Ely Cathedral is a beautiful, flexible and unique location. It is an established filming and recording venue favoured by producers, artists and film & television companies alike..
For initial enquiries about using Ely Cathedral for any filming or TV projects please contact
Lesley Ann Thompson
Telephone: 01353 660350/07930 918885
Ely Cathedral on the IMDb - The Internet Movie Database
Previous filming at the Cathedral has included being a location predominantly for ´The King's Speech´, ´Elizabeth: The Golden Age´ and ´The Other Boleyn Girl´. In addition the Cathedral has been widely featured in the highly acclaimed television series ´How Britain was Built´ and more recently the BBC and ITV production ´BAFTA presents Michael Palin: A Life in Pictures´.
The King's Speech
In December 2009 a film crew descended on Ely to shoot a major scene in the UK based film, 'The King's Speech'. The Octagon crossing and front of the nave at Ely were transformed into the interior of Westminster Abbey at the time of the coronation of King George VI.
A number or set builders and designers were on site for a week before filming began. They constructed a huge set directly under the Octagon which consisted of a central platform and rows of tiered seating, clad in ornately coloured fabric, to accurately reflect the scene at Westminster Abbey on the eve of the King's coronation in May 1937.
Actual filming took place over 3 days with Colin Firth , Geoffrey Rush and Derek Jacobi on set. The scene they shot at Ely is a pivotal moment in the film, It is the eve of the coronation and George VI (Colin Firth) is taken to Westminster Abbey by his speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), to practice his all important coronation speech. There is a great deal of emotional dialogue between the two of them as the King struggles with his shyness and his stammer in preparation for his coronation day.
Elizabeth The Golden Age
Ely Cathedral provided the perfect setting for the recent lavish production of Elizabeth The Golden Age, the sequel to the 1998 award winning film ´Elizabeth´ a production by Working Title Films.
A historical thriller set against the backdrop of the religious fanaticism of the late 16th century and visits the ´Virgin Queen´ in the middle years of her reign and follows her preparing to go to war whilst battling with her secret love for Raleigh.
Much of the original cast reunited for the film including one of Hollywood´s leading ladies,
Cate Blanchett (The Lord of the Rings, The Aviator) who will reprise her role as Elizabeth I while Geoffrey Rush (Pirates of the Caribbean, Munich) once again plays Sir Francis Walsingham. The new faces to join the cast include Samantha Morton (Minority Report, The Libertine) playing Mary Stuart and Clive Owen (Closer, Gosford Park) who plays Sir Walter Raleigh. Shekhar Kapur once again directs.
Whilst it is only rumoured that Elizabeth I ever visited Ely she did have strong connections in East Anglia. There is well documented evidence of her clash with Bishop Cox, Bishop of Ely over Ely House, leading to Cox´s resignation after which she kept the seat vacant and the revenues for herself - ´Proud Prelate, you know what you were before I made you what you are. If you do not immediately comply with my request, I will unfrock you, by God!´ which are words allegedly written by Elizabeth to the Bishop of Ely.
In the film however Ely Cathedral was used to represent the Palace of Whitehall which was the main residence of the English monarchs in London from 1530 until 1698 when all except the Banqueting House was destroyed by fire. Before the fire it had grown to be the largest palace in Europe, with over 1,500 rooms and was at one time the largest building in the world.
Ely proved to be the films biggest external location & many key scenes were filmed here - Namely the scene where Elizabeth learns about Bess Throckmorten´s Abbie Cornish relationship with Raleigh as well as a sumptuous banqueting scene where Raleigh Owen presents his gifts to Elisabeth´s Court. Working title films set up camp at Ely for almost a month and within days many aspects of the Cathedral were transformed including the lawned areas surrounding the Cathedral which became a mini village of marquees, film trailers & ´sparks´ lorries.
On the whole it was a great experience for Ely and we were very fortunate to have an amazing cast & crew who were always respectful of the cathedral as Christian place of worship. While we are aware that Ely will not get the profile of Lincoln for the Da Vinci code, if the film proves to be as successful as anticipated there will be many other benefits, if only that of bringing a well deserved global profile to one of the most stunning of English Cathedrals - Or to quote the film´s director Shekhar Kapur ... "thank you once again for your kind hospitality and the enthusiasm and warmth with which you welcomed us. The film would not have been the same without the scenes we shot at Ely Cathedral".
The Other Boleyn Girl
Once again Ely Cathedral has been chosen as a major film location
This film is from the novel by Philippa Gregory and stars Natalie Portman, Scarlet Johansson, Kirstin Scott Thomas and Eric Bana.
The film starts when rumours begin to circulate that King Henry VIII (Bana) is no longer intimate with his wife who has been unable to give him a male heir.
Sir Thomas Boleyn concocts a plan to bring his family back to prominence: his daughter Anne (Portman) shall seduce the King and provide him with a son. However, the scheme goes off course when the King takes to the other Boleyn girl, Anne´s younger sister and best friend Mary (Johansson). Although married already, Mary gives in to family pressure and reluctantly provides the King with a boy, but along the way, she finds herself falling in love with the surprisingly tender monarch.
Of course, this love affair is no obstacle for Anne whose hunger for the throne now overpowers her sisterly love, and she enacts a plan that eventually tears her family and her country apart while leading to her legendary demise.
BAFTA presents Michael Palin: A Life in Pictures
The Cambridge Film Festival were delighted to welcome four-time BAFTA nominee and two-time BAFTA winner Michael Palin as he joined The Culture Show's Mark Kermode on stage at Ely Cathedral for a special, one-night-only BAFTA event celebrating his film career. For this exclusive BAFTA: A Life in Pictures interview, Palin shared anecdotes and unheard stories from his decade in the film industry in the '80s. The event was illustrated with film clips from his body of work and Palin was in attendance at an exclusive signing of his book Halfway to Hollywood Diaries 1980-1988 which took place at 6.15pm in the South West Transept of Ely Cathedral.
Michael Palin CBE is an award-winning performer, writer and broadcaster with over 30 years experience on screen. He first rose to popularity as part of the Monty Python comedy troupe in the early '70s, bringing many memorable characters to our screens, including The Lumberjack, The Dead Parrot Vendor and Sir Galahad.
Following this success, Palin went on to perform in and co-write a number of films throughout the 1970s and '80s. He co-wrote and acted in fellow Python Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits in the early '80s, and featured in his subsequent film Brazil. He co-produced, wrote and played the lead in The Missionary opposite Maggie Smith, who also appeared with him in A Private Function, written by Alan Bennett.
He was awarded a BAFTA for Best Supporting Actor in 1989 for his portrayal of stuttering Ken in A Fish Called Wanda. Palin went on to write and star in American Friends, a film based on the life of his great-grandfather.
Over recent years, Palin has presented seven successful travel series for television, Around the World in 80 Days, Pole to Pole, Full Circle, Hemingway Adventure, Sahara, Himalaya and New Europe, and has written bestselling books to accompany them. He is also the author of a number of children's stories, the play The Weekend and the novel Hemingway's Chair. In 2005, BAFTA honoured him with the award for 'Outstanding Contribution to Television' and in October this year, he and the other Pythons will be awarded a BAFTA Special Award to honour their outstanding contribution to film and television.
This event was filmed by both the BBC and ITV.