must of course remember that these early monastic settlements 
had none of the strict discipline of the later Benedictine Rule. 
Indeed there is e\ndence to show that in many cases the establish- 
ment of a monastery was often only a pretext under which a lord 
and his dependents exempted themselves from their national 
obligations of military service. This, of course, could not be said 
to be in any sense the origin of the Ely Convent, and yet even 
there perhaps there may have been many inmates drawn to the 
convent life of monasticism not so much by the old religious 
impulses of ascetic sacrifice as by the new aversion from warfare 
and the new passion for social life and longing for peaceful 

Of the old buildings of the first Saxou Monastery, or 
of the Church that S. Etheldreda built in connection 
with it, not a stone now remains. That it was on the site 
of the present buildings there is no doubt, although it is 
said she had commenced at first to build a mile south of 
the present Church at a place called Cratendune, where 
according to a later tradition of Norman times, a Church 
had been founded in 607 by Ethelbert, at the instigation 
of S. Augustine. From this place however the building 
was almost at once removed to the high ground where 
the Cathedral now stands. That the Saxon Church 
was on the same site as the present Norman one is 
proved by a passage in the Liber Eliensis, which tells 
how Abbot Simeon when he commenced to build the 
Norman Church, found it necessary to remove some 
of the bodies of the Saints from the place they had 
hitherto occupied, because the walls of his new Choir en- 

•Stubbs's Memorials of Ely, p. 14. 


croached on the site hitherto occupied by their Shrines. 
One wonders whether when Alan de Walsingham*s 
builders in the 14th century were digging the founda- 
tions for the new Lantern pillars, they came across any 
remains of this old Saxon Church, just as the nineteenth 
century builders at Peterborough did, when a year or 
two ago, they were rebuilding the central Norman tower 
of that Cathedral. Some day perhaps when a new 
pavement comes to be placed in the Ely Octagon, a 
little judicious digging may lay bare some relics of S. 
Etheldreda's ancient Church. But at least our imagina- 
tion may be aided by Wilfrid's stone Church at Hexham, 
and Biscop*s at Jarrow and Monk Wearmouth, to picture 
something of what it must have been like, a structure of 
the simplest possible kind, whose only decorative archi- 
tectural feature was perhaps the turned baluster column, 
and the plain circular-headed window, such as we may 
still see in situ at Monk Wearmouth and Jarrow, or 
nearer home in the old tower of S. Benet*s Church at 

Here at any rate, in the year 672, Etheldreda was duly 
installed as Abbess by her friend the famous Wilfrid, 
Bishop of Northumbria. 

" But her life as Abbess was a short one. In the sixth year of 
her rule at Ely, she was attacked by the plague, and after three 
days illness, died on the twenty-third of June, 679 a.d. * Being 
taken to the Lord in the midst of her own people *— to quote the 
words of Bede — * and just as she had herself ordered, she was 
buried not elsewhere than among them in a wooden coffin.' 

"Sixteen years later her sister Sexburga, the widowed Queen 
of Kent, who had succeeded her as abbess, removed her body, 
which was found to be marvellously protected from corruption, 
from the grave, and placed it in a white marble sarcophagus, 
* a divine gift,' so said the Abbey brethren who found it as by a 
miracle near the walls of the City Granta on the mainland, and 
welcomed it as an indication of the will of God that the memory 


of the Virgin Queen should be held in perpetual honour. * Also 
they say,* — to quote the words with which Bede in the fourth 
book of his History concludes the story of S. Awdry — * that the 
coffin in which she was at first buried was a means of cure to 
some who were afflicted in their eyes, who when they had put 
their heads to the same coffin and prayed, presently were relieved 
of the discomfort of pain or dimness in their eyes. They washed, 
therefore, the body of the virgin, and having put on it new 
garments, took it into the church, and placed it in that sarco- 
phagus which had been brought, where even to this day it is 
held in great veneration. Indeed, in a wonderful manner the 
sarcophagus was found fitted for the body of the virgin, just as if 
it had been specially prepared for it ; and the place for the head, 
worked as a separate part, appeared most aptly shaped to the 
measure of the head." 

"And so on the seventeenth of October, a.d. 695, the First 
Translation of S. Awdry took place, and the marble shrine with 
its sacred relics found its resting place by the high altar of the 
Church of the Convent. 

" And thenceforward for two hundred years the historic record 
is silent save for the short chapter in the Liber Eliensis which 
tells how after the death of the three Abbesses, whose names 
alone have come down to us, — Sexberga and Ermenilda, the two 
sisters of S. Awdry, and Werburga, her niece, and Brmenilda's 
daughter—* the vigour of the sacred foundation, under the rule of 
holy women, never growing faint but ever more and more 
increasing in fervour from the regular discipline and order of the 
monastic life, flourished through many rolling years, and while 
other churches and convents in the different kingdoms of England 
suffered from many wars, the church at Ely, by the grace of the 
Supreme Pity, dwelt in peace and security and the growth of 
Christian Law.' 

"At last, however, in the year 870, the tranquil life of the shelt- 
ered island sanctuary was rudely broken. Across the wide spread- 
ing meres, through the labyrinth of dykes and lodes and down the 
water streets cut through the reeds and sedge — the natural defence 
of the Island against any enemies other than these — came the 
pirate-fleet of the Danish Wikings. * Deliver us, O Lord, from the 
frenzy of the Northmen' had been a suffrage of a Litany of the 
time, but it was one to which the monks and nuns of Ely found 


no answer. The pirate horde swooped upon the Island, the panic 
stricken inhabitants after a brief struggle fled, the Convent and 
the Church, as afterwards at Peterboro and Crowland, were sacked 
. and burnt to the ground, while the convent sisters and brothers, 
without respect to age or sex or condition w^ere pitilessly slain 
among the ruins. And so, says, the Chronicler, * the Monaster)- 
established by the Christlike (Christicola), Ethel dreda was given 
over to the enemies of the Lord.' * There was one, however' — 
the monkish chronicler relates — * of this host of savage enemies, a 
man more inhuman and cruel than the rest, a satellite of the 
devil, breathing slaughter and blood, a son of avarice, and a 
truculent seeker of other men's goods, who seeing the shrine of 
the blessed virgin Btheldreda, thought it was a chest of treasure, 
and with all his strength he struck the marble sarcophagus in 
which rested the virgin body, and when he had multiplied blows 
upon the stone, he made an opening, which to this day may still 
be seen, but when he had done this there was no delay of divine 
vengeance, for immediately his eyes started miraculously from 
his head and he ended there and then his sacrilegious life, 
which, when others saw, they did not presume any further to 
disturb the sacred dust of the virgin saint.' 

"And so for another hundred years the marble shrine rested 
apparently unmolested in the ruined sanctuary. For a century 
later, after King Alfred's work was done, and the successors of his 
house, Ethelfled and Eadward and Athelstan had consolidated the 
central English Kingdoms, the Danelaw was established, and for 
a time at least there was peace in East Anglia, even in Guthrum's 
Danish settlement, and Eadgar's law was moulding a new England 
into some promise of its after-shape, and the King himself, Eadgar 
the Peaceful, was building up again the English church and 
fashioning the English realm into accordance with a religious 
ideal, and Abbot ^thelwold of Abington, S. Dunstan's friend, 
came to reorganise the old convent at Ely as a new Benedictine 
House. 'He found.' so says the Chronicler, *the body of the 
blessed Virgin Queen Etheldreda in the Church beside the High 
Altar, in the very place to which vS. Sexburga had translated her 
and there, not hidden beneath the earth but raised above it, he 
left the body, for no one dared either to break open or examine . 
the tomb, remembering the miserable fate of him who was killed 
there for so doing, as related in the miracles.' The new monastic 


building and the restored Church were consecrated by S. Dunstan, 
on the Feast of the Purification, a.d. 970, and Brihtnoth installed 
as the first Abbot.*" 

From the year of this second foundation until the 
Conquest the Ely Convent gradually grew again in 
wealth and power until the Abbots were thought worthy 
to alternate with those of Glastonbury and Canterbury 
in holding the high ofl&ce of Chancellor of the king. 
Among the Monastery benefactors at this time there are 
some names that Ely is not likely to forget. There is 
first the Earl Brihtnoth, the great Earldorman of Essex, 
the friend of the monks of Ely, who was slain in a raid 
of the Norwegian Wikings, and whose deeds are cele- 
brated in one of the earliest of English Ballads, ** The 
Battle of Maiden," and whose noble death words may 
well be treasured by every Englishman who gazes on the 
niche in Bishop Wesfs Chapel where now rest his bones 
— '*God I thank Thee for all the joy I have had in life ! " 

Fell then to earth, alas ! 

Sword of the mighty hilt 

Nor might he hold it 

Sharpest of falchions, 

He weapon-wielder. 

Yet he this word spake 

Hoar headed hero, 
" Young men the bravest 

Fight and go forward 

Cheer on your comrades ! " 

Could he no longer now 

Fast on his feet stand, 

Looked he to Heaven then. 
** Thanks be to Thee Lord 

Ruler of nations 

For all the winsome joys 

I in this world have bode. 

Now, O my Maker mild, 

* Stubbs's Memorials of Ely, p. 23. 


Most need have I that Thou 
Good speed my Ghost ! 
Yea, that my soul to Thee 
Safely may journey, 
Safe to Thy kingdom, 
Lord of the Angels, 
Good will and peace bringing. 
That the Hell-miscreants 
May not molest me 
Come I a suppliant ! • 

Nor must we forget king Kniit the Dane, of whose 
first famous visit to the Island City all men know from 
the quaint lines of the ballad which has floated down to 
us across the ages. 

Merie sungen the muneches binnanEly, 
Tha Cnut ching reu ther-by, 
Roweth, cnites, noer the laut 
And here we thes muneches sang. 

And which by a modern pen has been expanded into 
these lines — 

Sweetly sang the Monks at Ely, 

Kniit 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 dawning, — 

Deck the vernal sky. 

Loudly sang the Monks at Ely 

On That Thursday mom : 
*Twas the Feast of "God Ascended"— 
Of the wond'rous drama ended ; — 

God for sinners bom ! 

♦ Translated from the Old English. 


Hark ! ** / will not Uaveyou orphans, 

I will not Uaveyou long,^^ 
Grand the minster music sounded 
And the fen-land air resounded 

With the holy song ! 
Sweetly sang the Monks at Ely, 

Knut the King, row'd nigh : 
" Listen to the angels bringing 
Holy thoughts that seemed like singing ! 

Row yet nearer by." — 

This king also, on another occasion, not only confirmed 
the rights of the Convent Church by royal charter, which 
he solemnly placed upon the Altar, where the remains 
of S. Etheldreda were entombed, but with Queen Emma 
gave many gifts besides land to the Convent — " a purple 
cloth worked with gold and set with jewels for S. 
Awdrey*s shrine," is specially named in the Liber 
Eliejisis, ** so that no other could be found in the king- 
dom of the English of such richness or beauty of work- 
manship.*' Above all we must remember the name of 
Edward the Confessor himself, who as an infant had 
been brought to Ely by King Ethelred and his mother 
and placed there upon the holy Altar of the Church, and 
who when he came to the throne never forgot the lessons 
he had learnt as a boy in the Ely Convent, — the monk 
Thomas speaks of his delight in joining with the other 
boys in singing psalms and hymns in the Cloister (cum 
pueris in claustro illic diu alitus est, psalm os et ymnos 
dominicos cum illis didicit) — but once more confirmed 
by Charter the possessions of the Abbey and added to 
them others of his own gift. That his memory was long 
held in reverence in the Abbey is testified by the fact 
that his arms are carved in several places as on the West 
front of the Lady Chapel in the 14th Century, and on 
the East side of the great gateway of the Convent, the 
**Ely Porta," in the 15th. 

14 ^I*Y CATH^DRAt. 

The history of the Monastery at the time of the 
Conquest belongs to England. But the story of the last 
stand of the English in the Camp of Refuge at Ely, and 
how, under the leadership of Hereward the Wake and 
the Abbott Thurstan, the hope of English freedom 
struggled on for a year or two, must be read in Professor 
Freeman's ** History of the Norman Conquest," or as 
many of our readers will no doubt prefer to do, in Charles 
Kingsley's stirring romance of "Hereward the Wake.'* 
That book is largely founded on a 12th century story 
** De gestis Herewardi Saxonis," which contains much 
impossible rubbish, yet Kingsley in his narrative of the 
facts of King William's Conquest of the Isle, follows 
fairly closely to the monk Thomas' account in the Liber 
EliensiSy a record which certainly need not be set aside 
in that respect as purely fictitious. 

We reach solid historic fact again about the' year 1080, 
when the foundations of the new Norman church — 
which during the next four centuries gradually grew 
into the Cathedral as we know it to-day — were laid by 
Abbot Simeon. He was an old man when he came to 
Ely, 90 years of age, but like his brother the Abbot 
Walkelin of Winchester, he began at once to build the 
new Church and to reconstruct the whole Monastery. 
How much of the new Church he was able to complete 
before he died at the age of 100, we do not know. 
There seems little doubt however, that he laid out the 
foundations of the North and South Transepts, the four 
piers of the great central tower, and the Choir Apse. 
The plain cylindrical columns of the Eastern transept 
arches, with their perfectly plain square head mouldings, 
and the three Norman windows with their nail head 
decoration in the West wall of the South Transept over- 
looking the Cloister, are certainly his work. He died on 


S. Edmund's Day, a.d. 1093, ^^^d was succeeded by the 
Abbot Richard, who immediately proceeded with the 
completion of the Eastern end of the Church. 

" It was so far finished on the 17th of October 1106, — a date still 
marked in the Calendar of our English Prayer Book, — that the 
Second Translation of S. Awdry was effected with great pomp and 
ceremony; Herbert of Losinga, the Bishop and Founder of 
Norwich Cathedral, * vir eloquentissimus,' preaching on the lyife, 
Death and Miracles of the Saint, *populum exhortans ad summae 
jucunditatis et laetitiae indicium : ' and the old marble Shrine, now 
considered more than ever sacred, for it had been the centre of 
Pilgrimage to the faithful through half a millennium and the 
fame of Ely's Saint, the Virgin Queen and Abbess, had spread far 
and wide through Christendom, was solemnly moved to the Choir 
of the great Norman Abbey and placed behind the great altar, 
with the Shrine of her sister Sexburga, eastward at her feet, and 
that of S. Eormenilda on her right and S. Werburga on her 

It was by this Abbot that the conversion of the Abbey 
into an Episcopal See was first suggested, but he did not 
live to* see his scheme carried into eflfect. He was how- 
ever the last Abbot. In the year 1107 the Bishopric was 
established largely by the exertions of Herve, Bishop of 
Bangor, who was acting as Administrator of the Abbey, 
after the death of Richard. On the 27th June, in that 
year he was himself translated from Bangor as the first 
Bishop of Ely. Constant disputes between the Convent 
and the Bishop of Lincoln, in whose vast diocese Ely 
then was, are said to have been the primary inducement 
for the creation of the new See. But it is also stated 
that Henry I. being aware of how strongly the Isle of 
Ely was fortified by nature, was anxious to divide the 
great revenues of the Abbey, and thereby to render it 
less powerful in case of insurrection by placing a Bishop 
at its head. However that may be, "the Liberties of 

* Stubbs's Memorials of Ely, p. 37. 


Etheldreda " which made her great Foundation so for- 
midable a political power in the land, (some detailed 
account of which we shall give at a later page) were at 
this time divided between the Bishop and the Prior and 
Convent, and from this time onward the Constitution ot 
Ely resembled that of the other Conventual Cathedrals 
of the Benedictine foundation in England — Canterbury, 
Winchester, Worcester, Rochester, Norwich, Peter- 
borough Durham — in all of which the Bishop of the See 
came to be regarded as nominally Abbot, while the actual 
government of the Convent remained with the Prior. 

During the whole of this century the great Norman 
arches ot the Nave were slowly progressing Westward. 
The great West Tower, with its cross and transepts 
common only to Ely, Wncoln and Peterborough — 
belongs to the last quarter of the 12th Century. Much of 
the work of it is due to the fifteen years of Geoffrey 
Ridel's Episcopate (1174 — 1189), and "all of it shows 
signs of the change on the inside, from the rude but 
effective Norman workmanship of its lower arcades to 
the Lancet arches and banded clustered columns of the 
upper Transitional structure, while on the outside the 
whole grand West Front, with its massive base upwards, 
is profusely enriched with bold diaper patterns inevitably 
suggesting memories of the Byzantine or Saracenic art, 
which was first made familiar to England in the Age of 
the Crusades."* 

The Galilee or Western Porch belongs to the early 
years of the 13th Century, and is said to have been 
erected by Bishop Eustace (1198 — 1215) who is recorded 
to have ** built from the foundation the new Galilee 
towards the West at his own cost." Whether this *" new 
Galilee" however was the Western Porch is a subject of 

* Stubbs's Memorials of Ely p. 37. 


some controversy among archaeologists, but we will 
discuss this on a later page. 

In A.D. 1229 Hugh de Northwold, the Abbot of Bury 
S. Edmunds, was consecrated eighth Bishop of Ely. 
During the twenty years of his life there, he became one 
of its most munificent benefactors, making large grants 
of land to the monastery, founding a college of priests, 
and reforming the Hospitals of the city. In the year 
1234 he commenced the erection of the new Presbytery, 
an extension eastward of the Norman choir. The six 
bays of this work— it is a hundred feet long from the 
great Norman Piers of Abbot Simeon's projected Apse 
to its noble Eastern Facade — is magnificent in all its 
details, one of the loveliest and most graceful buildings 
indeed of that most glorious architectural period. 

Into this noble Presbytery, on the 15th of October, 
1252, in the presence of King Henry III. and his son, then 
a boy of thirteen, and many of the leading nobles and 
prelates of the kingdom, the Shrines of the Foundress, 
and of the three other Abbesses, and the reputed shrine 
of S. Alban, were removed a few feet eastward from their 
position in the Norman Choir, and the whole Church, 
in ground plan completed as we have it to-day, was 
re-dedicated to S Etheldreda, S. Mary, and S. Peter. 

But though the Church of Ely was now finished as far 
as its length and breadth were concerned, as it now 
stands, and finished as Professor Freeman has said ** on 
a scale which places it in the very first rank among the 
Minsters of England," in the next century a necessary 
reconstruction of the central crossing of the building 
changed entirely not only the external outline but the 
general effect within, in a way such as no earlier builder 
at Ely or elsewhere, had ever thought of For on the 
22nd of February, 1322, occurred a catastrophe which 



through the supreme constructive genius of one man 
became a blessing in disguise, and led to that marvellous 
dome which gives to the interior of Ely Minster its 
unique beauty and grace, queenly beyond words, and to 
the exterior that peculiar coronal outline — we might well 
speak of it architecturally as the Crown of S. Awdrey — a 
feature which has no fellow in any of the churches of 
England, or indeed of Christendom. At that time John 
Hotham was Bishop, John of Crauden Prior, and Alan 
de Walsingham Sacrist. These are three memorable 
names in the history of Ely, the last perhaps the most 
memorable name among the great artist builders of the 
Middle Ages. On the Vigil of the Feast of S. Eormenilda, 
as the monks were returning from the church to the 
dormitory, the old Norman central tower, erected by 
Abbot Simeon just after the Conquest, fell with a crash 
— ** with such a shock " — says the old Chronicler — " and 
so great a tumult, that it was thought an earthquake had 
taken place.*' The catastrophe was not wholly unex- 
pected, for the monks we are told had discontinued the 
use of the choir beneath the mid-tower, and were wor- 
shipping temporarily in the Chapel of S. Catharine, not 
the apsidal chapel in the West Transept now known by 
that name, but a chapel adjoining the Chapter-House 
with its door opening into the Eastern walk of the 
cloister. The choir of the Church, the centre of every- 
thing in a Monastic House, had therefore to be rebuilt. 

Alan himself is represented in the old records, as 
being at first perplexed and overwhelmed at the ruinous 
condition to which the central crossing of the great 
Church had been reduced. 

**Tlie aforesaid Sacrist Alan "—writes the Chronicler*— grieving 
vehemently and overcome with sorrow at an event so disastrous 

♦ Liber Eliensis. 


and lamentable, for a moment knew not which wa}- to turn him- 
self, or what to do for the reparation of such a ruin. But taking 
courage, and putting his whole trust in the help of God, and His 
most Holy Mother Mary, and also in the merits of the Holy Virgin 
Ktheldreda, set his hand to the work, and first with much labour 
and expense having removed from within the Church the stones 
and timber which had fallen in the ruin, and also a great quantity 
of dust and rubbish having cleared away with all possible speed, 
at the place in which he was about to construct the new Campanile, 
he by architectural skill measured out eight positions in which the 
eight stone columns were to stand supporting the whole building, 
and beneath which the Choir with its stalls was afterwards to be 
placed, and caused them to be dug out and examined, until he had 
found the solid rock upon which the foundations of his work 
might be securely fixed. These aforesaid eight places, having 
been most carefully examined, and with stones and sand most 
firmly consolidated, he then at last laid the foundation of the 
eight columns and the superincumbent stone work, which, indeed, 
as far as the upper cornice, was brought to a conclusion after six 
years, in the year of our Lord 1328." 

This simple description of the old monastic Chronicler 
records a work as I have said, of unique originality in 
its design. 

The late Professor Freeman, in an admirable paper in 
which he compares the rival architectural glories of Ely, 
Peterborough and Norwich thus speaks of the original 
constructive genius of Alan. 

'* His powers did not show themselves like those of William of 
Saint-Calais and of St. Hugh -or of the architects employed by 
them, as the case may be-in developing new forms of archi- 
tectural style, but like the nameless creator of the West front of 
Peterborough, in devising buildings of wholly new shapes, in 
translating from other architectural languages into his own. As 
there arose at Peterborough, a translation of the Portico of old 
Greece into Northern language, so there arose at Ely a like trans- 
lation of the Cupolas of Italy or Byzantium. But the translation 
at Ely is even freer than the translation at Peterborough. The 
Front of Peterborough may fairly be called a Gothic portico : the 


Octagon -at Ely can hardly be called a Gothic cupola, though we 
may be pretty certain that thoughts of the cupola were in the 
mind of Alan de Walsingham. His main object was to build up 
something that should be less likely to fall than the traditional 
central tower borne up on four open arches. But the cupolas of 
the Byzantine, Sicilian and Aquitanian churches rest on four 
arches, no less than the square towers of Normandy and England, 
and in the Churches of Sicily and Aquitaine they rest on pointed 
arches. In San Sophia itself the cupola rests on four piers, just 
as much as in the smallest English or Norman church that has a 
central tower. It is of no greater span than the four limbs give 
it ; it is wide because they are wide. The peculiarity of Ely is 
that the central space is far wider than any of th e four limbs. It 
does not, like other lanterns and cupolas, seem designed as a 
crown for them, and as nothing else. It seems like a building 
which might have stood apart, like a round or polygonal Church 
which has found its way into the middle of a cross Church of the 
usual type, or more truly, which has had the four limbs of such a 
Church attached to it in some strange way. Looking across the 
octagon of Ely, the four great limbs, which from any other point 
of view seem so vast, sink into mere adjuncts to the great central 
space. To provide against all mischances, the new work was 
grounded on eight piers instead of four, and the local historian 
(as we have seen) enlarges on the care which Alan the Sacrist 
took to find safe places for their foundations. But if the supports 
were stronger than of old, the weight which they had to bear was 
less. No one could expect that this gigantic octagon could be 
carried up as a tower to the usual height of a tower ; but it might 
conceivably have grown into a true cupola, the forerunner of 
Brunelleschi's creation at Florence. And we may be sure that the 
genius of Alan de Walsingham would have as far outshone the 
work of Brunelleschi as the genius of Hugh of Northwold or his 
architect outshone the work of Arnolfo. No part of the Church 
of Ely, no part of any genuine English, Norman, French or 
German church, looks as the dome of Florence, smaller than it is 
in reality. Yet lordly beyond words as is the internal view of the 
lantern of Ely, we are half tempted to complain that its mighty 
tops do not bear up something greater ; all that they ever bore, 
all that they ever were designed to bear, was a vast louvre of 
wood. Of wood, too, are the eight half vaults from which the 
louvre springs. And this woodwork louvre and vault, owing to 


the difficulty of finding timbers of the needful size, is spoken of as 
a greater work, and one taking a longer time, than the building 
of the stonework below. The stonework, begun in 1322, took six 
years, and was finished in 1328 ; the woodwork, begun at once on 
the completion of the stonework, took twice the time, and was 
not finished until 1342, when Alan the Sacrist had become Prior."* 

Of the work of this great architect there are many 
other specimens at Ely, the three Decorated bays now 
used as the place of the ritual Choir ; the superb Lady 
Chapel with its priceless sculptured work, one of the 
finest examples of Decorated architecture in the king- 
dom ; Prior Crauden's Chapel, a perfect gem of beauty 
and originality ; the Fair Hall ; the restored Guest Hall 
of the Monastery, now the Deanery ; a smaller Hall 
attached to the Infirmary ; Bishop Hotham's tomb ; and 
the sub-structure of S. Etheldreda*s Shrine : all of which 
will demand more detailed notice in their due place. 

The remainder of this general sketch of the history of 
the great Church may be compressed into a brief space. 
One more important change only was to come. Stone 
had given way to wood in the finish of the central 
Octagon : wood had to give way to stone in the finish of 
the Western Tower. The wooden pyramidal spire which 
in all probability originally crowned Bishop Geoffrey's 
square tower, now gave way to a stone octagonal tower, 
flanked with corner turrets, of a late decorated type, 
plain and heavy, crowned again with a wooden spire, 
which has since happily vanished. Thus the charac- 
teristic outline of the great pile as we see it to-day was 

There is nothing more to record in the Church itself, 
except the erection of tombs and small chapels, — Bishop 
Alcock's at the East end of the North choir aisle (i486 — 

* rrofesBor Freeman's Intioduction to Fairen's Sketches of Ely. 


1500) in the Perpendicular style, and Bishop West's at 
the corresponding place in the South (1515 — 1533) in a 
style verging upon Renaissance, — and an unhappy 
practice which began in the 14th Century and went on 
until the end, that of heiglitening the Triforium stage, 
raising the walls and lowering the roof and putting new 
windows, both in the triforium and in the aisles below, 
thus spoiling both the proportions and the detail of the 
earlier work. In 1770, under the superintendence of 
Mr. Essex, the ritual Choir was moved from under the 
Octagon to the extreme East end, and the beautiful stall 
work of Alan de Walsingham refitted to its new position 
and completed by a debased organ screen largely com- 
posed of lath and plaster. Between 1757 and 1770 the 
massive Norman stone screen, which for eight centuries 
had stood across the Nave, was ruthlessly destroyed, and 
a few years later, the roof of the upper hall of the Galilee 
porch was removed* and the Western opening of the 
tower arch filled with ugly tracery and stained glass, 
thus effectually blocking the view of the three great 
Lancets at the extreme West, through which up to that 
time the setting sun must day by day through so many 
centuries have flooded the long Nave with its glorious 
evening light. But these are works of deterioration and 
decadence which we may well decline to record here in 

Let us rather thank God that in the fourth decade at 
any rate of this century a man was found at last who 
had reverence and understanding for the works of the 
old builders, and who finding himself custodian of the 
noble but neglected pile, set himself heart and soul to 
restore, if it might be possible, some of the glories of the 

* In an engraving of the time of Bishop Greene (1723 — 38) this roof is 
rex)resented us still in fsitUi 


antique time. How nobly Dean Peacock succeeded in 
the task he had set himself, and what an inspiration his 
work has been to his successors, we can all see to-day in 
a Cathedral, where the restored grandeur and beauty of 
ancient days is once more potent to uplift the hearts of 
men to the reverent worship of Almighty God, and not 
less to teach them that in this primal building art of 
man, there is room for the marking of man's relations 
with the mightiest, as well as the fairest, works of God ; 
something also of the truth that the wealth of this world 
may be turned from man's pride to God's praise, that 
the things which are seen may point upward to the 
things which are not seen, and that the best that earth 
can yield, may be gathered where men come to meet 
with God, and to wait upon his self- revealing. 

24 niy CATHEDRAL. 



607 S. Augustine said to have founded a church in the Isle of 
Ely, at Cratendune, a mile south of the present site. 

673 Foundation of the Monastery, a double house of Monks and 
Nuns, by Queen Etheldreda. Etheldreda first Abbess. 

679 vS. Etheldreda died, aged 49. 
Succeeded by 
(i) her sister Sexburga. 

(2) Eormenilda, daughter of Sexburga. 

(3) Werburga, daughter of Eormenilda. 
695 First Translation of S. Etheldreda. 

870 The Monastery destroyed by the Danes. 

970 The secular clergy who had returned to Ely, dismissed by 

^^thelwold. Bishop of Winchester, and the Monastery 

re-constituted for Monks only, under the rule of S. 

Benedict. Brihtnoth first Abbot. 

991 Death of Earl Brihtnoth a great benefactor of the church, 

at the battle of Maldon. 
1013 Edward, afterwards the Confessor, a boy in the Convent 

1016 Visit of King Canute and Queen Emma to Ely, who gave 

many gifts to the Church. 
1036 The JEtheling Alfred, eldest brother of Edward, blinded by 
Earl Godwine and sent to Ely, where he died and was 
buried by the Monks *' at the West end of the church, near 
the steeple, in the South portice.*' 
* * Was no sadder deed 
Done on this earth, 
Since the Danes came 
To settle in peace." 

English Chrou : C. 
1042 Edw^ard confirms by charter the possessions of the Church. 

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 by Abbot 
Simeon, brother of Walkelin of Winchester and a kinsman 
of the Conqueror. 

1 106 Second Translation of S. Etheldreda. 

1 109 Creation of the Diocese of Ely, Herve le Breton being ap- 
pointed the first Bishop. Building of the Nave, Transepts, 
Tower and Choir continued through the twelfth century. 

1 1 77 In this year Henry II. visited Ely and held a great Council 
of State, Geoffrey Ridel being Bishop. 

1215 (about) Erection of the Galilee Porch. 

1235 Erection of the Presbytery eastward of the Choir, by Bishop 
Northwold. A spire erected on the West Tower. 

1252 Third Translation of S. Etheldreda. 

132 1 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 re-constructed at the expense 

of Bishop Hotham. 
1330 (about) Prior Crauden*s Chapel built, and the Guest-Hall, 

now the Deanery, restored by Alan de Walsingham. 
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) Prior Bukton began to build the great gate of the 

Abbey (Ely Porta), completed by Prior Walpole. 

1401 I*rior Poucher erected the Octagonal Campanile on the 

West Tower, followed by the strengthening of the piers 

1440 New wall and windows to the Cloisters. 

1484 Bishop Alcock's Chapel erected. 

1534 Bishop West's Chapel erected, 

1539 The Abbey despoiled and dissolved by Henry VIII. and 
(1541) reconstituted as a Chapter of Dean and Canons. 
Robert Steward of Wells last Prior and first Dean. 
The Conventual Buildings sold and partly destroj-ed, por- 
tions only reserved for residence of Dean and Canons and 
other officers. 


1541 The Shrine of S. Etheldreda, the Lady Chapel sculptures, 

and other statuary in the Catheral probably defaced or 

destroyed at this time, under an Injunction of Bishop 

Goodrich, dated October 21, 1541. 
The Guest- Hall used as the common Hall of the College, 

but converted at a later period into the Deanery. 
1566 The dilapidated Parish Church of S. Cross adjoining North 

Aisle of Cathedral removed, and the Lady Chapel assigned 

for the use of the Parishioners of Holy Trinity in its 

1622 Oliver Cromwell inherits from his uncle Sir Thomas 

Steward, the office of tithe farmer to the Dean and 

1642 Dean Fuller deprived by the Parliament. 

Cromwell appointed Governor of the Isle of Ely- Orders 

the Choir Services to be stopped as *'unedif3dng and 

offensive," and orders " more frequent Sermons." 
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 Transept ; rebuilt 

by Sir Christopher Wren, a nephew of the Bishop. 
1754 Extensive repairs of the roof of the Octagon and Choir by 

Bishop Mawson, and Deans AUix and Thomas. 

1770 The stalls transferred from the Octagon to the Presbytery 

by Essex, architect, and important repairs of the fabric 

1 771 Publication of Bentham*s *' History and Antiquities of Ely 

Cathedral." About the same time the Norman Screen and 
Rood-loft across the loth haiy of the Nave destroyed ; the 
roof of the Galilee Porch removed, and the Western Lancet 
windows blocked up : * a window inserted in the Western 
Tower Arch. 

1 801 The upper parts of the Tower repaired, and the spire taken 

1823 The Nave, Octagon, Lantern, and Transepts colour-washed, 
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. 

1845 Commencement of the modem restoration of the Cathedral 
under Dean Peacock. The apse of S. Catharine's Chapel 
rebuilt. South-western Transept restored. Interior of the 
Western Tower opened and ceiled. 

1847 Sir G. Gilbert Scott appointed architect. The stalls re- 
moved westward and Choir re-arranged. Painting of the 
Nave ceiling commenced by Mr. Le Strange and continued 
later by Mr. Gambier Parry. A large number of stained 
windows introduced. 

1851 The Organ re-modelled, enlarged, and removed to the 

1857 The east windows filled with stained glass. 

1858 Restoration continued under Dean Goodwin. The Reredos 

erected. The Lantern reconstructed as a memorial to 
Dean Peacock. The Western entrance repaired. Com- 
mencement of paving the Nave, &c. 

1867 The organ further enlarged and improved, towards which 
some of the inhabitants of the City contributed £80 for a 
sub-bass of 32-feet tone. 

1870 Restorations continued under Dean Merivale. Foundations 
of the South-east Transept and South side of the Choir 
repaired. Western Tower braced with iron bands. Pave- 
ment of Nave and Aisles completed. Further additions to 
stained glass in Choir. Fourth stained window placed in 
the Octagon. 

1873 Celebration of the Bisexcentenary or Twelve-hundredth 

anniversary of the foundation of the Monastery. 

1874 Commencement of the decoration of the Octagon, Lantern, 


1875 Several new sculptured figures placed in the Octagon, and 

the decoration of the Octagon and Lantern completed. 

1876 The pa\ing of the North Transept completed. 

1878 The ceiling of the Baptistry transept painted by Mr. Gambier 


1879 The corona of Pinnacles on the exterior of the Octagon 

completed. Monument to Canon Selwyn placed in South 
Aisle of the Choir. 


1886 A stone with memorial brass placed over the grave of Bishop 

Woodford in Bishop West's Chapel. 
1888 An Altar tomb to the memory of Bishop Woodford placed in 

the North Aisle of Nave. 

1895 The Font removed to new position in Western Transept 

opposite South Aisle. 

1896 Dedication of new Altar in S. Catharine's Chapel, and the 

South end of West Transept screened off and furnished 
for use as a Morning Chapel. Memorial tablet to Dean 
Merivale placed in South Transept. 

1897 East and West Fronts of Lady Chapel restored, upper 

tracery of the North windows renewed. Three bays of 
the North walk of the Cloisters restored as a Choir Boys' 

1898 The old XIV. Century Screen replaced in S. Edmund's 

Chapel which was furnished by Canon Stanton, the 
beautiful reredos of alabaster with sculptured figure of 
Christ designed by Mr. Reeve. 




The Memorial Cross of S. Ovin, now placed in South Aisle of 
Nave, belongs to the end of seventh century. S. Ovin was pre- 
sent at the death of S. Chad, Lichfield, in 669. 

A semi-circular double-headed window, and baluster mullion, (sim- 
ilar to Benedict Biscop's work in the churches of Monks 
Wearmouth and Jarrow) preserved in the South Triforium of 
the Nave. They were dug up on the Land opposite the Ely 
Porta at the time of the building of Hereward Hall. 


The work of Abbot Simeon (1082) in ground stor>' of central Tran- 
septs : notice exterior of windows in West side of South-cen- 
tral Transept vrith star moulding : and portion of ancient door- 
w^ay below in cloister : all other Norman windows in the church 
have billet moulding. Under the pavement of the present 
Choir are the foundations of an apse which Simeon intended 
to build on the model of his brother Abbot Walkelin's church 
at Winchester. These foundations were laid bare by Professor 
Willis in 1850. 

The undercroft of the old Prior's Hall, ground story of Canon's 
Residence, old Priory adjoining Deanery. 


The Nave and portions of central Transepts (c. iioo): notice on 
outside the original Norman triforium roof and clerestory', 
with rude parapet of triforium wall on the East Side of North 
Central Transept, the most complete specimen of the old 
church which is left. 

Ornamental arcaded galleries North and South ends of Transepts. 

Remains of monks' kitchen North-east corner of Deanery. 


Apsidal Chapel in Western Transept. 

Lower stages 6t Western Transept. 

Screen in South central Transept, possibly removed here at a later 
time from lower stages of the fallen North-western Transept. 

The splendid processional doorways to East and West alleys of 
Cloisters — the Monks' and Prior's Doors — ^belong to this per- 
iod (1170— 1200) but are probably insertions and may have been 
placed in their present positions at a later date. 



Infirmary Buildings. 

Upper stages of Western Transept and Western Towers, with upper 
arches of crossing, commenced by Bishop Ridel, 1 174-1 189. 

Black marble slab in the South Aisle of Choir, said to be the monu- 
ment of Bishop Nigel. 

Infirmary Chapel : with the beautifully groined roof of chancel, 
at present the study in Canon's residence. 

The details of Infirmary North door nearly identical with Bishop 
Ridel's West Transept windows. 

The original Norman Screen in Nave, removed in the i8th century^, 
judging hy Essex's rude drawing of its central doorway with 
ornamental tympanum, possessed similar features to this 
North doorway of Ridel's Infirmary. 



Galilee Porch built by Bishop Eustace (i2oo — 12 15). 

The six bays of Presbytery built by Bishop North wold (1229 — 54). 

Two bays of his Early English Triforium in South side exterior 

still remain, showing double lancet windows. 
The arm of Abbot's stone chair. Wolf with S. Edmund's head in 

his paws. 
Tombs of Bishop Northwold and Kilkenny (1257). Remains of 

altar or, more possibly, of an arcaded porch or doorway, now 

preserved in South Nave Triforium. 


Eastern windows in South Transept in present library. 

Windows, East and West gable wall, of Deanery. 

Remains of Refectory built by Prior Leverington (1259 — 1271) in 

Deanery garden. 
Arched recess in cloister (doorway to choir vestry) : possibly 

armarium, or bookcase, or seat of Master of the Novices. 
Canopy of Tomb of Bishop de Luda (1290—99). 
Lady Chapel (1321 — 1349) with entrance door in North Aisle of 

Choir. Octagon Lantern Tower (1322 — 42). 
Three bays of present Choir. 
Prior Crauden's Chapel (1321— 41) on the South side of Deanery 

adjoining Priory. 
The Prior's new Hall built on the undercroft of the old Hall : fine 

timbered roof. 


The Guest Hall (present Deanery) restored : old roof timbers and 

fine stone corbels and splendid groined undercroft. 
The Fair Hall built at South-east corner of Deanery : fine tracery 

of three windows. 
WalsinghanI Hall (Picta Camera) North of Infirmary Chapel. 
Monument of Bishop Hotham and substructure of S. Awdrey's 

The wooden stalls of Choir (1340) with elaborately carved canopies, 

the panels modern. 
Two windows inserted in North Aisle of Presbytery, ^ad iria 

aliaria^^ 4th and 5th, from transept wall, 1357. 
Windows inserted inner triforium of Presbytery at the West by 

Bishop Barnett (1366—74). 
East Window of Lady Chapel also by Bishop Barnett. 
Monument of Bishop Barnett (1366 — 74). 
Reredos of Lady Chapel, 1389. 
Topmost window in S. wall of S. Transept. 
Octagon on top of West Tower. 


[tf.— EARLY.] 

The Ely Porta (c. 1400), sometimes called Waipole*s Gate. 

Tomb of Cardinal de Luxemburg ( 1438 — 1443) . 

Tomb of Earl of Worcester {1427 — 70) and two wives. 

Outer wall of Trifonum raised and windows inserted in Nave. ' 

Windows inserted in North Aisle of Presbytery towards the east 

by Bishop Gray (1454—78). 
Supporting arches of West Tower, underpinning the older work. 
Cloisters rebuilt : no remains of Norman cloister except arcade 

on South wall of Church. 
Bishop Gray (1454 — 78) monument, remains in North Triforium 

Bishop Alcock (i486— 150 1) chapel. 
Bishop Redman (1501 — 6) monument. 


Bishop West (1515—34) chapel. .. 


Doorway in North-west corner of North Transept inserted 
(by Sir Christopher Wren) when North-west corner of Tran- 
sept was rebuilt. Similar work at South door to cloister. 




Bede's Ecclesiastical History Book IV. chaps. 19 and 20. In the 
first of these chapters is probably contained all that is really 
trustworthy in the history of S. Etheldreda, though several 
lives of the saint, metrical and otherwise, were written at a 
later time : a list of these may be found in Hardy*s Descriptive 


Liber Eliensis. A history of Ely written by Thomas, a Monk of the 
Convent in the XII. century. The I. and II. books have been 
published by Canon Stewart for the Anglia Christiana Society 
1848, the III. book has not yet been published, but J an index 
of the headings of the chapters will be found in Stubbs' 
'* Memorials of Ely," p. 58—65, also a full account of the Liber 
EliensiSt and the Convent Obedientiary Rolls and Cartularies. 


Inquisitio Eliensis, published for the Royal Literary Society 1876, 
by N. E. S. Hamilton. 

Episcopal Registers^ in the muniment room of the Palace, Ely, and 
at Ely House, Dover Street, I^ondon. 

Charters, Obedientiaty and other Rolls, in Dean and Chapter Muni- 
ment Room. 

Anglia Sacra, by Henry Wharton, 1691, containing the History of 
the Ely Monastery, abridged chiefly from the Liher Elietisis, 
with a continuation by the last Prior and first Dean, Robert 
Steward, carrying the history down to 1536. 

Monasticon Anglicanum, by Sir William Dugdale, ed. by Calej', 
Badinel and Ellis, 6 vols., 1817—30. A standard work of 
reference for history of monastic institutions in England and 

Acta Sanctorum. Bollandist edition, 1643— 1794, or Mabillon 1733. 
(A list of the principal British Saints in this collection is given 
in Hardy's Descriptive Catalogue.) 

Notitia Mofiastica. Account of the Abbeys and Priories of England 
and Wales by John Tanner, 1744. 

Biographica Brittanica Literaria, 2 vols., Anglo-Saxon and Anglo- 
Norman Periods, by Thomas Wright, i846. 

Dictionary of Christian Biography, by Smith and Wace, 4 vols., 
1877, contains scholarly and careful biographies of all the 
principal ecclesiastical personages down to XI. century. 

A Descriptive Catalogue of MSS. relating to the history of Great 
Britain and Ireland, by Sir T. DufFus Hardy, 3 vols., published 
by Master of the Rolls 1862 — 71. This book is invaluable to 
the student of early English History, as supplying a complete 
guide to the original authorities, whether printed or unprinted, 
from th§ earliest time? to 1327. 

In addition to the ordinary' standard histories I would strongly 
recommend that in the six volumes of Freeman's Norman 
Conquest chapter xix. in Vol. IV. on *'the Ecclesiastical 
Settlement of England," and chapter xxiv. in Vol. V. on 
the Ecclesiastical effects of the Norman Conquest," and 
chapter xxvi. in same Vol. on the "effects of the Norman 
Conquest on Art and Architecture," should be specially 


noticed. There are also several most quaint and instructive 
notices of Ely in Thomas Fuller's Worthies of England^ 1662, 
and Church History of Britain , 1655. 

Survey of Cathedrals by Browne Willis, 3 vols., 1728, contains plan 
of the original disposition of the monuments and tombs in the 
Choir and Presbytery of Ely. 

Histofy of the Mitred Abbeys and Conventual Cathedral Churches 
by Browne Willis, 2 vols., 1718. 

History of the Cathedral Church of Ely, by James Bentham, with 
Appendices and Supplement by W. Stevenson, 1771 — 181 2. 

Cathedral Church of Ely ^ by George Millers, 1834. 

Architectural History of Ely Cathedral, by Canon Stewart, 1868. 

Murray's Handbook to the Eastern Cathedrals contains a careful 
account of Ely by Mr. King. 

English Minsters by M. Walcott, 1879, and " Cathedralia,^' by the 
same writer, will be found useful by those students who wish 
to make a comparative study of the English Cathedrals. 

Cathedral Churches, England and Wales, by W. J . Loftie, a later 
book on similar lines. 

Cathedral Churches of England, by Mrs. Van Ransselaer : an 
American book, altogether charming, delightful and scholarly. 

Fenland, Past and Present, by Miller and Skertchley, 1878, a book 
full of information on the natural features of the Fen Country, 
its geology, antiquarian relics, flora and fauna. 

Ancient Cambridgeshire, by Professor C. C. Babington. 

Embanking and Draining, by Dugdale. 

Historical Memorials of Ely Cathedral, by Dean Stubbs, 1897. 

Hereward the Wake, by Charles Kingsley, a most inspiring novel, 
invaluable as a stimulant to the imagination in the study 
of Norman literature. It will be wise, however, to read in 
connection both with Kingsley's novel and with the more 
accurate but certainly more dull tale, " the Camp of Refuge," 
by Charles Macfarlane, the true story of the Conqufest of the 
Isle of Eb", in Freeman's Norman Conquest IV. 462 — 485, and 
the ** Legend of Hereward" in his Appendix to same volume 


pp. 826 — 833. Mr. Macfarlane's novel has lately been repub- 
lished by Constable & Co., with valuable antiquarian and 
historical introduction and notes by G. L. Gomme. 


Gothic and Renaissance Architecture^ by Professor Smith, one of 
the Art Handbook series, edited by Sir E. Poynter, President 
of the Royal Academy. 

A History of Gothic Art in England by E. S. Prior. 

Introduction to Gothic Architecture, by John H. Parker, and his 
abridged form of the same book, the A. B.C. of Gothic Archi- 
tecture , and also his " Concise Glossary of Architecture^ 

Seven Periods of English Architecture, by Edmund Sharpe. 

Lecture on Ely Cathedral by Sir Gilbert Scott, 1873, and his Lectures 
on Gothic Architecture. 

Cathedral Cities of Ely and Norwich. Etchings by R. Farren. 
Professor Freeman's Introduction to this book containing a 
masterly account of the comparative architectural merits of 
these two Cathedrals should be read by every student. 



Tj^DGAR **the Peaceful/' by his Charter, as mentioned 
in the Introduction, restored the powers and privi- 
leges enjoyed by the monastery previous to its destruc- 
tion by the Danes, to the newly appointed Abbot on its 
re- foundation by Bishop ^thelwold, ad. 970, and the 
Abbots of Ely for more than a century successively ex- 
ercised powers similar to those of a County Palatine. 
After the change from an Abbacy to a Bishopric, the 
Bishops continued to exercise similar authority until the 
reign of Henry VIII., when their civil privileges were 
greatly abridged by an Act of Parliament. The succes- 
sive Bishops of Ely, however, until the year 1836, pos- 
sessed 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. 1 109, a division of the property and revenues of the 
Convent took place, the Bishop taking care to protect 
his own interests and those of his successors, but leaving 
the charge and repairs of the Church and Monastery to 
the share of the Prior and Monks. The County of Cam- 
bridge, with the exception of a few parishes, was trans- 
ferred 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 embraces four Archdeaconries, which 
are subdivided into thirty-five Rural Deaneries ; and the 
Isle of Ely, which is under the peculiar Archidiaconal 
jurisdiction of the Bishop, and is divided into three 
Rural Deaneries. There are five hundred and sixty-five 
benefices in the diocese. The population of the whole is 
about 520,000; and the area in acres is 1,367,200. 

Arms of the See,~OvL. three ducal coronets, or. These are de- 
rived from the arms of the Bast Anglian kings. 

The following list of the Bishops, to which is prefixed the 
succession of Abbesses and Abbots, is derived chiefly from Mr. 
Bentham*s Hisiofy and Antiquities of Ely Cathedral. 




S. Etheldreda. 

Foundress and first Abbess. 


S. Sexburga. 


S. Krminilda. 


S. Werburga. 



970 Brihtnoth. First Abbot. Prior of Winchester. 

981 Elsin. 

1016 Leofwin, or Oschitel. 
1022 Leofric. 
1029 Leofsin. 

1045 Wilfric. A kinsman of Edward the Confessor. 
1066 Thurstan. Last Saxon Abbot. 
1072 Theodwin. A Monk of Jumieges. 
1075 [Godfrey, Administrator ad interim,'] 

1081 Simeon. Brother of Walkelin of Winchester and a kinsman 
of the Conqueror. Founder of the Norman Church. 

Interval of seven years. 

1 100 Richard. Completed the Norman Choir. Translated into 
it the remains of the Sainted Abbesses. Commenced 
negotiations for the conversion of the Abbacy into a 
Bishopric. Died 1107. 


1 109 Herve le Breton, orHervey, first Bishop. The Abbey estates 
divided, and the See firmly established. Died 1131. 

I ^33 Nigellus, a Prebendary of St. Paul's, Treasurer to the King, 
Henry I., a Baron of the Exchequer. Adherent of Queen 
Matilda. Built Ely Castle. Died 1169. 

1 174 Geoffrey 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. 

1 189 William Longchamp, Chancellor of England, Papal Legate. 
Died at Poictiers 1197. 

1198 Eustace, Archdeacon of Richmond, Treasurer of York, 
Dean of Salisbury, Chancellor of England, Founder of the 
Galilee or Western Porch. Died 1215. 

1215 [Robert of York, chosen by the Monks but never conse- 
crated, held possession of the temporalities of the See for 

five years.] 


I220 John de Fontibus, Abbot of Fountains in Yorkshire. 

1225 GeojBfrey de Burgh, Archdeacon of Norwich. 

1229 Hugh de Northwold, Abbot of St. Edmundsbury. This 
distinguished prelate built the magnificent Presb3i:ery, or 
Eastern portion of the Choir. On the occasion of the 
dedication of the whole church he entertained sumptu- 
ously the King, Henry III., Prince Edward his son, and 
many nobles and bishops. Died 6th August, 1254. 

1254 William de Kilkenny, Archdeacon of Coventry and Chan- 

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 I^uda, (of Louth), Archdeacon of Durham, Pre- 
bendary of St. Paul's of York and of Lincoln, sometime 
Chancellor. Died 1298. "Vir magnificus et eminentis 

1299 Ralph de Walpole, Bishop of Norwich. 

1302 Robert de Orford, Prior of the Convent. 

1310 John de Ketene, Almoner of the Convent. 

1316 John Hothani, Chancellor of the king's (Edward II.) exche- 
quer, Prebendary of York, Rector of Cottingham in \"ork- 
shire. Bishop Hotham was a munificent promoter of the 
great architectural works carried on under the rule ot 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 de L'Isle, Prior of Dominicans at Winchester. Died 
at Avignon. 

The choice of the Monks, which had fallen upon Alan de Wal- 
singham 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 Chan- 
cellor. In 1368 created Cardinal. 

**£xultani ccdli quia Simon venit ab Ely, 
Cujus in adventumflent in Kent milia centum.*' 

1366 John Barnet, Treasurer of England ; had been Bishop of 
Worcester, afterwards of Bath ; thence translated to Ely. 

1374 Thomas Fitz-Alan or Arundel, Archdeacon of Taunton 
Chancellor of England in 1386. Archbishop of York in 
1388, and of Canterbury 1396. Persecutor of the Lollards. 

1388 John Fordham, formerly Dean of Wells and Bishop of 
Durham, keeper of the Privy Seal. 

1426 Philip Morgan, Bishop of Worcester. Died 1435. 

1418 Louis de Luxemburg, Archbishop of Rouen ; had been 
Chancellor of France and Normandy, afterwards Cardinal. 

1444 Thomas Bourchier, Bishop of Worcester, translated to Can- 
terbury 1454 ; Cardinal 1464. 

1454 William Gray, D.D., Archdeacon of Northampton, Chan- 
cellor of the University of Oxford, Lord Treasurer. 
Bishop Gray altered some of the aisle windows of the 

1478 John Morton, LL.D., Master of the Rolls, Archdeacon of 
Winchester, Lord Chancellor 1479 ; translated to Canter- 
bury i486 ; Cardinal 1493 

Bishop Morton was the first to attempt to drain the Fens, hence 
** Morton's Learn," a drain extending irom Guyhim to Peter- 
borough. He is the Bishop of Ely in Shakespeare's Richard III. 
in whose garden at Holborn the King had seen good strawberries. 

i486 John Alcock, LL.D., Master of the Rolls, Bishop of Roches- 
ter, afterwards of Worcester, translated to Ely, Founder 
of Jesus College, Cambridge. An eminent Architect, 
Controller of the Royal Works. He built the Mortuary 
Chapel, in which his remains lie buried, and much of the 
Episcopal Palace at Ely. 

1501 Richard Redman, D.D., Abbot of Shap, Bishop of St. Asaph, 
then of Exeter, 1499. 


1506 James Stanley, D.D., Third Son of the first Earl of Derby, 
Archdeacon of Richmond, Precentor of Salisbury. Died 
22nd March, 1515. Buried in Manchester Cathedral. 

1515 Nicholas West, LL.D., Chaplain to King Henry VII., Dean 
of Windsor ; he built the Chapel bearing his name, and a 
Chantry at Putney still remaining. 

1534 Thomas Goodrich, D.D., a zealous promoter of the Reform- 
ation, one of the revisers of the Translation of the New 
Testament, compiler of the Duty to God and one's neigh- 
bour in the Church Catechism, Lord Chancellor 155 1 ; 
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, having de- 
clared in Parliament that "he would die sooner than 
consent to a change of religion." Committed to Tower. 
Died at Lambeth. 

1559 Richard Cox, D.D., Dean of Christchurch, Oxford, and of 
Westminster. Died 1581. '*The Proud Prelate" of the 
well known forged letter from Queen Elizabeth, by which 
the Editor of " the Gentleman's Magazine " was hoaxed 
in an article published at the end of the i8th century. 

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 Trans- 
lators 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. A fine hater of Puritans; 
*' A Wren with the wings of an eagle." Bishop. Wren was 
confined in the Tower for eighteen years in consequence 
of his firm support of the Royal Authority. He outlived 


the Rebellion and was replaced in the See. Built Pembroke 
College Chapel as a thanksgiving. 
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., Lady Margaret and Regius Professor 
of Divinity ; Master successively of Corpus and S. John's 
College, Cambridge. Author of Collect for All Conditions 
of Men. 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 

1691 Simon Patiick, D.D., Dean of Peterborough, Bishop of Chi- 
chester, translated to Ely ; well known for his Devotional 
and Theological Works. A great benefactor of the Cathe- 
dral Library. 

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 Corpus Christi College, 

Cambridge, Bishop of LlandafF, translated to Chichester, 

thence to Ely. 
Bishop Mawson was the first to make a road practicable for 

wheeled carriages I'rom Cambridge. 
1771 Edmund Keene, D.D., Bishop of Chester; he effected great 

improvements in the Palace at Ely. 
1 781 James Yorke, D.D., Bishop of S. 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 exer- 
cised within the Isle of Ely by the Bishops ceased by Act of 



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 Tnrton, 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 Win- 
chester, 1873. 

1873 James Russell Woodford, D.D., Vicar of Leeds, Chaplain in 
Ordinary to the Queen, Founder of Ely Theological Col- 
lege. Died October 24th, 1885. 

1885 Lord Alwyne Compton, D.D., Archdeacon of Northampton, 
Dean of Worcester, Prolocutor of the Lower House of the 
Convocation of Canterbury, Lord High Almoner to the 




TTTHEN the Abbacy was converted into a Bishopric, 
^^ A.D. 1 109, and the office of Abbot merged in that 
of Bishop, the Prior became the head of the community. 
He presided in Chapter, governed generally the affairs 
of the Monastery ; and in the reigns of some of our 
kings was summoned to sit in Parliament. 

" The liberty of the Isle of Kly became, as I have said, the pos- 
session of the Bishop on the foundation of the Diocese in 1109. 
The Liberty of Ktheldreda in Suffolk however remained in the 
possession of the Prior and Convent, and still remains in the hands 
of the Dean and Chapter to-day. The fees and fines, the forfeitures 
and amercements, however which originally supplied the main 
source of the income of the Monastery I need hardly say have long 
since ceased to be exacted by the Dean and Chapter. The last 
entry on the subject, which I can find in our Muniment Room, is 
in 1765, when it would appear there was a dying eflFort to enforce 
our claims for some " green wax which came out of the Pipe" — the 
Pipe you probably know is a Department of the Royal Exchequer. 


The entry is headed — " A deputation to receive fines " and the doc- 
ument runs thus — "we nominate, constitute and appoint William 
Ward of Staple Inn, London, Gentleman, Bailiff, to attend at the 
apposal of the Sheriffs of Cambridge and Suffolk before the Foreign 
apposer to claim and demand, all franchises, proclamations, im- 
munities, and all manner of fines, amercements, recognizances, 
and other penalties, and forfeitures, commonly called green wax, 
which to us of right belongs." I know not how long William 
Ward stood looking for the green wax and the fines which it 
symbolises. From that time, I fear, to the present the Pipe, the 
conduit of the Royal Exchequer, so far as the Liberty of S. Ethel- 
dreda is concerned has run dry. After more than a thousand 
years the patrimony of the Anglo-Saxon Queen has disappeared. 
But if the patrimony has gone, one historic privilege of the Liberty 
still remains, and I trust may long remain. It is in virtue of the 
royal rights of Queen Etheldreda, in the seventh century, that the 
Dean and Chapter of Ely, as her direct representative in the nine- 
teenth century, proceeded a few months ago to the election of a 
Coroner for the Liberty of Etheldreda in Suffolk." * 

The first Prior after the foundation of the See 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 VIII., 
at the general dissolution in November 1539. Agreeably 
to the powers vested in him by Parliament, the king, by 
Letters Patent dated September loth, 1541, **did grant 
his Royal Charter for erecting the Cathedral Church of 
the late Monastery of SL 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 Preben- 
daries,t priests, with other ministers necessary for the 

♦Stubbs' Historical Memorials p. 22. 
t By an Act of Parliament passed in 1840, the number of Prebendaries 
was in future to be reduced to six. Two of the Prebendal Stalls are now 
attached respectively to the Regius Professorship of Hebrew and the Ely- 
Professorship of Divinity in the University of Cambridge. 


celebrating of 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 Preben- 
daries 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 Dea7i and 
Chapter of the Cathedral Church of the Holy and Undivided 
Trinity oj Ely : ' and 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 last Prior, was made the first Dean, since whose time 
twenty-four others have held the office, exclusive of the 
present Dean, who was appointed in February, 1894. 

Arms of the Deanery— Or^ three keys, az, two and one, the wards 
in chief. These were the arms of ^thelwold, Bishop of Winches- 
ter, and from him assumed as the arms of the monastery. They 
are surmounted by a Mitre, for the Priors of Ely, as at Canterbury, 
were Mitred Priors, this privilege having been gained in 1143 by 
Prior Powcher from Pope John XXIII. See also (Cathedral Muni- 
ment Room,) letter 67 in Register of Edmund Walsingham ' from 
Pope Martin V., ( 141 7— 143 1) granting permission to the Prior and 
his successors **to use a mitre, ring, staff, amice, gremial gloves, 
and other pontifical insignia, not only in the Church of Ely, but 
in whatever place they may give the solemn benediction after 
Mass, except in the presence of the Legate of the Holy See." 

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

A.D. A.D. 

1 107. I. Vincent 11 54. 5. Alexander 

1 1 18. 2. Henry 1163. 6. Solomon 

1135- 3- William 11 77. 7. Richard 

1 144. 4. Tombert, or Them- 1194. 8. Robert Ivongchamp 

bert 1 197. 9. John de Strateshete 



1 200. 


1 291. 









10. Hugh 

11. Roger de Brigham 

12. Ralph 

13. Walter 

14. Robert de Levering- 


15. Henry de Banccis 

16. John de Hemingston 

17. John de Shepreth 
John Saleman 
Robert de Orford 
William de Clare 
John de Fresingfield 
John de Crauden 
Alan de Walsingham 




1366. 25. John Bucton 

1397. 26. William Walpole 

1401. 27. William Powcher 

1418. 28. Edmund Walsingham 

1425. 29. Peter de Ely 

1430- 30- William Wells 

1462. 31. Henry Peterborough 

1478. 32. Roger Westminster 

1500- 33- Robert Colville 

15 10. 34. William Witlesey 

1515- 35- William Foliott 

1516. 36. John Cottenham 

1522. 37. Robert Wells alias 
Steward, last Prior 
and first Dean. 

William Hatfield 

Robert Steward, of Wells, M.A., last Prior. 
Andrew Perne, d.d., Master of Peterhouse, Cambridge. 
John Bell, d.d., Master of Jesus College, Cambridge. 
Humphrey Tindall, d.d., President of Queens' College, Cam- 
bridge, Chancellor of Lichfield, Archdeacon of Stafford. 
Henry Caesar, or Adelmare, d.d. 

Dean Caesar was a great patron of Music. A musical service, 
known as "Caesar's Service," but written by John Amner, 
Organist, is preserved among the MSS. in the Cathedral Library. 

William Fuller, d.d. In 1646 Dean of Durham. 

William Beale, d.d., nominated but never admitted ; Master 
of St. John's College, Cambridge. Died at Madrid 1650. 
A vacancy of ten years. 

Richard Love, d.d.. Master of Bene't College, Cambridge. 

Henry Feme, d.d.. Master of Trinity College, Cambridge : 
in 1662 Bishop of Chester. Died five weeks after his 

Edward Martin, d.d., Master of Queens' College, Cambridge. 
D ied a few days after his institution. 

Francis Wilford, d.d.. Master of Bene't College, Cambridge. 

Robert Mapletoft, d.d., Master of Pembroke Hall, Cam- 

Bean Mapletoft left to the Dean and Chapter 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, 

1729. John Frankland, d.d., Master of Sidney Sussex College, 


1730. Peter Allix, d.d.. Fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge. 

Conimenied 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, 

Extensive repairs and restorations were commenced in 1844. 
1858. Harvey Goodwin, d.d. In 1869 Bishop of Carlisle. 
1869. Charles Merivale, d.d., 
1894. Charles William Stubbs, d.d. 

The Dean and Chapter have the patronage of sixteen li\'ings in 
this Diocese, three in the Diocese of Norwich, and one in the 
Diocese of S. Albans. They also appoint to the Minor Canonries 
and other offices connected with the Cathedral. 



" His first halt was at Ely. He arrived in the evening, and 
walked into the Cathedral, which, though fresh from Bruges and 
Ghent, he called * one of the most impressive buildings he had 
ever in his life seen.' It was empty apparently. No living thing 
was to be seen in the whole vast building but a solitary sparrow, 
when suddenly some invisible hand touched the organ, and the 
rolling sounds, soft, sweet and solemn, went pealing through the 
solitary aisles. He was greatly affected. He had come to look at 
the spot where Oliver had called down out of his reading-desk a 
refractory high-church clergyman, and he had encountered a scene 
which seemed a rebuke to his fierceness. 

Thomas Carlyl^s Life in London^ by 
T. A. Froudk, i : 274—5. 

Photo by 


G. H, Tyndall. 


Looking up suddenly, I found mine eyes 
Confronted with the Minster's vast repose. 
Silent and grey as forest-leagured cliif 
Left inland by the ocean's slow retreat. 
And dedicated 'shapes of saints and kings 
Stern faces bleared with immemorial watch 
Looked down benignly grave and seemed to say, 
Ye come and go incessant ; we remain 
Safe in the hallowed quiets of the past ; 
Be reverent, ye who flit and are forgot, 
Of faith so nobly realised as this. 

The Cathedral— I. R. LowEi<i.. 

The West Front. 

tF **the first glimpse of Ely" as Professor Freeman 
■^ says^** overwhelms us, not only by the stateliness 
and variety of its outline, but by its utter strangeness, 
its unlikeness to anything else,*' certainly our first view 
of the massive Romanesque solemnity and irregular 
grandeur of the great West front will not lessen the 


** The desija^er wished to have a Western Transept, and wishing 
to have a Western Transept he rightly determined to make it a 
leading feature of the building. He saw that a Western Transept 
must be a leading feature. The front that must have been more 
like that of Ely than any other, that of Bury St. Edmunds must as 
far as we can judge of it in its ruined state have been overwhelming. 
At first sight one is tempted to take it for the Church itself turned 
the wrong way. At Ely there is no such danger, even if there 
were no more left at Ely than there is at Bury. In designing his 
front, Bishop Geoffrey, or his architect, saw that a Western tran- 
sept could not be made to harmonise with two Western towers. 
Either the towers must destroy the importance of the transept, or 
the transept must destroy the importance of the towers. We see 
the bad effect at Lincoln ; we should see it at Peterborough did 
not the matchless portico overshadow the whole design of which 
the towers and transept formed part. But with a single tower the 
transept may be brought into perfect harmony. The tower rises 
above the transept as it rises above the Church : the transepts are 
subordinate to the tower only as the central transepts are subor- 
dinate to the central tower. If there was any flatness in the 
original design as seen from the direct West, that has been taken 
away by the later addition of the porch. But we must not forget 
how very different the present appearance of the West Front of 
Ely must have been when Bishop Geoffrey's work was just com- 
pleted. The loss of the North transept is to be lamented ; but it 
can be easily called up in imagination. It is harder to conceive 
how great is the unlikeness, in point of outline and proportion, 
between the tower and transept as they have been recast in later 
times. The tower as far as its stonework was concerned was low 
and massive ; that is, it* rose no higher than the square stages of 
the present tower; the stone Octagon that now is, the wooden 
spire that once crowned it, had a forerunner of some structure of 
wood of whose form we can only guess. The transepts had high 
roofs and gables which must have taken off from the height of the 
great Western tower, while they must have lessened the import- 
ance of the octagonal turrets of the transepts themselves, which 
have now almost the air of secondary towers. We of course cannot 
tell the height of the central tower (of the Church), it may even 
have overtopped that of the West end, so as to make an outline the 
very reverse of that which we now see."* 

♦ Professor Freeman's Introduction." 


The lower portion both of the tower and wings were 
built by Bishop Geoffrey Ridel (1174— 1 189), and completed 
as high as the first battlements during the episcopate of 
his successor I/)ngchamp (i 189— 1 197), who however spent 
none of his money on the fabric. The lower part of this 
work is late Norman, but the upper portions show indi- 
cations of transition towards the Pointed style. There 
is no record of the fall of the North-western transept 
towers, unless some hint as to date may be found in a 
record in the annals of Winchester Cathedral (Master of 
Rolls Series) which speaks of " a great and terrible tem- 
pest which destroyed the Tower at Ely and set fire to 
the Church." This points to the thirteenth century and 
Hugo de Northwold's time. The architecture of the 
Tower is worthy of attention, as it shews some beautiful 
specimens of arcading in bands between rows of win- 
dows, 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 they are 
now. 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 Norman tower about the middle of the thirteenth 
century, but it was afterwards removed, and the upper 
octagonal portion of the tower, in the Decorated style, was 
added, and 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. 
Indeed some have conjectured 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 finally removed about 
the beginning of the present century. 



The octagonal story does not harmonise with the lower 
part of the tower. There is a large window with transoms 
in each of the four sides, the upper portions only being 
glazed. It is flanked by octagonal turrets, rising a 
little higher than the centre, and faced with shallow ar- 
cading and connected with the main Tower by small fljdng 
buttresses. In each turret is a winding stair, but only 
that in the South-eastern turret is used, in the top of 
which is placed the clock bell. 

The wings of the Western tower formed a second 
transept to the church, and were doubtless exactly alike ; 
the existing 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 
is trefoil-headed, the 
fifth and all above are 
pointed and adorned 
with mouldings; and 
the whole surface is 
profusely enriched 
with bold diaper pat- 
terns inevitably sug- 
gesting memories of 
the Byzantine or Saracenic art, which first became 
familiar to England in the age of the Crusades. The 
roof was formerly of a higher pitch, as may be seen by 
the marks on the Southern face of the Tower. 

Photo by 

E. A, Siubbs. 



Some years ago there was a communication by a 
covered passage over the road, between this Transept 
and the East tower of the Palace, enabling the Bishop 
to enter the Cathedral under cover. There is a rough 
pencil drawing in the sketch book of Dr. Stukeley, which 
shows this gallery to have been the upper story of a 
gateway across the street, having two arches, one for foot- 
way, one for carriages, similar to those of the Ely Porta. 
The road which passed through this gateway is still 
called " The Gallery." The doorway, now built up, in 
the south wall of the Transept, by which the Bishop 
entered the Cathedral may still be seen from the Dean's 
Garden. It opened into the passage behind the arcading 
of the South wall of the Western Transept, which is 
approached from the inside by the door in the South- 
west corner, which also leads to the staircase to the 
Triforium and West Tower. 

The Galilee or Western Porch. 

TTOW the Church was entered from the West in the 
-■— *- 1 2th century is one of the very obscure points in 
the history of the fabric. The West arch of the tower 
with its drip stone looks very like the original West 
entrance of Bishop RidePs time, as there would appear 
to be no space below it where the roof of any vestibule 
can without some awkwardness come in, and this idea 
seems to have suggested itself to Mr. Bentham, who 
remarks that ** it was either contracted into a large door- 
way, or had some building of equal dimensions with the 
Nave of the Church into which it opened." 

That there was some large building there before, seems very 
plain to me; for when I was surveying the timbers and other 
parts of the roof of this Porch, I discovered the ornaments of a 


very large Arch somewhat pointed, which was once the great 
West Arch of the Tower, of which there were four, one opening to 
the Nave of the Church, and one on each side into two buildings 
which formed a Transept or Cross Aisle, the other which was West- 
ward was either contracted into a large door-way, or had some 
building of equal dimensions with the Nave of the Church, into 
which it opened. 

As there is no appearance of any such contraction, so there is 
no ground to suppose that it had been contracted,* but that it was 
open to a large and spacious building of one Aisle, equal in extent 
and height with the present building called the Galilee, will ap- 
pear from observing — First, That all these Arches before they 
were contracted in the manner we now see them, were once large 
and spacious openings with pillars better proportioned to the 
height and width of the Arches than they are at present. — Secondly, 
That those pillars were but equal, or at most not larger than those 
which supported the Tower that stood on the intersection of the 
other Transept, with the Body or Nave of the Church. — ^And 
lastly, that those large Arches supported by such slender pillars 
would require some considerable abutments to resist their thrust, 
when loaded with a Tower so immensely heavy, as that which 
they support. This thrust was sufficiently provided against on 
the north and south sides by the cross-building ; but the Arches 
of the Nave, conspiring with those under the Tower, must have 
overturned the Pillars on the west side, unless counteracted by a 
sufficient abutment on that part. Now nothing covild form a 
better abutement than such a building, as those on the north and 
south sides ; therefore there is reason to believe that there was one 
on the West side of the same sort ; it being absolutely necessary 
that there shovild be some abutment. And if we examine the 

♦Mr. Bentham is wrong in this assertion, for in 1898 in a visit to the 
roof space above the groining ol the porch, I found the remains of the Norman 
western cross wall of the Tower arch still in situ, above the level ol" the 
groining and below the sill of the inserted window in line with front wall 
of transept. The face of the wall was covered with diaper work similar to 
that of the "West fiont of the S. W. Transept, and on either side there were 
the remains of Norman arcading, also like that of the Transept, at the same 
level. I took a photograph of the diapered and arcaded wall by flash light. 



Porch itself, we shall find that the walls are much thicker than is 
necessary for a building of that height ; from whence I conclude 
that they did not take down the old building entirely, but left 
enough standing to preserve the abutment, and then by casing 
brought it into its present form.* 

This is SO. For in the thickness of the walls of the 
upper story of the Porch there is on either side, an 
arched passage or cell, opening into the parvise chamber, 
by a doorway in the centre of the inner wall, and lighted 
from the outside by narrow lancet-shaped openings 
visible on the outside. The only entrance to the parvise 
chamber appears to have been by an outside staircase to 
a doorway on the outer wall of the passage on the South 
side, and thence through the passage to the chamber. 
At the end of these passages towards the tower, the old 
stone work of the encased buttress, or abutting wall 
can still be seen on either side. And with this fact the 
remarks in Mr. Essex's Report also agree. 

** That this was really the case, appears upon examining the walls 
themselves, for it is not difficult to see where the new walls are 
joined to the old : which is a full demonstration that there was such 
a building as we have supposed, though we cannot say exactly how 
far it extended westward : but for the sake of regularity in the 
plan, we may suppose it was equal in length to the present 
building called the Galilee, as it was equal to it in heighth and 

But whatever the old arrangement may have been it 
was superseded by the Porch or Galilee which was added 
to the Church by Bishop Eustace between 1197 and 1215, 
for it is recorded of him that **he built from its founda- 
tion the new Galilee of the Church of Ely towards the 
West, (versus occidentem)^^ 

* Benthain's History Addenda, vol. i. p. 1. 
t Brit. Mus., Harleian MSS. 258. 


It is true that Dr. Tanner in the last century started a 
theory that by the new Galilee of Bishop Eustace is really 
meant the whole Western Transept, and he has been fol- 
lowed by others who think that the style of the existing 
porch implies a later date than that of Bishop Eustace, 
and are therefore inclined to ascribe it "to some un- 
known benefactor who had seen Hugo de Northwold's 
presbytery, and determined to lengthen the Church West- 
ward as it had been extended in the opposite direction." 
Mr. Miller on this point remarks pertinently, (p. 41) — 

** Nothing can be more obvious, than that the Tower and its 
wings were one work. Either then, the present Portico is the 
Galilee of Eustachius, or some other building in the same place, 
which after standing some twenty or thirty years was demolished 
to make room for this : a very violent supposition, altogether 
unnecessary and to which history gives no countenance." 

Moreover on the question of date, as evidenced by the 
style of architecture, Sir Gilbert Scott gives the following 
careful opinion : — 

" The work in the West Porch at Ely is of course later in its 
moulding than that at Lincoln (before 1200) having 15 more years 
to deal with. It is I think a little later than that at St. Albans, 
but it has still a few more years to play with, De Cella having 
given up his work in despair, some years before he died in 1215, 
while Eustace may have continued his till his death, but the 
character of the capitals at Ely and S. Albans are identical, while 
the portals at both are among the most exquisite Early English 
works which we possess. . . . The fact that North wold's much 
later work is (if anything) less refined I submit to be only parallel 
to the similiar difference between that of Grostete and S. Hugh of 
Ivincoln, and between that of Trumpington and De Cella at S. 
Albans, indeed I would appeal to those who have given most study 
to the subject whether they have not often found greater and more 
studious refinement in even clearly transitional work than in fully 
developed Early English.*'* 

• Sir G. Scott's LecLure. 


But whatever the history of it may be there can be no 
doubt that this Western Porch is one of the most beauti- 
ful Early English porches which exist an3rwhere, — "a 
marvel of Gothic shafting, with clustered pinnacles 
which seem to mimic those of Poictiers .... but still 
in its plan and designing following native traditions.'** 

** Nothing/' says Mr. Parker, **can exceed the richness, 
freedom and beauty of this work ; it is one of the finest 
porches in the world."t 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 

" In the tall shafted angle turrets of this Galilee may 
be recognised a distinct connection with the Angevin 
style of Henry the Second's continental dominions. 
Something of the same kind is to be found, too, not far 
off Ely, in the tower of St. Nicholas at Lynn, of about 
the same date. The West Front of Poictiers Cathedral 
has these significant shafted towers."! 

The Parvise Chamber over Qalilee Porch. 

Above the vaulting of the Galilee Porch there is a 
large lofty almost forgotten chamber, from which origi- 

* Cf. Prior's Gothic Art, p. 213, 232. 

t Parker's " Introduction to the Study of Gothic Architecture," p. 91. 

t Prior's Gothic Art, p. 232. 


" nally a grand unobstructed view of the whole length of 
the Cathedral could be obtained through the great open- 
ing of the Western tower arch. This chamber indeed 
must, until the beginning of the present century, have 
formed a lofty gallery over the West door, and its three 
great I^ancet windows, forty feet further West than the 
ugly modem tracery which has stupidly been intruded 
into the tower arch, must for centuries have flooded the 
long Nave with the golden lights of the setting sun. 
Below the modem window and above the West door, 
there still remains the 15th century stone panelling of 
heraldic design, which has all the appearance of the front 
of a Minstrels' gallery. It has indeed been conjectured, 
with some show of probability, that the whole of the 
upper story of the Galilee Porch was designed for the 
accommodation of minstrels ana musicians, who, on the 
occasion of great functions, would from this gallery 
announce the entrance of the Procession into the Nave 
from the West. At Lisieuse to-day it is the custom for 
the Choir placed in such a Western gallery to sing 
"lyaud and glory," when the Procession on Palm 
Sunday, returns with the Sacrament from the Cemetery, 
or at the reception of a Bishop. 

"VioUet le Due, indicates, that the addition in so many 
Churches of Narthex Halls, or great Aisled Porches, is to be 
ascribed to a Cluniac revival of certain functions of discipline and 
ritual, which had to be performed outside the Church proper, and 
for which housing would be required. There were ceremonies 
attaching to Palm Sunday, which were performed at the great 
doors, Ivcnoir mentions these as having to be brought inside on 
occasions of bad weather. The very usual inclemency of the 
English spring must soon have suggested some cover at the West 
End. Thus the Galilee of Durham was doubtless a concession to 
the convenience of the monks. The Chapel of St. Mary at 
Glastonbury (now called St. Joseph's) originally separate at the 
West end, was joined on to the Church by a portico in the 13th 


century. The churches of Fountains and Byland had covered 
Western porches. It is to be noticed that the great churches, Ely, 
Peterborough, Lincoln and Durham, which all had these Western 
halls, did not develop the great South or North porches found in 
all the other large Churches."* 

If as others have conjectured this Parvise was used 
as a Sanctuary Chamber, the passage-like cells, in that 
case, might have been used as the sleeping places of 
" the watchers," who here, as at Durham and Cologne, 
may have occupied two chambers over the Porch, to give 
the fugitive admission, and announce his arrival in safety 
by tolling the Galilee bell. The entrance to this Parvise 
presumably by an outside staircase of wood, leading to a 
doorway still visible in the upper arcade of the South 
wall, would seem to give some countenance to this 

Origin of the term Galilee. 

The first mention of the Galilee at Ely appears to be 
in the record (Harl. MSS. 258 and in I^ib. Eliens.) that 
Bishop Eustace (1198 — 1215) "built from the foundation 
the new Galilee of the Church at Ely towards the West 
at his own expense." This naturally implies that a 
Galilee already existed at an earlier date, and does not 
indeed contradict the idea that that term may have been 
applied to the whole Western Transept. The great 
Western Cross Transept with Towers at Ely, moreover, 
is a somewhat unusual architectural feature in an English 
Cathedral — ^though it was imitated at a later date by the 
sister Benedictine Minster at Peterborough — and appears 
to have followed the model of the great Cluniac mins- 
ters of Northern France, as at Vezelay, in which a large 

♦cf. Prior's History of Gothic Art. p. 38. 


Atrium, or Ante-church for the special use of Penitents 
and Catechumens, ** a Place of Tears," was always a 
special peculiarity. The similarity of this Cluniac ar- 
rangement with the outer Court of the Jewish Temple, 
the Court of the Gentiles, Galilcea Gentium (Isaiah ix. i.) 
may quite conceivably have suggested the title of 
" Galilee " for this Western and least sacred part of the 
Church. This at least seems to be the simplest and most 
obvious interpretation of the term. 

There are however various other ingenious inter- 
pretations suggested. A Durham MS. quoted by 
Hutchinson, and also Macro in his Lexicon, assert that 
the solemn Procession held every Sunday, which started 
from the great Western Doors of the Cathedral, was so 
held in memory of the Apostles' sad and solemn journey 
from Jerusalem in obedience to the Resurrection Angel's 
command — ** Behold He goeth before you into Galilee : 
there shall ye see Him : lo, I have told you ! " 

The appropriateness however of this interpretation 
would be more evident if '* the Galilee" were the goal 
rather than the starting point of the Procession . 

Again, in " The Rites of Durham,'' (Surtees Edn. 1842, 
p. 37) written by a former Monk of the Abbey in the 
time of Elizabeth, the unknown writer says "it (the 
Chapel of S. Mary) is called the Gallei^y, by reason 
(accordinge as some thinke) of the translatinge of the 
same, once begun and afterwards removed, whereupon 
it tooke the name of Galleley, to which place such as 
maid repaire unto it had graunted unto them sundry 
pardons, as more plainly appereth in a table there sette 
up, conteyning the said pardons." 

Upon this Dr. Fowler, who is re-editing The Rites of 
Durham, sends to me the following note. 


"This idea of hansfer has been suggested by S. 
Jerome's explanation of Galgala as Rota, Revolutio : and 
Galilaea as Volubilis, founded on the Hebrew Galal * to 
roll/ hence to remove. The name * Galilaea* in Scripture 
is derived from the Hebrew Galil, a circuit, region ; but 
why it has been given to the Lady Chapel at Durham, 
and to Porches at Lincoln, Ely, and elsewhere has never 
been satisfactorily shewn." 

Another somewhat fanciful suggestion is to derive the 
term Galilee from a Hebrew root connected with ** gaal,'* 
the blood avenger, the primary meaning of which is to 
redeem ; thus regarding "the Galilee" as the Sanctuary 
Chamber — the place of refuge of those who were cut off 
for a time from Church privileges. It seems idle however 
to look for the derivation of a mediaeval word direct from 
Hebrew, a language which with some exceptions, as in 
the case of the Monks of Ramsey, and a few Franciscan 
Hebraists of the xiii. Century, was practically an unknown 
tongue at that time. 

Still less does there seem anything but what is fanciful, 
however ingenious, in the suggestion that Galilee is de- 
rived from the Greek expression (Heb. i. 9) * Elaion 
agalliaseos.' — " the oil of gladness," i. e. the baptismal oil 
or chrism, thus interpretating "the Galilee" as the place 
of " baptism "—the Baptistery in fact. 

After this, even the explanation that the Porch took 
its name from the fact that when a woman applied at the 
Porter's Lodge of the Convent to see a Monk who was a 
relation, the only answer she received from the Porter 
was the recitation of the text — " Behold he goeth before 
you into Galilee," — which was to be taken as an intimation 
that if she betook herself to the Galilee Porch of the 


Cathedral, she might there in due time have her interview 
with her friend, — hardly seems to be far-fetched. 

Altogether we may wisely I think be satisfied with 
that explanation which is founded on the analogy of the 
Ante-church or Atrium of churches of the Cluniac 
Minster type to the outer Court, or Galilee, of the 
Gentiles in the Jewish Temple. 

In 1757 Mr. Essex reported to the Dean and Chapter 
that "beginning at the West end of the Cathedral, the 
first part which presents itself is the West Porch, the 
roof of which is in so ruinous a state that it is absolutely 
necessary to take it down, but as the walls are in a bad 
state by occasion of the wet which has long got into them 
through the gutters, and as this part of the building is 
neither ornamental nor useful, but will be attended with 
great expense, if repaired as it ought to be, it would be 
better to take it quite down than to repair it, as it will 
be of more service to apply the materials to the use of 
other parts of the Church." 

We may be thankful that the Dean and Chapter of that 
day were wise enough to set aside their architect's advice, 
and can only hope 'that the Dean and Chapter of the 
present day may at no distant date see their way to 
re-roof this noble chamber, and finding some more 
suitable place for Bishop Yorke's stained glass, may 
remove the intruding tracery in the Western arch, and 
thus once more leave an unobstructed view from end to 
end of the Cathedral, from the great lancets at the West 
to their three sisters at the East.* 

*Tlii8 window was inserted a.i>. 1800, and improved in 1807, at the 
expense of Bishop Yorke, who filled two portions of the upi)er part with 
stained glass, the other two being filled at the cost of Dr. Waddington, then 
a Prebendary of the Cathedral; the remainder was completed by Mr. 


The Interior of the West Tower. 

rpmS tower has been restored since 1845, when Dean 
Peacock removed a floor above the Tower arches, 
thus bringing into view a series of beautiful colonnades 
and arches, for many years hidden except to those 
who explored the upper portions of the building, thus 
relieving the tower of the weight of a large quantity 
of stone and materials * 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 archaeological knowledge, by 
H. S. le Strange, Esq., of Hunstanton Hall, Norfolk, 
at the expense ot H. R. Evans, Esq., then Registrar to 
the Dean and Chapter. The subject placed appropriately 
at the entrance of the Church is the creation of the 
Universe. Stems and branches of foliage embrace five 
circles placed cross-wise. In the upper circle towards 

Clutterbuck; the subjects being taken from the history of our Lord. 
This with the wall decoration below, was done at the expense of J. T. 
Waddington, Esq. , and his widow. In the ppandrils above the West door 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 whom Mrs. Waddington 
was a member. 

♦At the time these works were in progress (October, 1845) Mr. Basevi, 
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 a memorial brass, by 
Messrs. Waller, has been laid over his remains. 


the East is depicted the Dexha Domini y the " Right Hand 
of the I^rd," as an emblem of the Creator. The centre 
contains a figure of the Saviour in an aureole ; He is 
represented as holding the globe of the world 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." In the circle beneath is the Holy Dove, 
brooding over the waters of the newly created earth. 
Rays of light proceed from the Dextra Domini in a three- 
fold shaft and embrace within their influence the other 
two Persons of the Godhead. The whole is surrounded 
by a border containing the words " Thou art worthy, O 
lyord, 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 South-west or Galilee Transept. 

A IvTHOUGH Dr. Tanner was undoubtedly wrong in 
"^^ his assertion that the Western Transepts were 
identical with the new Galilee of Bishop Eustace, it 
seems quite probable, if at least the term Galilee is 
derived as we have suggested above, that these Tran- 
septs, forming a kind of narthex or outer hall to the 
Cathedral, and being in fact * the old Galilee ' of Ridel's 
time may well have been known by that name. Certainly 
it would be natural and convenient now to speak of the 
still standing Transept and the Porch as respectively the 
Galilee Transept and the Galilee Porch. 

Photo by G, H. TyndalL 



During the last century and up to the time of its resto- 
ration ' by Dean Peacock the South-western or Galilee 
Transept was 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. 

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 
was painted by T. Gambier Parry, Esq., of Highnam 
Court, Gloucester, in 1878 ; the floor has been re-laid with 
encaustic tiles and marble ; a new font* has been placed 
here at the expense of the late Canon Selwyn, and this 
Transept is now used as the Morning Chapel and the 
Baptistery of the Cathedral. Several windows, which for 
many years had been blocked up with stone and rubbish, 
were re-opened at the instance of Dean Peacock, and 
those of the lower tier at the South end filled with 
stained glass by Mr. Wailes. 

The window on the Western side contains — The Meeting of 
Jacob and Rachel, the Choice of Esther, and the Crowning of 
Esther— the gift of Dean Peacock. 

The window on the Eastern side contains— the Meeting of 
Isaac and Rebecca, of Boaz and Ruth, and The Marriage at Cana 
— given by Hamilton Cooke, Esq., of Carr House, Doncaster. 

5. Catharine'5 Chapel. 

On the East side of this Transept are two fine Norman 
arches, much enriched with zig-zag, one of which opens 

*A Font, the gift of Dean Spencer, in 16:^3, formerly stood under the 
third arch on the South side of the Naye, hut heing thought in 1866 to have 
no accordance in style with the architecture of the building, it was removed, 
and placed in the church at Prickwillow, near Ely. 


into the Nave Aisle, and the other into an ancient 
Norman apsidal Chapel, for many years in ruins but 
rebuilt by Dean Peacock in 1848. It was by him named 
S. Catharine's Chapel, apparently under a misapprehen- 
sion that this was the ancient chapel mentioned in the 
old monastery records as the place where the monks 
were accustomed to hold their daily services at the time 
when in the early part of the 14th century they were 
anticipating the fall of the great central tower. Recent 


investigation however of the Obedientiary Rolls has 

shown that the Chapel of S. Catharine adjoined the 

Chapter House and had its door opening into the 
Eastern Cloister. 

The floor is laid in a combination of marble and en- 
caustic tiles, with borders of incised Portland stone, 
the incisions being filled with coloured cement. This 
beautiful Norman apse was in 1896 under the direction 

Photo by 


G. H, Tyndall. 


of the present Dean, and from designs of Mr. Philip 
Thicknesse of Liverpool, fitted with a beautiful ala- 
baster Altar, with large panel of Numidian jasper, on 
a dais of three white marble steps. The expense was 
borne by the Woodford Trustees of the Theological 
College. It is now used as a Morning Chapel for early 
Celebrations of the Holy Communion and for the daily 
Matins of the Students of the Theological College. The 
windows are filled with stained glass by Mr. Wilmhurst. 

The Bast window, representing the Baptism of our Lord by 
John, after a picture by Bassano, given by the Rev. W. G. Townley, 
of Upwell, Norfolk, as a memorial of his brother, R. G. Townley, 
Esq., of Fulboum, 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 
**SuflFer little children to come unto me,*' from a picture by 
Overbeck; the gift of the late Canon Selwyn. 

The Nave. 

** They dreamt not of a perishable home 
Who thus did build. Be mine in hours of fear 
Of grovelling thoughts to find a refuge here." 

rpHE Nave at Ely is throughout of pure Roman- 
esque and may be compared with the Nave of 
the sister Abbey Church at Peterborough, which must 
have been building at the same time. It consists of 12 
bays alternating in design as at Norwich, whose earl}' 
Norman nave may also be usefully compared with both 
Ely and Peterborough. The Nave at Ely was finished 
about 1 130. The length (208 feet) originally comprised 
13 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 in 
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 or ** Triforium," lighted 
by Perpendicular windows in the outer wall ; above 
is the " Clerestory," or " clear storey," 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-storey, Trifo- 
rium, and Clerestory ; and the breadth into the same 
number— Nave, North Aisle, and South Aisle, probably 
designed as a type of the blessed Trinit3^ There is little 
doubt that such symbolical considerations were not 
infrequently used in the building of churches in earl)^ 

A new floor has been laid in the Nave* in a design 
which introduces several kinds of stone and marble, 
each bay in a pattern differing from the adjoining one. 
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 was 
open to view from the floor to the rafters, until the 

♦Bishop Turton by his will left the sum of £500 towards this object, and 
Bishop Harold Browne and the late W. Gibbs, Esq., gave each a like sum 
towards the completion of the Nave and Aisles. 


painted ceiling which adds so much to the grandeur of 
the building, was executed.* 

The 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. 

On my suggestion— says Sir Gilbert Scott— he visited Hil- 
desheim, where a then untouched ceiling of a corresponding 
date remained, and on that he based his design, { though 
making it in all its details original, and a most excellent work, 
tending through the reserve which characterised its colouring, to 
increase rather than to diminish the apparent height of the 

His death in the following year gave rise to some 
fears as to its completion, but his friend, T. Gambler 
Parry, Esq., of Highnam Court, Gloucestershire, under- 
took to finish the work so ably begun, as a token of 
affection to his memory. 

The gratitude of the Dean and Chapter to Mr. Gambler Parry 
may be imagined. He saved them from an apparently insuperable 
difficulty, and it was felt by us, as it has been felt I believe by our 
successors, and by all those capable of forming an opinion that he 
had worthily completed Mr. le Strange's great undertaking, and 
given to Bly Cathedral a work of sacred art, perhaps unrivalled in 
Europe. That such a work should be due, not to professional 
artists, nor to members of the Royal Academy, but to two English 
Country Squires, is one of those strange, and as one might have 
fancied impossible things which occasionally happen. § 

♦A portion of the expense of this work was defrayed hy a hequest hy the 
late Kev. G. MiUers, a Minor Canon, augmented hy the liherality of his 
Kxecutors to £400. 

t Bishop Harvey Goodwin, Ely Gossip, p. 42. 

J A Psalter of XII. Century (Nero. C. IX. Brit. Museum) furnished also 
some suggestions for the general character of the design. 

§Ely Gossip, p. 34, where Bishop Goodwin gives an interesting account 
of the method of painting adopted by Mr. le Strange. 


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

The whole painting depicts the sacred history of man 
from his creation by the Word of God, to the final con- 
summation in the glorified humanity of the Son of Man 
reigning in majesty. The central subjects are arranged 
in chronological order from the West, each being sur- 
rounded by a border varying in form, and containing a 
legend : in the ten Western bays the subjects are sup- 
ported by figures which are for the most part representa- 
tions 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 con- 
spicuous 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. 

*In the key to the ceiling, as represented in the two following pages, we 
have placed the words of the legends under the principal subjects, and the 
contents of the scrolls under the names of the persons represented. 


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 con- 
nected with the tree of Jesse by its last branches, which 
break into scrolls and golden fruit at His feet. Around 
His figure is the text, **I am the root and the offspring of 
David, and the bright and morning star." Mr. le Strange 
began this work by inscribing at the West end the prayer, 
"Sit splendor Domini Dei nostri super nos, et opera 
manuum nostrarum dirige super nos, et opera manuum 
nostrarum dirige." Mr. Gambier Parry finished the work 
by inscribing at the East end the thanksgiving, ** Non 
nobis, Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam." 

The arch which separates the Nave from the Octagon 
has also been decorated, as well as the wall which con- 
nects 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." 

Traces of early fresco work still exist on various arches 
of the Nave on both sides. This is especially noticeable 
in the vault of the tenth bay from the West of the South 
aisle, the substitution in this bay of a large decorated 
window in the place of the ancient Norman window in 
the South wall points also to the use of this bay as a 
special Chantry, possibly containing the Parish Altar, 
which would thus be placed just outside the ancient 
Norman screen shutting off the Benedictine choir. 


The heads forming the border represent the human ancestors of our Lord, according 

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in the last of the pictorial representations, with the Creation of Man in the first. 


Nave Aisles. 

TT7E first observe the Norman wall arcade of small 
^ ^ semicircular arches running under the windows, 
with a chevron moulding above ; in the first bay from 
the West a row of intersecting arches above takes the 
place of a window. 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, 
forming a great contrast to the rich vaulting of the 
Eastern portions of the Cathedral. The plain edged 
arches of the vaulting in the Easternmost bays, giving 
place to moulded arches, mark the progress of the work 

The Prior'5 Door. 

Under the fourth window is a doorway of late Norman 
design, which is richly ornamented on the exterior, 
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 vesica piscis), of a pointed oval 
shape, held up by two angels sitting. His left hand rests 
on an open book, surmounted by a cross, His right is 
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, etc, some 
of which are very curious. The capitals of the main 
door-posts are carved with an interlaced pattern of the 
** Solomon's knot'* type— the endless ribbon which is 
the mystic sign of infinity. It is of the character of the 
intrecciatura work, which some antiquaries claim to be 
the mason's mark of the celebrated Comacine Guild in 

THE prior's door. 


Italy, whose lodges spread throughout Europe. The 
Romanesque enrichment of this beautiful doorway may 
be usefully compared with the work in the doorways at 
Malmesbury and Glastonbury, dated about 1186, and the 
curiously similar doorway of a much earlier date in the 
Church of San Michele, Pavia.* This was formerly the 
Prior's entrance from the cloisters ; it now opens into 
a private garden belonging to the Deanery.f 

Ovin's Cross. 

In the South Aisle near this doorway stands a curious 
relic deserving special attention. It is the lower portion 
of a stone cross with a square pedestal, brought in the last 

century from Haddenham, in the 
Isle of Ely, where it had long 
been used as a horse-block ; the 
inscription on the pedestal is in 
Roman capitals, except the E, 
which is Saxon : 



''Grant, O God, to Ovin, thy 
light and rest. Amen " On 
reference to the history of S. 
Etheldreda, foundress of the 
monastery, at Ely, to which 
allusion was made in the Intro- 
duction to this work, it will be 
seen that her Steward bore the 
oviN's CROSS. name of Ovin, (Bede. H. E. IV. 

* cf . Dlustration, p. 80, Leader Scott's " Cathedral Buflders. 

tThe new door, with scroll-work in iion, was put in at the cost of the 
Bedfordshire Archaeological Society. The old door was placed in the outer 
wall of the ^.-W. Transept. 


3.,) and it is not improbable that the cross was erected 
either by himself during his lifetime, 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. 
Winford, a manor near Haddenham, may not impossibly 
retain the name of Wini or Owini, who embraced the 
monastic life under S. Chad at I^astingham. In the 
description of the death of S. Chad at I^ichfield, Ovin is 
specially mentioned by Bede as being present, and hear- 
ing the Angel Song which welcomed the dying saint. 
In the I^iber Eliensis, I. 23, Ovin is spoken of as 
* Paedagogus.' This would be however but slender 
evidence upon which to base a claim for Ovin as first 
Head Master of the Cathedral School. 

The Monks' Door. 

The doorway under the last window at the East end of 
the aisle, 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 orna- 
ments. By some persons it has been thought that both 
this and the Prior's Door 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. The new oak door and 
iron work is the gift of Mrs. Dickson. 

Ancient Doorway in Corner of Cloister. 

Adjoining this Doorway, and separated from it by the 
abutment of one of Alan de Walsingham's supporting 

Ancient t)OORWAY in corker of cloistkr. 


buttresses of the Octagon, may be seen the remains of 
another enriched archway, with carved column, of the 
same date, and above it the remains of a still older 
archway, in all probability the original doorway or en- 
trance into the South Transept of Abbot Simeon, for the 
star moulding is exactly similar to the moulding of 
the Norman windows of the aisle 
immediately above. In 1899 when 
the rubble with which this doorway 
had been loosely built up was re- 
moved, to be replaced by a wall of 
plain ashlar, set back some inches, 
so as to show up the carved column 
and arch of the later arch, the large 
stone tympanum of the earlier arch- 
way was revealed. The archway was 
then seen to be of construction al- 
most identical with that of the Priors' 
Door, but with a plain instead of a 
sculptured tympanum. The inner 
side of this doorway may still be 
seen in the wall of the Bedesmen's 

Photo by E, A. Stubbs, 


S. transkpt. 

Choir Boys' Vestry. 

In the portion of the cloister between the Monks' 
and Priors' doors, which has lately been restored by 
Canon Dickson as a Choir Boys' Vestry, the ancient re- 
cessed archway in the South wall, pierced in late years 
to give access to the vestry should be observed. This 
recess and its predecessor in Norman times, remains of 
which can still be seen, was in all probability the ** arma- 
rium '* or cloister bookcase, or with less probability, the 
seat of the Master of the novices. 


On the second pillar from^ the East end of the Nave, 
in both aisles, may be observed a niche with a canopy. 
At this point across the Nave was the Norman rood- 
screen at the Western extremity of the original Choir, 
which extended Eastward across and beyond the space 
now covered by the Octagon. 

Aisle Windows. 

The windows of the aisles, as also those of the Trifo- 
rium, were originally Norman, but were altered at some 
subsequent period to a later style; those, however, of 
the South aisle have, with one exception, been restored 
to their original form, and all are filled with stained 
glass. Taking them in their order, beginning at the 
Western end of the aisle, the subjects of the windows 
are as follows : — 

1st. The days of Creation ; Adam expelled from Eden ; the 
Punishment of Mankind ; the oflFerings of Cain and Abel — executed 
by Messrs. Henri and Alfred Gerente, of Paris : the contribution 
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 First- 
born ; and the Exodus of the Israelites— by Mr. Howes : his own 


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 Anointing of Saul ; Saul and the Witch of Endor ; 
the Death of Saul — designed and executed by Messrs. Clayton and 
Bell, as a memorial to the late Hon. O. Duncombe, Colonel of the 
Cambridgeshire Militia for 27 years : given by the OflScers of the 

^ loth. David Anointed; David playing before Saul; David 
chosen King ; David reproved by Nathan — by Mr. Hardman : 
presented by the ladies of the (then) Dean and Canons. 

nth. The Judgement 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. 

North Aisle. 

The Norman arcading of the wall is similar to that in 
the South Aisle, but the chevron moulding except in the 
Eastern bay has been cut off; an intermission under one 
of the windows marked the place where was a dooiway 
for communication with the ancient Church of St. Cross, 
closed three hundred years ago, when the I^ady Chapel 
was given for the use of the parish of the Holy Trinity 
in lieu of that church which had become ruinous. 

Against this now closed up Doorway has been placed 
the Memorial of the late Bishop Woodford, who died 
Oct. 24, 1885, and is buried in Bishop West's Chapel. It 
consists of an Altar tomb on which rests an effigy in ala- 
baster of the late Bishop under a recessed triple canopy. 
The corners are canted off and contain niches with statu- 
ettes of S. Etheldreda and her sainted kinswomen. The 


The heads forming the border represent the human ancestors of our Lord, according 

terminate at the western, thus linking together the Glorified Manhood, as exhibited 



to tbe genealogy in St. Luke's (Gospel ; they commence at the eastern end, and 










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in the last of the pictorial representations, with the Creation of Man in the first. 


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

" 1676, 

Roger Clopton^ 

Rector of Downbam, 

Gave two hundred pounds. 

By which The greatest Part 

of the Nave of 1 his 

Church Was 


The Nave and aisles and north Transept do not now 
require a gift of this kind, having been recently paved at 
considerable expense, but the floor of the Octagon and 
South Transept, are sadly in need of repavement, and if 
some generous soul will follow the example of good 
Roger Clopton, it would indeed be a timely benefaction. 

The Central Transept. 

npHIS is the oldest portion of the Cathedral, having 
been begun by Abbot Simeon a.d. 1083, who, how- 
ever, probably saw the completion of but little more than 
the ground story. 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. The return aisles 
of both transepts were removed at an early period, giving 
place to galleries, that on the South side with its arcaded 
passage-way and staircase was connected with the Monks 
dormitory. Both transepts have aisles, but those in the 
South and one in the North, are enclosed for various 
purposes. In each arm there is a simple cylindrical 
Norman Column, 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. As another evidence of the nth century date 
of these transepts it is to be observed that only here in 
the Church does the voluted capital occur. The roof of 
XIV. century date is of bare rafters with rich cornices, 
painted with flowers and devices, and angels with wings 
expanded under the principals; both arms have been 
repaired in modern times and the rafters and cornices 
re-painted and gilded in their original style.* 

North Transept. 

The Western Aisle of this Transept is open, and is 
lighted by three Norman windows, all of which are filled 
with stained glass : 

The Southernmost 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 the late John Muriel, Esq. 

The Northernmost 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 door- 
way communicating with a staircase leading to the Tri- 
forium and Clerestory walks. In the year 1699 the fall of 
a portion of the North-west corner took place, and was 
rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren, who also inserted the 

♦ Cf. description of this XIV. Century roof, and comparison with similar 
roof of Westminster Hall, in Viollet le Due, Dictionary of Architecture, 
vol. 3, p. 39, 41. 


North doorway of classical design. The smoothness of 
the new stonework is easily discernible 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 inser- 
tions ; 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 Canon E. B. Sparke, contain figures of persons 
in New Testament History, with arms, &c , in the tracery. The 
figures in the Western window represent Silas; Clement, bishop; 
•Apollos; Judas Barsabas; Dionysius, the Areopagite; and Philip, 
deacon. In the Eastern window, Titus, bishop ; St. Paul ; Timothy; 
St. Mark ; St. Barnabas ; and St. Luke. 

Chapel of S. Edmund. 

The Eastern aisle of the North Transept is divided by 
walls behind the columns into compartments, of which the 
northernmost forms a communication with the entrance 
to the I/ady Chapel, the middle one a vestry for the I^y 
Clerks ; and the third, upon the walls of which consider- 
able remains of thirteenth century work may be seen, is 
thought to be the ancient Chapel of the chantry priests 
endowed by Bishop Northwold, in all probability, to 
judge by the decayed fresco of S. Edmund's martj^dom 
on the North wall* dedicated to S. Edmund, of whose 

* Apparently almost identical in design with the beautifully restored fresco 
of S. Edmund on the Nave wall of the Parish Church of Pickering, 


Abbey at Bury, Bishop Northwold had been Abbot. 
This has lately (1898) been restored and refurnished 
through the generosity of Professor Stanton as a chapel 
for private prayer and meditation. It is earnestly re- 
quested that it may be kept quiet for this purpose. 


The subje<5l of the alabaster Reredos which has been 
placed in it is the Priesthood of the Ascended Christ. 
It is one which was not infrequently treated, or suggested 
in early Byzantine Art; but it seetns to have been 


almost, if not entirely passed by in the Sacred Art of 
Western Christendom, and it is difficult not to to connedl 
this fa<5l with forgetfulness of the doArine itself. 

Our IvOrd is represented as the Heavenly High Priest 
interceding for men. This is seen in his posture: His 
face and eyes are slightly raised : His arms are extended 
and hands thrown back : at the same time with the right 
hand he is blessing. It is also shewn in his vesture: 
though He is crowned as being our King as well as High 
Priest. The plate on His breast recalls the breast-plate 
of the Jewish high priest on which the names of the 
children of Israel were engraven, *that he might bear 
upon His heart the names of the children of Israel for a 
memorial before Jehovah continually,' (Exod. xxviii. 29). 
The Passion is in the past : but we are reminded of what 
He has endured, and of the truth that in the virtue of it 
He pleads, by the fiery Cross and the signs of the Passion 
in the background. Across the front of the re- table are 
carved in Greek the words— **^<? is able to save to the 
uttermost them that draw near unto God through Himy 
This verse (Heb. vii. 25) continues, * seeiyig He ever liveth 
to make intercession for them' Along each of the extreme 
edges of the Reredos the sign of S. Edmund, ** Martyr, 
Mayde and Kinge "—arrows through a crown — has been 
introduced. The design is by J. A. Reeve, Esq., Archi- 
tedl, and the work has been executed by Messrs. Farmer 
and Brindley. 

The Screen which appears to have been removed from 
this position in 1865 (though it is said to have stood at 
an earlier time in the South Transept) has been replaced : 
it is probably, except the top, of the middle of the XIV. 

The stained glass window in the middle compartment contains 
subjedls from the History of our Saviour; executed by Messrs. 


Clayton and Bell : presented by Mr. Heywood, of Manchester as a 
memorial to his mother. 

The window in S. Edmund's Chapel, by the same artists, 
represents the ** Ascension," and the "Entombment," and is the 
gift of the late C. L. Higgins, Esq., of Turvey Abbey. 

The floor of the North Transept was relaid by the 
iQunificence of the late Canon E. B. Sparke. 

South Transept. 

At the South end is a Colonnade, but differing in design 
from that in the North arm, the arches being all of equal 
height, but not so high as in the North Transept ; over 
these is a row of intersecting arches. These galleries were 
added at a period subsequent to the erection of the Tran- 
sept, and intended after the removal of the return aisles 
as a means of communication from one triforium to 
another. The gallery in the South Transept which has 
a stone staircase in the South-east corner, was originally 
connected with a passage which led to Jthe Monks' 
Dormitory. 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 
lyibrary, 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 enclosed, 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 in 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, and 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 brought from 
Landbeach, and given 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 from 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 Easternmost 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 Westernmost window, by the same artist, contains incidents 
from the History of Moses: contributed by some of the then 
I^essees under the Bishop. 

The Easternmost window under the second tier, by Messrs. 
Henri and Alfred Gerente, contains subjects from the History of 
Abraham, with parallels : the gift of Incumbents of li\nngs in the 
diocese and in the patronage of the Bishop. 

The Westernmost window, by M. Alfred Gerente, contains sub- 
jects 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 

SOUTH Transept. 9^ 

by Mr. Howes and others by Mr. Preedy : the gift of some of the 
Peers and Prelates educated at the University of Cambridge. ' 

The South window of the Western aisle ; subject from the his- 
tory of the Venerable Bede : by Mr. Warrington, his own gift. 

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

The North window is also by a French artist : given by the late 
Canon E. B. Sparke. 

The piece of ancient tesselated pavement in the floor 
was removed some years ago from the space between the 
Choir and the I^ady Chapel, and placed here for pre- 


"When the bells ring, (in the bell tower of the Lantern), 
the wood thereof shaketh and gapeth (no defect but perfection 
of structure) and exactly choketh into the joynts again, so that 
it may pass for the lively emblem of the sincere Christian who 
though he hath motum trepidationis. by fear and trembling, 
stands firmly fixt on the basis of true faith"— Full^s Worthies. 

The Octagon. 

XX 7 E now come to the special glory of the Cathedral, 
^^ "in which," says Mr. Millers, "elegance, magni- 
ficence and strength are so happily blended, that it is 
impossible to determine in which respect it is most 
admirable." Here stood originally a square Norman 
lower, which in the year 1322, from the unequal pressure 
of the four parts of the church, gave way and fell east- 
ward, crushing in its fall several adjoining arches. 

" Such disasters were not unfrequent. The Norman builders 
had trusted too much for the strength of their works to mere bulk 
and had too much confidence in the rubble with which they 
filled in the middle of their walls and piers. This was all very 
well for ordinary positions, and where the cement proved good 

Photo by 


Q. H. Tyadall. 


it was foiind trustworthy even for the support of concentrated 
weight; but it was "sailing too near the wind," and in many 
instances, where the material was weak or the cement proved 
unsatisfactory, the piers of their central towers, and even other 
parts of their work, gave way. This was the case in the twelfth 
century with the sister tower at Winchester (the piers at least of 
the two were the work of the brothers Walkelyn and Simeon) ; 
such has been in our own day the case at Chichester, and the 
same happened in the early days of which we are speaking. 

It was not unexpected, for we find that the Monks had discon- 
tinued the use of the choir, and had their services in St. Catharine's 
Chapel adjoining the Chapter House. It was immediately after 
matins, on the eve of St. Brmenilda*s festival that 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 

Happy it was for Ely that vshe possessed a man, a member of her 
own Convtnt, who was fully equal to the occasion. The same 
** venerabilis et artificiosus f rater Alanus de Walsingham^*'' who, as 
sub-prior, had a year before laid the first stone of the Lady Chapel, 
was now at hand, as Sacrist to design and carry out the great work 
incident upon this catastrophe. 

As the Chronicler says: — "The aforesaid Sacrist Alan, vehe- 
mently grieved and earnestly sorrowful at this disastrous and 
lamentable event, for a moment knew not which way to turn 
himself or what to do for the reparation of such a ruin. But, 
recovering his courage, and greatly confident in the help of God 
and of his most pious Mother Mary, and also in the merits of the 
Holy Virgin Etheldreda, he laid his hand to the work ; and first, 
with great labour and expense, he caused to be removed from 
within the church the stones and timber which had fallen in the 
ruin, and also the superabundance of dust which was there, with 
all possible speed to be cleared away, and having measured out hy 
architectural art, in the place where he was about to construct the 
new campanile, eight positions in which the eight columns ot 
stone supporting the whole edifice were to be erected, and beneath 
which the choir with its stalls was afterwards to be constructed, 
he caused them to be dug out and examined, till he had found a 
solid place where the foundation of the work could be securelj^ 


begun. These aforesaid eight places, then, having been soHci- 
tously proved and with stones and sand firmly consolidated, he 
then at last began the eight columns and the subsequent stone- 
work, which work, indeed, was completed up to the higher cornice 
through six years to the year of our Lord 1328." 

This simple description records a work of great originality, and 
standing alone in its design among English Mediaeval structures."* 

Alan of Walsingham alone— says Mr. Fergussonf — "of 
all the architects of Northern Europe, seems to have 
conceived the idea of getting rid of what was in fact the 
bathos oif the style — the narrow tall opening of the 
central tower, which though possessing exaggerated 
height gave neither space nor dignity to the central 
crossing. Accordingly he took for his base not merely 
the breadth of the Nave, but the whole breadth of the 
Church, inclusive of the aisles. Then cutting off the 
angles of this square, he obtained an octagon more than 
three times as large as the square upon which the 
central tower would have stood by the usual English 

Nowhere in the vast treasury of mediaeval art which has come 
down to us in those great buildings, which mean perhaps more 
to Englishmen than to others, because they are so closely inter- 
twined with the life and history of our nation,, do I know a shrine 
of worship so noble, so inspiring, so uplifting as this Ely Octagon. 
Nowhere else do I know a building in which the characteristics of 
Power and Beauty are so harmoniously blended into a complete 
unity of design as in Walsingham's Octagon. Here we seem to 
have from foundation to summit the organic growth of nature, 
and with it not only the imaginative grace of varied line and curve, 
but' Mso the jnore consummate beauty of perfect symmetry and 
proportion. Standing beneath that noble dome, the eye follows 
upward step by step its clustered columns, blossoming at the first 
stage on the minor arches that fiank the aisles, into exquisitely 


* Sir Gilbert Sciott's Lecture. 
+ Handbook of Architecture p^ 870 * 


flower-shaped corbels, the eight chief Acts of the Foundress-Saint 
sculptured on each caljrx, as it were, of the flower before it breaks 
into the overhanging canopied niche of strangely original form, 
thus masking beautifully the further subdivision of the columns 
as they mount upwards in many smaller shafts and mouldings to 
the next stage, where at the springing of the great arches of nave 
and choir, they bear gracefully carved floral capitals, which in 
tiieir turn support the incurving clusters of the ribs that form the 
great vault itself; at a further stage to be broken once again at 
half the height of its great sweeping curves, by the octagonal 
framework which carries the great vertical shaft of the lofty 
Lantern, whose "storied windows richly dight" cast their coloured 
glories on the pavement a hundred and fifty feet below.* 

It is recorded (Anglia Sacra i, 644) that to find eight 
sufficiently large and sound oak trees to form the angle 
posts of this mighty louvre of wood Alan had much 
trouble, ** searching far and wide and with the greatest 
difficulty finding them at last, paying a great price 
for them, and by land and sea transporting them to 
Ely." Mr. Kett, the Cambridge builder, who repaired 
this woodwork under Sir Gilbert Scott, made accurate 
measurements of these angle posts, and found that they 
were each 63 feet, long, giving a sapless scantling of 
3ft. 4in. by 2ft. Sin. 

This giant tower of wood, itself nearly 80 feet in height, of which 
these great oak trees are the skeleton, suspended as it is at a height 
of 94 feet from the ground, over an aperture 74 feet in diameter, 
containing a prodigious quantity of timber and lead, is a master- 
piece of mechanical skill and ingenuity. The principle of its 
construction is briefly this. The eight angle posts, forming, as I 
have said, the skeleton of the Lantern, are framed into an octagonal 
oak curb, each side of which is 13 feet in length, giving a cleat 
internal diameter of 29 feet 6 inches. The octagonal sides of this 
curb are set obliquely to the faces of the stone octagon. This 
oblique setting of the Lantern enables two radial diagonal struts to 
be fixed to each of the eight angle posts, their lower ends resting 

* Stubbs's Historical Memorials of Ely, pp. 132, 138. 




on corbels 32 feet below, fixed in the walls immediately above 
the capitals of the pillars, from which spring the arches of nave, 
transepts, and choir, thus securing irresistable abutment and 
wind braces. The skill evinced by this radial principle cannot be 
overrated. The vaulting ribs of the apparent dome, as seen from 
below, carry of course none of the weight of the Lantern, and are 
indeed a merely ornamental casing to the radial struts which do 
the real work. The infinite variety of curved lines of these vaulted 
ribs is mainly due to the oblique setting of the regular octagon 
of the Lantern in relation to the irregular stone octagon below, 
though there is no doubt also a certain twisting and distortion of 


the ribs caused by the summer heat of five centuries. Level with 
the lower kerb of the Lantern, though of course invisible from 
below, a floor of oak joists is constructed, also radial probably for 
wind-brace eflfects ; and again at a further height of eighteen feet, 
level with the sill of the Lantern windows, and just below the 
topmost external parapet of the stone octagon, a second radial 
framework is constructed, forming a roof to the outer octagon. 
Above this level 15 feet higher rises the fan vaulting of the Lantern 
as seen from below ; the ribs radiating into a magnificently carved 
oak boss, representing the Christ in glory, the central point of 
which is 152 feet 6 inches from the pavement below. The Bell 
Chamber above this vault carries up the full height of the Lantern 
another 30 feet.* 

At the ends of the hood moulds of the lower arches of 
the Octagon are carved portrait-heads of much interest. 
Two of these, those in the S.W. arch, are obviously gro- 
tesques. But the other six are as obviously portraits. 
The two heads in the N.E. arch have always been said 
to be portraits of Edward III. and Queen Philippa, on 
the S.E. Arch of Bishop Hotham and Prior Crauden, 
and on the N.W. arch of Alan de Walsingham, and of 
some secular personage with long hair, traditionally 
thought to be Alan's master mason, but whether Peter 
Quadratarius or Thomas Attegrene is not said. 

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 disap- 
peared, but the spaces have been fitted with sitting 
figures of the Apostles,t executed in stone by the late 
Mr. Redfem, 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 : — 

* iStubbs's Historical Memorials of Ely, pp. 161, 152. 

t These were contributed by the Bishop of Carlisle (5), Dr. Kennedy, 
Dr Thompson, Sir G. G. Scott, Captain Horton, Captain Underwood, and 
others, cf. " Ely Gossip " p. 62, 


St. Matthew — box ; St. John — chalice and dragon ; 
St. James, the less — club ; St. Philip — small cross ; 
St. Paul — sword ; St. Bartholomew — knife ; St.Thomas — 
mason's square'; St. Peter — keys; St. Andrew — cross; 
St. Jude — spear ; St. James, the greater— pilgrim's staff; 
St. Simon — saw. 

There are also sixteen small stone heads, four con- 
nected with each group of three Apostles, which are not 
very clearly seen perhaps from the floor of the Cathedral, 
but which, when examined, show by the conventional 
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 traditional history of the 

It must however always be a source of the deepest 
regret that the design of the glass in these windows with 
its inartistic figures and inharmonious colouring is not 
more worthy of the magnificence of its position. 

The window in the South-east angle is designed to commemo- 
rate the principal persons who figured in the traditionary history 
of the foundress* The figures in the upper tier represent King 


Anna^ father of St. Etheldreda; St. Etheldreda as queen; Tonbert, 
her first, and Bgfrid, her second husband. In the lower tier, St. 
Etheldreda as abbess; Wilfred, bishop of York; St. Ermenilda, 
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. Edmund, St. Werburga, fourth abbess of Ely, 
and Archbishop Dunstan. In the lower tier, Bishop Ethelwold ; 
Earl Brihtnoth ; Abbot Brihtnoth, and King Edgar. The tracery 
contains the arms of the University of Cambridge, with other 
figures and devices The donors were Bachelors and Undergrad- 
uates of the University of Cambridge. 

The window in the North-west angle also contains eight repre- 
sentative figures. In the upper tier (takng them from right to left) 
are William I., Henry I., Henry III., and Edward II. ; and under 
these Abbot Simeon, ,who commenced the present Cathedral ; 
, Hervey, the first Bishop of Ely ; Bishop Northwold, who erected 
the Presbjrtery, and Alan de Walsingham, the architect of 
the Octagon. The tracery contains medallions in which are 
pictured the shrine of St. Etheldreda ; Abbot Simeon la3ring 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* 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 late Prince Consort in his 
robes as Chancellor of the University of Cambridge ; and under 
these are represented Dr. Turton, the then Bishop ; and Dr. 

♦Bishop Sparke gave £ 1 600 stock in the Reduced Three per cents, about 
1833, but the East window was not completed until 1857 ; the amoimt 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 four windows of the triforium of the Presbytery, and half the cost of the 
North-west window of the Octagon^ 


Peacock, the then Dean of Ely : these figures being commemora- 
tive of the extensive restorations of their time. 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 amis 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 b}' Her Majesty ; Bishop Turton and 
Dean Peacock gave the cost of their own figures respectively, and 
the remainder was paid by the capitular body. 

The Sculptures in the Octajcon.* 

Midway up each vaulting shaft is a canopied niche of 
unusual but very beautiful character ; these niches rest 
upon sculptured corbels representing incidents in the 
life of S. Etlieldreda. Beginning at the right hand of 
the North-west arch and continuing to the right round 
the Octagon the subjects are as follows : — 

I. The Marriage of S. Etheldreda with Prince Egfrid, after- 
wards king of Northumbria. 
II. The dedication of S. Etheldreda in the Convent of Cold- 

III. The Pilgrim's Staff of S. Etheldreda, taking root as she 
sleeps by the way, and bearing leaves and fruit. 

IV. The Miracle on S. Abb's Head by which S. Etheldreda is 
preserved from the king. 

V. S. Wilfrid of York installing S. Etheldreda as Abbess of Ely. 
VI. The Death and Chesting of S. Etheldreda. 
VII. The Miracle of the delivery of Bryhtstan from prison by 
S. Benedict and S. Etheldreda. 
VIII. The First Translation of S. Etheldreda. 

* For a full account of the subjects of these Sculptures and of the History 
and Legend upon which they are founded, cf. Stubbs's "Acts of S. Awdrey," 
Octagon Sculptures of Ely Cathedral, with eight illustrations. Ely, 
G. fl. Tyndall, price 6d. 



The Release of Biyihslan. 

1 uv. U. K, Ciii(i[>iOii. 


The Tomb of Alan de Walsins:ham. 

" Si tnonumentum requiris drcumspicey 

The great vault of the Octagon itself is Alan de Wal- 
singham's noblest monument, and indeed just outside 
the circle of the morning light as it falls into the Nave 
from the lofty I^antem windows, is the place of his burial. 
It is recorded in an old MS. in the British Museum (MS. 
Cotton, Titus A. i.) that Alan's burial place is ** before 
the Choir." This choir stretched as we know across the 
Octagon westward to the old Norman Screen joining 
the two columns of the Nave in its second bay. And just 
beyond this point there still lies a great marble slab in 
the centre of the Nave, worn and venerable. The me- 
morial brass has been torn from it. But in certain lights 
the design is still in part decipherable. There is a full 
length figure, in robes, with mitre and pastoral staff. 
The matrix of the Brass shows indications of four shields, 
an incised border round the slab, and a considerable 
space at the foot sufficient for the words of a lengthy 
epitaph. This slab is traditionally said to be Alan's 
Memorial. It is objected by many that the slab cannot 
be that of Prior Alan, for the figure is mitred and carry- 
ing the pastoral staff : that it is more probably that of 
William Powcher, the first mitred Prior, (1401 — 17), or of 
Bishop Montacute, whose memorial has at some time been 
removed to this place from before the Altar of the I^ady 
Chapel. On the other hand it is contended that although 
Alan died a Prior of the Convent, he had twice been elected 
a Bishop by the Monks, though his election was over- 
ruled by the Pope, and that seeing to his successor Prior 
Powcher the Pope gave permission that he and all future 
Priors of Ely should wear the mitre and carry the crozier, 
it is possible that the monks had anticipated somewhat 
the Pope's edict, and had represented their beloved 


Prelate with Episcopal mitre on his head and crozier in 
his hand. But however this may be, we know that this 
is the place of his burial. We know too the actual words 
of his epitaph. For both we have the evidence of the 
Cotton MS. The words of the Epitaph, copied from this 
MS. are given by Wharton in his Anglia Sacra, i. 684. 
He places them beneath the title — 

" Bpitaphium tumulo illius inscriptum sequitur." 

It may be interesting however to give the complete 
description of which the Epitaph " Flos operatorum " 
form the concluding ten lines. 

'* Hsec sunt Elyae, Lantema, Capella Marise, 
Atque Molendinum, multum dans vinea Vinum. 
Continet insontes, quos valiant undique pontes 
Hos didant monies, nee desunt flumina, fontes. 
Norn en ab anguilla rapit Insula nobilis ilia. 
Vos qui regnorum vidistis opus variorum 
Hunc scitote Chorum pre cunctis esse decorum. 
Quern frater Alanus fecit Constructor humanus 
Tunc Sacrista plus, nunc Prior egregius, 
Flos operatorum, dum vixit corpore sanus 
Hie jacet ante Chorum Prior en tumulatus Alanus, 
Ann is bis denis vivens fuit ipse Sacrista 
Plus tribus his plenis Prior ens perfecit et ista ; 
Sacristariam quasi funditus edificavit 
Mephale, Brame etiam huic Ecclesiae cumulavit 
Pro veteri Turre, quae quadam nocte cadebat, 
Hanc turrim proprie, quam cernitis hie faciebat 
Et plures edes quia fecerat ipse Prioris 
Detur ei sedes Caelo pro fine laboris." 

The following translation, allowing for the exigencies 
of rhyme, may be taken as a fairly accurate rendering of 
the Latin. 

" These things ye may at Ely see 
The Lantern, Chapell of Saint Marie, 
A windmill mounted up on high 


A vineyard yielding wine yearly ; 

A simple folk whom bridges guard, 

High lands enrich, and rivers ward : 

Its name does come, so old men say, 

From throng of eels in water-way : 

Of all the wealth of many lands 

This wonder choir before all stands. 

Which Brother Alan raised on high 

Let travelled men his fame deny : 

A Sacrist good and Prior benign 

A builder too of genius fine : 

The Flower of Craftsmen, Alan Prior 

Here lies entombed before the Choir ; 

As Sacrist twice ten years built he, 

Then Prior crowned all in twenty-three : 

A Sextry Hall he made from ground 

And Mepal, Brame, Church manors found : 

And when one night the old Tower fell 

This new Tower built, yea, mark it well : 

So now to end his labours great 

God grant him seat in Heaven's high gate." 

The Octas:on Vault* 

The vaulted roof of the Octagon has been very effect- 
ively painted and decorated. 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. In the fabric Roll of 
12 Edward III. we read that Walter the Painter, was 
employed on the new work for 42 weeks, — ** In stipendio 
Walteri pictoris pro XLII septimanis . . capientis per 
sepm. Vlllld. praeter mensam et robam." The colouring 
of this Walter between the years 1335 and 1351 seems to 
have been of a very simple character. The only evidence 




of design that remained in 1850 was 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 evidence of 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 present decoration 
of the Octagon and Lantern we cannot do better than 
quote the substance of a paper read during the Ely 
Diocesan Conference in June, 1875, explaining the his- 
tory and nature of the ornamentation which had been 
carried out with such loving care and artistic skill by 
Mr. Gambier Parry, 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 con- 
ventional clouding around it ; it is boldly carved in oak. [In the 

fabric Roll of 13th of Edward III. 

(1339-40) occurs the following item, 

** paid to John of Burwell for carving 

the figure upon the principal key 

vault two shillings, and his keep 

at the Prior's table."] 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 

^oup of Seraphim on a grey blue 

ground. The panels of the window 

hoods are painted red, marking BOSS IN I^ANTERN. 

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 

• This restoration of the Octagon was carried out in Dean Goodwin's 
time as a memorial to Bean Peacock. Subscriptions amounting to about 
JglO,000 were given by many noblemen as well as other friends of Bean 
Peacock ; the capitular body contributing very largely towards the work* 


mellow agd rich painting of the woodwork, and thus 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 mediaeval 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 monograms, the cross and the crown, resting on a 
fine and richly carved cornice, which forms the base of the 
Ivantern. 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 ink-horn 
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 the angels holding the 
chalice and palm branch on the right and left. The long spandrils 
of the groining are painted with conventional scroll work of 
leaves and flowers in a style contemporaneous with the architec- 
ture. 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 ;f 2500." 

The Octasron Bell Chamber. 

The central point of the vault of the Lantern is 152 feet 
6 inches from the pavement below. The Bell Chamber 
above this vault carries up the height of the lantern 
another 30 feet. It has been doubted by some whether 
this uppermost story of the lantern was ever intended 
as a Bell Chamber* But that at any rate it was used as 


such, the quaint quotation from Fuller which I have 
placed at the head of this chapter is one proof. Another 
may be found in this extract from Bishop Harvey 
Goodwin. In a footnote of p. 21 of Dean Howson's 
Cathedral essays, Bishop Goodwin writes: — 

** It was a question when I first went to Ely and when the 
restoration of Alan de Walsingham*s Ivantem was undertaken . . 
how the bells in the Lantern were rung, in fact, some bold sceptics 
questioned whether there ever were any bells, notwithstanding 
distinct documentary evidence of their existence. One day, while 
the work of restoration was going on, a carpenter (Holmes) told 
me that he had found the marks of the ropes, and he showed me 
upon one of the vertical beams forming the south side of the 
Lantern, three parallel grooves which had evidently been worn by 
ropes, my remark was, " If they be the marks of the bell ropes 
there ought to be four, as I know that there were four bells." A 
little examination soon brought to light the four rope marks. I 
then directed the carpenter to remove some of the wooden groining, 
in order to see where the rope-marks pointed, he did so and we 
found that they pointed to the base of the eastern column of the 
arch of the south transept. Here, therefore, stood the brother, 
whose business it was to chime the bells: from the position occupied 
by him the ropes would clear the Stalls which then extended under 
the Lantern : and to complete the story, I found in the discovery 
the explanation of two marks in the pillar, near which the chimer 
stood. I had never been able to guess what they were, but I now 
found that they were the marks of the pegs upon which the ends 
of the ropes were twisted when not used for chiming. Thus the 
problem of ringing the bells in Ely Lantern was completely 

The Octas:on Pulpit. 

An elaborately carved pulpit, supplied by a legacy 
left by the daughter of Bishop Allen, is 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 scrollwork in iron. 


It was designed by Sir G. G. Scott, and executed 
by Messrs. Rattee and Kett ; the figures by Mr. Redfem, 
and the iron-work by Messrs, Potter and Son. 

The foundations of the Pulpit, like those of the Octagon 
itself, were carried to the solid rock below. 

The oak Lectern, which was the gift of Dean Merivale, 
contains a beautifully carved figure representative of the 
first Beatitude under a cinquefoil canopy, brought from 
Antwerp by Mr. Reynolds Rowe. 

riiolo l)y 


G. H. T>'ndaU. 


'* Let my due feet never fail 

To walk the studious cloister's pale, 

And love the hi>?h embowed roof 

With antique pillars massy proof, 

And storied windows richly dight 

Casting a dim religious light, 

Then 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 ecstasies, 

And bring all heaven before mine eyes. 

J. MlI^TON. 

The Choir. 

"PREVIOUS to 1322 the Ritual Choir was under the 
"^ central Tower, and extended, inclusive of the rood- 
loft, from the second column at the Eastern end of the 
Nave, as it now is, (before the building of the Octagon, 
the Nave 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 * It was again removed in 1852, 
and now commences at the Eastern side of the Octagon, 



Octagon, with the arrangement of 


West Porch or Galilee. 

Choir previous to 1770. 


St. Catharine's Chapel. 




The I^dy Chapel. 


The Nave. 




North Transept. 


Rood Screen. 


South Transept. 


Foundation of Norman apse. 


Part of Cloister (ruined). 

Foundation of N.W. Transept. 


Western Tower. 


South-western Transept. 

* See footnote p. 123. 


extending to the length of nine bays, (the stalled 
portion occupying three of them), leaving the two 
Kastemmost bays as a retro-choir. 

This will be better understood by a comparison of the 
accompanjdng plan, (for the use of which we are in- 
debted to the kindness of the Editor of the Architectural 
Quarterly Review^ shewing the position of the Choir 
previous to the year 1770, with the plan given at the 
beginning of this book, showing the arrangement made 
at the last alteration. 

The Choir Screen. 

The new screen at the entrance of the Choir is of beauti- 
fully carved oak comprising a central 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 a 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, adding considerably to the 

* Preyious to the last removal the custom was that only one sermon was 
preached in the morning to the Parishioners of the Cathedral Precincts and 
of the Parishes of St. Mary and Holy Trinity, who assembled together and 
occupied 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. '' The worshippers from the Parish Churches, as 1 was 
told, (says Bishop Harvey Goodwin in his * Ely Gossip ' p. 65) usually ar- 
rived in the Cathedral before * CoUege Prayers ' were finished and walked 
about the Nave imtil the time for the sermon came. The notabilities of 
Ely had their own recognised courses in the Nave, into which others did 
not intrude. I gathered that the custom was a very social one and that the 
news and gossip of the dajr were freely discussed while the Church ambu- 
hmt was waiting for its spiritual food"^* 


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 Choir. 

The architecture of the three first bays is a magnifi- 
cent specimen of the Decorated style, perhaps not sur- 
passed by any other in the kingdom. It was erected 
about the same time as the Octagon, and under the 
superintendence of Alan de Walsingham. The expense 
was entirely borne by Bishop Hotham. The work was 
completed during the episcopate of his successors, Bishops 
Montacute (i337— 1345)» and de VIsle (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 motddings ; 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 ramifica- 
tions over it, dividing it into angular compartments, and 
at the angles are flowers and other ornaments, curiously 
carved. The original colouring has been restored. In 
the spandrils of the lower and triforium arches (with the 
exception of the first bay on the South side, which con- 
tains 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 of gold. 



On the south side at the junction of the labels of the first 
and second arches of the choir is the curious grotesque 
known as * the Ely Imps,' concerning which the following 
lines have been written : — 

** Ely imps you see, 
Pickaback imps in glee, 
With the wings of a bat 
And the grin of a cat, 
Making mock at you and me, 
Sing nonny ho, nonny he. 
Oh what fools poor mortals be ! " 

The range of pierced parapet at the 
bases of the triforium and the cleres- 
tory has been entirely renewed ; 
and the triforium roof (which on 
both sides is of bare rafters,) has 
been painted and ornamented in a 
style similar to that of the Transept 
roofs. The windows in the clerestory 
are large, filling the whole opening, 
having in each four lights in rich 


Clerestory Windows of Choir. 

These windows on both sides have been filled with 
stained glass, executed by Mr. Wailes, the expense de- 
frayed out of the balance of the accumulated fund for the 
East window; the subjects are illustrative of two verses 
of the Te Detim, with figures of angels and the arms of 
the donor, &c., in the Tracery. 

North Side— " 7)4^ noble army (?/ -/^a^/j/r^"— represented in 
the Western window by figures of St. George, St* Agnes, 


St. Catharine, and St. Alban ; middle window— St. I^awrence, St. 
Cecilia, St. Justin, and St. Prisca; Eastern window— St. Ignatius, 
St. Polycarp, St. Lucian, and St. Stephen. 

South Side— TTft^ Holy Church throughout the World'*— the 
Eastern Church being represented in the Eastern window by 
figures of St. Chrysostom, St. Basil, St. Athanasius, and St. 
Gregory Nazianzen ; 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 Western 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, these in a 
Monastic establishment being the Stalls pertaining to 
the Abbot and Prior respectively. When the Abbot of 
the Monastery became Bishop of the newly formed 
Diocese (in 1109) he retained the Abbot's Stall, and 
similarly Dean Stewart in 1541 retained the seat which he 
had previously occupied as Prior. 



The Choir Stalls. 

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. The canopies of 
these stalls which, we believe, form 
the sole existing specimen of stalls 
of that date (1337) in England, are 
rich and elaborate, and the panels in 
the upper portions have been filled 
with modern sculptured groups illus- 
trative of Scripture history, those 
on the North side from the New and 
those on the South side from the Old 
Testament ; they are beautifully de- 
signed, and contribute greatly to the 
rich effect of the whole. These 
sculptures were executed in oak by 
M- Abeloos of Louvain, with one ex- 
ception, "The Nativity" which is by 
Mr. Philip, and are the gifts of 
various benefactors. The subjects 
are placed in chronological order 
and, as we proceed from West to 
East are as follows : — 

>?^ i 






I Creation of M 
Stall. ^ The Creation of Woman. 

1 Adam and Eve in Paradise. 

2 The Pall 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 tOvSolomon. 
Elijah's Ascent to Heaven. 



Comer /The Annunciation. 
Stall. (The Salutation. 

1 The Nativity. 

2 The Presentation in the Temple. 

3 The Adoration of the Magi. 

4 The Murder of the Innocents. 

5 The Flight into Egypt. 

6 Jesus Disputing with the Doctors. 

7 The Baptism. 

8 The Temptation. 

9 The Miracle at Cana in Galilee. 

10 The Transfiguration. 

1 1 Mary Anointing the Lord's Feet. 

12 The Betrayal. 

13 Our Lord before Caiaphas. 

14 Jesus Mocked. 

15 Pilate Washing his Hands. 

16 Jesus Scourged. 

17 " Behold the Man . ' ' 

18 The Crucifixion. 

19 The Entombment. 

20 The Resurrection. 

21 Our Lord at Enmiaus. 

22 The Incredulity of Thomas. 

23 The Ascension. 

The Miserere Seats. 

A specially interesting feature of these ancient stalls 
is the carving of the miserere seats or subsella. Of the 46 
seats of the upper stalls all the carving is ancient, and of 
the 38 seats in the sub-stalls, the carving of 13 is also 
ancient. Several conjectural explanations of the use of 
these seats have been offered, the popular opinion however 
being that they were turned up during a part of the service 
when the clerg>^ were not allowed to be seated, thus 
enabling the aged and the infirm to rest themselves against 
the bracket over the carving, which afforded a support 
without being actually a seat. P'or this reason it is said, 
they received in France the title of misericordes and 
patiences, while in England they are usually called 
miserereSi Found on the Continent, as well as in Eng- 


land, the general character of the subjects of the carvings 
is so uniform, that we might almost suppose that the 
wood carvers throughout Europe possessed one regular 
and acknowledged series of working patterns. Yet there 
is great variety in the details of the subjects and in the 
manner of treating them. It is observable that the orna- 
mentation consists generally of a principal subject, im- 
mediately supporting the bracket, and of two side lobes 
or cusps springing from the latter. These side orna- 
ments consist sometimes of mere foliage attached to the 
bracket by a stalk; sometimes they are grotesques or 
separate subjects, having little or no connection with the 
central piece ; sometimes they are a dependant and im- 
portant part of the story represented under the bracket. 
Writers of vivid imaginations have given them no less 
variety of interpretation. Some have conceived them to 
be satirical attacks directed by the monks at one another 
or at the secular clergy, while others have imagined that 
these grotesque and strange figures embodied in allego- 
rical form the deepest mysteries of the faith. In any 
case whether the subjects of these carvings are grotesque 
or humourous or mystical, taken from the popular 
Bestiaries or Fables, the Ysopets or Avynets of the 
middle ages, or from the Romances of chivalry, or from 
Scriptural and legendary lore, they are equally valuable 
as artistic monuments, illustrating in an instructive way 
many of the manners and customs of our forefathers, 
not unlike that of Punch and Charivari in modern times. 


Carving of the Miserere Seats. 


[The numbering of the seats corresponds with the numbering of canopies 
of stalls above.] 

Dean's Stall. Modem. 

B.— Bracket.— Coat of arms of Dean Peacock, 
supported by angels : Scroll. '* G.P. Dec : 


I/. — Lobes. — Leaves. 



Ancient, i. B. Leaves and grotesques : men's heads with owls 
L. Leaves. 
„ 2. B. Horse saddled and bridled, figures below appar- 

ently dogs mutilated. 
L. On left oak leaves, huntsman with horn, 2 dogs 
in leash. 

On right, oak leaves, stag and dog. 
„ 3. B. Grotesque, man's head with arms embracing left 

L. Oak leaves, R. and L. 
„ 4. B. Huntsman with hare hanging over shoulder, 

two dogs in leash. 
L* L. Oak leaves, huntsman with horn andstaflf: dog. 
R. Oak leaves and acorns: hare. 
, , 5. B. Grotesque, two human heads with owls legs. 

L. ly. 3 oak leaves, same on r. 
„ 6. B. Man squatting with hands on knees. 



Ancient 6. L. i/. and R. I/eaves. 

„ 7. B. Monk looking through fork of tree, hands hold- 

ing up seat. 
I/. I,. Stag under oak branch, head on ground. 
R. Stag with eel or serpent in its mouth. 
,, 8. B. Bearded man in long robe squatting with hands 

on knees. 
L. li. Lion biting its hindquarters, oak leaves. 
R. Lion licking ,, „ 

», 9. B. Man among vine branches plucking grapes : 

hexagonal tub or basket with grapes in it. 
h. I,, and R. 3 vine leaves with grapes. 
,, 10. B. Man and woman.: monk and priest, woman 
kneeling hands folded in prayer or in confession. 
L. I,. Skull surrounded with wreath of laurel. 
R. 5 vine leaves. 
„ II. B. Pelican in her piety, feeding her young from the 
blood of her own breast, surrounded by wreaths 
of leaves. 
L. I*. Spray of briar rose: R. same mutilated. 
„ 12. B. Man robed, stooping on one knee, leaning or 
pushing against a door, hammer in left hand. 
L. I*. Whorl of 5 oak leaves : R. same with acorn. 
„ 13. B. Woman's head looking through oak branch. 

L. I*. Oak leaves and acorn : r. game. 
„ 14. B. Two men wrestling in grotesque attitude. 

It' ly. 2 monkeys : R. 2 winged dragons with eagle 
„ 15. B. Huntsman falling from his horse on his head, 
horn on ground, surrounded by leaves. 
L. I*. 2 stags, 2 dogs, leaves. 

R. Nun pra3dng at desk with book, under a 
canopied arch. 
„ 16. B. Maiden with unicorn, head on her lap. Symbol 
of Chastity. 
L. I*. Knight with battle axe, swords and shields, 
background of oak leaves and acorns. 
R. Man with staff and sword. 
,, 17. B. Two monks sitting side by side with hands on 




Ancient 17. 




19. B. 


20. B. 





I,, and R. Leaves. 

Woman with a cudgel beating a fox who is 

running away with cockrel. 

I,. Fox with Bishop's staff, cope, and mitre, 

cock and 2 hens. 

R. Man with staff with large basket, leaves* 

The temptation of Adam and Eve, tree and 

serpent with human head. 

i^. A branch with bird : r. monkeys and dog. 

Man robed, sitting, hands on knees. 

I,, and r. 4 vine leaves. 

Man crouching towards a figure which is 


I,, and R. Whorl of 4 oak leaves. 

Two men throwing dice at a table. 

I,. Woman sitting on a bench under vine, large 

basket or barrel by her side. 

R. Man with jug and glass, vine leaves and 


Bearded man with feet of goat, a satyr. 

I,. A man fiddling, either stooping over lion, or 

with hind-quarters of a lion. 

R. A dog, grotesque. 

Aucieut. 3. B. 

4. B. 

5. B. 

6. B. 


Executioner cutting off John the Baptist's head, 

woman holding bowl, prison in background. 

I,. 3 figures, king, queen and courtiers sitting 

at table, Herodias dancing, man playing harp. 

R. Herod crowned receiving the head from 

woman, oak leaves. 

Owl among ivy leaves, a mouse in her claws. 

I,, and R. Vine leaves and birds. 

Grotesque, bearded man standing on his hands. 

I,. Man fiddling, a jester with staff, amid leaves. 

R. 2 men fighting with swords among branches. 

Crowned and robed figures reclining with head 

on right hand, under oak branch. 

I,. Crouching lion under oak branch. 

R. 4 vine leaves. 















































Angel with sword, Adam and Eve. 

I,. Man digging, boy picking up. 

R. Woman with distaff, little girl with bobbin : 


Man seated^ hands on knees. 

I,, and R. Leaves. 

Man seated supporting bracket with one hand. 

I,, and R. Leaves. 

Man sitting cross legged with fiddle. 

I,, and R. Oak leaves and acorns. 

Evangelistic symbol, S. Mark with lion. 

I,, and R. Leaves with grotesque serpent. 

King, crowned, seated, hands supporting bracket. 

I,, and R. A rose with leaves. 

Virgin and unicorn same as 16 above. 

t,, and R. Leaves. 

Cowled monk kneeling, hands on knees. 

I,, and R. Leaves. 

Evangelistic symbol of S. Luke writing in book 

with pencil : ox. 

Vine leaves, i,. and R. 

Symbol, S. Matthew, bearded figure reading 

book, supported by angel. 

I,, and R. Leaves. 

Symbol of S. John, halo, robed figure with 

chalice and serpent's head, and eagle. 

I,, and R. Oak leaves and acorns. 

Pilgrim with staff, book, bag with 6 crosses, 

bottle and hat slung on his back 

I,, and R. Vine leaves. 

Man bearded, with 2 jugs, woman with pestle 

and mortar. 

Vine leaves. 

Mitred abbot with pastoral staff. 

I,, and R. Oak leaves and acorn. 

S. Peter with book and keys, 

I,, and R. Leaves, 



Bishop's Stall. Modern. 

B. Bracket : shield, plain, supported by angels. 
L. lyOBES : oak leaves and acorn. 
Ancient, i. B. Two monks seated on a stool side by side. 

L. I*. Grotesque head, spray of leaves growing out 
of each corner of mouth, r. two birds among 
„ 2. B. The ark on the waters. The ark represented as 
a tripple turretted castle. Noah leaning out of 
window, with hands folded in prayer. 
L. I/. An ox wading in water, raven seated on its 
back pecking its flank, under leaves. 
R. Dove with olive branch flying towards the 
ark: branch broken off" from tree which is 
shewn growing. 
,, 3. B. Woman seated, hands on either side of head 

lifting up long flowing hair. 
L. i«- and r. Lion and leaf. 
„ . 4. B. Monkey squatting. 

L. L. and r. Large lizard with grotesque head. 
„ 5. B. Seated figure hands on necks of monkeys. 

L. Three squirrels among oak leaves, t,. and R. 
ff 6. B. Grotesque figure of man, arms akimbo, con- 
L. L. and R. Acanthus leaves. 
„ 7. B. Man squatting with a sheep-headed fish-like 

grotesque animal under each arm. 

lent 7. L. 






















I,. Woman headed figure with horse's hind- 
quarters, beating a drum. 
R. Similar figure, playing harp. 
Figure of old man sitting cross legged. 
I,, and R. Whorl of leaves. 

Man and woman seated side by side, man cross 
legged, his left hand on woman's head. 
I,, and R. Leaves. 

Monk sitting cross legged, arms supporting 

I,, and R. Leaves. 

Reclining figure of man with folded arms. 
t,. and R. Leaves. 

An old man, seated, robed, robe partly drawn 
over head. 

I,, and R. Two lions interlocked in fight. 
A King and Queen seated side by side, their 
heads resting on their hands, disconsolate. 
I,, and R. Leaves and birds. 
Figure of judge or king seated on a canopied 
throne, hands crossed on lap. 
L. I/, and R. Female figures ^the heads have been 
mutilated) kneeling in attitude of prayer in 
front of high panelled stalls. 
[The carving of this stall is unlike the rest in 
style, being square and perpendicular, and with 
no flowing curves]. 

15. B. A mutilated figure, man's head among branches 

of a tree, apparently water or river below. 
L. I*. A lion carrying a child on its neck. 

R. A dog carrying a child head downwards in 
its mouth. 

16. B. Samson and the lion, * he is forcing the jaws 

of the lion apart. 
L. I/, and R. Leaves. 

17. B. Cowled figure of monk seated, smaller figure 

of a woman or child seated below, her hands on 
his shoulders : face looking up into his. 
L* i»* and Ri Leavesi 



















Grotesque figures of man and ape, ape extract- 
ing tooth from man's mouth. 
I,, and R. Leaves. 
A man kneeling, robed. 
L. and R. Leaves. 

A bear climbing a tree, two monkeys in the 

L. and R. A rabbit among branches. 
Stooping figure, crowned, holding a basket. 
L. and R. leaves. 
A man seated. 
L. and R. Leaves. 

Two monks seated leaning against one another, 
their heads on their hands. 
L. and R. Leaves. 


Ancient. 3. B. S. Martin dividing his cloak with the beggar. 

L. L. Christ seated on a throne, right hand raised 

as in blessing, in left hand a sphere (?), sitting 

at his feet an angel on either side, holding 

in front of his knees the divided cloak. 

R. S. Martin mitred with staff absolving or 

banning a naked woman, seated on dragon or 

., 4. B. A monk with a book, a nun with a rosary, the 

devil between them with arms round their 

L. I*. Demon with scroll in his mouth. 

R. „ ft 99 across his knees. 
„ 5. B. A horse, a man behind combing out its mane, a 

woman behind curry combing its tail, in front 

a kneeling figure: beneath a hooded figure 

taking stone out of its hoof. 
L. L. Two children dancing, one with scarf, the 

other with curry comb. 

R. A boy and girl with sponge (?) dancing. 
,, 6. B. Two men wrestling, one man has the other by 

the wrist, the other hand on shoulder. 




Ancient 6* 





I,, and R. Whorl of 8 sprayed leaves. 
Grotesque bearded head with four legs, under 
canopy made by two overarching oak trees. 
I,, and R. Whorl of leaves. 

Ancient. 21. B. 

These are poorly carved modem stalls, all much 
\ the same, cowled figures under the bracket, 
feebly arranged leaves in the lobes. 

A king and a monk fighting, scratching one 
another's faces. 

ly. I,, and R. Lion's head with 2 bodies. 
„ 22. B. Monk kneeling on one knee, hand on side. 

L. I*. Two rams fighting. 

R. A raven on a ram*s head. 
„ 23. B. S. Giles and the wounded hind. A cowled 
and bearded figure, in left hand a rosary, right 
hand resting on a stag, which has been shot 
with an arrow in the head, the whole under 
canopy of overarching oak trees. 

L. I,. Huntsman shooting with bow, arrows in 
R. Somewhat similar figure of huntsman. 

The sub-stalls are for the most part new, and of good 
design ; the stall-ends in the upper range have a series of 
statuettes of the principal benefactors, or of the builders 
of various portions of the Church, each under a canopy, 
and for finials they have figures of angels with instru- 
ments of music. Each of the statuettes (where finished) is 
represented as holding some type or model of the particu- 
lar portion of the Church with which its prototype is 
more intimately connected. They were designed and 


modelled by Mr. J. Philip, and executed partly by him 
and partly by Mr. Rattee. We append a list of them in 
the order in which they are placed, commencing from 
the West, as before : — 


St. Etheldreda. Bishop Alcock. 

Kingr Edg^ar. Alan de Walsing^ham. 

Abbot Simeon. Prior Craudeu. 

Abbot Richard. Bishop Hotham. 

Bishop Hervey. Bishop Northwold. 

Bishop Ridel. Bishop Eustace. 

On the faces of the stall ends of the lower tier are 
various emblematical devices, crests and shields, beauti- 
fully carved. Our list is made in the same order as that 
of the statuettes. 


Crest of Dean Peacock. Arms of the.See of Ely. 

Crest of Canon Sparke. Arms of Canon Selwyn. 

Crest of Canon Fardell. Arms of Canon Mill. 

Arms of Canon Ashley. Pelican— emblem of Sacrifice. 

Bull— emblem of St. I«uke. I^on— emblem of St. Mark. 

Eagle -emblem of St. John. Angel^emblem of St. Matthew. 

A handsome brass lectern, the gift of the late Canon 
Sparke, is placed in the Choir, as a memorial of Mr. 
H. S. le Strange, who painted the ceiling of the Tower 
and the Western portion of the Nave ceiling. 

The Orsran. 

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 re- 
constructed 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. Much of the 
woodwork is left in its natural colour. The eflfect 
produced from almost every point of view, is rich and 
beautiful ; while from its unusual position the organ 


loses little of its power or sweetness of tone, but sends 
forth its rolling harmonies through the lofty roof-spaces, 
'* When tkrough the long drslwn aisle and fretted vault 
'rke peeing ftntkem sWelis thfe iiotfe bf t)rdise.^' f 

♦ See Appendix 1. f Gray. 


" Height and slenderness of shaft and pinnacle, the clear-cut 
aspiration of the lancet light ; these were the larger embodiments 
of that vigorous upspring of delicate leafage, and that slender 
shapeliness of womanly form which the thirteenth century saw and 
loved in nature. In the development of vault and of windows 
was quickly shown the native vein of -English art. The vaulting 
of great naves, which the twelfth century had barely attempted, 
was largely undertaken by the thirteenth ; but, with English ideal, 
rejecting the hollow openings of the doomed French vault, and by 
the quick perspective and the elegance of deeply moulded ribs, 
achieving an upspringing grace and sense of loveliness much in 
excess of what might have been expected from the small dimen- 
sions with which it was content.** 

E. S. Prior. 

The Presbytery. 

rpHE 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 are in fact the original columns of the Norman 
apse. This Norman East end of Abbot Simeon was taken 
down by Hugh de Northwold, eighth bishop, who added 
the six beautiful Eastern bays at his own expense. They 
are among the most beautiful examples of Early English 

Photo by 

G. H. Tyndall. 



work, in grace and loveliness second only, if indeed 
second, to the angel choir of Lincoln, 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 portion of the Church was called the ** Presbytery," 
and is still so called. 

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 excel- 
lence of the details render this part of the edifice a most valuable 

The absolute contact here of the two styles. Early 
English and Decorated, affords the spectator an oppor- 
tunity of contrasting them, and of judging of the com- 
parative merits of each. By many the Eastern bays are 
preferred for their graceful lines and deeply shadowed 
mouldings nor aie they so profusely ornamented as 
those of the Western bays, 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 spring- 
ers 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, t" 

The two beautifully sculptured .bosses in the roof 
above should be noticed, the Westernmost one, above 
the site of the high altar, representing S. Etheldreda 
crowned and seated, a book in her left hand and in her 

♦ Rickman. 
t Millers' Description of Ely Cathedral, p. 74. 

144 ®l^Y CATHHDRAt. 

right her Abbess's staff, and the Easternmost, marking 
the place of her shrine on the pavement below, a repre- 
sentation of the Coronation of the Virgin. The Virgin 
in this sculpture is represented, as in the earliest example 
of the Coronation extant, that of the Mosaic in S. Maria- 
Maggiore at Rome, seated on the same throne with the 
crowned Christ, who with his right hand places the crown 
on His Mother's head, as she leans forward with hands 
folded in adoration, and holds in his left hand a book 
closed and clasped, not open as is usual in the Italian 
examples, exhibiting the words, *Veni, electa mea,' etc. — 
* Come my chosen one, and I will place thee upon my 
Throne/ The subject is treated with a grand and solemn 
simplicity, is purely devotional in idea and to be regarded 
as typical of the Church Triumphant, received into glory 
and crowned with the crown of everlasting life. " To 
him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me on my 
throne." It is perhaps to be noted that this sculpture 
would be in full view of any devotee gazing upward who 
might be kneeling before S. Mary*s Altar in the Lady 
Chapel which in Northwold*s time occupied the third 
and fourth bays from the East of the South Aisle of the 
Presbytery. In the second bay of the roof from the East 
on the South side is another very finely sculptured boss 
representing S. Etheldreda, with two keys in her uplifted 
right hand, and a model of the Church in her left, which, 
if it be intended to represent the West front of North- 
wold's time shows the great Norman Tower with the 
short wooden spire (known to have been built by North- 
wold, Anglia Sacra i. 636) and flanked by both North and 
South Galilee Transepts. 

The bases of the piers of the lower arches of the 
Presbytery are octagonal, but the shafts cylindrical, sur- 
rounded by slender 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 Decor- 
ated tracery in the outer wall; and the arches are 
separatedby 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. 
The contrast of light and shade, depth 
and projection, produces a very fine 
eflfect. ** Nowhere " — says Professor 
Freeman — **can we better study the 
boldly clustered marble pier with its 
detached shafts, the richly floriated capitals with their 
round abaci, the yet richer corbels which bear up the 
marble vaulting shafts, the bold and deftly cut mouldings 
of every arch great and small. Lovelier detail was surely 
never wrought by the hand of man'' 

The clerestory arches are of the same span as those 
of the Triforium, 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 ; these windows have been filled 
with stained glass, the gift of the late Canon E. B. 

The windows of the aisles 
and triforium were originally 
lancet-shaped lights under 
one arch, but were replaced 
in the fourteenth and fifteenth 
centuries by larger windows 
of a flamboyant character. 

** But before the Early English 
triforium gallery had been thus 
completely transformed, it hap- 
pened that some architect, appar- 
ently employed by Bishop Bar- 
nett, introduced in two of the 
southern compartments a method 
of getting rid of the gloom of the 
low windowed Early English tri- 
forium, which although perfectly 
successful in the Church, would if 
it had been carried throughout, 
have been productive of a most 
injurious effect upon the appearance of the fabric within and 
without, as may be seen at present in the compartment in question. 
By removing in these the roof of the triforium gallery, and insert- 
ing glazed tracery in view of the open plate tracery of the 
triforium arcade already mentioned, he introduced a flood of light 
upon the choir altar, the shrines in its neighbourhood, and Bishop 
Bamett's tomb under the pier arch, which is beneath one of these 
windows, placing as usual the benefactor in the midst of his work, 
as a lasting memorial of his liberality."* 

The tracery of these windows is apparently copied 
from that in the corresponding arches of Hotham's work. 
It is interesting to notice in these copies how the habits 


' Stewart, p. 79. 


of a later time affected the design. The stone work is 
thinner, and modifications in the loops of the tracery are 
made which tend to weaken the general effect as com- 
pared with the earlier work. 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 beau- 
tiful, 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."* They are enriched by slender 
columns, with capitals of leafage, 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 S. Peter, with the arms of the Bishop and of con- 
temporary members of the Chapter, originally a part of 
this design, is ncfw placed in the Easternmost window of 

♦Millers' Description of Ely Cathedral, p. 76. 


the North triforium of the Nave. Two other heads, one 
of S. Paul and the other of S. Etheldreda, which were 
also parts of this design, are preserved in the windows of 
the Deanery dining room. The East window was com- 
pleted 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 sous, 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. 

The Bast Window. 

The Eastern lancets were executed by Mr. Wailes in 
1857. It may be sufl&cient perhaps to compare the 
present windows with others in the Cathedral, not 
excluding the production of Mr. Wailes himself, to 
show the 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 great 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. 

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 is probably, from this cause, 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 quar- 
trefoils containing representations of types from the Old Testament 
of the events of the Passion represented in the other medallions ; 
and in the segmental spaces round these quartrefoils are repre- 
sented eighteen other incidents of the last days of our Saviour. 
In the segmental spaces in the South lancet the figures of the 
kings are disposed in pairs ; 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 win- 
dows, two on the North and two on the South, contain figures of 
the Apostles ; at the top of the central window our Lord is repre- 
sented as sitting in glory, beneath which are depicted four inci- 
dents which occurred after the Crucifixion." 

Choir Pavement. 

The floor of the Choir has been relaid 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 inscrip- 
tion. At the foot of this another slab is laid over the 
grave of John de Crauden, Prior of the Monastery at 
the time of the erection of the Octagon. This is the 
original gravestone of the Prior, which had been removed 
with several others to another part of the Church. The 
brass insertion has been renewed, showing a kneeling 
figure with a large foliated cross issuing from his bosom, 
with the initials J. 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,* execu- 
ted by Messrs. Minton. It is to be regretted that the 
names of the Bishops who were buried in this place had 
not been rather recorded, viz. John de Ketene, Hugo de 
Balsham, John de Fontibus, Ralph de Walpole, and 
Robert de Orford. In the Presb5rtery, where the absence 
of stall-work allows space for more elaborate design, it 
will be seen that much care and skill has been used, and 
the effect produced is good. The Altar 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 taced 
with black, marble. At the foot of the Altar steps on 
the pavement of the Presbytery a memorial marble slab 
with inscription has been placed (1898) to mark the 
burial place of Bishop Northwold, the builder of the 

The Reredos. 

The new reredos or altar screen is remarkable for its 
elaborate design and richness of detail, as well as skill in 
execution, and is not, perhaps, surpassed by any modem 
work of the kind. 

It comprises a centre with wings, having openings 
with geometrical tracery and foliated mouldings, sur- 
mounted by cresting. The front of the central portion 
is executed in alabaster, enriched with colour and 
gilding. The sides of the space occupied by the 
Altar are 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 

\ the centre are the arms of the Diike of Bedford ; on the South side 
f Alexander Beresford Hope, Esq., and the Rev. T. Halford ; on the 
Iiode of Ji Diihn Gardner^ Es^^i, and Ji Oi Sh^e. Es^. 


work ; above this the whole width is divided into five 
compartments — the centre one being wider than the 
others — separated bj'^ enriched columns, around which 
are spiral belts with cornelians and blood-stones on a 
gold ground, and having foliated capitals copied from 
natural objects ; on these capitals stand a series of 
angels bearing instruments of the Passion — the cross, 
the crown of thorns, the nails, the spear, &c. — and each 
having under his feet a dragon or other reptile, typical 
of the triumph over Satan by the sacrifice of the Cross. 
The lower part of each compartment is occupied by 
quatrefoils ornamented with ball flowers, and filled in 
with mosaic work of verd antique, rosso aniicOjgialo aniico, 
and lapis lazuli; above these are panels containing 
sculptures of great excellence, the subjects taken 
from the life of our Saviour. Beginning on the North 
side we find Christ's entry into Jerusalem, Christ washing 
His disciples' feet, the Institution of the Blessed Sacra- 
ment, the Agony in the Garden, and Christ bearing His 
Cross ; another series of spiral columns stands in 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. A.bove the 
sculptured panels, each of the four side compartments is 
surmounted by two small gables with their outer mould- 
ings 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 
heads in bas-relief, those on the North side representing 
the Prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel; 
those on the South represent the four Doctors of the 
Church — S. Jerome, S. Ambrose, S. Augustine, and 
S. Gregory; the other portions being filled in with 


mosaic work. The centre compartment has three pro- 
jecting 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 I/)rd; 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 

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 central one being larger and higher than 
the others. The outer mouldings of the central gable are 
enriched with foliated crocketing with which is inter- 
mixed the early Church symbol — pelican feeding her 
young — and the apex surmounted by a figure of our 
I/)rd enthroned. The inner portion of the gable con- 
tains, in a trefoil, a basso relievo of the Annunciation 
in alabaster. The four side compartments are also sur- 
mounted 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 Magda 
lene and Mary the mother of James ; those on the South 
S. John the Baptist and S. John the Divine; the re- 
maining space in each gable being filled in with mosaic. 
Outside and between these gables rise spiral pillars, 
on the tops of which are placed the figures of Faith, Hope 
and Charity on the North side ; and of the graces 
Justice, Prudence and Fortitude on the South side, 
executed in alabaster; the fourth, Temperance, being 



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. 


The portion of this screen which forms the Reredos, 
was 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 im- 
portant 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 archi- 
tectural 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 the painted window placed behind it. It is hardly 
necessary to say that it is greatly benefited not only by 
the general reduction of the glare of light, which other- 
wise would render the outline of much of the statuary 
and more delicate ornament undistinguishable at a dis- 
tance, but still more by the transmission through it of 
glimpses of the brilliant colour of the window, which 
changes with every movement, however slight, in the 
position of the eye, and whose very indistinctness and 
transitory character contributes not a little to the dazzling 
jewelled effect of the whole. 

The Altar being raised above the level of the floor 
shews to advantage the magnificent altar froutals, one of 
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 Mediaeval 
embroidery. '* Its length is divided into three parts : 
the middle containing a very beautiful figure of the 
Risen Lord contained within a pointed aureole of deep 
blue colour, and bordered by radiating beams. Broad 
orphreys embroidered in flowers divide the middle com- 
partment from the sides, which are of red velvet powdered 


with conventional flowers!'** copied from ancient 
examples at East I<angdon, Kent, and from Ottery, 
Somersetshire. The following passage is worked in gold 
on the super-frontal : — 

tjtk ** llj^tms ^tt ipu iailxM pttctAti vrnnhi bauE nobtM pactm, 
Jl0ims gtt» misertre noh'ts/* t ti^ 

The white frontal used at the great Festivals was the gift of the 
present Bishop (Lord Alwyne Compton) and is a magnificent 
specimen of the work of the Wantage Sisters. The design of the 
embroidery which is worked in Russian gold and pearls, was 
drawn by the Bishop himself from an ancient French chasuble. 

A handsome cross in silver gilt and enamel inlaid with 
precious stones on the super-altar was a memorial of the 
late Bishop Woodford, contributed by friends. The can- 
dlesticks of silver-gilt are interesting as being one of the 
first purchases recorded as being made by the Dean and 
Chapter after the times of the Commonwealth. 

The Monuments. 

Interesting as are the series of monuments which, on 
either hand, fill the arches of the Presbytery, there are 
few things perhaps in the whole Church of Ely, more 
impressive to a student of historic imagination than the 
wide vacant space of pavement that marks the central 
point of Northwold's splendid building. For it was on 
this spot, marked now only by the sculptured boss in the 
roof above that, for almost looo years — from a.d. 695 
to A.D. 1541 — there rested the white marble tomb 
which contained the bones of the Foundress-Saint. It 
is difficult surely to gaze upon the desolate pavement 

* Ecclesiologist. 

t ** Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, grant us Thy 
peace. Lamb of God, have mercy upon us." 


Without a feeling of keenest disappointment and regret 
that a monument so venerated and so venerable should 
have entirely disappeared. In the Calendar of the 
English Prayer Book, on the 17th of October, is still to 
be found the name of S. Etheldreda, Virgin, Queen and 
Abbess of Ely. That record commemorates the date of 
her first Translation She had died in a.d. 679. Sixteen 
years later her body had been removed from its first 
resting place in the graveyard of the Convent, and on 
the 17th October 695 had been placed by the high Altar 
of the Abbey Church, on a site probably only a few 
yards distant from this central space in the Presbytery. 
Bede thus tells the story. 

"Sexberg, the sister of the Abbess, succeeded her in her ofl&ce, 
who had been the wife of Earconberet, King of the Cantuarii. 
When she had been buried sixteen years, the same Abbess thought 
it fit that her bones should be taken up, and, having been put in 
a new coffin, should be transferred into the Church; and she 
ordered certain of the brethren to seek for a stone of which they 
might make a coffin for this purpose : and they, having gone on 
board a ship (for this same region of Blye is on every side encom- 
passed by waters and swamps, and has no large stones), came to a 
certain desolate little city, situate not far from thence, which is 
called in the tongue of the Angles, Granta-caestor, and presently 
they found, close to the walls of the city, a coffin beautifully 
wrought of white marble, and covered also most exactly with a 
lid of the same kind of stone. Whence understanding that their 
journey had been blest by the Lord, they gave thanks and returned 
to their Monastery." 

And so on the 17th of October a.d. 695 the First Trans- 
lation of S. Awdrey took place. And thenceforward for 
two hundred years the historic record is silent. Then in 
the year 870 came the sacking of the monastery by the 
Danes. But the white marble tomb remained undis- 
turbed, save, so say the monkish chronicles in the I^iber 
Kliensis— ' 


<* There was one of this host of savage enemies, a man more 
inhuman and cruel than the rest, a satellite of the devil, breathing 
slaughter and blood, a son of avarice, and a truculent seeker of 
other men's goods, who seeing the Shrine of the Blessed Virgin 
Etheldreda, thought it was a chest of treasure, and with all his 
strength he struck the marble sarcophagus in which rested the 
virgin body, and when he had multiplied blows on the stone, he 
made an opening, but when he had done this there was no delay 
of divine vengeance, for immediately his eyes started miraculously 
from his head and he ended there and then his sacrilegious life, 
which when others saw, they did not presume any further to 
disturb the revered dust of the virgin saint." * 

And so for another hundred years the marble shrine 
rested unmolested. Then in the reign of Edgar came 
the Monastic revival under Dunstan, and the reorganisa- 
ation of the Old Convent at Ely under the full Benedictine 
Rule, and Abbot ^thelwold of Abingdon, S. Dunstan's 
friend, found, so says the Chronicler — 

"The body of the blessed Virgin Queen Etheldreda in the 
Church beside the High Altar, in the very place to which S. Sex- 
burga had translated her, and there, not hidden beneath the earth 
but raised above it, he left the body, for no one dared either to 
break open or examine the tomb, remembering the miserable fate 
of him who was killed for so doing, as related in the miracles." t 

Then in the year 1080 came the foundation of the 
Norman Church— which during the next four centuries 
gradually grew into the Cathedral as we have it to-day — 
built on the same site as the Saxon, for in the lyiber 
Eliensis ii. 146, we are told that it was necessary to 
remove some of the bodies of the Sainted Abbesses from 
the place which they had hitherto occupied because the 
walls of the new Choir encroached on the site hitherto 
occupied by their Shrines. The new Church was so far 
complete on the 17th October, 1106, that the Second 

* Liber Eliensis i. 41. t Liber Eliensis ii 52. 


Translation of S. Awdrey was effected with great pomp 
and ceremony, and the old marble tomb, now considered 
more than ever sacred, for it had been the centre of 
Pilgrimage to the faithful through half a millennium 
and the fame of Ely's Saint, the Virgin Queen and 
Abbess, had spread far and wide through Christendom, 
was solemnly moved to the Choir of the great Norman 
Abbey, and placed behind the high Altar, with the Shrine 
of her sister Sexburga eastwards at her feet, and that of S. 
Erminilda on her right and that of S. Werburga on her left. 

A third time the Shrine was moved a few feet further 
eastward, a hundred and fifty years later, in a.d. 1257, 
when Hugo de Northwold's Presbytery was added to Abbot 
Simeon's Choir, and the whole church was re-dedicated 
to S. Etheldreda, S. Mary and S. Peter, in the presence 
of King Henry II. and his son, and many of the leading 
nobles and prelates of the kingdom. 

Once again in the next century — after the building of 
the Octagon — the marble tomb, still standing where 
Northwold had placed it, in the glorious Presbytery 
which he had built in S. Awdrey*s honour, was further 
embellished by the superstructure of a splendid stone 
canopy and watching loft, beneath which it would appear 
was the ancient white marble tomb, and above the silver 
reliquary which in Norman times had been the g^ft of 
the Abbot Theodwyn, elaborately embossed with many 
figures, with a golden majesty blazing in its centre, with 
countless jewels of crystal and pearl, and onyx and beryl, 
and amethyst and chalcedony. 

In the third bay of the Presbytery on the North side 
now stands the restored remains of this canopy of the 
Tomb. At the time of Mr. Essex's re-arrangement of 
the Choir in the i8th Century, it had been placed oVier 


the tomb of Bishop Hotham, and it is so represented in 
some of the old prints. Part of it had been cut away to 
make room for the stalls when the Choir occupied the 
six easternmost arches, but it has been rebuilt by Sir 
Gilbert Scott, who speaks of it as " the substructure of S. 
Etheldreda's Shrine^ as renewed by Alan de Walsingham'' 
It is in the Decorated style and was richly coloured and 
gilded The wooden canopy which surmounted it was 
elaborately carved and decorated, and was said to have 
reached almost to the groining of the roof. 

A representation of the Reliquary is given in the 
stained glass window in the Octagon over the N. W. arch, 
copied apparently from the drawing given by Bentham, 
plate xlviii. fig. i, in his History. Stevenson in his 
Edition of Bentham's History, (page 68, notes), gives 
the following detailed description of this Reliquary taken 
from the Bentham MSS. It is obviously a translation 
from some ancient record. 

" Near the East end of the Church is the Shrine in which is 
enclosed the marble coffin, containing the body of the Holy 
Virgin, S. Etheldreda, towards her proper altar, where she now 
remains entire and uncorrupted in her tomb, prepared for her as 
we believe, by angelic hands, as Bede the learned writer of the 
English History, informs us. The part of this Shrine which faces 
the Altar, is of silver, adorned with prominent figures excellently 
gilt: round the glory (circa Majestatem) are seven beryls and 
crystals, two onyxes and two alamandine stones, and twenty-six 
pearls : on the crown of the glory are one amethyst, two corne- 
lians, six pearls, and eight transparent stones: and on the four 
angles of the crown four large crystals : and in the circumference 
nine crystals : and in the comer towards the South is fixed an 
ornament of gold, with one topaz, three emeralds, and three sar- 
dines. In the crown of the upper image are seven precious stones 
and eleven pearls. There is also one pannel, which supports a 
crucifix of copper, well gilt and adorned with twelve crystals. 
The left side of the shrine is of silver, well gilt, adorned with 
sixteen figures in relief, four score aiid fourteen large crystals, and 

i6o :bi,y cathkdrai,. 

with one hundred and forty-nine small crystals and transparent 
stones. The East end of the shrine is also of silver, gilt in diffe- 
rent parts, ornamented with images in relief, among which are 
two figures of lions, composed of crystal, and set with thirty-two 
crystals, three transparent stones, and eight emeralds, and seven 
middling nuts (modicis nuscis) there is also one glory, which 
belongs to the frontal of the Altar. In the South part are sixteen 
figures of silver without gilding, and the under moulding or border 
of silver gilt ; in this compartment are twenty-six crystals, and 
in this part is another round piece of copper, which also supports 
a crucifix of copper, well covered over with gold ; and before the 
altar is a table of silver gilt and adorned with raised figures. This 
was made by Abbot Theodwyn, of the money found at Wentworth, 
after the death of Abbot Thurstan, on which round the glory, are 
two calcedonies and ten stones, between crystals and beryls, and 
eight stones, and sixteen pearls are wanting, and round the glory 
are four figures of angels of ivory, and in the inmost silver border 
of the table are wanting twenty-eight stones. This table Bishop 
Nigellus afterwards broke, and also the shrine of Etheldreda at 
the instigation of those who were enemies to the peace and welfare 
of the Church, and took away all the gold and silver that was on 
them and embezzled it." 

And so for two centuries more the marble tomb remain- 
ed, the object of a reverence, doubtless exaggerated 
beyond reasonable bounds, and the unwitting cause 
possibly of much social evil in connection with the Pil- 
grim's Fair, until in Puritan times, by Edict of the then 
Bishop of the See, Thomas Goodrich, in a.d. 1541, **all 
the Relics, Images, Table monuments of miracles and 
shrines" of the Minster were totally demolished and 
dispersed. And now, not a trace of all this artistic glory, 
or of the sacred relics of the Saint, so marvelously 
cherished through nearly a thousand years, remains. 

"One final thought however may well be ours — Let us bless 
God's Holy name for all those Saints of the past who have departed 
this life in His faith and fear, those heroic spirits of the early days 
of our country's history, the prophets and kings of England, her 



byegone saints and worthies, and as '' we praise famous men and 
our fathers who begat us," let us not forget — if once a year only, 
on the 17th of October^as the Calendar of our English Prayer 
book appoints — to commemorate not least among the chief Makers 
of England, in the childhood of the nation, that nursing mother 

of our Israel, Etheldre- 
da, Virgin Queen, Ab- 
bess of Ely." 

If now we turn our 
attention to the Mon- 
uments in the Pres- 
bytery we may bey^in 
with the canopied 
tomb, in the first bay 
on the South. This 
is a part of the tomb 


[William deLuda (or 
Louth; 1390- 1398. 
He was Dean of 5t. 
Marti n's-le-Qr and, 
London, Archdeacon 
of Durham, Preben- 
dary of London, York 
and Lincoln, and keep- 
er of the King's ward- 
robe. •• Vir magnifi- 
cus et eminentis scien - 
tiae." He was conse- 
crated Bishop of Ely 
in S. Mary's Church, 
by the Archbishop of 
Canterbury and 7 as- 
sisting Bishops, the day before the Provincial Synod of the 
Clergy held at Ely on Oct. 2, 1290. He was one of the 
Commissioners who settled the Peace with Prance for 




Edward I. He secured to his successors considerable 
property in Hoibom.] 

The tomb in which De Luda was buried is one of the 
most magnificent in Ely. It is an almost exact counter- 
part of that of Edward Crouchback, Earl of lyancaster, 
in Westminster Abbey. It consists of an altar tomb 
surmounted by a lofty central arch, flanked with smaller 
side arches. The gables are enriched with elaborate 
pinnacles and finials. . Over the central arch in a trefoil 
recess is a figure of Christ in Majesty. In the panels of 
the altar tomb between the smaller arches, on either side, 
are the Evangelical symbols. The central part of the 
Tomb has been cut away to make a passage from the 
Presbytery to the South Aisle, but several of the lost 
compartments were identified by Sir Gilbert Scott as 
forming the canopied panels, used in Bishop West's 
Chapel to cover the receptacles of the bones of the 
ancient Saxon Bishops and of Earl Bryhtnoth. The 
upper slab of the altar tomb now lies on the ground in the 
passage way of the arch. The indent upon it leaves no 
doubt of its being once finished with a brass effigy. 

The next arch contains the tomb of 


[Jotin Barnett 1366—1373, Treasurer of England, formerly 
Bishop of Worcester, and tlien of Bath. He inserted tlie 
East Window of the Lady Chapel, and the Triforium Win- 
dows of the Presbytery East of the Decorated Choir. He 
died at Hatfield 7th June 1373O 

The tomb is a handsome one of grey marble, with 
quatrefoils in the side, and had originally the effigy of 
the Bishop engraved in brass on the table of the tomb. 

Under the third arch on the South side of the Pres- 
bytery is the Cenotaph of 



[John, Lord Tiptoft, Earl of Worcester, 1437-70, "the 
Pilgrim Scholar," one of the most accomplished Statesmen of 
his time, a great patron of learning and of art. He succeeded 
Bishop Qrey of Ely as Lord Treasurer of England. Two 
diplomatic missions to the Pope were entrusted to him by 
Henry VI. His voyage to Italy about 1457 was prolonged 
to the Holy Places and Jerusalem. On his return he studied 
Law at Padua, gained the friendship of Qecarino at Ferrara, 
and heard John Argyropoulos lecture on Qreek at Florence. 
He was a good customer to the great Florentine bookseller 
Vespasiano de Bistlcci, who has accordingly placed him, as the 
only Englishman, among the great scholars of the time 
whose lives he wrote. He went to Rome and according 
to Fuller, spoke so eloquently before Pius II. that the Pope 
was moved to tears. Fuller is also responsible for the state- 
ment that Tiptoft withdrew to Italy expressly to avoid parti- 
cipation in the strife between the King de facto and the 
Yorkish leader to whom he was unflinchingly loyal. Anyhow 
Tiptoft appears to have learnt more from Italy than English- 
men approved of. On the accession of Edward IV. he was ap- 
pointed Constable of the Tower, and a little later Constable 
of England. In these offices and as Deputy of Ireland he 
appears to have been the willing instrument of the King's 
blood-thirsty vengeance against the Lancastrians. He may 
be almost regarded as an early specimen of the Italianised 
Englishman, who according to a later proverb was un 
diavolo incamato. "Into the unscrupulous politics**— 
says Bishop Creighton—" of the dark days of Henry VI. he 
introduced an Italian carelessness of human life. The people 
hated him for his cruelty and called him "The Butcher of 
England." His Italian biographer tells us that when he was 
beheaded on Tower Hill in 1470, the mob cried out that he 
deserved to die because he had brought to England the laws 
of Padua. I think that this is an undue charge against 
English insularity great as it was ; and that the mob cried 
out against the use of his treacherous methods of Italian 
politics. Anyhow Tiptoft is a conspicuous example of that 
truth so often taught and so constantly disregarded, that 
When a scholilr takes to politics his icholairship does not 


save him from occasionally losing: his head." Certainly 
Worcester was an accomplished Latinist, an eager student, 
a friend and patron of learned men. Caxton wrote an impas- 
sioned lament for and high eulogy of him. He says of him — 
" He floured in virtue and cunnyng: to whom he knew none 
fyke, among the lordes of the temporal itie in science and 
moral vertue : " and Fuller exclaims of his beheadal, "The 
axe did at one blow cut off more learning than was left in 
the heads of all the surviving nobility." On the accession of 
Henry VII. he was beheaded on Tower Hill Oct. i8, 1470, 
and buried in the Blackfriars Church, in a chapel which 
according to Leland had been built by one of his sisters 
between two columns on the South side.] 

The Cenotaph is of Perpendicular character in white 
stone lofty and imposing, but not so beautiful as that of 
Bishop Redman on the opposite side of the Presbytery. 
On the Table Monument are the effigies of the Earl and 
his two wives. 

In the next arch on the South side of the High Altar 
is the Table Monument of 


[John Hotham 13 "6— 1337. 5.T.P. Provost of Queen's 
College, Oxford, Chancellor of that University, and also 
Chancellor and Treasurer of England, Prebendary of , York, 
Rector of Cottingham in Yorkshire, a "prudent and pious 
man but of no learning." He was present at the battle of 
Myton- upon -Swale when the English were defeated by the 
Scots, and was afterwards appointed by Edward if. one of 
the Commissioners to treat concerning peace with Robert 
Bruce. He was a munificent promoter of the great architec- 
tural works carried on under the rule of Prior Crauden, and 
from the designs of Alan de Walsingham the Sacrist, in his 
time the Lady Chapel was begun, the Octagon completed 
and the exquisite bays of the decorated choir designed and 
completed at his expense, £2034 las. 8d. He died at Somer- 
sham Jan. t4, i337> and was buried behind the Choir Altar, 
in the centre of the Decorated arches which he had built«] 


The portion of the Tomb of Bishop Hotham which is 
placed in this arch is an altar table of white stone, having 
decorated canopied panels at the side, with sculptured 
figures, surmounted by a Purbeck marble polished slab, 
on which his effigy in white alabaster formerly rested. 

" On the 14th January, 1337, Bishop John de Hotham died, and 
was buried in the centre of that part of the Presb3rtery which he 
himself had caused to be erected. The exact place of his tomb 
he had chosen "quasi spiritu prophetico." "For on a certain 
day," so says the chronicler, " when John the Bishop had been 
celebrating Mass in the Church at the High Altar, after Mass, 
returning to lay aside his pontifical robes in the vestry, it hap- 
pened that his pastoral staff broke at the very place where now he 
is buried. Whereupon, turning to the Prior who followed him, 
he said, * Prior, here shall be the place of my burial, and thou 
also here at my feet afterwards shall be buried.* " 

The splendid monument, said to have been the largest and 
most sumptuous in the Cathedral, which was erected on this spot 
in the Bishop's honour, was also Alan*s work. It consisted of an 
altar tomb, adorned with alternate panels of single and treble 
niches, the lesser of which were filled with statues, and the larger 
with paintings, representing the history of the Creation and the 
Pall of Man. Upon it was a figure of the Bishop, in alabaster, 
and above it a stately canopy and watching loft, surmounted by 
an elaborate candelabra of seven branches. The tomb was placed 
immediately behind the Choir altar, and the overarching canopy 
probably served in a somewhat similar fashion to that of S. 
Prideswide at Oxford, as a watching loft for the white marble 
shrine of S. Awdrey, whose silver reliquary, blazing with many 
jewels, crystal, and pearl, and onyx, and beryl, and amethyst, and 
chalcedony, flashed out beyond in North wold's Presbytery."* 

On the North side of the Altar, immediately opposite 
Bishop Hotham's tomb on a modern base of Purbeck 
marble is placed tbe effigy of the munificent Founder of 
the Presbytery. 

* dfi Stubbs' Hi8tori<{al Memorial, pi 137^ 

l66 m,Y CATHKDRAI,. 


[Hugo de Northwold (1339—1354). He had been Abbot of 
Bury S. Edmund, in succession to Abbot Samson (cf. Thomas 
Cariyle's "Past and Present"). In that office he had won 
the love and respect of all. He was spoken of by Matthew^ 
Paris as ' Flos Nigrorum/ (Flower of the Black Monks) 
shining brilliantly as an abbot among abbots, and as a 
bishop among bishops; profuse in his hospitality, and at 
table maintaining a calm cheerfulness which attracted all 
beholders." On the obverse of the seal which he used as 
Bishop of Ely is a representation of S. Edmund with the 
punning legend "Me Juvet Edmundus, Eldredce sim prece 


mundus." He built the six bays of the Presbytery at a cost 
of £5350 18s. 8d., rebuilt the Palace at Ely, united the two 
Hospitals of S. John and S. Mary Magdalene at Ely, and for 
the advancement of academical learning placed some Scholars 
in the Hospital of S. John at Cambridge. He founded a 
chantry in the Cathedral that prayers might be said for 
his soul and the souls of Henry III. and Queen Eleanor. 
The house on the Palace Qreen where the four Chaplains 
lived was subsequently called 'The Chantry on the Qreen,' 
a name still retained by the house which now occupies that 
4ltd. He died at Downham Aug> 6, 12541 and wks burl^ iti 


the centre of the Presbytery which he had built. The place 
of his burial is marked by a marble slab with inscription.] 

The eflSgy of Bishop Hugo de Northwold is carved from 
a large block of Purbeck marble, highly adorned with 
carving said by Sir Gilbert Scott to be perhaps the finest 
specimen of its period which remains. The effigy of the 
prelate is represented as resting beneath a cinquefoil 
canopy in his episcopal vestments, bearing his crozier, 
with a lion and a dragon under his feet ; beneath this is 
a representation of the martyrdom of St. Edmund, King 
of East Anglia, by the Danes, commemorative of North- 
wold having been I/)rd Abbot of Bury before j he was 
preferred to the See of Ely. The niches in the sides of 
the prelate's stall have statuettes — on the left Queen 
Etheldreda, an Abbess, 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. This and Bishop Hotham's tomb are now 
placed on either side of the Altar to commemorate two 
of the greatest benefactors of the Cathedral. 

In the next arch Westwards is the restored canopy of 
which we have spoken above in our account of S. 
Awdrey's Shrine. 

In the adjoining arch is the tomb of 


[William of Kilkenny 1354—1356. He was Archdeacon of 
Coventry, and at the time when, during the King's absence 
in Qascony, Queen Eleanor was in full exercise of her au- 
thority as Lady Keeper of the Qreat Seal, he exercised the 
subordinate duties of the office. He was promoted to the 
office of Chancellor in succession to the Queen in 1254, but 
resigned in the following year on his advancement to the See 
of Ely. He was sent as Ambassador to Spain, where he died, 
and was buried at Sugho. His heart only is interred at Ely. 
By his will he founded two Divinity Exhibitions at Cam- 



bridge In connection with Barnwell Priory. They are said to 
be the earliest foundations of University Scholarships.] 

The tomb is of Purbeck marble, and is a fine specimen 
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 shewn as resting 
on a cushion, and 
is surmounted by a 
trefoil arch with a 
crocketed gable, a 
censer-bearing an- 
gel on each side. 

In the next, the 
Westernmost arch 
of the Presbytery, is 
the beautiful monu- 
ment of 

[Richard Redman 
1501—1505, grewtt 
grandson of Sir Rich- 
ard Redman, Speaker 
of the House of Com- 
mons, said to have 
been educated at 
Cambridge. He was 
Abbot of Shapp in 
Westmoreland, Visit- 
or General of the 
Order of Premon- 
stratensians. He was Bishop of S. Asaph, the Cathedral 
Church of which See he rebuilt after it had l>een burnt down 
by Owen Qlendower. He was promoted to Exeter in 1495 
and translated to Ely in 1501. He was famous for his hospi- 
tality, in Journeys to any town, if he stayed but an hour. 

^^Hfllitl^Bt^^^fl. t * ' ' ^ ^^H 



^wMi^^H^^BmH ■ 


^^^^^^^^^^r -^ * <9p ^It^l 


^■ti'*' )^fW 

r - 

V^^^^^^^K^^^^ ^^^^Ei^^B i '' > Ml 




it was his practice to cause a l>ell to l>e rung, that tlie poor 
iiiis:ht come and partalce of liis cliarity. j 

His tomb is a fine specimen of the Peipendicular 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 lofty canopy, with a space left at the foot 
for a chantry priest. 

North Aisle of the Choir. 

The first three bays are Decorated, and of the same 
period as the Western Choir : the remaining portion is 
Early English, and part of Bishop Hugo de Northwold*s 
work. The distinction between the two portions is evi- 
dent in the roof, which is rich lierne in the Decorated 
work and plainly vaulted with bosses in the Early English, 
and in the Purbeck capitals of the shafts, of. which the 
Early English are enriched with leafage, the Decorated 
are plain. 

Against the new stone screens which have been erected 
to mask the stall-work in two of the bays, have been 
placed the monuments of Bishop Fleetwood (1714 — 1723), 
and of his son Dr. Charles Fleetwood (1737). 


[William Fleetwood (1714—1733) of the ancient family of 
Fleetwood at Hesketh in Lancashire, educated at Eton and 
King's College, Cambridge, of which he was a Fellow. He be- 
came one of the most celebrated preachers of his day. He was 
made Bishop of S. Asaph by Queen Anne, who always spoke 
of him as ' my bishop,* attended his sermons, and favoured 
him till her death, in spite of the outspoken whigs:isms 
which made him specially offensive to her favourite party. 
He was made Bishop of Ely by Qeorge 1. Few bishops have 
left a more unspotted reputation behind them. He always 
refused to enter into personal controversy. ''1 write my 


own sense as well as I can. If it be right It will support 
itself. If it be not it is fit it should sink." "Read Don 
Quixote"— said the good Bishop to a religious fanatic on 
another occasion- "your present situation of mind and 
weakness of spirit is not capable of doing Justice to texts 
and the fathers, nor equal to high points of speculation." 
His Chronicon JPretiosum Is a book of the greatest value 
to economists for its research and general accuracy on the 
value of money and account of prices for the previous six 
centuries. His sermons and charges of which he published 
many are characterised by dignity of style and clearness of 

The third bay is occupied by the new 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 from the 
Cathedral to the Lady Chapel ; it had statues in large 
niches on each side, many smaller niches, crockets, and 
finials, and over the key-stone a sitting figure, probably 
of the Blessed Virgin. The mouldings and ornaments 
were originally enriched by colours and gilding, but 
all are injured and defaced, and the figures have dis- 

The second bay of the north presbytery aisle is the site 
of the Chapel of the Three Altars (*ad tria altaria') of 
S. Benedict, S. John and S. Martin. 

A little further Eastward is the memorial brass laid 
over the grave of Mr. Basevi, the eminent architect of 
the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge, who was acci- 
dentally killed by a fall in the Western Tower in 1845. 

The monuments of Bishops Redman and Kilkenny, 
which we noticed in our survey of the Choir, are in their 
original places ; and we now pass in succession on our 
left those of Bishops Patrick (1691 — 1707), Mawson (1754 
— 1770), and Laney (1667 — 1675). 



[Simon Patrick (1691—1707) born at QalnslK>rough in 
Lincolnshire. He became Scholar of Queen's College, 
Cambridge, where he was much influenced by one of the 
Junior fellows, John Smith, the Cambridge Platonist. He 
was ordained deacon In 1654 by Dr. J. Hall, the ejected 
Bishop of Norwich ; was Rector of S. Paul's, Covent Garden, 
for 30 years. He greatly endeared himself to his people by 
remaining at his post all through the great Plague of London 
in 1665. He was made royal Chaplain and Prebendary of 
Westminster by Charles II. in 1673, and Dean of Peter- 
borough 7 years afterwards. He was consecrated Bishop of 
Chichester in 1689 and translated to Ely in 1691. While at 
Ely he was one of the chief instruments in that revival of 
Church life which marked the late years of the 17th century. 
He took a warm interest in the two great societies for the 
Promotion of Christian Knowledge and the Propagation of 
the Qospel, both of which were founded during his episco- 
pate ; of the former he was one of the five original founders, 
and of the latter he was so effective a supporter that it is 
supposed to have been in compliment to him that all bishops 
of Ely are ex-officio members. He was a voluminous writer 
of polemical theology, scriptural exegesis and sermon litera- 
ture. His " Parable of the Pilgrims," constructed on some- 
what similar lines to Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, had much 
popularity in its day. Among other of his works may be 
specially mentioned his ' Funeral Sermon for John Smith,' 
(bound up with the Select Discourses of that preacher) ; his 
Mensa Mystica, a treatise on the Eucharist ; ' Advice to a 
Friend,' one of the most beautiful of all his writings;" and 
"The Glorious Epiphany," a M.S. of the first draft of which 
in the form of a letters to a sister, is in the Cathedral 
Library. Bishop Patrick inherited from his brother John, 
Prebendary of Peterborough Cathedral and Precentor of Chi- 
chester, "a noble library, which cost him about £1000 and 
all that he was worth." He was himself a great benefactor 
to the Cathedral Library at Ely.] 

[Matthias Mawson (1754— >770) educated at 5. Paul's 

172 K1.Y CATHEDRA!,. 

School and Corpus Christ! Colles:e, Cambrids:e, of which 
he WAS elected Fellow In 1707 and Master in 1724. He 
was elected Bishop of Llandaff 1738, and of Chichester 
1740, and translated to Ely in 1754.] 


[Benjamin Laney, (1667—1675.) Bishop successively of 
Peterborough, Lincoln and Ely ; educated at Christ's College, 
Cambridge, migrated to Pembroke, elected Fellow 1616 and 
Master 1630. Vice- Chancel lor 1632—3. He was a friend 
of the poet Richard Crashaw, who dedicated to him his 
' Epigramata Sacra.' He became Chaplain to Charles 1. and 
Prebendary of Winchester. As a devoted Royalist and High 
Churchman, and follower of Laud, he became at the outbreak 
of the Civil Wars an object of fierce hostility to the Puritan 
party. He was ejected from his Mastership by the Parlia- 
mentary party. At the Restoration he received back all his 
preferments, and was rapidly made Dean of Rochester and 
Bishop of Peterborough. He was a member of the Savoy 
Conference. High Churchman as he was he treated the non- 
conforming Clergy with much moderation. He is described 
as a '* man of generous spirit, who spent the chief of his for- 
tune in works of piety, charity and munificence." He be- 
queathed money for the apprenticeship of poor children in 
Ely and Soham. His sermons preached before the king at 
Whitehall are— says Canon Overton— especially worthy of 
notice, as giving a complete compendium of Church teaching 
as applied to the particular errors of the times, showing a 
firm grasp and bold elucidation of Church principles. There 
is a raciness about them which reminds one of South, 
and a quaintness which is not unlike that of Bishop 

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 more 
recent arrangements. In the last bay but one (now 
i)pening to the Retro-choir) stood the monument of 



[William Qrey (i454— 1478). Meml>er of the family of 
Lord Gray of Codnor. He was a Scholar of Balliol, and 
one of the earlier '* Pilgrim Scholars" of the 15th Century 
drawn to Italy by the rumours of the marvellous treasures 
rescued from monastic lumber rooms or conveyed over seas 
by fugitive Greeks. Attracted by the fame of Quarino, he 
went to Ferrara to study Greek and Hebrew, in 1434 he 
was Rector of Amersham in Bucks and Prebendary of Lin- 
coln, in 1440 he was Chancellor of the University of Oxford, 
He was successively Prebend of Lichfield and York, and 
Archdeacon of Northumberland and Richmond, in 1449 
Henry VI. made him King's Proctor to the Curia, whereupon 
he proceeded to Rome, where he received a cordial welcome 
from that illustrious scholar Pope Nicholas V., who ap- 
pointed him Notary Apostolic. On his retiring he became 
Treasurer of England, resigning the office to Tiptoft Earl of 
Worcester in the following year. In 1454 he was appointed 
Bishop of Ely. He contributed largely to the expenses of 
the great underpinning arches of the Western Tower. It is 
to be feared that Bishop Grey's scholarly tastes found no 
response in the University of his Diocese, at all events he 
passed by Cambridge, and set his hopes of a classical revival 
on his old College at Oxford, to which he was a lil>eral be- 
nefactor, building a considerable part of the College Library 
and contributing to it many valuable books and M.SS. which 
he had collected in Italy, many of which still remain. He 
died at Downham 4th August, 1478. 

A considerable portion of the over-arching canopy of 
this tomb is now in the North Triforium of the Nave. 
It is to be regretted that this canopy is not repaired and 
replaced in its original position ; but the gravestone only 
remains in situ, from which the brass has been removed. 
His arms may be observed in the sides of three of the 
windows of the aisle, which no doubt were altered by 
him to the present form. It will be of special interest to 
antiquarians to notice the piece of paper with a portion 


of the painting of a lion, part of Bishop Grey's arms, 
pasted on the Purbeck column, East of this bay, some- 
what above the level of the eye. It is said to be the 
oldest known specimen of block printing in colours in 

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 S. John the Baptist ; the gift of the Rev. Chancellor 

The second window, executed by Messrs. Clayton and Bell, 
contains subjects illustrative of the Miracles ; designed as a memo- 
rial 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 
I/)st 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 hungred and ye gave me meat,*' &c. ; designed as a memo- 
rial of Rev. H. Fardell, Canon of Ely. 

Chapel of Bishop Alcock. 

Bishop Alcock's Chapel is at the end of the North 
aisle, occupying the space of one bay. 


[John Alcock (1486—1500) was born at Beverley and edu- 
cated at the Oram mar School there and at Cambridge, where 
he took his degree of LL.D. In or before 1461. He became 
Master of the Rolls and Prebendary of S. Paul's and Salts- 
bury. He held the Lord Chancellorship conjointly with 



Bishop Rotherham of Lincoln. Of such Joint tenure there is 
no other instance, in 1476 he became Lord President of 
Wales. He was made Comptroller of the Royal Works and 
Buildings on the accession of Henry Vil. an office for which 
owing to his skill as an architect he was specially fitted. His 
chapel at Ely, the Episcopal Palace, and Great 5t. Mary's at 
Cambridge, alike bear witness to his skill and taste as an 
architectural restorer. He was also a generous benefactor 
to the University of Cambridge, where he not only endowed 
Petjerhouse (of which by virtue of his office as Bishop of Ely 
he was Visitor) but founded Jesus College on the decayed 
Nunnery of 5t. Rhadegund. Alcock takes rank with those 
eminent Ecclesiastics before the Reformation, such as 
Rotherham, Fisher and Colet, who aimed at the renovation 
and reform of the Church, and set a high example to others 
by their own virtues and self-denial. " No one in England " 
—says Bale— "had a greater reputation for sanctity." He 
died at Wisbech Castle on ist October, 1500.] 

The Chapel is in the Perpendicular style, and was 
built A.D. 1488, as appears from a stone, possibly a port- 
able altar, found underground some years ago, and 
inserted in the wall under the East window, bearing the 
following inscription : — 


£}raa CBUena 














The ornamental portion of the Chapel is very elabo- 
rately executed, but the pinnacles are disproportioned 
and crowded, presenting a confused and heavy appear- 
ance ; the vaulted ceiling is rich and elaborate, with a 
large pendant of good workmanship in the centre. The 
principal entrance is on the West, but there is a door on 
the South side, the iron gates from which have at some 
period been removed to the south door entrance to 
the Cathedral ; and the Bishop's tomb is on the 
North side with a window behind containing some 
fragments of ancient stained glass. It is probable 
that the monument contained two effigies, one 
representing the Bishop in his pontifical robes, and 
another on a higher ledge, which represented his body 
in a state of decay, thus contrasting life and death A 
carved oak door at the foot of the monument appears as 
an entrance to a chantry. The Bishop was buried in the 
centre of the chapel ; his favourite device — a rebus of his 
name — a cock standing on a globe, and his arms may be 
seen in the glazed lancets of the chapel screen, and in 
several other places. In the lancet to the left of the 
doorway, the legend beneath the cock and globe is 
"A lege taa non declinavi. Po 118." *I have not 
swerved from thy law Ps. 1 19, 51 (i 18 old Latin Version.) 
On the right the legend is — ** Sapiens sine concilio nihil 
facit" — * The wise man does nothing without counsel.' 
Ecclus. xxxii., 24. The chapel has been much defaced, 
and many figures and ornaments have disappeared, but 
something has been done towards restoration by the 
Master and Fellows of Jesus College. The new portion 
of the floor was laid at the cost of Lord Alwyne Compton 
(the present Bishop). 

A very beautiful new stained glass window, executed 
by Clayton and Bell, with the figures of Bishop Hugo de 



Northwold, Hugo de Balsham, Bishop Hotham and 
Bishop Alcock, in the four lights, was placed in the 
chapel by the Bishop and Lady Alwyne Compton in 
commemoration of their Golden Wedding Day, August, 


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 me- 
mories respectively the two stained glass windows were 
inserted in the North aisle of the Choir, noticed on 
p. no. 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, 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 Indian Student, 
and the other a Cambridge Undergraduate, in allusion 
to the fact that Dr. Mill was a teacher in India (Principal 
of Bishop's College, Calcutta) before being a Professor at 
Cambridge. The efiigy is in copper, and was formed by 
the electro-plate process, and is one of the earliest appli- 
cations of electricity to the purposes of art. It was de- 
signed 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. 

• Composed of materials made for the tomb of Napoleon the Great in the 
Chapel oi the Champ de Mars, cf . Ely Grossip p. 57. 



[Lewis de Luxemburg (1438—1443)* son of John» Lord de 
Beaurevoir and Margaret d' Enghien. Chancellor of France 
and of Normandy. He was Qovemor of Paris in 1435. In 
1436 he was elected Archbishop of Rouen, and shortly after- 
wards came to England and attached himself to Henry VI, 
who made him Bishop of Ely in 1438. He received the tem- 
poralities of the See and was made perpetual administrator, 
but whether he ever was confirmed in the spiritualities 
seems doubtful. He governed the Diocese wholly by his 
Vicars General, and was himself hardly ever resident in it, 
nor had he any intercourse with the Prior and Convent. He 
was made Cardinal Bishop, by the style of Bishop of Tuscu- 
lum in 1443. He died at Hatfield in 1443. His body was 
buried at Ely, his heart in the Cathedral of Rouen.] 

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 niches and 
canopies with their finials in the tympanum of the arch 
above this monument will attract attention ; they are 
part of and are similar to those in the interior of Bishop 
West's Chapel, but are more perfect. 

South Aisle of the Choir. 

The Chapei, of Bishop West. 


[Nicholas West (1515—1534) ^on of a balcer at Putney. He 
was educated at Eton, and became Scholar of King's College, 
Cambridsre in 1477 and Fellow in 1483- He was made Arch- 
deacon of Derby in i486. In 1506 West was one of the Com- 
missioners to negotiate a treaty of Commerce with the 
Netherlands, and after several years of successful diplomacy, 
was rewarded by the grant of the Deanery of Windsor, where 
he completed the vaulting of S. George's Chapel. In 1514 he 
was Henry Vlll.'s Ambassador to James IV. of Scotland; 


and 1515 he toncluded on behalf of Ens:land a defensive alli- 
ance with PrancU I. Through the influence of Cardinal 
Wolsey he was then as a reward nominated to the See of Ely. 
He was so far a patron of literature that Alexander Barclay's 
' Life of St. George,' printed by Pinson, was dedicated to him 

BISHOP west's chapel. 

as Bishop of Ely, where Barclay was a monk. He built a 
chapel of great beauty at the end of the South aisle of Putney 
Church, and part of the Provost's lodgings at King's. He 
died at Downham in 1533. 

This Chapel fills the space of one bay at the Eastern 


end of the South aisle, in a similar way to that of Bishop 
Alcock in the North aisle. It is a rich specimen of late 
Gothic work, having in places, as over the entrance door, 
ornamentation of a distinctly Renaissance type. The 
niches and canopies are very numerous, and almost end- 
less 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 are of medallion 
size and well executed. The ceiling is a good specimen 
of Gothic tracery, divided into lozenge shaped compart- 
ments 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 pendants are formed by 
angels holding the same arms and those of Henry VIII. 
Over the door on the inside is this inscription : 


" By the grace of God I am what I am.'* 

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 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 barbar- 
ous 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. 

"The remarkable beauty of this Chantry, its grace and delicacy, 
its supreme refinement, the singular skill with which mediaeval 
and classic elements are blended in a coherent and harmonious 
design— all these qualities give colour to the tradition that it was 
built by Italian hands, and perhaps by the hands of Michael 
Angelo's rival, Torregiano, who lived a long time in England, and 
whose famous work is the tomb of Henry VII. at Westminster." 


Bishop Keene (1771 — 1781), was also buried here ; and 
Bishop Sparke (1812 — 1836) to whose memory the monu- 
ment at the East end has been erected, and tie 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. 

The body of Bishop Woodford was also buried here, a 
black marble slab charged with a cross, on one side of 
which is a mitre, on the other a copy of the pastoral staff 
with the arms of the See and the Bishop's private arms 
on shields below. An inscription forms a border. This 
was given by the Rev. A. R. Evans, Honorary Canon, 
and for many years private Chaplain to the Bishop. A 
monument to the memory of Bishop Woodford has also 
been erected in the North aisle of the Nave. 

Some fragments ot stained glass may be seen in a 
window on the South side, under which stands the re- 
mains of Bishop West's monument. JUvSt above this, in 
seven small niches, closed with as many stones inscribed 
with names and dates, are immured the remains of seven 
eminent persons* of the tenth and eleventh centuries. 

* Wolstan, Archbishop of York ; Osmund, a Swedish Bishop ; Ednotli, 
Bishop of Dorchester; Alfwyn, Elfgar, and Athelstan, severally Bishops 
of Elmham; and Brihtnoth, Earl 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. For memories of Earl Brihtnoth 
ef. also the Introduction, and the Notes in Stubbs*s " Memorials of Ely,** 
PX). 90, 91, 92. 

l^Hfi MONtTMfiNTS. 183 

who were originally interred in the Conventual Church, 
but from which they were removed and the small chests 
which contained their remains placed in the North wall 
of the Choir of the present Cathedral ; but when the 
position of the Choir was altered in 1770 again removed 
and deposited in their present resting place. 

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 
the present form about the same period as those in the 
North aisle. Five of them 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 Ashley 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 con- 
tains 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 our 
Saviour, and of Sjt. John ; executed by Messrs. Clayton and Bell ; 
the gfift of Mrs. Pratt, youngest daughter of Bishop Sparke. 

The fourth windpw, by the same artists, contains subjects illus- 
trative 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 illus- 
trative of the history of our IvOrd ; given by the same lady. 

On leaving the Chapel we may notice an ancient 
gravei^tone or part of a monument, found under the floor 


of the Nave in S. Mary's Church in 1829. It represents 
the Archangel Michael 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 arch. 
There is an inscription under the arch, *' St. Mich<ul oret 
p. me,'' To whose memory it was executed it is impos- 
sible to say, but it has been thought by some to have 
been the tombstone of Bishop Eustace (1191 — 1215), but 
why of Eustace rather than of Nigel or Geoffrey Ridel; 
or of one of the other Norman Bishops, I cannot say, 
unless it be that Bishop Eustace rebuilt St. Mary's 
Church, where the stone was found. It is of the same 
material and style of work as the Font in Winchester 
Cathedral. The stone is a dark black-blue marble, and 
was obtained from quarries near Tournai in Hainault, 
where there was a remarkable School of Art Sculpture in 
the XII. Century.* On the wall above this slab is a me- 
morial to the wife of Dean Luckock, a Canon of the 
Cathedral at the time of her death. 

Under the second window from the Chapel is an arched 
recess, which is thought to have formed an entrance to 
the ancient Lady Chapel, which occupied this bay of 
the aisles from the Infirmary, which buildings adjoined 
on the South side of the Presbytery, but it has 
been closed on the exterior for many years. The 
interior is now occupied by a life-size effigy of Dr. 
Selwyn, for upwards of forty years Canon of Ely, and for 
many years lyady Margaret Professor of Divinity at Cam- 

*cf. Journal of Biit. Archaeological Asseciation^ Vol. 50, p. 6 and 
Antiquary No. 268, Oct. '98. 


bridge,* who died lu 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. 

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

Several other monuments to former prelates of the See, 
and to other persons, may be observed in this aisle : one 


[Peter Gunning (1675—1684), formerly Master of Clare 
Hall and afterwards of S. John's College, Cambridge, Lady 
Margaret and Regius Professor of Divinity, Bishop of Chi- 
chester 1669—^1674, then Bishop of Ely. He was an ardent 
Royalist and thorough English Churchman, as much opposed 
to Romanism on the one side as to Puritanism on the other. 
During the Protectorate he was Minister of the Exeter 
House Chapel in the Strand, where he conducted services 
strictly in accordance with the rites of the Church, which 
were connived at by Oliver Cromwell. Both Evelyn and 
Pepys speak of these Services and of Gunning's " excellent 
sermons." Wood also tells of Gunning's *' Schismatical 
and factious adversaries who were sorry that they could not 
possibly fasten the least spot upon him." He was a member 
of the Savoy Conference, where he was specially pitted 
against Baxter. Baxter himself says of him, *' Gun- 
ning was their forwardest and greatest speaker, under- 
standing well what belonged to a disputant ; a man of 
greater study and industry than any of them, well read in 
Fathers and Councils, and 1 hear and believe, of a very tem- 
perate life as to all carnal excesses whatsoever." "He was 

• The Professor left the sum of £10,000 towards the erection of Divinity 
Schools in connection with the University of Camhridge. 


much admired" after the Restoration "by the Court Ladies, 
l>ecau8e— "the King said— "they could not understand his 
sermons " which alH>unded with Qreelc and Hebrew quota- 
tions. He is genenrffy supposed to have written the 
" Prayer for all Conditions of Men," though this is also as- 
cril>ed to Bishop Sanderson. Possibly Bishop Sanderson 
may have abbreviated a longer prayer written by Gunning, a 
supposition to which the word "finally" in so short a prayer 
may give some countenance.] 

Near the foot of this monument is a piscina in the wall, 
an evidence probably of the proximity of the Altar of 
the ancient Lady Chapel.* A little further on we find 
a monument to 


[Martin Heton (1600—09) Student and Canon of Christ 
Church, Vice-chancellor of Oxford 1588. Dean of Winches- 
ter. He was compelled by Queen Elizabeth to accept the 
See of Ely, and was compliant enough to accept on condition 
of alienating to the Queen the richest of its remaining 
Manors. Puller says "his memory groaneth under the 
suspicion of sacrilegious compliances." His hospitality how- 
ever at Ely gained him the reputation there of being "the 
best housekeeper within man's remembrance." He was 
considered a learned and able preacher. James I. said of 
him ''fat men are wont to make lean sermons, his were not 
lean, but larded with much good learning." He died at 

His monument occupies 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 
may notice the only two specimens remaining of ancient 
memorial brasses. There must have been many in the 

* cf. page 184. 


Cathedral, as appears by the numerous incised stones in 
different parts of the church. Some of them were evi- 
dently 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 

[Thomas Qoodrich (i534— 1554) Chaplain of Henry VIII. 
and Canon of 5. Stephen's, Westminster. He was one of 
the Divines consulted by the Convocation as to the legMty of 
the King's marriage with Catharine of Arragoa. He was one 
of the compilers of the " Bishops' Book/* and was entrusted 
with the Gospel of S. John in the revision of the New Testa- 
ment. He assisted in the compilation of the First Prayer 
Book of Edward VI. He was Lord Chancellor in 1551. He 
acted on the Privy Council during the 9 days' reign of Lady 
Jane Qrey, but he did homage to Queen Mary on the day of 
her coronation. Barnet says of him— ' ' he was a busy secular 
spirited man, and had given himself up wholly to factions 
and intrigues of state; so that though his opinion had 
always leaned to the Reformation, it is no wonder if a man 
so tempered would prefer the keeping of his bishopric before 
the discharge of his conscience." On the other hand Puller 
puts him among the English worthies" and quotes this pun 
on his name and fortunes : 

Et Bonus et dives, bene junctus et optimus ordo, 
Proecedit bonitas, pone sequuntur opes, 
which he thus translates— 
" Both Good and Rich, well Joined, but ranked indeed. 
For Grace goes first, and next doth wealth succeed." 

It was most probably his injunction of 1541 as to the removal 
of Images and Table monuments of miracles that led to the 
destruction of 5. Awdrey's tomb and shrine, and most likely 
also to the destruction of the sculptured work of the Lady 
Chapel. He died at Somersham i554-] 

He is a singular instance of an ardent Reformer, com- 
memorated by a brass in which are portrayed 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. Another well preserved brass is in 
memory of Humphry Tyndaix, fourth Dean of the 
Cathedral (1591 — 1614), who is represented in his robes, 
with a square-cut beard : an inscription is engraved on 
the border, and the following lines beneath the feet of 
the effigy : 

"The body of the Woorthy & Reverende 


fovrth Dean op this Chvrch and master op Qveenes 
Coi^UDGE IN Cambridge doth here expect the 


" In presence, gouemment, good actions, and in birth, 
Graue, wise, couragious. Noble was this earth. 
The poor, the church, the colledge says here lyes 
* A friende, A Deane, a maister, true, good, wise/ " 

Dean Tyndall was heir to the throne of Bohemia in 
right of Margaret, his ancestress, niece of the King of 
Bohemia. On the shield at the heads of the brass we 
may note * the Prince of Wales* feathers ' the crest of 
John, the blind King of Bohemia, who was killed at the 
battle of Crecy, and whose badge of the three feathers 
was then assumed by the Black Prince, and has ever 
since been borne by the Prince of Wales. Fuller states 
that Dean Tyndall refused the kingdom and alleged that 
" he would rather be Queen Elizabeth's subject than a 
Foreign Prince." 

We may notice here 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."* In the North 
aisle in the niche between these two columns 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. 

The monument to Robert Steward, Esq., who died 
A.D 1570, is placed in the next bay, and beyond that one 
to his brother Sir Mark Steward, A d. 1603. These two 
brothers were cousins of Robert Steward, the last Prior 
and first Dean. For the whole absurd story of the con- 
cocted pedigree by which these members of the obscure 
* Sty ward' family of Norfolk origin endeavoured to claim 
connection with the Stuarts of the reigning house of 
Scotland see Mr. J. H. Round's 'Studies in Peerage,' 
and * Genealogist,' N.S. II., 40—41. 

In the last bay is the monument erected to the memory 
of Bishop Allen, whose gravestone we noticed in passing 
through the Retro-Choir. On the table of the monument 
is a reclining figure of the prelate in white marble, con- 
sidered to be a good likeness. 

Stone 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—1714,1 Bishop Butts (1738— 1748), and Bishop 
Greene (1723— 1738), On this wall has been placed a 
small brass indicating the burial place of Robert Steward, 
the last Prior and first Dean. It is to be hoped that 
when opportunity occurs the monumental slab of 
Dean Steward, with its defaced brass legend may be 

* Millers' Description of Ely Cathedral p. 89. 
t cf. Footnote page 190. 


brought back to its original place in this bay. The full 
legend on this Brass as given by Browne Willis was as 
follows: **Hic jacet Magister Rob. St5nvard, primus 
Decanus hujus Eccles : Cath : Eliensis : qui obiit 22 
Dec. et in Anno Domini 1557," a portion of which may 
still be read on the defaced brass. It is at present lying 
immediately South of the Earl of Worcester's monument. 
On the pillar between the monuments of Bishop Butts 
and Bishop Greene is a tablet to the memory of William 
Lynne, gentleman, of Bassingboume, 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 good 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. lyowndes, Esq., of Barrington 
Hall, Essex, and that in the North aisle by Dean 

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

t Bishop Moore was a great lover of books, and was one of the early collectors 
of Black-letter books ; after his death his library was purchased hj George 
I. for 6000 guineas, and presented to the University of Cambridge, and 
consisted of 28,965 books and 1790 manuscripts. It was this gift that 
occasioned the two well known epigrams : — 

** The King to Oxford sent a troop of horse 

For Tories own no argument but force : 

With equal care to Cambridge books he sent 

For Whigs allow no force but argument.'' 

The last two lines however Oxford are usually quoted thus : — 
* To Cambridge books he sent as well discerning. 
That ancient seat was most in need of learning.' 


Canon of the Cathedral, and for many years incumbent 
of St. Mary's ; and on the corresponding place on the 
North side is a monument to Dean Caesar (1614 — 1636), 
which has been removed from a position it long occupied 
in the North aisle of the Choir. 

**Of fifty-four Bishops of Ely," says Mr. Millers, 
"thirty-five are known to have been buried in the 
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.' " * Since the above was written 
three others have been buried in the Cathedral — Bishop 
Allen behind the Altar Screen, as we have noticed; 
Bishop Sparke and Bishop Woodford in Bishop West's 

« MiUers' Description of Ely Cathedral, p. 85. 


"Imaginative work is the very blossom of civilization triumph- 
ant and hopeful ; it would fain lead men to aspire towards perfection i 
Such hope that it fulfils gives birth to yet another hope : it bears 
in its bosom this worth and the meaning of life and the counsel to 
strive to understand everything, to fear nothing and to hate 
nothing; in a word *tis the symbol and sacrament of the courage 
of the world." 

Wi 1,1,1AM Morris. 

The Lady Chapel. 

nn HE position of the I^ady Chapel at Ely, running 
-■- parallel with the Choir of the Cathedral and comer 
to corner with the North Transept, may possibly have 
been suggested by the somewhat similar position of the 
now diestroyed I^ady Chapel at Peterborough. But it is 
still more probable, I think, that the unusual site was 
chosen out of respect for the great beauty of the East 
front of Northwold's Presbytery, and from a desire to do 
sufficient honour to the object of the I^ady Chapel, while 
at the same time not interfering with the famous Shrines 

Photo by 

G. H, Tyndall, 



of S. Audrey and her sister Abbesses in the Presbytery. 
The lyady Chapel therefore stands on the North side of 
the Cathedral, parallel with the Choir, and is now 
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 superintendance 
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, which proved 
a great assistance in carrying on the work. This is 
perhaps, one of the most beautiful and elaborate speci- 
mens 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. In 1566 it was assigned by the Dean and 
Chapter for the use of the inhabitants of the parish of 
Holy Trinity in lieu of their own Church of S. Cross 
then in ruins. 

This Chapel is perhaps the widest single-span stone 
roofed 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. 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 probably ins^rtioi^s of a som^whs^t lat^r d^t^ ths^n th^ 


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, traces of which may still be found in various 
parts of the chapel. 

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. Each stall 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, 
inclined forwards. On the apex is, or was the figure 
of a saint; above this the hood-mould is crocketed 
and terminates with a finial. The other four are wider, 
and instead of the figure of a saint on the apex each ter- 
minates in a group of three elaborately carved brackets 
or corbels, which support two other ranges of niches 
in pairs, surmounted by ornamental canopies, and be- 
tween them runs a roof-shaft, from which spring the 
ribs of the vaulting. 

The spandrils of the tabernacle work are filled with 
diaper work and sculptured subjects representing the 
history of the Blessed 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 

YH« UlDY CHAP^t. 197 

altar is elevated above the level of the floor, and the 
niches on the side walls are raised in accordance. I^arge 
niches are placed between each of the side windows. 

The backs of the niches and indeed many parts of the 
chapel show remains of 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. Some of the bosses along 
the mid-rib represent emblems of the Nativity, Cruci- 
fixion, the Blessed Virgin, &c. They were all richly 
coloured and gilded, but like other parts of the building, 
have been defaced and injured. It is said that when 
the elder Pugin visited the I^ady Chapel for the first time 
he burst into tears and exclaimed-—" O God, what has 
England done to deserve this ! " 

Lady Chapel Sculptures. 

In a circular issued by the present Dean (1895) for 
funds to restore the dilapidated canopies on the exterior 
of the east and west fronts, and the decayed tracery of 
the .northern windows, a work which in. 1898 was 
completed at a cost of ;^2,5oo, he thus speaks of this 
sculptured History of the Virgin in the interior. 

Round the whole circuit of the interior walls, below the win- 
dows, runs an arcade of elaborate canopied niches, of singular 
beauty of form, covered with the richest profusion of sculptured 
flower work and dainty leafage. In the spandrils above each 
canopy is carved in low relief the Scriptural and the Legendary 
History of the Blessed Virgin. The exquisite delicacy and grace 
of line of the figures of this sculpture, reminding one of the refined 
beauty of Donatello's work in low relief a century later in Italy, 
still remains,— in spite of the havoc worked by the misguided 
activity of reforming zeal— an ideal of Art and loveliness which 
our best modern sculptors will probably for many a long daj^ 
strive in vain to reach. There is no spot probably in England 


where an Architect, who is also an Artist, may better study what 
was meant in the very greatest days of English Architecture, by 
a noble idea perfectly expressed in stone and exquisitely adorned. 

It is said that Welby Pugin once estimated the probable cost of 
the restoration of this interior at ;f 100,000. But even the provision 
of that large sum would not make the work possible. There does 
not exist probably in Europe to-day an artist in stone who could 
be trusted to repair this defaced sculpture of Alan de Walsingham's 
craftsmen. For such an Artist we must wait for an Age, when 
once more Art has become not only **the expression of a work- 
man's joy in his work," but also the expression of a man of genius 
who pours into his Art life, conscience, labour, as a sacrificial act 
of devotion to **the King in His beauty." 

There remains for us the humbler task and yet the honourable 
duty of preserving the fabric of the building, the casket in which 
is enshrined for the England of to-day so much that is character- 
istic of the worship and the service, and the noble work of our 
fathers in the old time that is past. 

Dr. Montagu James, in his book on the Iconography of 
the Lady Chapel, has by his almost exhaustive knowledge 
of contemporary documents, and of the written sources 
of the mediaeval folk-tales and Legends of the Virgin, 
succeeded in identifying with certainty a very consider- 
able number of the sculptured subjects of the Lady 
Chapel, and has given reasonable conjectures as to many 

The following catalogue, abridged from Dr. James' 
book, may be found useful. The sculptures occupy the 
spandrils above each canopy. L. and R. represent the 
spandril to left or right of the spectator. The canopies 
are numbered from i — ^47. No. i is the canopy on the 
South side at the extreme East. We then proceed round 
the Chapel from East to West : — 

L. Figures entirely cut away. 
R^ Figures entirely cut away. 


I^. Altar with chalice, Bishop with crozier houselling a kneeling 

R. Altar with kneeling Bishop. 

I^. An angel soourging a kneeling figure of man stripped to 

waist, beyond an Altar with seated figure of Virgin. 
R. A nun and man with hawk on wiist. 

Ir. An angel presents the kneeling figure of a nun before an Altar. 
R. A City gate : Demon with clawed feet, one of which rests on 

head of figure standing with hawk on wrist : possibly story of 

Theophilus selling his sons to the devil. 


ly. Two horsemen watching figure kneeling before Altar on 

which is seated the Virgin. 
R. Figure presented to seated hairy demon : two horsemen 


I,. Virgin and attending angel: figure kneeling on two steps 

under clouds, a small Demon behind. 
R. Virgin and Angel, Virgin standing on Demon plunged in 

flames, two nuns in blacK, one with head on pillow, a woman 

in blue behind. 

L. Group of three women : Bishop seated with kneeling nun, 

figure behind. 
R. Virgin and angel. 

1,. Virgin with angel holding the two feet of a man in bed. 
R. A man with legs across over stool, supported by another man. 


Iv. Virgin and angel appears to man asleep before an Altar. 

R. Angel and two figures ; a balance, left hand scale containing 
a loaf of bread or building, right hand scale pulled down by 
demons : above a headless half-length figure leaning out of 
clouds to receive a soul. 



History of the Blessed Virgin Mary begins. 
L. Joachim's oflfering at the Altar rejected by the High Priest. 
R Joachim and Ann attended by angel. Notice beautiful group 
of six figures below looking up at these scenes, and the 
crocketed leaves above the hood mould : they are oak leaves 
apparently blown aside by wind from the West. 

Photo by Rev. H. R. Campion. 



L. Atigel appears to Joachim : shepherds and sheep. 
R. Angel hovers over kneeling figure of Ann. 


L. Three shepherds of Joachim, one kneeling : sheep and hills. 
R. Joachim and Ann meeting at Temple Gate. 


L. Birth of Virgin : maid by the bedside : trestle which has sup- 
ported bath. 

R. Presentation of the Virgin : Priest standing by an Altar at the 
top of 15 steps : her parents stand by : Ann's hand on the 
Virgin's shoulder. 


ly. The Virgin's childhood in the temple : attended by angels. 
Liber de Infantia, cap iv. 

R. The Virgin and the High Priest sending for the suitors. Or, 
S. Ann's charity to the Poor. 


L. Virgin's marriage with Joseph. 
R. High Priest dismissing the suitors. 

L. The Annunciation. 
R. The Visitation. 

King David with harp below. The only figure of this series 

of Kings and Bishops identifiable. 

L. Reconciliation of Joseph and the Virgin after his unjust 

R. The High Priest administering the Waters of Jealousy to the 
Virgin and Joseph. 

L. Virgin on an ass and Joseph : Journey to Bethlehem. Lib. de 

Infantia cap. xiii. Unique in Western Art 
R. Joseph with the ass : Virgin dismounted led by Angel to Cave 
of the Nativity. 


L. The Nativity in the Manger at Bethlehem. 
R. Angel and Shepherds : the Star above. 

XX. (Comer Stall, S.W.) 
L. Virgin and Child : Shepherds or Magi. 
R. Ma^ on journey. 


XXI. (West Bnd.) 
L. Angel ; ? warning Joseph to fly. 
R. Herod : ? giving order for Massacre of Innocents. 

L. Massacre of the Innocents. 

R. The Flight into Egypt : dragons doing obeisance (Lib. de Inf. 
c. xviii — XX.) 

L. An angel near oak tree : a lamb on left : a large dragon. 
R. Virgin and two figures : fragments of yoke of oxen. (Lib. de 
Inf. c. i.) 


L. ? Fall of Idols upon the entrance of the Holy Family into 
Egypt. (Lib. de Inf. c. xxiii. iv.) 

R. Aflfrodorias, Egyptian Governor adoring Virgin. Lib. de Inf. 
xxiv. Compare with window in King's College Chapel, Cam- 


L. Angel and Joseph. 

R. Angel : Virgin and another. 


L. The baptism of our Lord. 

[Dr. James thinks that this and the following group indicate prominent 
events in our lord's life : the Prophets who foretold them are represented 
and the Virgin ; but not always the event itself.] 

R. Virgin fainting : David with harp ; possibly indicates the 
Crucifixion : the Crucifix may have been sculptured on the 
mutilated fiuial of canopy. 

L. Possibly indicates the Deposition from the Cross. 
R. Possibly indicates the Entombment. 

L. Virgin : Prophet with scroll : ? Ascension. (Amos iv. 3.) 
R. Apostles : this and following five groups seem to give proces- 
sion of the Apostles, assembling at the Death of the Virgin. 

XXIX. (Comer Stall N.W.) 
L. Figure with scroll and raised hand. 
R. ? Virgin and S. John. 


XXX. (North Side.) 
L. Figure. 
R. Figure canning a book in * bag ' binding. 


L. Virgin pra3dng on Mount of Olives, or S. Thomas receiving 

the girdle. 
R. Coffin of Virgin borne by four Apostles, two more with candles 

in front : traces of the hands of the Jew who tried to upset the 

bier are visible. 


L. Virgin in Coffin and figures. 
R. Two figures one with scroll. 

L. The Assumption ; angels supporting Virgin in mandola. 
[End of the Virgin series.] 

The Story of Julian y the Apostate. 
R. Julian warned by vision of an angel. 

L. Virgin and Angel appearing to S. Basil 
R. S. David intercedes with Julian for the threatened City. 


Iv. S. Basil praying to the Virgin. 

R. Virgin raising S. George from the grave. 


Iv. Virgin crowned : S. George armed and sent against Julian. 
R. Two horsemen, one with sword, man with harp falls oflf broken 
bridge into water. 


ly. Angel with staff and Virgin crowned blessing : below a figure 

emerging from water. 
R. Two figures seated on Throne on steps : a man with writing 

case in girdle and book in bag. 

L. Standing and kneeling figure before Altar. 
R. Angel : Virgin appearing to sleeping Bishop. 



204 niy cATimDkiVL. 

story of the Sacristan and the Lady. 
L. Husband watching the wife bribing the Sacristan. 
R. Monk and the lady imprisoned. 


? The story of Pope (Ceesarius or Leo) who was tempted by Satan 
in the guise of a woman when he was saying mass : by way of 
penance he cut off his hands, and they were restored to him 
by the Virgin. 







L. Story of the Jewish boy at Bourges or Piza, who received the 

Eucharist and was thrown into an oven by his father : rescued 

by the Virgin. 


L. Man baptized in a tub. 

R. The baptizer : a child lying before him on a bed of flowers. 

The Font in the Lady Chapel is from a design by 
J. P. St. Aubyn, Esq., and executed by Messrs. Earp, of 
Kennington Road. The mechanical nature of the 
modern diaper work on the sides of this font may be 
usefully compared with the bolder and more vigorous, 
and assuredly more beautiful, treatment of the similar 
diaper work in the spandrils of the ancient stone stalls 
close by. 

A tew modern monumental tablets are placed on the 
walls, but their erection has sadly mutilated t^e canopies 
in which they have been inserted ; some dthers have 
been removed to the entrance. 


"The greatest glory of a building is not in its stones nor in its 
gold. Its glory is in its age, and in that deep sense of voicefulness, 
of stem watching, of mysterious sympathy, nay even of approval 
or condemnation, which we feel in walls that have long been 
washed by the passing waves of humanity. It is not until a 
building has assumed this character, till it has been entrusted 
with the fame, and hallowed by the deeds of men, till its walls 
have been witnesses of suffering, and its pillars rise out of the 
shadow of death, that its existence, more lasting as it is than that 
of the natural objects of the world around it, can be gifted with 
even so much as these possess, of language and of life.'* 

John Ruskin. 

The Exterior. 

A T the commencement of our survey we examined the 
^^ Western front, let us 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, deli- 
vered 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 
]?een similar in all repects to that on the South side. 


" This noble feature may have been suggested by the still larger 
Western Transept already existing at Bury St. Edmunds, and in 
turn it must have suggested the erection of the smaller one at 
Peterborough. It is a truly noble work, evincing in its lower 
stages a more advanced variety of Norman than the Nave though 
working in perfectly with it. Its great apsidal Chapels added 
largely to the dignity of its character, while the central Western 
tower completed the magnificence of the Western facade. There 
was clearly a Western projection also from the tower where the 
present porch stands ; some evidences of which were found by 
Mr. Essex a century ago, so that the whole must have been on a 
large scale, something like what we see in the ruins of Kelso 
Abbey. . . - Whether the Western transept was completed on 
its Northern side, has been questioned. My own conviction is 
that it was so. In the first place I do not see why the architects, 
who had conceived so noble an idea should, while carrying it on 
through two generations, have been content to leave one of its 
wings so essential to its beauty, unbuilt : in the second place, I do 
not believe that any one would have had the temerity to carry up 
so vast a tower, buttressed well on three sides, but unbuttressed 
on the fourth : thirdly I do not think that Ridel would have been 
recorded to have * finished the new work towards the West ' had 
he left so essential a feature untouched ; and finally the portions 
of the North Transept attached to the Tower and corresponding 
in design with those on the South, seem to suggest that the whole 
was carried up together. The details of a different character, 
which we see combined with these, are so late in date as not to 

affect the question I conceive that the great Western 

Tower, when finished, was covered by a form of timber and leaded 
spire, which subsequently became frequent in the neighbouring 
marsh-land^: a vast octagonal pyramid, surrounded by four of 
smaller size, rising from their turrets at its angles. Such a spire 
still remains at St. Mary's, Sutton ; such must clearly have termi- 
nated the beautiful detached tower of West Walton : such I think 
existed at S. Margaret's at Lynn, and probably at several of the 
neighbouring churches ; and all these, as I imagine, followed the 
great type first established at Ely, either by Bishop Ridel, or in 
the next century by Bishop Northwold. The Front with its tower 
thus terminated, with leaded spires also on the four terminal 
turrets of the Transepts, and with the high roofs on the Transepts 


and Western Porch, must have presented a tout ensemble of the 
most imposing and majestic character."* 

It would appear that after the fall of the original 
Northern 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 panel- 
ling 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 some centuries before that. The 
arches built within the original arches of the Tower to 
afford additional support were erected in the early part 
of the fifteenth century.f 

A good view of the Nave may be obtained from the 
street from the North-west as the building is unob- 
structed throughout its whole length. A band of treble 
billet moulding runs under the lower windows ; a double 
hatched moulding under the second tier, and imme- 
diately 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 

♦ Sir G. Gilbert Scott's Lecture. 

t At the meeting of the Diocesan Conference at Ely, in July, 1874, the 
subject of the Restoration of the Cathedral was discussed, and the following 
Resolution passed unanimously: — ''That it is desirable that a Diocesan 
Conmiittee of Clergy and Laity, with Branch Committees in each Arch- 
deaconry, be formed to co-opeiate with the Bishop, Dean and Chapter, for 
raising funds to carry on the Restoration of the Cathedral by re-building in 
the first instance, after the completion ot the work now in hand, the North- 
west Transept." It is very doubtful, however, whether to attempt such 
Restoration of the North-west Transept would be wise. Norman Architec- 
ture is even more impossible in the twentieth century than it was when 
Sir Christopher "Wren restored the North-west comer of the central 


on the North were removed about a 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 re- 
pairs 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. 

The Exterior of the Octas:on. 

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 origi- 
nally 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 some- 
what doubtful, the stonework was carried up to a height 
a little above the roof of the Nave. 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 junction of the walls of the 
Nave and Choir aisles with those of the Transept, spring 
two massive flying buttresses, abutting on octagonal 
turrets at each angle of the Octagon. It is probable that 
the Lantern was originally designed to be finished more or 
less in the form of a crown, possibly of the type of the Tron 
Church at Edinburgh. Between the corner turrets runs a 
reed parapet formerly surmounted bj^ a bold cresting of 


leaves and other ornaments ; and there are bases of pillars 
at the cardinal points. These pinnacles with the cresting 
have been completed in Clipsham stone by the late 
Mr. Wood, of Ely, after designs by Sir Gilbert Scott. 
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 designed to be in 
harmony with the large windows in the angles of the 
Octagon; the upper storey is lighted by louvres as 
adapted to a belfry for which purpose this chamber was 
originally used; the lower windows have been recon- 
structed, a series of flying buttresses (which had been 
taken away) have been replaced 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 

North Transept. 

The portion of the North Transept which fell down in 
1699, although soon afterwards carefully restored, and 
the mouldings and ornaments replaced, may yet be 
distinguished from the old work. The Tuscan door- 
arch, however, in its Northern face is humorously out 
of place here. The restorations were executed under 


the directions of Sir Christopher Wren, and it would 
seem as if that Architect had inserted this door-' 
wa}^ — a design copied from his new Cathedral of S. Paul's 
— as a witness of his contempt for the Gothic rudeness 
of his Norman predecessors. 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 above 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. 

Exterior of Lady Chapel. 

The West front of the Lady Chapel is richly adorned 
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 cross upon a niche rising above the pierced 
parapet running above the sides. On each side of the 
building are five large windows, the tracery of which 
being executed in a softer kind of stone than the walls, 
and having been much decayed, has lately been carefullj^ 
restored. Between each of the windows is a deep project- 
ing 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-oflf and 
carrying the projecting canopy, the tops being finished 
•ocketed pinnacles. The East end is not so richly 
ited as the West ; the window, although a very 


fine one, is not so large as the Western one, and there 
are no niches on the side nor beneath it. At the foot of 
the curious concave member of the upper tracery of the 
East window, there are indications of the erection on the 
outside and in front ot the plane of the tracery, of some 
piece of sculpture, possibly a large stone crucifix with 
figures on either side. 

The Choir and Presbytery. 

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 ; 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 gurgoyles, or water- 
spouts of grotesque figures ; flying buttresses are some- 
times used in addition, reaching from the side buttresses 
to the clerestory walls, thus forming an important addi- 
tion to the support as well as to the external beauty of 
the fabric. 


The Eastern Facade. 

The East end of the Cathedral is one of the finest spe- 
cimens extant of an Early English East front. It is 
divided into three stories ; the lowest has three lancet 
windows of nearly equal height ; 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 storey, which is within the gable, contains 
three lancet windows not seen in the Choir, but giving 
light to the space between the stone groining and the 
wooden 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 a very beautiful Early English 
floriated cross. The crocketed pinnacle at the South-east 
corner was given by A. J. B. Beresford Hope, Esq. 
Rather more than a century ago this gable end was about 
two feet out of the perpendicular, but was skilfully 
restored by Mr. Essex, the architect. 

"The East End of Ely "—says Professor Fi*eeman — "is the head 
of its own class, and that in two senses. It is the grandest exam- 
ple of the grouping of I^ancets, that grouping of which we have 
other fine examples at Whitby and Southwell. But Ely is un- 
doubtedly the head of all East Ends and Eastern limbs of that 
class in which the main body of the church is the same height 
throughout, and in which the aisles are brought out to the full 
length of the building. This class stands distinguished alike from 
the apsidal East ends and from the arrangement, more common 
than either, in which the extreme Eastern part of the church 
consists of chapels lower than the main body. So it is at Win- 
chester, Gloucester, S. Albans, and a crowd of others. Of the 
plan followed at Ely, the other chief examples are Lincoln, in a 
style near enough to Ely to be compared with it, and York, which 
is in a much later style and has little in common with either. At 
Lincoln instead of the ranges of Lancets we find large windows 
with tracery of the earliest fullest developed kind. The question 


between the two styles is a question of taste ; but it can hardly 
be doubted that the Bast end of Ely is, on any shewing, the better 
design of the two. This we may safely say, though the Lincoln 
Bast end has the advantage of remaining as it was first designed, 
the centre part and the ends of the aisles being both unaltered. 
At Bly it is only the central part which is still as Hugh of North - 
wold meant it to be : the Bast ends of the aisles have been sadly 
disfigured, both in their outline and by the insertion of later win- 
dows. Yet even under these disadvantages the noble composition 
of Lancets at the Bast end of Bly can hold its ground against any 

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 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 whole of the Eastern facade has now been repaired 
and the Purbeck marble columns, many of which had 
fallen, and nearly all of which were muc 1 decayed, have 
been restored (1903) at the cost of ;^8oo, by the Dean 
and Chapter. 

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 keeps to its original form of 
beautiful Early English type. 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. 

South Transept. 

The South end of the Transept differs from the North 

* Freeman's Introduction to Cathedral Cities of Ely and Norwich, p. 11. 


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 gables and pinnacles. Some corbels 
in the lower part of the wall indicate the former exist- 
ence of some adjoining structure, probably, judging from 
the analogy of other Benedictine Houses, the passage- 
way, commonly called the Slype, between the Church 
and the Chapter House. 

Considerable anxiety was 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 
Yorshire stone. It has also been deemed desirable to 
circumscribe the two round towers of the South-west 
Transept, as well as the principal Tower, 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 is doubtless an insertion, 
probably made at the same time as a similar one in the 
North Transept, and by the same architect. The en- 
trance to the Church is through a beautiful Norman door- 
arch in the South wall of the Nave, as described on p. 65. 

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 windows ; 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 


Dimensions of the Cathedral. 


Kt. In. 

The Galilee, or Western Portico 42 o 

The Tower 40 o 

The Nave 208 o 

Crossing the Octagon 71 5 

The Choir 123 o 

Retro-Choir 35 10 

The whole length frofn West to East 520 3 

Length of Transept from North to South (including the 

Octagon) 178 6 

Breadth of the Nave with the Aisles 77 3 

Height of the Walls of the Nave 72 9 

Breadth of the Transept with the Aisles 73 o 

Breadth of the Choir with the Aisles 77 3 

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 o 

Perpendicular height of the Dome, springing from the 

capitals of the pillars to the aperture of the Lantern 32 o 
Height of the Lantern itself, from the aperture on the 

Dome, to its vaulted Roof 48 o 

The whole height from the floor to the centre of the 

Lantern 142 o 

Height of the vaulted roof of the Choir 70 o 

Clear diameter of the Octagon, from one pillar to the 

opposite 65 4 

Clear diameter of the Lantern, within 30 o 

Length of the Lady Chapel (now Trinity Church) loi 4 

Breadth of the same 46 o 

Height of its vaulted roof 59 o 


The whole length, from West to East 537 o 

The length of the great Cross, or Transept, from North 

to South 190 o 

Height of the four stone turrets of the Western Tower. . 215 o 

Height of the two towers of the South-west Transept . . 120 o 

Height of the roof over the Nave 104 o 

Height of the Lantern over the Dome 170 7 

Height of tlie Eastern front, to the top of the Cross .... 115 o 



^ ^ rri HE Conventual Buildings of a Benedictine Abbey, supply less 
J- scope for architectural experiments and varieties than do 
the Churches. Differences in style and detail may of course be 
endless : but the main buildings follow a fixed rule of arrange- 
ment, and cannot greatly differ in outline and proportion. There 
is indeed the question whether the other buildings shall stand 
North or South of the Church, a question commonly answered, as 
it is at Ely, in favour of the South side. There is the further 
question whether the Chapter House shall be oblong or polygonal, 
a question which does not greatly concern us at Ely, for the 
Chapter House has vanished. But Cloisters, Chapter House, 
Refectory, Dormitory, must keep their proper places and their 
proper relation to one another. And besides which the changes 
of the Sixteenth century did comparatively little damage to the 
fabrics of the Cathedral Churches themselves, they came down, 
with a hand of merciless havoc on the accompanying buildings of 
those among them which were served by Regulars. The common 
buildings of the monastery were parted out among the holders 
of particular prebends to be made by them into houses anyhow 
that they could. This process has wrought a kind of destruction 
among cloisters, refectories, infirmaries and the like, which is 
almost worse than utter ruin. We find for the most part mere 
fragments peeping out of otherwise modern houses. It is a gain 

Photo by 

Rev. H. R. Campion. 



if a Cloister sumves, if a Chapter House remains to answer its 
original purpose, if a Refectory or Dormitory survives whole to 

answer any purpose But at Ely there are many more 

parts than usual to be made out among the prebendal houses. 
The beautiful Chapel of Prior Crauden is well known : but it is 
only one thing among several. To the local historian of Ely or to a 
student of monastic arrangement, every house, every building 
within the precinct of the Abbey, will supply some material for 
study. The more general observer will be chiefly drawn to the 
Infirmary, which unroofed, mutilated, patched, built into houses 
as it is, is still one of the very best examples of its class. We can 
still trace the Hall, the Infirmary Church, the projecting Chancel, 
showing how completely the idea of the Monastic Infirmary was 
passed on to that class of hospitals — that architecture is one of the 
best— in which the dwelling place of the alms folk opens into the 
Chapel. But the Infirmary at Ely is further remarkable as an 
admirable example of its own style, the latest form of building 
that can be called Romanesque. It is strange that this highly 
finished work, with its comparatively slender column, and its in 
some parts elaborate Norman detail, could ever have been looked 
on as older than the massive Norman work in the Minster."* 

The monastery at Ely was surrendered to the King on 
November nth, 1539— the thirty-first year of his reign— 
and in 1541 its church became the cathedral church of 
the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Ely, and the old 
foundation was succeeded by "the Kings new College at 
Elye," to which Henry VIII assigned a considerable 
. income to support a dean and eight prebendaries, ** eight 
peticanons, four students in divinitie, xxiiij scolers to 
be taught Grammar, six aged men decayed in the King's 
warres or Service," and to provide a staff for the manage- 
ment of the estates of the new corporation. The whole 
site of the dissolved monastery, and all the buildings on 
it except *' The Bishops* Mansion House," were to be 
converted into gardens and dwelling places for the various 
ofiicers of the college; and four commissioners viz., the 

♦ Professor Freeman's Introduction to Cathedral Cities of Ely and Norwich. 


Bishop of the diocese, Thomas Goodrich, Sir Robert 
Payton Knight, Philip Paris, and John Goodrich, Esquires, 
were appointed by Letters Patent, dated September loth, 
1541, and ordered to assign to the Dean and Prebendaries 
their several stalls in the choir, to put them " and the 
other Ministers and Persons above named into possession 
of their several Houses,'* and finally to certify under 
their seals to the Chancellor and Council of the Court of 
Augmentation of of the Revenues of the Crown that the 
instructions issued to them had been carried out. 

The original award has not been discovered either at 
the Record Office or in the register of Bishop Goodrich 
at Ely ; but there is a copy of it in the library of Corpus 
Christi College, Cambridge,* which is printed below at 
full length. This document was bequeathed to this 
library by the Master of the College, Mathew Parker, 
who was the first Prebend of the second stall of the 
King's new corporation at Ely : it is unpaged, and 
begins abruptly as follows : — 

assigned to the deyns lodging 
all the edifices & grown d from the gret hall to ye gallery wall 
westward, and from ye olde hall with ye kechyn called the priours 
kechyn with chapel & gallery southward with ye soyle of ye same, 
except the stuff of ye kechyn & except j parcell of the kechyn 
vnder the chappel chambre. 

The gret hall to be for ye petit canons with all the other menysters 
& officers to dyne and sup in with thet voltes vndemeth ye same 
& also the convent kechyn & the litel buttre adioynyng to the 
same, with suffic* Implementes of kechyn stuff botry and napry. 

doctor cox : 
The celerers logeng from the fermary northward with all ye edificez 
both beneth & above as far as ye buyldyng goth south ward with 
the garden extending to the dorter westward prouiso for the olde 
man login : dur' vita / 

♦ Nasmith's Catalogue, Art. 27. 
t The word " wells " (or " walls ") is in the MS. here, but crossed through. 


dene of stoke* 
The paynted chamber from the firma' of the south to the outter- 
most part of the buyldyng northward & from the churchyard 
westward with all the edifices beneth & above wthe chamber an- 
nexed to ye same called cottis chamber wthe chirchyard therto 
adioynyng, and half the garden with the yle adioynong therto &c, 

doctor meye 
The blacke hostre from the firmary of the north with all the edifices 
both beneth & above southward with the chamber somtyme the 
celerers annext thereto of the eest & the garden annexed to the 
same sumtyme the firmaris with a kichen del firmar* with the 
nether part of ye chamberhous beryng half the charge of ye 
coueryng of ye same with the orchard agaynst the same / 

Mr. Custons 
Sentt hall with all the edifices both beneth & above from the 
firmary chappel north wall of ye north & the wall of ye garden of 
ye said hall with the garden adioynyng to ye same of the south 
and from mr hamondes lodgyng of the eest to the black hostry of 
the west with chamberer house viz le ouer part beryng half the 
charges of the couerying &c'. 

Mr ayer / 
mr hamondes lodging from the firmary of the west wthe edificez 
both above & beneth with garden & orchyard annexed to ye same 
/ & the litle chappel in the fermery church except the leade &c. 

Mr hamond 
The almery with all the edificez courtes & gardens belonging to 
the same lacking ij chymes wyndous &c / 

doctor lyson 
The sextre hall as it compassed houssez yardes & gardens &c / 

mr ward 
The newe hall with the audite chamber and the chappel chamber 
called mr lee chambre with the houf & vautes ther about with the 
litle garden & pultre yard & the pondes ther & the chappel 

• Matthew Parker, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury, at this time 
Canon of Ely and Dean of the College of S. John the Baptist at Stoke 
by Clare in Suffolk, f So, but possibly a miswriting for Gent. 


chamber & parcell of the kechyn vndemeth the same lacking one 

pair stayres &c. 

The chamber at ye hall dore to be for an awditt chamber / 
for petit canons 

Knightes chambre . / want vnderneth f John corbet / 

iiij chambers in ye gatehouse for viij synging men 

The ij porter his chamber and ye gayl house 

The shryne chambre . cottes 

In the fermery 

j chamber next to ye grown d f John bury 

j chamber aboue / f William Sewal 

the lady chappel chamber / f John spirard 

f John skeel 

3 chambers vnder one roof f John Stoneham 

f thomas mawndes 
f Nicholas duxford 

2 chambers one aboue an other f W. Withred 

The malt gamer over the stable* / The schole house, the schole 

master chambre the vshers chamber ye chamber for ye childer 

The cator ouer the backhouse dore 

The chamber next to the stayr hede for ye ij sextens / 

The yj beedmen in the new dorter qousq3 

The wax house 

The old hall at ye hall dore 

The brewhouse & the backhouse 

Malting howse 

long dorter with the privi dorter 

The chamberers chamber 

Milhouse with the scholehouse in ye almery 

The olde hall in ye sextry 

The gamer in ye sextry next to ye chirchyard 

The bougry hall 

The stones thorough in ye churchyard 

The butler to have a chambre in ye volt 

The stable and garner above. 

The pettencyaris 

The frayter 

The chapter house to be chonged 


The necessary reparacion & edificez to be done wher most necessary 
is & most nede first bi the holl agrement of the commiss' dean & 
chapter bi* ij of the prebendarys to be assigned both to pluck 
down & sell & reserue for necessary buyldyng & that by bills as- 
signed bi the hondes of ye commyssyoners or ye most part of them 
and the same to be acomptable before the same commyssyoners 
or dene & chapter iiij tymes in the yere / & for defawt in ye ex- 
penditure, or for easyng them that have ye charge, yt shalbe law- 
ful to ye said commyssyoners vpon Informacion made to them bi 
the dene & chapter or ye more part of them to elect other ij from 
tyme to tyme once a yere bi the discretion of ye more part of the 
said commyssyoners. 

Mr dene of Stoke and mr ward elect pro hoc tempore 
[this is the copy of the commyssioners order wryte bi mr John 

According to this distribution document, five of the 
new Prebends were housed in extensions of the Norman 
Infirmary— one in the Almonry, one in the Sacristy, and 
the eighth in ** the newe hall " which had been added to 
one which was probably as old as the transept of Abbot 
Symeon a.d. 1081. 

The power " to pluck down and sell " which the Royal 
Commissioners possessed, and the later proceedings of 
the Common-wealth surveyors in 1649, explain the total 
disappearance of many of the ofiicial buildings common 
to all Benedictine Monasteries, f 

The accompanying plan will vSufficiently explain the 
deposition of the various monastic buildings and their 
adaptation to modern uses. 

It will be convenient to commence our description with 
the great gateway of the Monaster}\ 

Ely Porta. 

The only one of the Gate-houses of the Convent which 

• bi is indistinct in the MS. f cf. paper by Rev. D. J". Stewart in the 
Archaeological Journal, 1897. 


remains is the West entrance, the great gate of the 
Abbey, generally known by the name of Ely Porta. The 
erection of the building was begun in the year of Prior 
Bukton's death in 1396, . and carried on during the 
Priorate of William Walpole, hence it is sometimes also 
called Walpole's Gate. 

" The walls are built of rock, sandstone, or rag ; the quoins, 
arches, doors, windows, and mouldings with Bamack stone and 
the outside of the walls has been covered by a thin coat of mortar 
made of lime, sand and small gravel. The arms of the See of Ely, 
and also those of Edwju-d the Confessor (who was the patron 
saint of Richard II., in whose reign the foundation of this building 
was commenced), are placed in front of the building separately, 
and impaled with those of England and France. The building 
has towards the West two entrances, a large arch flanked by a 
postern doorway for carriages and foot passengers; but to the 
East both pass under a larger arch." 

**It is recorded that this gate-house was twenty years in. build- 
ing, and from the peculiarities which mark the upper parts there 
is every indication that the building was not finished in conformity 
to its original design, as the vaulting was never completed ; the 
masonry work on the top is made of refuse material, and the con- 
struction of the roof— a distingfuishing feature of the Perpendicular 
period — shows that the building was not carried out in the spirit 
in which it was conceived. This delay and departure from the 
original design was no doubt attributable to the pecuniary condi- 
tion of the Convent, as the expenses attendant upon rebuilding the 
central Lantern Tower, the Lady Chapel, the* Prior's Hall and 
Chapel, and other buildings erected during Walsingham*s time, 
bore very heavily upon its resources; added to which the Prior 
was involved in a long and expensive lawsuit with the Bishop 
relative to ecclesiastical jurisdiction and certain privileges of the 
manors. The final award of this arbitration was not made until 
1417, and the litigation cost the convent 2,000 marks (a sum equi- 
valent to ;f 30,000 at the present day.) This large expenditure not 
only retju-ded the progress of the work, but unquestionably pre- 
cluded it from being carried out in accordance with the original 
plan. This building has at various times been used, not only as a 
Gateway and Porter's Residence, but also as a Chapel, Courthouse, 


Prison, Lay Clerks' Residence, Grammar School and Brewery."* 

The North end of the building is now used as the 
residence of the Porter, who is also one of the Vergers 
of the Cathedral. The South end, with the rooms above, 
are part of the buildings set apart for the use of the 
King's School, the Cathedral Grammar School, the large 
room over the archway being the big school-room. 

The Grammar or King's School. 

" Under the statutes of Henry VIII. and Elizabeth, confirmed 
by Charles II. (1666), 24 boys were to be educated, and by the 
statutes of the two preceding sovereigns maintained, out of the 
revenues of the Cathedral Church ; but the site of the school 
appecu-s to be nowhere mentioned until the dissolution, when the 
school-house was ordered to be destroyed, the malt-gamer fitted 
up as a schoolroom, and the late Prior Wells, who became the 
newly elected Dean, made the appointment of a grammar-master 
in .1548. A century later the building used as ** the free school of 
the College" was situated north of Canon Dickson's house 
(formerly the malthouse) ; and this building probably continued 
to be appropriated to such purpose until the year 1813, when it 
was converted into a national school, and the College or King's 
School transferred to the upper room of the gate-house. In 1852, 
this school was placed under efficient management, and desks 
made from the sub-stalls of the choir, fixed in the large room, and 
the adjoining room on the south fitted up as a class-room ; after- 
wards the walls of the larger room were lined with the panel- work 
which formerly divided the seats into pews in the Lady Chapel 
(now Trinity Church), and the upper class-room had a new floor. 
Upon the abandonment of the College Brewery in 1855 the base- 
ment floor was raised, a passage cut through from the bottom of 
the staircase into the lower room, which was then converted into 
a lavatory, the dark cell into a coal cellar, and the room over the 
lavatory into a class-room. In 1868, the large room over the 
gateway being found insufficient for the purposes of the school, 
the two rooms were thrown into one by inserting a large arch in 

• MS. notes by Mr. John Bacon, late clerk of the works to the Dean and 
Chapter, as his father was before him. The services of father and son 
covered a period of 60 years (1821—1870). 


clunch in the same style as prevailed at the erection of the 
building. At a later time the upper schoolroom was still further 
enlarged by removing the wall separating it on the North side, 
so that at the present time the three rooms which formerly 
comprised the whole of the upper storey of the gate-house have 
been thrown into one, and the school accommodation greatly 

• Immediately opposite the gateway on the other side of 
the street is a modern Hostel, ** Hereward Hall," opened 
in 1 88 1 as a further addition to the King's School, afford- 
ing Dormitory acccmmodaticn for about 60 boys, with 
class rooms and studies and master's rooms. 

Western 5ide of Monastery. 

Entering by the great Gateway and turning imme- 
diately to the left, we notice a long line of ancient 
buildings which originally formed part of the Western 
boundary of the Convent. That they are of great anti- 
quity is evident from the flat Norman buttresses on 
their Western side visible from the street, known as the 
Gallery, and by the remains of their early narrow round- 
headed windows still to be seen on both sides of the 
building. Immediately beyond that portion of these 
btiildings which has been modernised, and is now used 
as the residence of Canon Dickson, late Precentor of the 
Cathedral, there is noticeable a fine old Norman Door- 
way, leading into a long stone vaulted chamber, the 
ancient entrance to the Fair Hall beyond, but now util- 
ised as the Dining Hall of the King's School. 

"This Norman doorway is composed of a succession of receding 
semicircular arches under a dripstone, with a moulded chamfered 
head and plain tympanum, resting upon bell-shaped carved capi- 
tals, supported by detached shafts between square-edged jambs of 
plain masonry; the inner arches rest upon similar capitals on 
semi-cylindrical shafts. This doorway leads into a crypt 109 feet 
by 21 feet, divided by eight double bays forming two aisles. The 


ribs of the vaulting which are double chamfered, formed with 
bricks manufactured for the purpose, rest upon slightly irregular 
octagonal shafts of Barnack stone, without capitals. The Eastern 
wall has flat Norman buttresses, and the bays North of the door- 
way have each two long narrow round-headed windows, whilst 
those on the South have only one window in each bay. The West 
wall is divided by similar buttresses into eight panels, each 11 feet 
6 inches wide, supporting a rich corbel table of trefoil-headed 
arches at Ihe top, and a double chamfered string course on the 
level of the dormitory floor, each panel containing one window. 
At the North end of this crypt was a stone staircase lighted by 
loopholes in the gable wall next the Gallery. This staircase led 
to the Fair Hall on the East, and the dormers above the crypt, 
which were probably used by the Prior for the accommodation of 
his numerous distinguished guests.*' 

These rooms are now used as Dormitories for the 
boarders of the Head Master, whose own house is partly 
constructed out of these old buildings and the Fair Hall 
beyond. This Hall which in the Parliamentary survey 
of the buildings in 1649 is said to consist ** of a faire hall 
paved with bricks containing 51 foote in length and in 
breadth 22 foote a parlour wainscotted " is now divided 
up into modern rooms, but still contains three of the five 
Decorated tracery windows which Alan de Walsingham 
made when Prior Crauden caused this hall to be built, as 
it is said, to entertain Queen Philippa, when she came 
to visit the monastery in the middle of the 14th Century. 
On the outside of the Western wall of this Hall there is 
a very finely carved corbel table supporting the chimney 
of the fire-place which is probably still in existence, 
though built up in the modern walls. At the north end 
of the Eastern wall there is a built-up doorway evidently 
communicating in old days with the Prior's Courtyard 
by an outside stone staircase. In the angle of this Hall 
and the great Guest Hall of the Convent, now the 
Deanery, there is a passage of communication between 


them containing the ancient window and doorway. In 
a turret buttress at the South-east corner of this Hall, is 
also the remains of a doorway, which originally opened 
into a wooden gallery, which was thrown across the 
Courtyard below, and was the means of communication 
between the Fair Hall and the Prior's Study and Chapel. 
It is greatly to be hoped that the present Dean's scheme 
for the restoration of the Fair Hall, as a Chapter House 
and Library, and the completion of the furnishing of 
Prior Crauden's Chapel, and the replacing of the ancient 
gallery across the Court, may at no distant date be 
carried out. 

Prior Crauden'5 Chapel. 

This Chapel was founded by John de Crauden, Prior 
of Ely (1321— 1341,) as a private chapel, and built under 
the direction of Alan de Walsingham, the architect of the 
Octagon. It is most interesting on account of 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 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 ; the windows which had been closed have 
been re-opened, and the Eastern one is filled with stained 
glass. It is now used for the Daily Matins and Evensong 
of the King's School. 

The chapel stands on 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 above is by a staircase which winds 
within the buttress at the North-west angle. The 
building is a parallelogram 31 feet long by 15^ feet wide 
and was, perhaps, about 18 feet to the roof. The length 

Photo by G. H. Tyndall. 


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, 
etc. ; 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 win- 
dows 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 a large window divided into five lights, with 
elaborate tracery. This window has been filled with 
stained glass given b}^ Lady Smart, wife of Admiral Sir 
Robert Smart, k.c.b. The five lower figures are of old 
glass, supposed to be from the old window of Cologne 
Cathedral, and the group of figures in the upper centre 
representing the " Render unto Caesar," and the " Good 
Shepherd " above, were both painted and given by Lady 
Smart, at the time of the Restoration of the Chapel by 
the Precentor, the Rev. D. J. Stewart, and by Lady ' 
Smart's brother, J. C. Sharpe, Esq., banker, London. 
The floor is elevated at the East end for the Altar, and is 
formed of ancient mosaic tiles ; upon the raised portion is 
represented the fall of Man, and the remainder is orna- 
mented 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 em- 
bellished with colours and gilding, in the style of the 
period in which it was built. 

The Prior'5 Lodge- 
Adjoining the Chapel, and standing corner to corner 
with it, and parallel to the Fair Hall, is the ancient 
lodging of the Prior. This ancient building has been 
much altered on its Western side in quite modern times. 
Certain much delapidated rooms mainly constructed of 

THE prior's I.ODGE. 233 

stud work and plaister, but conceivably forming a portion 
of the ancient book- room of Prior Crauden, was pulled 
down about 15 years ago and gave place to modern build- 
ings of white brick. The handsome fourteenth Century fire- 
place of this Hall still remains in a modern passage-way 
to the bedrooms. The Eastern Front of the Prior's Hall 
has been restored but remains very much as it was in 
Crauden*s time. The entrance door leads into a Norman 
stone-vaulted crypt, now utilised as the Entrance Hall 
and Kitchen of the Canon's residence. This stone- 
vaulted undercroft with its fine Norman columns, is the 
oldest part of the Conventual buildings which are left, 
and may quite probably have been built in Abbot 
Simeon's time. It formed the basement of more mag- 
nificent buildings in Prior Crauden 's time, when a very 
large and extensive repair of all the ofiicial residences 
in the Priory took place. There are very few remains 
of the old buildings here which do not show traces of 
the work of Alan de Walsingham's masons. The new 
Prior's Hall was about 50 feet in length and carried over 
5 or 6 bays of the Norman basement. There are still 
traces of a large stone bay window which lighted it from 
the South, and the fine old XIV. Century timbered roof 
is still in position and has lately been carefully restored. 

The Fish Ponds. 

The convent Fish tanks were arranged in the natural 
fall of the ground from the Garden of the Prior's Hall to 
the old Broad Lane, and fed by a stream which flowed 
through them to the river. In the Garden of the Pro- 
fessor of Hebrew is the site of the uppermost tank, and 
the position of the two others may be traced in the Park 

The Prior's Kitchen. 

The Kitchen of the Priory stood at the North end of 


the Hall thus connecting the Priory with the great 
Guest Hall, which has now become the Deanery. This 
kitchen has been removed, but the remains of the great 
brick fire-places may still be plainly seen in the walls on 
the side of the open passage-way that now separates the 
Priory from the Deanery. Various archways both on 
the ground level and on the upper storey in the walls of 
both houses still speak of their ancient connection. 

The Deanery* 

The ancient Guest Hall of the Convent, which after 
the Dissolution became the Common Hall of the College 
of Henry's foundation, and at a later period the Deanery, 
was apparently much altered and restored during Prior 
Crauden's Priorate (1321 — 1341). 

" It appears at this time to have been in a very dilapidated 
state, as the North-west corner had to be sustained with large 
buttresses, the South wall supported with additional ones, the 
large chimney on the North side made more massive to prevent 
the thrust of the walls from the lateral pressure of the roof, and 
the probability of this yielding of the wall doubtless necessitated 
the introduction of new vaulting and the re-arrangement of the 
four large windows on the North and South sides, the jambs and 
sills of which, as altered by Crauden, are still visible. The south 
wall was partially blinded near its Eastern end by the Prior's 
kitchen abutting thereon, over which was an entrance to the 
Prior's lodgings. The entrance from this Hall to the Cloisters 
was through an early English doorway at its Northern side 
which now leads out of the Servants' Hall. At the East and West 
gabels are to be seen the labels of a pointed arch window with 
deep cusped sexterfoil openings above, the architecture of which 
evidently points to a period prior to the restoration by Crauden. 
At the Western end was the pro aula or Ante-Hall, now the Dean's 
Library which was used as a place of greeting for guests. The 
Guests' Hall was 80 feet long, 32 wide, 25 from floor to roof, and 
56J to ridge. The high-pitched roof extended over both Halls, 
and was divided into five bays by a chamfered tie-beam having 
under it bracing ribs with spandrils so disposed as to form arches, 


which rested on wall pieces supported by bold carved corbels 
projecting from the walls. Above the tie-beams supporting the 
rafters and collar-beams are carved bracing-ribs, forming a second 
series of arches, which are continued above the wall-plates 
longitudinally between the principals to the purlins having a 
rafter in the centre to the wall-plate. The ceiling between each 
principal and bracing-rib with the spandrils was plastered, which 
had the ejffect of bringing out the dark oak woodwork very 

This interesting old roof is still in situ, the great arch 
beams resting on stone corbels which are just above 
the level of the modem bedroom floors. 

Norman IGtchen. 

** At the North-east comer of the Guests' Hall was the Convent 
Kitchen, which was standing in the seventeenth Century, and is 
then described as 33 feet square. The foundations were traced by 
Bentham in the last Century, who erroneously represented it as 
the Chapter House. To the South of the Kitchen was the 
Buttery, at the East end of the crypt under the Guests' Hall, the 
spot immediately under the present drawing-room of the Deanery. 
The Commissioners at the dissolution directed this * little butre 
adjoining the Convent kechyn * to be preserved. In the succeed- 
ing Century the Convent Kitchen was ordered to be destroyed, 
except such portion of its Southern wall as could be made avail- 
able as a wall to the staircase leading to the Western entrance 
of the Deanery. Two bays of the South wall of the Convent 
Kitchen enclosing two windows, were thus appropriated as a 
staircase wall, and two other bays pierced with two windows 
are incorporated with other buildings connected with the 
Deanery. These portions of the wall of the Convent Kitchen are 
seven feet thick, and with their windows remain in their original 
state, and are unquestionably early Norman work. Until recently 
the Auditor's Residence was over this buttery and staircase, but 
was displaced during the present Century (XIX) by the erection 
of the drawing-room just mentioned." 

The Refectory. 

** The Early English Reifectory commenced by Prior Leverington 
in 1270, was in the course of construction in the third year of 


Edward 1. (1175), when Jno. de Hemmington was Prior. This 
.building was erected in place of the Norman Refectory of larger 
dimensions, for after the apportionment of the estates of the 
Monastery by Bishop Hervey in 1109, the portion allotted to the 
Priory was found inadequate to maintain the original number of 
Monks on the foundation (70), and it became therefore necessary 
to reduce the establishment to forty, consequently the dining-hall 
was not required to be so capacious, and the dimensions given by 
Cromwell's Surveyors in 1649 are 31 feet by 16 feet. The only 
remains now existing of this Refectory is a portion of the South 
wall, from which it appears the walls were adorned with a very 
light and elegant arcade, composed of a base having a hollow 
between two rounds, with a marked horizontal spread on the 
lower part. It had triple shafts, the two backward ones being 
hewn out of solid stone, and upon the front single shaft resting 
on a fillet is a graceful bell with foliage extending upwards, 
curling in a free and chaste manner, and terminating with a trefoil 
moulding. From these remains we may infer the Refectory 
stood from West to East, and at the latter end the Prior's table 
was elevated on a dais : and we may also conclude, from the 
position of the Monk's Kitchen, that doors to the Pantry and 
Cellarage existed at its Western end j and in the kitchen wall are 
still to be seen window-like openings through which the provis- 
ions passed." 

The Cloisters. 

" The Nave of the Church was almost invariably placed to the 
North of the Cloister, so as to shield this place of constant resort 
from the cold Northemly winds, as well as to give to those within 
its walls the benefit of the light and warmth of the morning and 
mid-day sun. This rule however was not without exceptions, as 
at Canterbury, Chester, Gloucester, and Malmesbury, the Church 
is South of the Cloisters, whilst at Rochester and Chichester the 
Cloisters are South of the Choir, and at Lincoln on the North. 
At Wells, Chichester, Chester and Hereford, there are only three 
alleys to the Cloisters, and at York and Lichfield no Cloisters 

" The dimensions of the Cloisters of the following twelve Cathe- 
dral and Abbey Churches show a very slight deviation in their 
measurements, the several areas being probably regulated by the 

Glastonbury . 
Norwich . . . 





No. of 

Salisbury ... 
St. Albans... 


.155 by 145 


Gloucester . 




number of Monks on the respective foundations : 

Feet No. of 

Sq. Monks. 

Durham 145 

Peterborough 145 by 130 60 

Ely I45byi35 7o 

Canterbury ..135 

Worcester ... 125 by 120 50 

Lincoln 120 by 90. 

" The Nave of the Church at Ely was evidently planned and 
built simultaneously with the Cloisters, as the windows in the 
South wall of the aisle are shortened as far as the North walk ex- 
tended, and the zig-zag ornaments in the interior are carried 
higher at the part opposite the Cloister than at the other parts of 
the aisle. The exterior outer wall of the aisle of the Nave, which 
was enclosed by the Cloisters, is ornamented with an arcade of an 
early Norman character, similar to that which runs along the 
inner walls of both aisles of the Nave, the plinth of the latter 
being raised a foot higher than the Cloister floor. This Norman 
arcade is like that seen on the Refectory wall in the South alley 
of the Cloisters at Westminster Abbey, but the masonry of the 
joints are somewhat closer, and bespeak a later date. It comprised 
eight bays, divided by semi-columns, each division containing five 
arches, except the two facing the East and West alleys, which had 
richly carved doors, a description of which will be given when we 
enter upon the architecture of the Cathedral Church." 

" The Norman Cloister was rarely vaulted, but was simply a flat 
wooden roof, supported on its upper side by a ridge plate resting on 
stone hook-shaped corbels built into the Church wall and resting 
its lower side on the arcade of the inner wall, as seen at Win- 
chester, Durham, and other Norman Churches." 

" These Cloisters were rebuilt in the fifteenth century, the win- 
dows of the North alley and those in the Eastern walk still remain, 
having their openings filled in with brickwork, now forming a 
garden wall to the Deanery. The remaining part of the Eastern 
wall side of the Cloister was probably taken away at the demoli- 
tion of the Chapter House, which Henry VIII's Commissioners 
ordered ** to be changed." There exists no architectural evidences 
of the Western side of the Cloister at the present time, but it ex- 
isted in 1649, as it is described by CromwelPs Surveyors^ " along 

238 ni,y CATHKDRAI,. 

Cloister at the North end of the Deanery leading into the Minster 
67 yards in length," which agrees with the measurement from a 
doorway now existing leading out of the Guesten-hall or present 
Deanery to the Western door of the Cloisters entering the Nave 

" The South inner wall of the North alley comprised nine bays 
or windows, each having five openings formed by two compound 
arches intersecting each other, and giving the centre light the 
same height as the two side lights ; the mullions are merely a 
head between two hollows, having the glass groove midway, and 
owing to the flatness of the arches the openings in the heads are 
small ; hence they have a heavy appearance. The piers between 
the windows are sunk with a hollow, making a panel one-and-a- 
half inch deep, and wdthin these panels are carved foliated corbels 
with gable-formed canopies cut in clunch richly crocketed above, 
and forming housings for images. The East inner wall consisted 
of ten windows ; at the South-east angle is the comer pier (now 
used as a doorway into the Dean's garden), the face is sunk, 
and within the panel is the corbel and gable ; but only three of 
the piers in the East alley possess these housings, and probably 
those were opposite the Slype, Chapter House and Infirmary 
entrances. The piers between the windows next the garth were 
supported by buttresses, divided by a bold base moulding and two 
simple slopes as set-offs, and finished with octagonal crocketed 
pinnacles. The absence of transoms and any erichment of folia- 
tion in the tops of the windows places their restoration at a very 
early part of the Perpendicular period. Their erection is gene- 
rally attributed to Bishop Alcock (1480 — 1501), who built the two 
wings of the Bishop's Palace, and was also a great restorer of 
buildings in the several manors, by the architectural evidences 
pointing to an earlier period. From an extract in the Sacrist's 
roll they appear to have been repaired in the first year of Henry 
VIII's reign. 

The Slype. 

** At the Southern end of the South-east Transept, the 
space which intervened between it and the Chapter House, 
and which leads from the Cloisters to the Monks' Cemetery, 
was called the Slype, and being enclosed, was used * as a place 
for merchants to utter their wares.' Here the Sacrist bought 
materials 'for the repair of the Church and Monastery, as 

THE SI.YPE. 239 

well as vestments, chalices and books for the former, the Cham- 
berlain his coarse cloth for wear and bedding for the dormitory, 
the Cellarer the wine and provision for the Monks, the Hosteller 
the white bread and cl^oicer wine for the guests, and here also the 
Monks assembled to greet their friends. 'In the Church, and 
within the shadow ot its walls,* says Stewart, *busy salesmen 
opened their booths and displayed their wares to the fenmen and 
their families, while the agents of the great commercial firms bar- 
gained for their timber and iron with the Sacrist of the Priory." 

The Chapter House. 

"Adjoining on the South stood the Chapter House and from 
the masonry work in the South face of the Eastern Transept its 
erection was coeval with that part of the Church. We may there- 
fore infer that it was a Norman structure, and consequently of a 
rectangular form, the Chapter Houses erected subsequently to 
the Norman period being of a polygonal shape. The vast quantity 
of fragments of work pf this period found amongst the Collegiate 
buildings indicate the existence of former erections upon which 
neither cost of labour nor materials were spared." 

By permission of the Dean and Chapter some excava- 
tions were made by members of the Cambridge Antiqua- 
rian Society in July, 1892, in the open space to the South 
of the South Transept of the Cathedral with a view to 
finding the foundations of the Chapter House. Trial 
holes were dug, and foundations were found, but they 
were in a very fragmentary condition. The position of 
the walls so discovered, which seem to indicate that the 
shape of the Chapter House was rectangular, will be 
found marked on the Plan of the Conventual buildings. 

The Infirmary. 

"Professor Willis, in his work on the Monastery of Christ 
Church, Canterbury, says, * My comparison of the Norman drawing 
in the library of Trinity College, Cambridgfe, enabled me to prove 
for the first time that the ruins at the South-east of the Cathedral 
at Ely were in reality those of an Infirmary Hall and Chapel, 
with Kitchen, Table Hall, &c., similar to those at Canterbury, 


and not, as Benthem imagined, the remains of a Saxon Church 
and Convent. I subsequently discovered similar buildings at 
Peterborough, Gloucester and elsewhere.'* 

** Sir Gilbert Scott, in his, ' Gleanings from Westminster Abbey,' 
thus describes a Monastic Infirmary : * The usual form of Infirmary 
of a Monastery was verj' similar to that of a Church, with this 
simple difference that the quasi-nave was very long, and was 
divided at about one-third of its length from the East by a cross 
wall, perforated only by a central doorway ; the Western portion 
forming the Infirmary proper, and the Kastem portion being the 
nave of the Chapel and a chancel extending still to the Eastward. 
This arrangement allowed the sick Monks to hear the services as 
they lay in their beds, whilst the convalescents could readily 
transfer themselves to the Chapel. This may be traced out at 
Canterbury, Ely and Peterborough.' Professor Willis gives a 
similar description in his work already referred to. He says, * The 
Monastic Infirmary generally speaking resembles the Nave of a 
Church, with side aisles, pier arches and clerestory windows above 
— domus infirmoruniy the house of the sick and infirm. Beyond 
this domus is the Chapel of the Infirmary, attached to it as the 
Chancel of a Church is to the Nave, with side aisles and a cleres- 
tory, but internally it was separated from the domus by a wall 
rising to its roof and having a door in the centre, as at Ely. To 
the Eastern extremity of the Chapel is appended a chancel. The 
table hall was an addition to the Infirmary, and used as a special 
Refectory for those who were able to quit their chambers, or were 
relieved for a time from the austerities of the Cloister.' 

" With these descriptions before us we shall better understand 
the design of the Monastic Infirmary at Ely, bearing in mind that 
in connection therewith were chambers and apartments with 
other offices, such as kitchen, dispensary, surgery and bath-room, 
together with gardens and cloisters on the West and South for the 
exercise and recreation of the sick, and a herbary for the growth 
of plants for medicinal purposes." 

"The DomUvS, Infirmary Hall, or Infirmary proper was 105 feet 
long, 44 wide, and 33 high, and was divided into aisles by nine 
bays with semicircular heads, the pillars being alternately oc- 
tagonal and round, supporting arches ornamented with dovetailed 
reversed, and other ziz-zag mouldings. In each aisle were nine 


round-headed windows, deeply splayed inside, and a like number 
in the clerestory. The principal entrance was at the West end, and 
the bases of the pillars on each side of the door, with the stone 
threshold, were discovered by Kssex in 1764, about two feet 
underground. To the east was a thick wall, still standing, 
pierced by an arched doorway, having a single shaft on each 
side with rings, and a series of small and prismatic mouldings 
round the arch. The octagonal columns in the nave are alter- 
nately set with their angles foremost, a peculiarity which is 
observable at Westminster Infirmary. Speaking of this part of 
the latter building, Dean Stanley says, in "his Annals of West- 
minster Abbey, * Hither came the procession of the Convent to see 
the sick brethren in their beds, and were greeted by a blazing fire 
in the Hall. Here, though not only here, were conducted the 
constant bleedings of the Monks, and here the invalids were 
soothed with music. Here also lived the seven playfellows 
(sempectae) the name given to the elder Monks who, after they 
had passed fifty years in the profession, were exempted from all 
the ordinary regulations, were never told anything unpleasant, 
and themselves took the liberty of examining and censuring 

the Painted Chamber. 

Matthew Parker, Dean of the College at Stoke by Clare 
fortrainingsecular priests, a position which he got through 
the interest of Ann Boleyn, was the first Prebend of the 
second stall, and had for his official residence "the 
paynted chamber'' built at right angles to the north side 
of the Infirmary Chapel. This is the house now occupied 
(1902) by Canon Lowe. The building is no doubt the 
addition made to the Infirmary by Alan de Walsingham 
and described in the Anglia Sacra i. 646. Alan's new 
Hall is built, however, partly on the old vaulted under- 
croft of an earlier time. There is in this lower part of 
the house a very fine Norman Doorway, with mouldings 
and ornamentation very similar to that of Geoffrey 
Ridel's work in the Galilee Transept of the Cathedral. 
The Hall is mentioned in a Sacrist Roll of Henry VII's 



time as the ** Picta Camera." It is probably also the Hall 
which is described as the Mensa magistri Infirmatorii, or 
Table Hall of the Infirmary, which was the special Re- 
fectory of invalids and old monks, and seems to have been 
in the course of erection in the eighth year of the reign of 
Edward III, when the roll of the Sacrist had the following 
special heading : — ** Custus teglarie et nove camere Item. 
Solut* Henrico Pavag' pro stipendio suo una cum stipend' 
aliorum cementariorum et operariorum pro dicta camera 
ut patet per parcellas xxiijli xiijs xjd," It is interesting 
to note, that according to a tradition handed down by 
the residential Canons, this Hall was called the ** Home 
of the Happy Companions." From this hint one is 
almost tempted to conjecture whether Alan de Wal- 
singham, the builder of this Hall, may not have been a 
member of that mediaeval Guild of the ** Cavalieri 
Godenti," instituted in the XIII. Century to do special 
honour to the Virgin Mary, and which came to be known 
by the name of ** the Society of the Happy Comrades." 
It would certainly thus be appropriate that the House of 
the builder of one of the most beautiful Lady Chapels in 
Europe should be known by a name which would seem 
especially to associate him with this " Guild of the Happy 

Lecturer's House. 

The north side of the Infirmary is breached on the West 
side of the Painted Chamber and is terminated by a resid- 
ence now occupied (1902) by Precentor Crosby, ot which 
the following description is given in the Parliamentary 
Survey of 1649 — " The Lecturer*s House called the old 
man's house lyeth between a prebend's logeng called the 
Archdeacons logengandthe organists Mrs. lodging." The 
Lecturer is probably the ofiicer now known as the 
Prelector TheologicusJ' 


Monks' Burial Ground. 

The distribution document of the Royal Commissioners 
implies that the residence assigned to the Dean of Stoke 
was in a * churchyard/ and remains of interments have 
been found in the base of the Paynted Chamber, and the 
garden outside it, so that the burial ground, between the 
south side of the Presbytery, and the Infirmary buildings, 
extending from the Slype and Chapter House eastwards, 
was probably in use earlier than the years 1334 — 5, when 
the * paynted chamber ' was being built. On the north 
side of the Presbytery the space between the Church of 
the Lady Chapel, was also used for burials and has been 
known by the name of * Napes burial ground ' or 
the Hundred Acres, a name which has probably arisen 
from a popular misunderstanding of the term centry, or 
cemetery garth. How much, if any, of the greensward 
now extending directly east of the Cathedral was used 
by the monks as burial ground, we cannot certainly say, 
but "the garner in the sextry '* was in the language in 
the award * next to ye Churchyard/ and " graves have 
been found further east as far as the charnel house, about 
half way down Fore Hill." (Canon Stewart, Archaeologi- 
cal Journal, June, 1897.) 

Infirmary Chapel. 

In the award, the Prebendary of the fifth stall has ' Mr. 
Hamondes lodging ' ' and the little chapel in the fermery 
Church.* This residence, now occupied by Archdeacon 
Emery (1902) has been entirely rebuilt, but the chancel of 
the Infirmary Chapel still exists, and is utilised as the 
Canon's study. The fine vaulting, and the beautiful 
carved capitals, of transitional Norman, are in excellent 

"This Chapel was 51 feet long by 39J feet wide, including the aisles, 
which were separated from the Nave by four columns supporting 


five arches on each side, identical with those at the Western part 
of the building. All now that remains of the original Chapel is 
the North arcade of the centre aisle, incorporated in the walls of a 
residence belonging to the Canon of the fifth stall, together with 
a fine specimen of an Early English Doorway, once the entrance 
to this Chapel through the Monks' Cemetery to the Presbytery of 
the Church, where an arched opening is still to be seen in the 
South wall. This afforded to the inmates of the Infirmary a shorter 
and easier way to the Church than by passing through the Infirmary 
Cloister, and that more Westernly, generally distinguished as the 
Great Cloister. The four slender shafts of this doorway on the 
North side of the Chapel are divided midway by a series of bands 
having bases and capitals similar to the columns in the chapel, 
and support a round arch composed of two sunk plain mouldings, 
with a roll of rings resting upon the abaci. The head of the door 
is composed of several stones, slightly raised in the centre, and 
the tympanum contains a smaller moulding, contained in a line 
following the centre-raised head of the door.'* 

" To the East of the Chapel was the Chancel, or retro-choir, 
terminating in an apse, being 32J feet long to the extremity of its 
semicircular end, 17 feet wide, and little more than 20 feet high to 
the crown of the vault. It was divided into two vaults by strong 
round ribs, crossing diagonally, the only distinctive difference 
being that the middle columns on each side were compound, and 
the soflfits of the arches plain, while those at the ends were single, 
with a series of rings and bell-shaped carving on their capitals. 
Originally this chancel was open from the ground to the groined 
ceiling, and lighted by two windows on each side : it is now 
divided, and on the upper story near the east end, is an aiched 
doorway, which doubtless communicated to the surrounding 
buildings, or the gardens attached to the Infirmary." 

The Infirmary was obviously approached from the 
West by what the surveyors of 1649 called the Dark 

Dark Cloister. 

•* This Cloister is divided into five bays, having recesses three 
feet deep under slightly pointed arches on the South. The piers in 
the interior have half-octagonal moulded corbels, from which the 


vaulting ribs spring, and on the outside are supported by buttresses 
standing boldly out, the space between which is occupied by a 
larger arch corresponding with the inner one. Within these 
arches are two double-light lancet windows, each comprised within 
a deep moulded label, and in the space above, under the apex of 
the arch, is an open quatrefoil. There are also mouldings round 
the bases and springing of the heads of the octagonal mullions 
which divide the lancet windows, but these mouldings stop on the 
faces of the interior to allow the shutters to close, the hooks to 
fasten which still remain. The most Western bay was partially 
closed by a doorway into the cellarer's garden, which was bounded 
by the dormitory on the West and the cellarer's lodging on the 
Bast. These recessed walls afforded to the infirm resting places, 
without impeding the way of the general traffic, and it has been 
suggested from the circumstances of their being enclosed by 
shutters that they may have been used as dormitories." 


At right angles to the Western end of the wall there 
remains one arch of a vault, which was evidently a part 
of the undercroft of the Monks' Dormitory. How far 
this dormitory, which from the measurement of the 
vault, and the statements of the Parliamentary Survey in 
1649, is known to have been 13 feet in width, extended 
southwards we cannot say. Fragments of the walls were 
still standing in Mr. Miller's time. Northwards the 
Dormitory communicated with the south transept of the 
Church, probably by some passage way, across the top 
of the Chapter House and the Slype, and any other inter- 
vening rooms leading eventually to the winding staircase 
which still stands in the south east angle of the Transept. 
Some where adjoining the Chapter House, was the ancient 
Chapel of S. Catherine, which in an ancient roll describ- 
ing the election of a Prior, is spoken of as "juxta 
Domum." Above the vaults of the Dark Cloister leading 
to the Infirmary, there appear to have been various 
chambers spoken of in the parliamentary commissioners 


report as a ** faire hall, parler, kitchen, with a common 
passage under called the dark cloyster." One of these 
chambers is spoken of as "'The Singing Schoole. A 
pretty house vaulted underneath, built with stone and 
covered with tyles containing in long, in the wall 42 and 
in lat. 13 foote, and consisteth of 2 rooms above • in 
occupation of Robert Claxton, the singing master, and 
at the stairs head, over against the schoole door another 
roome with a parler taken out of it for a place to play 
upon the vyall in " It is probable also that somewhere 
east and south of the dormitory must have been the site 
of the Bath House, and the Bath Gate, ostium versus 
Balnearium of which we read in the old record, and the 
Infirmary Garden, in which herbs were cultivated for his 
drug store by a special gardener. It seems however, 
impossible now to indicate the exact site of these, as 
also of the bleeding house, aula minutionum, which 
William Powcher, who was Prior from 1401 to 1418 added 
to the Infirmary. 

The Cellerar's House. 

** The celerers logeng " which at the time of the Disso- 
lution provided a home for Dr. Cox, the Prebendary of the 
first stall, appears to have been at the south western end. 
of the Infirmary Hall, but only fragments of the old walls 
now remain, built into the modern Canon's residence, 
occupied (1902) by Bishop Macrorie. 

The Black Hostel. 

Immediately to the east of the Cellerer's residence was 
" The blacke hostre " assigned to Dr. Meye with the third 
stall. This hostelry for the entertainment of stranger 
* Black Monks,' guests of the monastery from other 
Benedictine Convents, was standing in the fifteenth 
century, as Sacrist Elyngham repaired its roof during the 


reign of Henry VI : — ** Reparacio domorum. In uno 
tegulatori cum suo servient! conducto per ix dies pro 
parvo dormitorio per loca tegulando et emendando, et 
super tectum de le Blake Ostrey per loca emendandum 
xijs yjd." A path on the south of the site is now known 
as Oyster Lane, which is evidently a modern equivalent 
for the Ostre Lane which once led from the Cathedral 
across Baker*s close — now absorbed in The Park — into 
Bred Lane. 

Sent Hall. 

Eastward of the Black Hostel was a building called in 
original Dissolution Award (Parker M.S.) Sent Hall. 
This hall was standing when the Parliamentary Surveyors 
visited Ely, in 1649, and their report mentions " an entry 
and faire hall tyled with .... and also a skrenecon. in 
long. 30 ft. lat. 20 ft. and one parler and closett.'* The 
meaning of this word Sent (misread at a later time 
Gent) and the use of the building is not known. Under 
the impression that the word was Genty some have con- 
jectured that here was the place where the monastery 
offered hospitality to the generosi, on * gentlemen of the 
King,' who from time to time were quartered in the 
convent. Similarly a conjecture has been made that 
* sent ' may be merely a contraction of the term * sempectcs' 
mentioned above, or possibly of sentina, refuse or ashpit. 

Some portion of both the Black Hostel and Sent Hall 
is no doubt still existing built into the Canon's house 
occupied by the Ely Professor of Divinity, the dining 
room of which is a very beautiful stone vaulted chamber 
with central supporting columns. 

The 5extry and Almonry. 

•* The Northern boundary commenced at * Stepil Gate,' which 
according to the survey of the city taken by Bishop Fordham in 

248 niy CATHKDRAI,. 

141 7 was situated in the centre of twelve tenements South of 
* Stepil Row ' (now High Street). A vault exists under this gate- 
way, the North abutment wall of which is four feet thick, and 
doubtless a series of such vaults supported all the buildings which 
originally marked the Northern boundary of the Abbey, as they 
are found under a building a little more to the east, at the Almonry, 
and also formed the basement of a house (now taken down,) on 
the South side of Fore Hill. A few yards East of this gate is a 
house described in the Court Rolls as the * Charnel-house,* which 
was built on a cr3rpt still remaining, as also are the jambs of the 
upper window. This Charnel-house, like that of St. PauVs, Bury 
St. Kdmunds, and elsewhere, was originally a Chapel for the ad- 
joining Cemeterj'^ appropriated to the laics and strangers, and in 
the vault beneath the bones taken out of the graves re-opened 
were decently piled together. A few steps further on we are brought 
to a square tower called the Bell Tower, the tolling of the bell in 
which announces the death of the inhabitants. This Building in 
the fourteenth Century was the workshop of Walsingham, and it 
was here he prepared his gold and paints so extensively used in 
the decoration of the vault of the Ivantern tower and of the 
Lady Chapel and of Prior Crauden's Chapel. To the South 
of this was a garden and a gateway which led into the Lady 
Chapel and Church, and probably the same just referred to, 
separating the graveyards of the Monks and laics. To the East 
was the Sextry Hall, built by Walsingham. Further East was the 
Almonry, which was invariably situated at the part of the town 
farthest from the Abbey buildings, and sometimes beyond the 
Abbey precincts ; indeed, in the survey referred to, the Almonry 
Chapel is said to have been over seven shops, which projected from 
the walls of the Almonry to the Market-place. Here was also the 
Almonry gate, through which the recipients for alms passed ; but 
beyond a buttressed wall, a house with an Eastern gable pierced 
with a triple Early English window, and the crj^pt above men- 
tioned, there appears no further indications of the Northern 

Muniment Room. 

Above the restored Gateway adjoining the site of **the 
Walsingham or Old Sextry Gate,'' leading into the High 
Street is the Muniment Room of the Dean and Chapter. 


Someaccount of its contents, the celebrated Liber Eliensis, 
the Obedientary Rolls of the Convent, and other historical 
treasures, will be found in Stubbs' Historical Memorials of 
Ely, p. 53, loi, 143. Archdeacon Chapman is the present 
Gustos. The building to the West of the Gateway origin- 
ally a barn like building built at the same time as the 
Sextry of Alan de Walsingham, is occupied by the Cathe- 
Choir School. 

The Park. 

This well-wooded enclosure is one of the most beauti- 
ful of all Cathedral precincts. It was greatly improved 
in the time of Dean Peacock. It had formerly been 
divided into several enclosures by walls and hedges, 
but is now divided into two parts only by iron fencing, 
and has been planted in various parts with ornamental 
trees ; a pathway runs round the South-east portion and 
another across it, and by a pair of iron gates (closed at 
night) 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 ot which 
is uncertain. In the Award of Cromwell's Commissioners 
it is spoken of as **The Mill Hill,'* and was probably the 
site of the Monastery Mill mentioned in Alan de Wal- 
singham's Epitaph in the XI Vth Century. (See page 84). 
It has also been conjectured to have been the site of 
the Castle built by Bishop Nigel in the reign of King 
Stephen. This S.E. portion of the city is still called 
Castle Hithe Ward. Some archaeologists have even 
supposed it to have been an early British Burial Mound. 
The hill was planted and made into a pleasure ground in 
1779 by James Bentham, Canon and Historian of the 
Cathedral ; there is a winding path leading to the top, 
where there is a summer-house A good view of 


the adjacent country may be had from the summit, 
particularly towards the East, South and West. 

*' About a century ago the hill was raised by Mr. Bentham, who 
then occupied the house called * Hill House * The Churchyard of 
Ely Trinity Parish requiring to be lowered the top earth was taken 
away, and from the evidence of William Prickard, who lived ser- 
vant boy with Mr. Bentham at the time, he assisted in carrying 
the earth up the hill in scuttles for the purpose of raising it. So 
that if hereafter the hill should be disturbed and human bones .be 
discovered, it may be thought concltisive evidence of the hill 
having been a Barrow or place of Sepulture where our forefathers 
generations ago were interred. Bentham planted trees and shrubs 
thereon, amongst others walnut, pear, and probably cherry trees, 
for about this time and after Ely was celebrated for its cherries. 
Barton and New Barnes had large cherry orchards, and the town 
did abound with others so much so that it had its "Cherry 
Sundays *' in July, whence all the gay folks within a circuit of many 
miles would resort and crowds flocked, stalls were erected and 
seats provided for families, whilst large parties would sit on the 
grass in circles while they enjoyed the red, the white and the 
black heart Cherries." 

On the summit there is also erected a small obelisk in 

commemoration of the 75th anniversary of Mr. Bentham's 

birthday. On one of its sides the Historian of the 

Cathedral placed the following inscription : — 

Alteri quae seculo prosint 

Jacobus Bentham 

Eccles : Cath : Eliens : Canon : 



A Century later Dean Merivale added a further in- 
scription : 

Soeculo . demum . peracto 

Posteris itidem consuluit 

Quercum luco insevit 

C. Merivale, 




THE PARK. 251 

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 repairs of 
the Cathedral and buildings ; this was the small Grange 
within the precincts, a larger one stood more to the 
Westward outside the Monastery. 


This is a large house consisting of a centre and two 
towers, nearly adjoining the West end of the Cathedral, 
being separated from it only by a public road. But 
little is known of the Palace here prior to the time of 
Bishop Alcock, who erected the present towers 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 tower. 

It is I suppose to this Palace that Alexander Barclay, 
* Black Monk and Poet ' one of the last of the Ely Bene- 
dictines, a contemporary of the Bishop, alludes in his 
" Eclogues" in the quaint account he gives of the lamenta- 
tions at the good Bishop's death — 

"The pratie palace made him in the fen 
The maides, widowev*^, the wives and the men. 
With deadly dolour were pearsed to the hearte 
When death constrayned this Shepherd to depart. 

He Ai^iv was CoCK, he wakened us from slepe 
And while we slumbered, he did our foldes keep. 
No cur, no foxes, nor butcher's dogges wood. 
Could hurte our foldes, his watching was so good. 

The hungry wolves, which that time did abounde 
What time he crowned, abashed at the sounde. 
This cocke was no more abashed of the foxe, 
Than is a lion abashed of an oxe. 


The mighty walles of Ely Monastery 
The stones, rockes, and towres semblably, 
The marble pillours, an images eche one, 
Swete Ai,i, for sorrow, when this cock was gone." 

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 im- 
paling 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," 
from the Church Catechism. Bishop Goodrich took 
part in compiling the Book of Common Prayer but there 
is no reason to suppose that he wrote this part of the 
Church Catechism. It is with more justice attributed 
either to Bishop Poynet or Dean Nowell. 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, appar- 
ently much older than this part of the house, and another 
on the Eastern side near the Chapel ; this has been re- 
moved and now forms the Servants' entrance from the 

There are in the Palace many portraits of Bishops of 
the See, aLso a curious painting called Tabula Eliensis, 
This painting (it can hardly be earlier than the time of 
Henry VII) is a copy of one which formerly hung in the 
great Hall of the Monastery. The "Tabula" represents 
forty Norman knights, each in company with a monk, 
and each having his shield of arms above him with his 
name and office. The knights are said (according to a 

THE bishop's palace. 253 

MS. of no great antiquity quoted by Fuller and Bentham) 
to have been placed by the Conqueror in the Monastery 
after the taking of the Isle of Ely : they became so 
friendly with the monks that on their departure the 
brethren, after ** bewailing their going with howling 
fearful to be heard," brought them as far as Haddenham 
in procession with ** singing," and afterwards placed the 
" Tabula '* in their Fratry Hall for a perpetual memory 
of their guests. The History of Ely at the time of the 
Conquest has become so much involved in romantic 
fable, that it is difficult to say whether any real fact is 
represented by the traditions connected with . this 
picture. Possible a passage in the Libef Eliensis (Book 
II. chap. 205,) may have supplied the hint on which the 
story is built. There is also a picture 6ft. 6in. long and 
2ft. 2in. high, representing the funeral of Bishop Cox 
in 1 58 1 A Library of books, many Classical, was left 
to the See by Bishop Yorke. The ancient Episcopal 
Registers, and many valuable records connected with the 
history of the See : a careful catalogue of which has been 
published by the present Bishop, were until lately (1901) 
kept in a Muniment Room at the top of the Western 
tower of the Palace. They have been removed to the 
Bishop's new Registry Offices at the corner of Lynn Road 
and Gaol Lane. 

Formerly the Bishops pf Ely had residences in 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 at Ely House, 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 1722. 

The house with walled garden and iron gates, nearly 
opposite the bay window of 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. 




The folloiving interesting historical note on the Ely Organs has 
been compiled by Canon Dickson, Precentor of 'the Cathedral 
from 1858— 1895. 

A **pair of organs" was the name given in the Middle 
Ages to the rude and primitive musical instrument em- 
ployed in the service of the Church at a very early 
period of the Christian era. The wealthy Abbey of Ely 
may have been among the first in England to avail itself 
of the assistance given to voices by an instrumental 
accompaniment ; at any rate the organs were recognized 
as a familiar or essential part of the furniture of the 
church in the episcopate of Nigellus, the second Bishop 
of Ely, (1133 — 1 174), for he gave a portion of the tithe of 
a farm called Cattemere, in Littlebury, **for the repair 
of the organs."^ More than two centuries later, we have 
a curious statement in detail of the cost of building a 
pair of organs. It is taken from the accounts of the 
Precentor of the Abbey for the year 1396,* and is believed 
to be the earliest record of the kind which has come 
down to us. We quote this interesting document in 

1 Bentham, p. 128. 
2 Preserved in the muniment room of the Dean and Chapter. 


" Expences of making an organ in australi parte 
" eccUsice. 

*• Twenty stones of lead i6s. 9d. 

" I lb. of tin 3d. 

" 2 lbs. of quicksilver 2S. 

'* 4 white, horse-hides, for 4 pairs of bellows 7s. 8d. 

" 16 pairs of Jemewes [hinges] is. lod. 

" Ashen hoops for the bellows 4d. 

** I lb. of glue id. 

" 12 springs 3d. 

** 6 calf-skins 2s. 6d. 

** 12 sheep-shins 2s. 4d. 

" Wire, nails, cloth, hooks, and staples, etc .... I2d. 

" The carpenter, 8 days, making the bellows . . 2s. 8d. 

" Fetching the organ-builder, and his board . . 40s. 

;f4 8 5' 

The value of money at the end of the fourteenth 
century was probably some thirty times its present 
amount Hence this pair of organs may have cost about 
;^i30 of modern currency : and as it had no key-board, 
and only twelve notes, corresponding to the vocal sounds 
of the Plain Song, it will be seen that this sum may have 
provided the Abbey with an organ of stately proportions. 
It is singular that no mention is made in the account of 
wood for a case. Possibly the new instrument was fitted 
into a case previously existing. As twenty stones of 
lead were used, it is plain that the organ must havtf con- 
tained some large pipes 

During the next century and a half, organ-building 
made great strides forward in all countries of North- 
ern Europe. The Priors of Ely were not the men to 
allow their grand church to lag behind other grand 
churches in respect of any of the appliances of Divine 
Service, and there can be no doubt that from time to 
time they added to their organs all the improvements 


suggested by the progress of musical and mechanical art. 
At the time of the Dissolution in 1541, the Abbey pos- 
sessed ** two paer of organs in the quyer, and a paer of 
organs in the I^adye Chaple."' These instruments had 
been furnished, long belore, with key-boards, and with 
several sets of pipes or ** stops,'* extending over a com- 
pass of four octaves or nearly; and when the English 
Ritual was altered at the Reformation, the largest and 
best of the organs was placed on the rood-screen in place 
of the dethroned Rood or crucifix. On the organ, so 
placed. Dr. Christopher Tye, organist of the Cathedral 
1541 — 1562, played the accompaniments to his own 
anthems,* and the Fugues and Fantasies which charac- 
terised the music of his period. 

We entertain the confident belief that this Pre- 
Reformation organ was not removed or injured by the 
Puritan soldiers, who at Ely were under the personal 
command of Cromwell. Silenced, no doubt, it was, and 
silent it continued to be, together with the anthems 
which it had accompanied, for several dreary years. But 
after the Restoration in 1662 we find in the account- 
books and Orders of the Dean and Chapter many indi- 
cations of a resumption of the choral service, and of 
consequent care of the organ. The dates of these 
entries in the books, which extend over several years, 
are somewhat confused ; but one of the earliest desires 
" Dr. Roderick [one of the Canons] to pay to Mr. Smith, Junr., 

"the organ-builder, ;fioo remaining in his hands.*' 

This Mr. Smith, Jun., was probably Gerard, nephew 
of the celebrated Bernard, better known as "Father 
Smith." An amusingly suggestive entry informs us 
that four shillings had been paid to the builder's man 
"before Mr. Smith came to mend the ratt-holes." 

3 Bentham, p. 225. 

4 Hia Service in G minor was written for Ely Cathedral. 


" Gerard Smith's contract with the Dean and Chapter 
refers to the * new substantial stops,' and in * the parti- 
culars of y* work done by Mr. Smith in y* chair organ 
belonging to y* Church of Ely ' we find the following 
clauses : — 

2. The Diapason and y* Recorder Stops of wood are 
new voy**' but made of our own old materialls. 

3. A Fifteenth, being a metal stop, is made of new 
materials, y* old 15th being thrown by. 

8. A Rolling-board, Stickery, a set of keys, and three 
payr of bellows, all new.* 

Shortly afterwards, it appears that Preston, a well-known 
organ -builder at York, was sent for 

**to view the chair-organ, and estimate the werke.** 

Considerable sums are mentioned as having been paid 
through the hands of Mr. Hitch, Minor Canon, and 
others, towards the instalments of Smith's bill ; and in 
1682 we have a hint of important help from Dr. Wm. 
Holder, Canon of St. Paul's, and Sub-Dean of the 
Chapels- Royal, who had been, and perhaps still was, one 
of the Prebentaries of Ely. A Chapter Order runs 
thus : — 

"That Dr. Womack be desired to signify to Dr. Holder our 
" thankful acceptance of his intended gift to our organ, and 
"our readiness to compleat the great organ according as he 
" hath desired." 

From all this the inference seems inevitable, that one 
of the Smith family was employed to repair an old organ 
long neglected and injured by rats, and to add to it a 

5 This Gerard Smith information is derived from a large collection of 
organ specifications and other interesting matter relating to the subject, en- 
tirely in the handwriting of the Dr. Edward J. Hopkins.— r/. Article 
' Musical Time*,' March Uty 1902. 


chair-organ,* that is, an organ of smaller scale than the 
other, enclosed in a case placed at the back of the seat 
of the player, and answering to a second key-board: 
that the Dean and Chapter, advised, no doubt, by their 
organist, James Hawkins, a very able musician, were 
dissatisfied with Smith's work and called in the aid of 
another expert. Preston's verdict has not come down 
to us, but it was probably not unfavourable, for so late 
as 1705 we find Smith still employed to clean the organ 
at an expense of ;^io 15s. od. 

Hawkins, who was organist from 1682 to 1729, writing 
to Tudway, Professor of Music at Cambridge, says,^ 

"The organ here is 3 quarters of a note higher than the 
" pitch of ye organs are now." 
and he transposes accordingly some music which he is 
sending to his friend. This sharpness of pitch would 
be a very likely characteristic of an old organ frequently 
repaired and altered. It had another remarkable pecu- 
liarity ; namely, that its lowest note was AA, whereas all 
or most of the new organs of that day were carried down 
to GG, a note lower. We may have some readers versed 
in Plain Song, who will see in this oddity a link with 
the mediaeval organ, which had borrowed its range from 
the ecclesiastical tones or scales. In an interesting 
communication to a musical periodical® Dr. E. J. 
Hopkins, quoting from a document in his possession, 
gives a list of its stops. Modern players will not much 
approve those of the chair-organ, which were 

Stopt Diapason 




Sesquialter iii ranks. 

6 Probably pronounced nearly as '* Quire-organ." 

7 See Catal. of Mus. MSS. in Ely Oath. Lib., p. 19. 

8 ** Musical Opinion," May, 1887. 


Ely possessed a resident organ-builder in 1736 in the 
person of one Turner, a member of the choir, who was 
paid £^0 for a new trumpet stop, and for tuning and 
cleaning the organ. But Hawkins' successors had to 
endure the sharpness of pitch until 1770, when John 
Byfield and Samuel Green, by Indenture dated April 28, 
covenant to repair the organ for the sum of ;^i42, and 
to bring it down to concert pitch ; but they expressly 
stipulate that 

" Double G is not to be added, and the said organ is to go 
" no lower than double A:*' 

The instrument, thus improved, whatever its original 
parentage may have been, rendered most excellent 
service, for it was in constant use until the year 1831. 
Green and Byfield, no doubt, had removed it from the 
nave rood-screen to the loft or gallery erected for it by 
the architect, James Essex, when he transferred the 
stalls and other fittings of the ritual choir from the 
Octagon to the east end of the church. The present 
writer remembers the organ well as he saw it in 1843. It 
had been rebuilt by Messrs. Elliott and Hill, and was a 
fine specimen of their skill. The new instrument was 
fitted into the old cases, which were of Renaissance 
design, and of excellent workmanship in oak, much 
enriched with carving, and surmounted by reclining 
figures of angels, blowing long gilded trumpets. The 
larger case bore a strong resemblance to that of St. 
Andrew's, Holborn, the work of Ren^tus Harris, and 
this circumstance may have led to a very general belief 
that the organ had been built by him. Dr. Rimbault 
attributes it to that eminent builder in a published 
list of his works.® But recent investigations have 
brought to light no record whatever of the employ- 

9 Hopkins and Rimbault, Ist ed., p. 90. 


ment of Harris by the Dean and Chapter.^ Perhaps, 
however, it is within the range of possibility that the 
handsome gift of Dr Holder" may have been a new case, 
and that he, resident in London, may have had it made 
in the workshop of Harris. This is mere conjecture. 
It is in the recollection of the writer that the smaller 
case was of somewhat plainer design. 

In the year 1849 the instrument was entirely recon- 
structed and ingeniously arranged in its present position. 
The superb case is partly imitated from that of 
Strasburg Cathedral. In 1867, and again a few years 
later, considerable additions were made to it, including 
the ingenious pneumatic contrivance for lightening the 
touch ; and it is justly entitled to a high place among 
English Cathedral organs for charm of tone and grandeur 
of general effect. 

We subjoin a list of the stops. 

Great Organ.— CC to F in Alt. 

Ft. Pipes. 

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 2§ 54 

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 


10 Vide supra. 


Swell Organ— CC to F in Alt. 

Ft. Pipes. 

1. Double Diapason, open metal to Gamut G, 6 feet, 

stopt wood below i6 64 

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 i 4 54 

7. Fifteenth, metal 2 54 

8. Mixture, iv ranks 2 216 

9. Double Trumpet, metal and wood 16 54 

10. Cornopean, metal 8 54 

11. Trumpet, metal 8 54 

12. Oboe, metal 8 54 

13. Clarion, metal 4 54 

14. Orchestral Oboe 8 42 

15. Voix C61este 8 42 


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 F. 

1. Sub-bass, wood 32 tone 30 

2. Open, wood 16 30 

3. Open, metal 16 30 

4. Bourdon, wood 16 tone 30 

5. Octave, metal 8 30 

6. Trombone, wood 16 30 

7. Clarion, metal 8 30 






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


Six composition pedals, three to the Great, acting simultaneously 
on Pedal ; three to Swell. Total number of Pipes, 2454. 





FROM 1843—98. 

£ s. d. 
Restoring the Interior and Exterior of the Choir pro- 
viding Memorials, Special Works, and Decorations . . 28067 o o 
Restoring the Lantern as a Memorial to the late Dean 
Peacock, Furnishing Octagon, and filling large 

Windows with Stained Glass 10022 o o 

Restoring North and South-east Transepts 4123 o o 

Repairing Roof, making new Ceiling, laying new 
Floors to the Nave and Side Aisles, providing 

Memorials, etc 7269 19 4 

Opening the Lantern of the Great Western Tower, 

securing the Tower, etc 4017. 15 10 

Restoring S. Catharine's Chapel, restoring the South- 
west Transept, now the Baptistery 2384 16 9 

Restoring West Entrance, Gates, etc t 1168 15 10 

;f57,053 7 9 
Completion of Dome and Lantern, restored in memory of Dean 
Peacock ; Decoration of Vaulting, etc. ; Erection of Pinnacles : 

£ s. di, £ s. d. 

Bequest of Canon Selwyn 744 o o 

Bishop, Dean, and Canons 450 o o 

General Subscriptions 1944 o o 

Chapter Funds 1485 o o 

4523 o o 

Three Figures in Octagon, 1875, (private gifts) 90 o o 

Painting North Transept, 1875, (Canon Sparke) 435 o o 

Painting South-west Transept, 1879, (Chapter funds).. 256 o o 
Bracing ditto with iron ties, etc., 1879, (Chapter funds) 403 10 o 


^ s. d. 
Repairs to Roof and West Gable of Lady Chapel, 1879, 

(Chapter funds) , 450 q o 

East Gable of ditto, 1882, (Archdeacon Chapman) 43 10 o 

PaintedWindow in memory of the Hon. Col. Duncombe, 

1882, (Officers of the Cambridgeshire Militia) 80 o 

Lead- work of Nave Roof (South side), repaired, fire- 
engines, cisterns, pipes, constructed or repaired, 

etc., 1880-1884, (Chapter funds) 424 o o 

Organ Repairs and Additions, 1884, (Chapter funds) . . 270 o o 
Lady Chapel— repairs to Roof and building new 

Vestry 415 I5 3 

Alteration of North Porch, new doors, etc 238 14 6 

Galilee Porch, repair of window and roof 103 19 i 

Sundry Repairs : chiefly to roofs 2073 12 7 

Monument to Bishop Woodford 

New Altar, etc., in S. Catharine's Chapel by Bishop 

Woodford's Trustees 

Pointing of North Transept 122 15 o 

Restoration of Lady Chapel 2500 o o 

New Choir Boys' Vestry, by Canon Dickson 

New Altar and Reredos, in S. Edmund's Chapel, by 

Canon Stanton 

New Oak Door and iron Scroll work at South Entrance 

(Mrs. Dickson) 

New Oak Screen and Doors in Cloister at South 

Entrance (Mr. Clay) 100 o o 

New Oak Litany Desk (Canon Evans) 

Extensive repair of Eastern facade 

Total including personal gifts over ;f 70,000 o o 

There is very much work still needed both to preserve 
and repair the Fabric of the Cathedral, and also to add 
to its internal beauty and enrichment. The following is 
a list of some of the most pressing needs : — 

I. Repair of the Galilee Porch : the re-roofing of its upper 
chamber: the removal of the 19th century window in 
Tower arch, and the opening out of the Western Lancets, 
thus lengthening the interior vista of the Cathedral by 


40 feet. Statuary might also be placed in the 16 vacant 
niches at the Western entrance. 

2. Repair and possible enlargement of the Organ : The 

mechanism is sadly in need of renewal. 

3. New Pavement for Octagon. 

4. New roof to South Triforium of nave, and West Triforium of 

North Transept. 

5. Iron Screen for Galilee Transept and Curtains. 

6. New and more dignified Stalls in Sanctuary. 

7. Clergy and Choir Stalls for Octagon. 

8. Restoration of the Fair Hall as Chapter House and I^ibrary. 

Subscriptions for any of these objects may be paid either directly 
to the Dean, or to the Ely Cathedral Restoration Fund, Mortlock's 
Bank (Messrs, Barclay & Co,), Ely. 


1. Galilee Porch 23—55. See Plan of Choir 

2. West Tower 56. Early English Windows 

3. Galilee Transept and S.Catha- 57. Site of Chapter House 

rine*s Chapel 58. 

Cloister Garth 


The Prior's Door 59. 

Refectory, or Quater House 


Ovin's Cross 60. 

Norman Klitchen 


The Monks* Door 61. 

Guest House. Deanery 


Armarium, or Cloister Book- 62. 

The Fair Hall 

case 63. 

Priory Old Hall 


Alan de Walsingham*s Tomb 64. 

Prior Crauden's Chapel 


Bishop Woodford 65. 

Gallery Buildings 

10,11,12. Earliest Norman Windows66. Ely Porta, or Walpole Gate 

13. Norman Screen 67. Bam 

14. Norman Galleries 68. Remains of Dormitory 

15. Central Transepts 69. The Black Hostel 

16. Octagon 70. Ae Cellarer's lyodging 

17. S. Edmund's Chapel 71. The Infirmary 

18. Norman Triforium, Exterior 72. The Infirmary Chapel 

19. Lady Chapel 73, Walsingham's Hall 

20. Steeple Gate 74. Sir Christopher Wren's Door- 

21. Almonry way 

22. Dean Caesar 75—109. See Plan of Choir. 





THE EIvY DIOCESAN PSALTER.— The Psai^tbr, or Psai^ms 
OF David ; together with the Canticles and the Proper 
t^salms for Certain Days, carefully marked and pointed for chanting. 
By the late Robert Janes, Organist of Ely Cathedral. Revised 
by the Rev. W. Morton, Succentor of St. Asaph Cathedral, and 
the Rev. W. E. Dickson, Precentor of Ely Cathedral. Quarto, 4s., 
Lewed.— POCKET EDITION, is. 6d. limp cloth. 

THE ELY DIOCESAN CALENDAR.— This is a Church Cal- 
I endar and Clergy List of the Diocese, containing a variety of 

■Official and General Information for the Clergy and Laity. 
I Crown 8vo., is. 

HERBERT FALCONER, a Story. Crown 8vo., cloth, giU 
top, 2S. 

THE LESSER HOURS, a Manual of Devotion. Buckram 
bevelled boards, gilt edges, 3s. 6d. 
faithful Guide to the Visitor to that interesting building, 
including all the latest restorations and improvements ; and some 
account of the Monastic Buildings, &c. With illustrations and 
ground plans, twenty-first edition, revised by the Very Reverend 
Charles W. Stubbs, D.D., Dean of Ely. is. sewed. 

of beautiful Engravings of Various Styles of Architecture, 
sewed, is. 

LA DIVINA COMMEDIA di Dante Alighieri, Englished by the 
Rev. E. C. Lowe, D.D., Canon of Ely. Demy 8vo., Cloth 7s. 6d. 
the Very Rev. Chari<ES W. Stubbs, D.D., Dean of Ely, with 
Illustrations from Photographs by Rev. H. R. Campion, Minor 
Canon. Paper Covers, 6d. 

ALSO the Official Orders of Service, used in the Diocese of 



Small Quarto, 45. 6d. nett 


" This beautiful book is the result of two lectures given at Cam- 
bridge by the Dean of Ely, the first to the Young Men's Literary 
Association, and the second at the request of the University Syndi- 
cate to the summer gathering of University Extension students. 
Both lectures have been enlarged, notes and a chronological table 
of local and allied historical events have been added, and, together 
with a generous sprinkling of well-chosen and beautiful engravings 
and photo-gravures of the great church, they form a most attractive 
and instructive volume. The book cannot fail to attract, for the 
Dean's enthusiasm and eloquent language inspire us as we read, 
and, indeed, it is hard to resist the glamour Of his enthusiam. 
Throughout both lectures the Dean has consulted carefully and 
constantly his Chapter records and historical documents, and, 
therefore, we have a book that possesses not merely the attraction 
of the Dean's literary style, but also the authority of a serious 
historical eflfort." — The Guardian, 

'* Anything more delightful to a lover of our stately and beautiful 
Cathedrals can scarcely be imagined. . . . We have nothing but 
praise for the whole volume." — Live? pool Mercury. 

"Dean Stubbs writes at once with scholarly care and charm, and 
his book is as satisfactory in the artistic as in the literary sense, for 
its illustrations are full of the poetry of suggestion, and do justice 
to the august workmanship of those who surely builded well." — 
Leeds Mercury. 

**A scholarly volume. . . . The poetrj^ of association is inter- 
woven in its pages with ecclesiastical history and archaeological 
\ox^r— The Speaker, 

" The illustrations are numerous and really illustrate the text ; 
and we may commend this charming little volume with it^ careful 
chronological table to all admirers oi'Ely.''^— Pall Mall Gazette, 

** A great Cathedral is a great poem, and it needs a poet quite to 
understand it. Those who know '* The Conscience " and the 
** Mythe of Life " will know why the present Dean is able to write 
of Ely as he has done." — Church Bells. 

J. M. DENT & CO. 



Qtmrto. Dent & Co. Price 21/- nett. 

*' This splendid book, a joy to the eyes of all who read it, and an 
enduring monument to the high aims and admirable achievement 
of the writer and the artist, no less than to the generous enter- 
prise of the publishers. . . . It is impossible to give too much 
praise to Mr. Railton's drawings. . . ." R. C. Lahmann in ** the 
Daily Papers 

"Dr. Stubbs has in full degree that tolerance and justice of 
spirit which will commend his "Cambridge and its Story" to 
Oxford as well as to Cambridge men. . . . Dr. Stubbs knows 
and what is more loves his subject and his knowledge and his 
enthusiasm are evident in every line of his writing . . . the 
letterpress is scholarly, painstaking, accurate and full of interest 
. . . contains a number of the most charming sketches of the 
Cambridge Colleges which it has ever been our good fortune to 
come across." — ihe Cmmty Gentleman. 

"This is a most beautiful book. Author, Printer and Artist 
have vied with each other in the making of it, and the result is 
one of which they all may be proud. . . . Dr. Stubbs has done 
his work c(yn afnofe. He has handled his superabundant mater- 
ials with rare skill and discrimination, so that his narrative, in 
spite of its load of antiquarian lore, is no mere dry as dust compi- 
lation, but a story full of life and fascination. . . . Cambridge 
men all over the world will be grateful to him for the fine picture 
he has drawn of their Alma Mater amd for the love and care which 
he has expended on the task. — The Examiner. 

*' It could not be surpassed as an introduction to Cambridge. 
The monuments of Cambridge architecture could not have found 
a more capable or sjTnpathic interpreter than Mr. Herbert Railton. 
We are very glad that the publishers decided to reproduce these 
drawings on a scale the same as the original, and by a process 
which reveals to the full their delicate beauty and insight of 
method. The drawing of King's College gateway in an admirable 
specimen of Mr. Railton*s art and the slight tinting given to the 
lithographs by Mrs. Railton has a very pleasing effect. — Pall Mall 

" A fine book, which lovers of Cambridge will value. A notable 
feature of it is Mr. Herbert Railton's illustrations, some of them in 

gen and ink, some in pencil, reproduced in the size of the ori^nals 
y auto-lithography, and faintly tinted in colour by Mrs. Railton. 
We welcome the book primarily' for the " text,*' in which the Dean 
uses to good purpose his breadth of learning and sympathy and his 
gift of popular and attractive historical narrative."— 7"^^ Times. 


Square 8vo. Illustrated, 6s. 

* Dean Stubbs is learned and humorous and tender, and sheds qn 
many subjects the light of a humanity which we have '* loved long 
since and lost awhile," nor ever hoped to recapture any more until 
we foregathered with it in his pages.'— Outi^ook. 

* It is a book to possess and dip into very often, betraying the 
personality of the writer, and teaching much that is well worth 
learning of the past — especially that past connected with the old 
minster.' — Bookman. 

* Dr Stubbs has a pleasant style, and brings ample erudition to 
the subjects on which he discourses.*— Pii<oT. 

* In this volume Dean Stubbs reveals himself as a verse- writer 
of no mean ability.' — Gi.ob« 

* It is with no dry-as-dust knowledge of an antiquarian pedant 
that;,he unearths the stories buried in the monastic records of the 
Liber Eliensis. On the contrary, with imagination all aglow he re- 
vivifies the past, and b}^ the power of sincere sympathy has come 
to see in all about him — trees, and flowers, and birds — transient 
memorials of the undying glory embosomed in the venerable 
stones.'— Church Rkview. 

' The Dean's book ... is the work, as his American friends 
might say, of •' a Prior up to date." It has pleasant descriptions 
of experiences on the other side of the Atlantic, happy bits of gossip 
about monuments and muniments, a kind of mystifying love-story 
woven into the last chapter or two, a spice of Christian Socialism — 
examples, in fact, of all the interests that contend for the possess- 
ion of the spare moments of the Dean's life. . . . But, old or new. 
Prior or Dean, Catholic or Denominational, the book is a very 
pleasant one, and we are very grateful for it.' — Guardian. 

* A volume full of surprises. . . . Enlivened with numerous an- 
ecdotes and witticisms, and enriched with charming views of EI3' 
precincts. . . . There must be few who cannot find something to 
suit them between the aesthetic covers of this book.' — Rkcord. 

'Worthy to be placed on the same shelf with Southey's 
" Doctor." '—Architkct. 

* An engaging book.'— Acadbmy. 

* Half the charm of this unconventional volume consists in its 
lightly handled knowledge of the massive structure and its dram- 
atic annals, and in the skilful manner in which both are placed in 
contrast with the tumult of opinion outside the cloistral quietude 
of the Minster Garden in the modern world.* — Gi<ASGow Hkrai^d. 




Svo. 3/6. 

raceful, thoughtful, suggestive.'— Dai i<Y News. 

he work of a poet led by fine dreams and not simply the 
led artistry of a patient and cultured thinker. The Carols are 
oially fine.*— Gi<ASGow Herai<d. 

•io one with even a sprinkling of Culture could fail to recognize 
great beauty and fine poetical quality of this volume.* — 

ie Dean has a pleasing muse, fresh and wholesome.* — 


he original poem (Bryhtnoth's Prayer) is not unworthy to be 

•>ared, as a successful experiment with Tennyson's magnifi- 

version of the Battle of Brunanburh.*— Manchester 


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Ely Callwdrir haficibooh 
Fhw Arts UbTm 

FA ^V/9, eg. .3 ^ 

^-huLU C.h^. 

/Z/v Ce.M,^jL..ylJ_ "Xa^ 

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